Online retailers face numerous challenges but a prime one is working out which of its thousands of products it should put in front of its customers first. It’s a problem compounded by a staggering drop off, with a significant proportion of customers never looking past the first two pages and virtually none making it to page three.
“People’s attention spans are minuscule,” says ATTRAQT’s CEO, André Brown. “One retailer reported that for every 100 millisecond increase in page load times, they saw conversion rates drop by 0.1%. There really are no second chances in this game.”
To meet these challenges, André co-founded ATTRAQT to provide cloud-based and server-to-server SaaS tools that maximise onsite search, online merchandising and ecommerce personalisation for ecommerce retailers. Its two distinct products, Freestyle Merchandising and Fredhopper, are easily managed without the need for extensive IT support and offer a highly configurable, real-time platform that drives conversion. Businesses currently using the platform include ASOS , The North Face and Timberland.
“We’re all about controlling the mix of products on those first few pages,” André explains. “If you walk past a high street store, the window display has had a blended visualising merchandising strategy applied to it, with some brand new products, some best-sellers and some things that have a high margin or large stock availability. It’s a deliberate balance of attention-grabbing items and ones they have a good chance of selling. We give online retailers a similar set of tools for the online world, which combines manual with fully automated merchandising techniques and gives the retailers the best of both worlds.”
Since ATTRAQT allows products to be selected according to any number of metrics, you might think that a correctly calibrated algorithm could automatically adjust the products headlining each website. Why the process is semi- rather than fully automated is both deliberate and revealing in its use of any company’s biggest asset – its employees.
“Our clients’ visual merchandisers really know how to sell,” he says. “They’re constantly watching what their competitors are doing and spotting emerging trends on social media too. They know they have to be as close to real time as they can get but to update manually is a slow, time-intensive approach. So what we’re doing is supplying the tools that make it easy for them to make fast, responsive changes.”
How quickly do retailers need to react? In a world this plugged into social media – very quickly. André thinks that the speed and power afforded by automation combined by the experience and intuition of employees blends the best of both worlds. “There’s a lot of benefits to AI and machine learning but we still need human control,” he says. “Since an AI can’t explain its own outcome, you’re always going to have to interpret the results.”
André sees future iterations of ATTRAQT’s products creating increasingly granular results, allowing websites to be tailored to suit individual shoppers.“If we identify someone as a bargain hunter,” he says, “they’re going to see things that are either cheap or on sale on a website. Someone else who’s more of a fashionista is probably less price-sensitive, so we can sequence new items from high to low cost. And someone who’s a brand warrior will see the brands they love at the very top of the page.”
When each second counts as much as it does in online retail, putting the brands, products or savings each customer wants right in front of them is a strategy that’s bound to make a difference.