Buyers are smarter than ever. Whether they’re meticulously researching products and comparing prices, seeking enhanced and personalized customer experiences, or prioritizing ethical and sustainable companies, smart buyers demand sellers who can keep up. Sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be! In fact, with a few simple adjustments, you can understand and meet these new consumer expectations. Not only that, but by creating a collaborative relationship with buyers, your smart selling will ensure win-win for everyone involved. So let’s explore some simple tweaks that make a big impact in connecting with today’s discerning shoppers and that will help retailers and merchants sell smarter.
Use UGC to inform your customers before they buy
72% of Brazilian buyers research their products online before making a purchase (regardless of whether the purchase is online or offline). According to a recent study by Opinion Box, researching a product does not simply mean doing a search on Google or Amazon, but obtaining information via WhatsApp, Youtube, TikTok, Reclame Aqui, or even talking to friends and family. Remember that Brazilians are very connected! The 100 largest apps in the country have almost 1.5 billion active accounts, a growth of 91% compared to the pre-pandemic period.
Smart shoppers research products and brands across a multitude of apps and platforms, and that’s where you need to be. Much of this information is in the form of UGC (User Generated Content), meaning any user-generated content related to your products or brands. Reviews, Instagram stories, forum threads are ways to be monitored and taken advantage of, whenever possible. How is your ranking on Google? Have you responded constructively to negative reviews? If you have a profile on Reclame Aqui, do you know if it is up to date, has any complaints or questions been resolved?
Encourage happy customers to participate too! Research shows that customer reviews, photos and videos make a big difference in increasing trust between buyer and seller. In fact, 79% of consumers say UGC clearly influences their purchasing decisions, with 85% of consumers considering a company’s star rating before finalizing a purchase.
UGC is also a great way to boost your brand’s SEO. For example, nonprofit website CaringBridge used Facebook to ask users for help with content creation and, as a result, saw an increase in organic traffic of 228% over a period of one year.
By turning to its Facebook followers for guidance on each topic, the company created a series of informative articles, sourcing ideas and including real commentary from its posts on the platform. They then completed these articles, encouraging customers to comment and exchange more ideas, resulting in increased traffic and hundreds of more comments on each post. By using simple indexing and moderation on comments, the company could then add more relevant information to the page and increase quality, while keeping content fresh and customer loyalty more consistent, reflecting the community’s contribution to itself . All of this was achieved at a much lower cost than a less organic campaign.
Employing data-driven strategies and machine learning algorithms to analyze UGC allows sellers to better understand users’ expectations for their brands or products. Just a few of the many potential applications for ML and UGC that sellers should already be pursuing are: improved customer segmentation, personalization, content creation, and sentiment analysis.
Another recent success story is that of Shopee, which leveraged UGC to quickly expand its SEO rankings and online presence. By incentivizing users with coins that can be used for other purchases if they leave photo and video reviews, they were not only able to attract more buyers, but they also gained the most valuable of currencies for online offerings: credibility! And this, in turn, boosted your SEO rankings.
Remember, a surprising 79% of consumers think UGC influences their purchasing decisions more than influencer or branded content. Not only does great UGC portray your brand as more authentic, it also reduces abandoned carts, increases your SEO, fosters customer communities, and can even increase long-term brand loyalty.
Dynamic pricing helps you sell smart
In 2023, smart shoppers compare prices more than ever. According to Criteo’s “The Rise of the Savvy Shoppers” survey, 71% of shoppers are spending more time online to research deals that will help them get the best value for money before making a purchase, and the share of Global online shoppers purchasing from five or more retailers increased 28% year-over-year at the end of 2022.
Price comparison apps and websites are also becoming more popular in Brazil, which means smart sellers need to leverage the same technologies to employ dynamic pricing and beat the competition.
Through the use of data analytics and AI, dynamic pricing models can be adjusted in real time based on market trends and consumer behavior, providing a competitive advantage in the dynamic landscape of online commerce. Employed correctly, they can not only increase profits, but also increase customer satisfaction, differentiate your store from the competition, and provide valuable information about current and potential customers.
Prioritize, personalize and enhance the customer journey
Shopping, both online and offline, is becoming as much about the experience as it is about the product. CX (Customer Experience) aims to provide your customers with positive impressions before, during and after the purchase, or interaction with the brand. An improved customer journey can make all the difference. According to CX Trends, 65% of buyers give up buying from a company after a bad experience.
While they may not need assistance, helping smart buyers make decisions can also be an important part of smart selling. 63% of customers prefer to make their purchases alone, without the help of a salesperson or attendant, however, they also want to get help quickly if they need it. Unobtrusive use of AI, such as chatbots and virtual assistants that can transparently employ customer data to provide product recommendations, resolve issues, and generally be there for 24/7 support, are a great way to combine technology with empathy.
Data-driven AI chatbots can also be used to follow up with customers via a friendly email or WhatsApp message. 63% of Brazilian customers prefer companies to contact them via WhatsApp for post-sales communication, with 58% choosing email as the best method for companies to contact them. Strategic use of WhatsApp chatbots for customer service can not only reduce operational costs but also increase customer satisfaction by providing a more efficient and personalized experience.
The intelligent use of analytics is therefore an essential part of any smart sales strategy, and this is yet another area where understanding the applications of AI and ML will bring rewards now and in the future. Google Analytics 4, for example, uses AI and ML tools to provide highly actionable insights into your online performance. Users are able to visualize the possibilities for business growth, which allows for more efficient targeting of marketing strategies. GA4 can also anticipate revenue, group audiences into segments with similar properties, and check conversion funnels. You can also focus more on user engagement and behavior across platforms, apps and websites.
Previously only the purview of large companies, these new “martech” offerings are increasingly accessible and available to small and medium-sized companies, which, in turn, can significantly reduce customer acquisition cost (CAC) and increase revenue. lifetime value (LTV), without the need for large investments or advanced technological knowledge.
In this era of smart buyers, the power of data-driven strategies is what will separate the smart sellers from the rest. Leveraging UGC to build trust before a purchase, employing dynamic pricing models to stand out from the competition, or improving customer journeys with AI both during and after purchases are just some of the tools smart sellers have at their disposal.
However, smart selling is not just about transactions; it’s about fostering collaborative relationships with your customers and continually adapting and learning through analyzing behaviors and trends. By understanding, adapting and connecting, smart sellers can thrive in the dynamic landscape of modern commerce, ensuring a prosperous future for their customers.
*Mathias Ferraz is Business Development Director at Lessy in Brazil