Let me take a minute to share with you what we do at Qzzr and why we use quizzes to accomplish this mission. 

The world of online shopping lacks experts.

No, I’m not talking about that digital coupon-wielding, deal-scouring friend of yours who knows where you can find an HDMI cable for 25 cents. I’m talking about an expert that’s there to help me, as a customer, find just what I’m looking for.

That’s right. You’re not misreading me. I’m actually suggesting that what the digital retail space is missing is retail sales associates.

“Josh. Hang on,” you say. “Nobody likes salespeople. That’s why brick and mortar is dying!” Listen, I sympathize. I can’t tell you how often I reply to a friendly, “Is there anything I can help you find today?” with a muttered “Just looking, thanks.” But for all our hard-worn stereotypes, the vast majority of shoppers say their in-store purchases are influenced by store associates, and more than half of consumers feel that service is lacking online. And yes, even a dyed-in-the-wool salesperson avoider is going to turn to an associate for guidance when making a big purchase. I can read reviews and customer comments until I’m blue in the face, but there’s no making up for having a real conversation with a real person about what I’m looking to buy and why she thinks option A is a much better choice than option B.

We all want to be listened to. We all want advice we can trust.

The human touch.

E-commerce, and especially v-commerce, have reshaped the path of production to consumer, usually to the consumer’s benefit. But as digitally native companies have begun to simplify and condense how a product gets to a consumer, they’ve been forced to get creative in how to fill some of those gaps. Let’s take a look at a simple comparative example.

Let’s say my company, Bucky’s Bags, is ready to launch its latest product, the Bucky Bag Deluxe. In the old world of retail sales, the process would’ve looked something like this:

  • Product development/R&D team uses market research and product testing to determine Bucky Bag Deluxe’s viability. 
  • Marketing and advertising team uses big data (demographics, customer behavior, etc) to determine when/where to advertise the Bucky Bag Deluxe in order to best optimize reach.
  • Educate in-store retail associates at both third party retailers and Bucky’s Bags brick and mortar locations to be experts on the Bucky Bag Deluxe.
  • In-store associates interact with customers, talk to them about the Bucky Bag Deluxe, and make recommendations when needed.
  • Customer purchases the Bucky Bag Deluxe.

That’s (more or less) how things worked for decades. E-commerce began to disrupt that model, and v-commerce is turning it on its head. Now let’s imagine Bucky’s Bags as a digitally native, vertically integrated company.

  • Product development/R&D team uses market research and product testing to determine Bucky Bag Deluxe’s viability.
  • Marketing and advertising team uses big(ger) data (demographics, customer behavior, analytics, etc) to determine where and to whom to advertise the Bucky Bag Deluxe in order to best optimize reach.
  • Bring customers to a product page or website about the Bucky Bag Deluxe.
  • Customer purchases the Bucky Bag Deluxe.

Without a human being available to make a sale by having a back and forth conversation about their needs and concerns, digitally native brands are forced to let websites and landing pages do the talking.

Demographics and big data were never meant to close deals.

“Okay, hang on,” some might interject. “We know more about our customers than ever! Those dusty old retail sales associates were unreliable and biased. I know that someone who is 28 years old, makes $60,000 a year, watches Game of Thrones, and has searched for ‘new shoes’ in the past 2 days is 280% more likely to make a purchase! That’s magic!”

Your liberal usage of exclamation points aside, you have a great point. Thanks to big data and analytics, we’re more efficient than ever at optimizing marketing and advertising. But big data and demographics have always been best at doing just that. Marketing and advertising.

Many digitally native companies have started to see this, and are proactively searching for solutions. In-depth customer surveys, digital profiles, researched-backed personas -- these are all steps in the right direction, but ultimately they’re different verses of the same song. It’s applying top-down logic to what has always been an intimate interaction.

When it comes to making a final purchase, every one of us is unique. There are thousands if not millions of factors, subconscious and ever-changing, that can play into why I decided to buy the Terry’s Tote XL and not the Bucky Bag Deluxe.

You can use countless data points to hone in on me being a prime target for your product, but when it comes time to make the final pitch, we are all more than the sum of our digital footprint.

When I walk into a car dealership, I might be certain I want a used Toyota Corolla. I’ve done all my research, and I know that’s the car I want. My persona might say I should get a Jeep Wrangler. But after an afternoon talking with a salesperson, I drive off the lot in a Subaru Outback.

It’s impossible to predict how a shopper is going to behave, but that salesperson asked questions, gathered information, and picked up on context clues in order to find me a car that they intuited would be a good fit. And more importantly, if this salesperson is good at their job, they figured out how to best pitch me on that car and additional features.

Offering products based off personas and demographics is kind of like reading someone’s dating site profile, quietly following them around town for awhile, deciding you’re a perfect match, and then immediately expecting them to want to move in with you.

We think you should at least have a conversation first.

Let your customer tell you what they want.

It’s become increasingly evident that online shoppers are searching for a more personalized experience, and that market-based approaches aren’t the solution. So what is?

As a digitally native brand, you can’t expect to offer a true personal interaction before the point of sale in the way that a human sales associate in a retail location can, so what’s the next best thing?

It all starts with asking questions.

If you’ve visited your fair share of digitally native retail sites, you’ve probably seen a few variations on a “customer profile quiz.” These can range from simple filter-like questions built to act as an engaging search tool, to personality-based questions used to match a customer with a particular style.

Even in their simplest and most limited form, these experiences give shoppers an idea that you’re taking the time to get to know them, and in return, they’re expecting to get a recommendation that fits them best. It’s a signal to your customer that you don’t see them as a mere list of attributes and behaviors. And it’s the future of shopping online.

Ask the right questions.

Remember that car salesperson who helped me realize I wanted a Subaru Outback and not a Toyota Corolla? What made them especially adept at getting me to that car? 

Salespeople are only human (despite what some of them might try and tell you), so there’s a massive disparity when comparing one to another. But a through-line between all good salespeople is the ability to ask the right questions, pay close attention to a customer’s responses, and use their experience and knowledge to know what to offer and how to offer it.

Think of Qzzr as the ultimate online salesperson. We know the right questions to ask, when to ask them, and how to follow up on a given response.

And that’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. See, when that car salesperson asks me a question, they’re able to intuit a whole lot based off the words I say and how I say them. A good salesperson can tell when a customer is being withholding, telling them what they want to hear, or flat out lying. When someone fills out an online survey, however, we’re forced to take them at their word. As a result, most customer surveys fall victim to self-report bias and/or the Hawthorne Effect. When a customer is being surveyed, their entire behavior changes based solely on the fact that they know they’re filling out a survey. They overthink things, they give responses they think you want to hear, and oftentimes you end up with a hollow papier-mâché replica of a customer.

When a well-trained sales associate talks to a customer, they don’t rely on a series of survey questions. A good salesperson tries to discover two primary things: why is this customer shopping for this particular item, and what kind of person am I talking to.

Find the why.

The first and most straightforward thing to discover about your customer is what they’re hiring you and your product to do. Are they unhappy with a similar product and looking to make a change? Are they a return customer excited to try your latest offering? Are they curiously trying something brand-new?

This is the simple, “What brings you in today?” question that we hear just about any time we walk into a brick-and-mortar retailer. In the digitally native retail world, we have to work a little harder to get an answer to that seemingly simple question. Using branching questions, we can hone in on hundreds of potential scenarios with just a few questions decontextualize the types of products you would offer to a customer and how you’d want to surface those offers

Qzzr uses image-based and psychometrically-proven questions that have been checked and verified to elicit rapid and truthful responses. Customers respond to these questions quickly and without over-thinking, which allows us to tap into the type of subconscious thoughts and motivators that will help know what product to offer and how to offer it.

This is where the greatest potential lives.

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