Reimagining retail product discovery and customer experience in 2022

Reimagining retail product discovery and customer experience in 2022

Jan 18, 2022 • 6 min read

Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, the online shopping craze is not slowing down. Thanks to ongoing pandemic precautions, a rapidly increasing number of people are turning to digital commerce platforms to shop for everything from daily groceries to clothes, shoes, gadgets, gifts and anything else that fulfills their retail therapy needs. But remember, with a plethora of online shopping options for customers in today’s digital marketplace, it only takes one negative experience for a customer to ditch your brand in favor of a competitor's.

If you’re in the retail industry, you should already understand how important your product discovery e-commerce solution is for creating exceptional digital customer experiences, boosting conversions and reducing search abandonment. To reinforce just how critical it is, consider the following stats from a recent Google Search Abandonment Survey:

  • 94% of global consumers report receiving search results that were not relevant to what they were searching for on a retail website.
  • 85% of these consumers say they view the brand differently after an unsuccessful search, and 74% say they avoid websites where they've experienced search difficulties in the past.
  • Retailers lose over $300 billion each year from bad online search experiences in the US alone.

It should, therefore, be a priority for retailers to personalize the product discovery journey and provide Google-quality search and recommendations to attract, retain and delight customers in 2022, and beyond.

Thankfully, we are witnessing the emergence of a revolutionary new approach to producing personalized and context-driven search in retail based on semantic vectors. And who better than Google to lead the implementation of these forward-thinking ideas!  

Google Cloud Retail Search, part of the Google Cloud Product Discovery suite of solutions, was released in January 2021, providing retailers the opportunity to gain competitive advantage in 2022 with semantic search.

Google Cloud Retail Search is the next-generation answer to context-driven search that enables retailers to implement Google-quality product search that is customizable and built upon Google’s understanding of user intent and context.

It is bundled with the following sophisticated tools to deliver highly personalized product recommendations at scale across channels, and help shoppers easily search for products with an image on their mobile device:

  • Recommendations AI can understand nuances behind customer behavior, context, and SKUs in order to drive engagement across channels through relevant recommendations.
  • Vision Product Search uses ML-powered object recognition and lookup to provide real-time results of similar or complementary items from your product catalog.

It wasn’t long ago that all search was keyword-based and relied on exact term matches to return relevant results. However, today’s customers expect a reply from a search engine that understands the context of the thing or idea they are searching for.

Google Retail Search goes beyond traditional keyword search and enables retailers to provide highly personalized product results using a semantic-based approach that works to understand the context and intent behind customer queries.

A paradigm shift in retail search
A paradigm shift in retail search

Semantic vector search is a deep learning approach in which a model learns from shopper behavior to capture the latent features (additional/hidden data) of queries and products and represent them as semantic vectors (numerical format that computers can read) in a multidimensional vector space - similar to the way in which retail products are organized and categorized in a physical store. Semantically similar products and queries are clustered together in the vector space, where nearest neighbors are ranked as the most relevant matches.

Semantic vector search is capable of processing language ambiguities like synonymy and polysemy, out-of-vocabulary natural language, as well as thematic and subjective queries.

These innovative new approaches to understanding the context behind search queries makes semantic vector search the new frontier in product discovery.

Retail Search enables delightful customer experiences

In short: Retail Search helps shoppers find exactly what they want faster with personalized results, and it helps retailers better understand the needs of their customers to optimize the experience for higher conversion rates and happier, more brand-loyal customers.

Available across your website and mobile applications, the retail search solution is fully customizable, uses machine learning to improve results with every search, and also includes auto complete suggestions and the ability to boost relevant promotions or prioritize ranking based on business goals.

Coupled with recommendations and visual search, described below, customers are now empowered to find the products they need, want and love easier and faster than ever before!

Recommendations AI further personalizes the product discovery journey

Recommendations AI uses Google’s latest machine learning architectures, which dynamically adapt to real-time customer behavior like views, clicks, in-store purchases and online activity, as well as changes in product variables like assortment, pricing, and special offers. This means that your customers are served with the most relevant and personalized product recommendations, while your product strategies and business goals are bolstered at the same time.

Furthermore, you can track conversion rate, click-through rate, and revenue optimization to help you more precisely optimize for your business goals. You can also take it a step further with the API model and personalize your shopper journey across all channels - from mobile apps and personalized email recommendations, to store kiosks or call center applications.

With recommendations, your customers can easily find similar products with respect to fashion or artistic style.
With recommendations, your customers can easily find similar products with respect to fashion or artistic style.

Vision Product Search is Google’s solution for object detection challenges in the retail industry. Using powerful pre-trained machine learning models through REST and RPC APIs, the search tool can detect objects and faces, and read printed and handwritten text.

Retailers can encode the product images in their catalog with visual identifiers that describe the products from different viewpoints, and categorize them according to the following supported product sets: homegoods, apparel, toys, packaged goods, and general.

Now, when a customer uploads an image of the product they are searching for in your e-commerce search solution, Vision API Product Search applies machine learning to compare the product in the customer's query image with the images in your product set, and then returns a ranked list of visually and semantically similar results.

Let your customers just point and shoot the things they like to instantly find them in your catalog.
Let your customers just point and shoot the things they like to instantly find them in your catalog.

Getting started with Google Cloud Retail Search the right way

Wondering how to integrate Google Cloud Retail Search into your ecommerce platform in the most controlled and efficient way?

Migrating to Google Retail Search is no easy feat. Every retail environment is unique, with specific product discovery requirements and customer experience needs. In order to get maximum ROI, faster speed to market and optimal value out of your retail search solution, you need a trusted partner with retail search expertise, optimized integration methodologies and Google Cloud specific experience.

You’ve come to the right place!

Integrate Google Cloud Retail Search with Grid Dynamics

As a Google Cloud Premier Partner (reserved for the top 3% of participating companies) and an Implementation Partner for Google Cloud Retail Search, Grid Dynamics is uniquely equipped to provide all the necessary analysis, customizations, performance and relevance tuning to help retailers connect customers with the products they love in the fastest, most effective way.

Our Google Cloud Retail Search services include:

  • Trusted implementation approach: With a number of successful migrations under our belt, we have developed a proven Google Discovery platform integration methodology and blueprint that covers all the project needs from initial analysis, through design & implementation, all the way to the customer traffic migration.
  • Accelerator and value-add tools: Make the most out of your Google Discovery services implementation with our Google Discovery project accelerator. Get started quickly with data ingestion and change streaming pipelines, integration with clickstream data, data quality framework, results in comparison tools, and much more.
  • Merchant’s console: We empower merchants to curate digital customer experience and optimize for business goals with a powerful and flexible business rule system. Provide hints and instructions to Google’s AI algorithms to align results with goals.
  • Smart autocomplete: We add intelligence to your search box to deliver personalized experiences that lead to faster conversions with smart autocomplete and instant search. We generate a comprehensive list of autocomplete suggestions, taking into account your catalog data and customer search history, in order to provide highly relevant, typo-tolerant search suggestions.
  • Near real-time change streaming pipelines: Track inventory, prices, offers, promotions and customer behavior in real time, and react immediately to ensure that accurate and up-to-date information is always visible to your customers.

Our battle-proven blueprints and accelerators help achieve the smoothest and fastest upgrade of search experience across all channels, resulting in the following benefits for your business:

  • 20-30% conversion rate uplift
  • 25% less abandoned search sessions
  • 30% CTR improvements

Interested in achieving the same results? Get in touch with us to learn more about how we can optimize your digital customer experience with Google Cloud Product Discovery services.

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