How Visual AI Removes Retail Roadblocks

How Visual AI Removes Retail Roadblocks

woman carrying a shopping bag crossing a street

In an ever-evolving retail landscape, the issue of shoppers abandoning their customer journey is one challenge that has remained constant. Whether it’s the frustration stemming from inaccurate product searches, the time-consuming nature of manual sorting, or the overwhelming array of choices, there’s a wide variety of roadblocks that brands and retailers must confront if they want to convert shoppers into customers that will make it all the way through checkout. 

Visual AI is a potent tool proven capable of addressing the very factors that undermine customer satisfaction. In this article, we’ll engage in a mental exercise by putting ourselves in the shoes of shoppers who encounter barriers and prematurely abandon their customer journey, and explore how visual AI can effectively mitigate these losses and drive continued purchases.

Unveiling Common Retail Roadblocks

In this section, let’s try to view things through the eyes of your customers. We’ll look at three major stages of the customer journey, the roadblocks that shoppers could be facing, and how things might look different with the right tools and strategy.

The beginning of the customer journey

Initially, customers are curious and excited at the thought of finding what they want or need. Inspired, they are driven to research, explore, and set a budget for their purchases, but things don’t always go smoothly. Here are some of the usual challenges shoppers encounter at this point in the process:

Roadblock 1: Overwhelmed by the sea of options

Problem: Upon accessing your retail site, what do shoppers see? Customers’ screens might be awash with an overwhelming sea of products, a sensory overload that can leave them unsure of what seems like a huge undertaking. A previous study proved this was costly to retailers: more than half stopped purchasing due to choice overload, and 71% switched to the competition to find the right product.

Solution: Your customers don’t have to be overwhelmed. You can employ an invisible but ever-present personal shopping assistant with features powered by visual AI. For example, shoppers can view tailored product recommendations that resonate with their preferences and style through personalized recommendation carousels. Using these tools can change what might initially seem like a chaotic presentation of random products into a well-organized showcase on your homepage, and the once-daunting navigation becomes effortless with uncomplicated and automated filtering.

Roadblock 2: Out of stock

out of stock maxi dress

Problem: What happens when a potential customer can’t buy the item they want? Picture this: Eagerly looking for the perfect outfit, one of your shoppers spots a gorgeous dress and tries to add it to her basket. Imagine how disappointing it would be to see an “out of stock” message for her size. It stops her in her tracks. Frustration creeps in, and she chooses to abandon her journey on your site prematurely. This is not an uncommon experience. About 60% of US shoppers say unavailability has impacted their shopping behavior.

Solution: In cases of stockouts, real-time inventory monitoring is integral as it ensures that your website is constantly updated. With actual inventory information reflected on your online store, you can manage shoppers’ expectations. Going one step further, brands can also provide alternatives based on the customer’s historical data, preferences, and product availability, as well as insights gleaned from automated product tagging. Further, brands can also set up a real-time alert system that notifies customers when an item becomes available. 

Roadblock 3: Searches don’t lead to the item they want

Problem: It’s instinctive for us to go directly to the search bar on eCommerce sites when you’re looking for something specific, and not just browsing. However, shoppers may not always know how to express exactly what they want, or they may not know the right keywords to pull up the most relevant results. If this happens, frustration can quickly set in. Instead of a gateway, the search bar becomes a barrier to discovery. In fact, Baymard Institute found that almost one-third of all attempts to find products fail when shoppers use the search function.

Solution: Thankfully, there are many tools that can alleviate such a frustrating search experience. Through camera search, customers can effortlessly point their device at an item they desire or upload a saved photo, and visual AI will steer them toward similar products. Additionally, visual AI’s capability to analyze product images and spot similar items based on shape, color, pattern, and texture ensures that customers not only discover what they initially sought but also stumble upon delightful alternatives. The behind-the-scenes automatic product tagging and categorization shift the purchase process from a scavenger hunt to a smooth and gratifying exploration.

Roadblock 4: They find what they like but the price is too high

shocked woman looking at laptop

Problem: Imagine customers scrolling through your site or search results, and they stumble upon an almost ideal purchase. It’s the right size, color, material, pattern – almost every detail aligns with their preferences. Then, an all-too-familiar obstacle looms large: the price tag. Disheartened, seeing a product they want but can’t afford, the shopper simply abandons their quest on your site altogether.

Solution: Price is an important consideration for many shoppers – as much as 70% to 90% of customers in major markets identify as value-conscious. You can address the price predicament by arming yourself with insights into what appeals to shoppers. Recommendation carousels can suggest alternative products boasting similar styles, designs, or features but at a more wallet-friendly price point. Moreover, customers can “favorite” the item they desire, and if the price eventually dips or a discount emerges, a notification promptly arrives.

The middle of the customer journey

In the middle of the customer journey, shoppers often find themselves with questions and considerations that can make or break their purchase. They contemplate product comparisons, weigh the value of their purchases, and seek reassurance that their choices align with their needs and preferences, all while navigating through the decision-making process. The following are the usual hurdles that shoppers face at this point in their journey:

Roadblock 1: Inability to compare products

woman carrying several clothes on her arms

Problem: With so many shopping choices these days, shoppers are looking for the very best deal out there. Just because your brand offers a product they want, it doesn’t mean they will complete the purchase from your site without doing some homework. In fact, 28% of shoppers use their mobile phones while inside a physical store to search for discounts, compare prices, and peruse product reviews. This emphasizes a want to make informed decisions – discerning customers research the products they want to buy and weigh the possibilities. Information overload, however, is a reality. The sheer number of options and the lack of clarity on differences can leave your customers feeling overwhelmed. 

Solution: Brands can save customers time by making the information they seek readily available on their sites. With its capability to facilitate side-by-side product comparisons, AI-powered tools remedy the situation by presenting key features and specifications of each item. Customers can now evaluate their options with confidence, quickly discerning which product aligns best with their needs. Shopping can become a streamlined and informative experience, ensuring that customers find the perfect product.

Roadblock 2: Inadequate personalization

Problem: By this point of the customer journey, shoppers seeing a product that they have no interest in is jarring – and it can be costly for brands. Personalization is now a must instead of a nice-to-have. Almost half of all consumers express a preference for making purchases through brands that provide personalized experiences. With inadequate or no personalization, customers may doubt whether the product they’re eyeing truly aligns with their needs. They can also convince themselves to check other retailers that might have their likes pegged.

Solution: Retailers can prevent the loss in revenue by unlocking the power of personalization. This capability analyzes zero-party data to discern customers’ demographics and style preferences, ensuring that the end-to-end shopping experience feels tailor-made. This transforms it into a journey that resonates intimately with each customer, which then has the desired effect of making them feel seen and understood – and wanting to come back for more. 

The end of the customer journey

Toward the end of the customer journey, shoppers typically weigh their overall confidence with a product or service. Still, it’s not a sure profit – any minor inconvenience can prompt them to change their minds. Challenges that shoppers commonly encounter during this part of their journey include:

Roadblock 1: Complex checkout process

person holding a credit card while checking out online

Problem: When customers approach the final stretch of their shopping journey, a complex checkout process can be a major turn off. In fact, a survey of US consumers found that 17% have abandoned an order for this very reason.

Solution: Online brands and retailers can use visual AI technology to become trusted allies. Image recognition solutions allow shoppers to effortlessly scan their credit cards for faster and more precise input of payment information. Gone are the days of laboriously typing out card numbers, expiry dates, and security codes. Moreover, retailers can take it further with these tools by simplifying the checkout form, and automatically filling in details.

Roadblock 2: Concerns about product suitability

Problem: When buying online, nagging uncertainties about product suitability can easily lead a customer away from purchase. The fear of choosing items with the wrong specifications looms large, and many consumers just don’t want to deal with the potential need to go through a frustrating return or exchange process. 

Solution: Through AR-powered size guides, customers are granted the unique opportunity to virtually “try on” clothing and accessories. About 61% of shoppers already say they prefer retailers with AR experiences. This ingenious tool allows them to visualize how items will fit before adding them to their cart, alleviating their uncertainty. More than enhancing customer confidence, this also presents an opportunity for retailers to upsell and cross-sell, adding additional value to the shopping cart. 

Turning Blocks Into Bridges

By adeptly addressing common roadblocks that hinder the customer journey at every stage,  visual AI possesses strong potential as the perfect shopping companion. In addition to improving customer satisfaction, it also optimizes operational efficiency for retailers. As retail continues to evolve, embracing visual AI isn’t just an option – it’s a strategic imperative for those looking to excel in delivering seamless, informed, and engaging shopping experiences.

Author: Sirena Rubinoff 

Bio: Sirena is a Senior Content Marketer at Syte. She is a creative thinker with over a decade of experience in research, writing, and editing for B2B companies. She is passionate about bringing eCommerce ideas to life on paper and on screen.

To learn more about Syte, visit today.

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