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Digital Strategy, Ecommerce, Customer Experience • 9 min read

Connecting with your customers across third-party sites and marketplaces

Jan Horlings | 19-03-2021

In part 2 of this Guided Selling series, you read about how you can use a Guided Sales Assistant to turn anonymous visitors into leads, especially in complex and/or B2B scenarios.

To summarize:

  1. By first asking a triggering question, you will engage with the customer.
  2. By asking additional questions, you will understand the customer’s context better.
  3. This will enable you to recommend one or a few products that align with the customer’s specific needs.
  4. Offer an incentive, such as a personalized PDF, to re-enforce the decision and influence other stakeholders in the organization.
  5. Capture the customer’s credentials and store enriched customer data in your backend system. (All data that came out of the dialog)
After this, you can follow up in the desired channels if the customer does not yet convert. But the main goal was achieved: you converted an anonymous visitor to a qualified lead in a single unsupervised session!

If this works on your site, would it be possible to embed the same assistant in another website that you do not own, e.g., the site of your distributor, or a retailer, or even a marketplace like Amazon?

The answer is ‘Yes!’ but with some restrictions. Third parties are generally not inclined to hand over actual leads or specific customer information. If the third party is a close contact, you can probably make some agreements on this, e.g., sharing the leads and defining who can contact the customer when. For larger platforms such as marketplaces, this will usually not be possible. However, you can still view the first-hand analytics data collected by your Digital Assistant! This can multiply the reach of your assistant, offering crucial benefits for you, your distributors, AND your customers.

The ‘how’ is simple. Your assistants can be easily integrated using a line of javascript in your distributor's network if the platform allows. For marketplaces, our partner Zoovu offers a solution that can roll out your digital assistant to multiple retailers and monitor their sales performance – all managed in a single platform

See, for example, the Miele product finder homepage on Amazon:

Digital Assistant_ Osudio Digital Agency

 


On this page, the Amazon visitor can open the assistant for the desired category, can easily find the right product by answering some crucial questions until he has found the right product. At this stage he is referred back to the related product detail page on Amazon.

Advantages of publishing your assistant on third-party sites

Let’s have a look at the advantages of publishing your assistant on third-party sites because there are several:

  • Consistency & Branding. Just as in the Miele example on Amazon, syndicating your assistant means that your customers will get the same expert advice and the same look and feel on every integrated touchpoint.
  • Unburdening your partner’s sales force. If a retailer or wholesaler has a large assortment, they probably do not know all the details of all your products like your own salesforce does. The Guided Selling Assistant will fill this gap.
  • Avoiding wrong advice. Without the assistant, your customers may very well purchase a product based on wrong or incomplete advice. This not only means a dissatisfied customer but extra costs for return shipping, refunds, handling, etc. Sound advice will improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs.
  • Data: You will have first-hand access to the analytics of the assistant, even if the customers are visiting your partner’s sites or a marketplace! This will allow you to better understand differences in your audience across touch points.

While any of these points alone would be a sufficient reason to start this journey, in my opinion, the most exciting feature may be customer data.

Getting direct customer data from indirect channels

Many manufacturers struggle with the problem of connecting with their end-customers. Without a relationship, there is a danger of becoming ‘commoditized’ in an open market where your product is not unique. In such a playing field, the wholesaler or retailer can just replace your product with that of a competitor that gives him a better margin without much impact. This is why some manufacturers are looking for ways to ‘skip the middleman’ and go to market directly: D2C (direct to consumer).

Whether you want to improve your position in the existing distribution channels or have the option to make a move to D2C, having good and reliable customer-data is crucial.

Integrating a Guided Sales Assistant in your third-party distribution channels can provide you with first-hand access to this data! The dialog between the digital assistant and the customer enables the manufacturer to get a better understanding of customers as well as visitors that do not convert.

Having this data will give you some options:

  • You can use the data output from the assistant to improve your service offering on specific channels or regions, e.g., when you discover that customers in particular areas have specific needs.
  • You can use the data to spot issues in your distribution channels.
    Example: If on a certain shop, 70% of the audience chooses product C when using your assistant, but in the overall sales option B is most sold, this can point to a lack of good advice outside the assistant (incomplete info on the Product Detail Page) or sales reps that are more comfortable selling another product from your assortment, or a competitor!
  • You can collect personal data on your end customers and become less dependent on your distribution channel. As mentioned before, collecting actual customer data on other websites should be discussed in the open. You can reassure your customer (and your own legal department) that Zoovu is GDPR compliant and does not store personal data.
As you can see, the options are manifold. To summarize, embedding your guided sales assistant in third party channels allows you to:
  • Improve Consistency & Branding.
  • Unburden your partner’s sales force.
  • Avoid wrong advice.
  • Collect Data:
    • To improve your local offerings
    • To discover discrepancies in your distribution channels
    • To improve your customer relationships.

 

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Jan Horlings

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