Great product data enhances shopping experiences

by Roberto Simi | CTO Situ Live

Feb 26, 2021

Recently I decided to upgrade my television and was very quickly reminded of the painful process of purchasing technology products online. It required tiresome evenings spent comparing features and wading through jargon-heavy reviews, and even then, it wasn’t easy to make a good choice.  

Shoppers are looking for the maximum amount of relevant advice for the least amount of effort. They want to feel confident in their purchases - no-one wants to be the victim of “buyer’s remorse”. 

There is undoubtedly a vast volume of product data available online, yet with so much of it is difficult to decipher, inaccurate, and poorly presented, this increases the likelihood of consumers delaying or abandoning purchases.  

To help tackle some of these issues, Situ Live is creating a digital store featuring innovative products and technology that can help people live a better life. Users can discover, compare, and choose some of the smartest products on the market. In addition, we are providing shoppers easy to use tools, information and advice that will empower their decision-making process.  

Many consumers struggle to identify which product features are relevant to them and which are unnecessary, especially when they are all marketed as “essential”. All too often shoppers use price as the stand-alone guideline, but there are lots of other factors which can differentiate a product.  

We are looking beyond price and aesthetics, and are addressing four challenges that impact purchase decisions: 

  • Choice overload 
  • Feature relevance 
  • Capability comparison  
  • Unclear availability 
Choice overload 

Psychologist and author of the Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz identified that having too much choice negatively impacts decision making - a phenomenon known as “choice paralysis”.  

Initially more options lead to more satisfaction, but as the number of choices increases it soon peaks and people feel increased pressure, confusion, and potentially dissatisfaction with their choice. Situ Live will enable shoppers to narrow their options simply and easily to reduce this anxiety.  

There are two steps involved from choice to purchase. The consumer must first create a product shortlist before they make their final selection from this assortment.  

There is a lot of content out there to aid the second step of the process – think detailed product reviews and unboxing videos – but there is limited advice to support the initial narrowing process. This is where the next challenge comes in.  

Feature relevance 

Some people will have the desire, time, or prior knowledge to fully understand the technology concepts behind a product’s features. But for many this isn’t the case.  

Many shoppers just want to know whether the features matter for how they will use it – this could be related to the environment in which the product will be used, the task it will be used for, or the user’s level of experience.  

When buying a drill, the person who has never done DIY will not care about the same features as someone who is renovating their third house. This person may even find too many features off-putting.  

Comparing features is tricky when the shopper doesn’t fully understand the implications of a feature. Knowing one product has Bluetooth and the other does not, doesn’t actually help shoppers who have no idea how Bluetooth may affect the product’s function.  

Situ Live is investing in tools and content that help shoppers quickly understand the important features to look for in a particular product category. This simplifies the initial product selection process.  

Capability comparison 

Another big challenge for online shoppers is effectively comparing the capabilities of products. Knowing that a laptop weighs 1.8kg doesn’t help the shopper understand whether this is particularly light or heavy, relative to the other laptops on sale.  

This can cause a lot of frustrated back and forth between many detailed product specifications, as users struggle to understand the comparisons and whether they even matter in the context.  

Our focus is on helping shoppers quickly see the relative capabilities of products by providing tools to easily understand and compare features across product categories.  

This then leads to the fourth challenge which is knowing what is available to purchase.  

Unclear availability 

Frustratingly shoppers can spend a lot of time researching models before deciding, only to discover the product isn’t actually available from any trusted retailers.  

Online recommendation engines are becoming increasingly advanced, able to provide hyper personalised suggestions at scale with impressive accuracy. Yet in many cases these systems base their predictions on the products manufactured, and do not consider what is in stock at that time.  

This means shoppers may be recommended products with no availability or only available from less credible or distant retailers.  

Situ Live digital advisors use feeds from brands and retailers to determine current availability and pricing, and only recommend products which can be purchased direct from the brand or from trusted retailers.