After learning that Lululemon has achieved some of the highest in-store conversion rates in retail, I talked with their executives to find out their secret. I learned that the high-end athletic apparel company focuses on training to help employees talk to and get to know shoppers while they are browsing inside the store. The goal is for associates to get to know their customers on a human level and build a relationship instead of trying to sell a product.
By focusing on personal connections, Lululemon learns valuable information about everyone who walks into the store — not just the people who ultimately make purchases.
Transitioning to online shopping, when brands are gathering data about online visitors, they almost always focus on data collected from paying customers. Many do not even collect profile information about people who leave without purchasing. The result: Brands miss the opportunity to learn how to convert non-purchasing visitors into future customers.
So how can direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands get to know their website visitors on an individual level?
Use AI to understand your website visitors
DTC brands can increase their sales and revenue by using artificial intelligence (AI) to help them understand the needs and challenges of all their website visitors. You can then create a personalized experience during future visits that can increase the chances of converting that visitor into a customer.
Let’s walk through how this scenario happens in real life. When someone visits a website, cookies indicate that this person is a first-time visitor. The potential customer browses, and then pauses on a page explaining the ingredients contained in the beauty products. The AI compares the time spent on the page with the average attention span and concludes that they likely have a concern or question. Through insights gathered from other customers, the AI engine knows the best way to engage the visitor is to inform them that the ingredients are organic — similar to how a store associate would notice a customer carefully reading a label and proactively share information about the product’s natural ingredients.
Intellipse’s intelligent user-profiling platform captures a wide range of information about your website visitors: what pages they view, their browsing history, their attention span, how much time they spend on a page, and more. However, the data collected isn’t simply about how they scroll through the screens — you can combine it with other data, for instance, location or temperature, which can indicate best-fit products. After all, someone in sunny San Diego has different beauty needs than a person in cloudy Seattle.
The AI technology then creates a profile about the visitor, optimized for cosmetic brands, based on their behavior on your website. Through this profile, we can predict why the user is leaving the website without buying — do they know what color matches their skin tone, do they have concerns about ingredients, are they unfamiliar with your brand, or do they simply have a low sense of urgency? This data helps brands put content in place to proactively alleviate common concerns and decrease the likelihood of future visitors leaving the website without making a purchase.
Create engaging interactions that meet your customers’ needs
Many brands mistakenly assume they must offer discounts to gather leads, which impacts their margins and hurts brand equity. AI allows you to intelligently build relationships with your prospects — and is two to three times more effective than discounts. In addition to gathering data for future use, brands can immediately use the information to determine the right way to engage a customer to overcome their concerns and prevent them from leaving the website.
For example, based on the information collected, you may choose to display an interactive quiz asking about the visitor’s skincare goal, and then ask additional questions based on the person’s answers. You can deliver the results and recommendations over SMS, then continue the conversation to get to know them better. Each time a customer texts a brand, deep learning technology lets you know which customers are texting you and the results of their question. When machine learning engines are incorrect about why someone is leaving or uses the wrong engagement approach, the platform gathers the data needed to become smarter the next time a similar pattern occurs.
Take AI interactions to the next level
Brands can take artificial intelligence to an even higher level by using the user profile combined with a selfie to engage visitors. For example, if a visitor is clicking on multiple colors for a product, the engine assumes they are not sure about what shade is right for their complexion and coloring. The Intellipse platform displays a message asking the visitor to take a photo using the camera app on the computer or device they’re using. After extracting 50 features from the selfie, the algorithm can determine the best shade for the customer. Your website then recommends the specific product shade and provides a link to make it as easy as possible to purchase the product.
Artificial intelligence is currently the only way to collect this type of information from someone visiting your website for the first time. By gathering this information for every visitor, you can develop a full understanding of both your customers and website visitors. In addition to creating individualized experiences, you can use your overall knowledge to make product and marketing decisions. Through artificial intelligence, beauty brands can fully understand their prospects and start a relationship built on trust.