The retail industry is absolutely abuzz with bots. Facebook and Google have already begun making inroads with bots as a way to automate engagement with customers. Just last week Alibaba invested in Twiggle, an Israeli company whose query language tool uses behavioral data to narrow search results for online shoppers. It’s all part of a move among retailers to contextualize commerce.
What does that really mean?
In her 2014 book, From eCommerce to Web 3.0, Sramana Mitra writes that next generation commerce will be organized around two different elements: context (the reason for your visit to a particular site) and the user. When a retailer is able to fuse a specific user with genuine context, she writes, you wind up with truly personalized service.
What we tend to forget, though, is that bots have been a big part of digital commerce for a while, though in a different form – the site search bar.
Retailers have grown accustomed to grooming site search results, and shoppers rely on site search (to Bono’s chagrin) to find what they’re looking for. Those that use site search tend to be surgical shoppers — while site search is used in just under 9% of visits, those visits make up 22% of all digital orders.
In our latest quarterly Shopping Index, we wanted to dig in a bit further on site search. Have shoppers’ search habits changed? One facet we explored was the use of color as part of the search process. It turns out that color is enormously important in site search. We analyzed the use of color in apparel searches and found that shoppers are including color in a lot more site search queries. In fact, 48% more site search queries included color in Q1 of this year compared to last year.
And it wasn’t simply because of increased traffic in digital; the rate of ‘color-inclusion’ searches was up 22% overall. The better news for retailers is that queries including color are 20% more likely to result in a purchase.
Wondering which colors are included most in site search queries? Number one is black (black always seems to be the new black) followed by white, with both driving nearly 50% of all color searches. Red and blue are distant number three and four searches.
The increased use of a simple attribute like color in searches may indicate shoppers’ willingness to adopt and broaden their use of commerce technology tools, especially those like digital assistants and bots, which allow them to search with much more precision and efficiency; and thus remove at least some of the friction in digital commerce.
As Mitra notes, “in Web 3.0, you will see content and commerce finally come together in a big way, no longer forcing you to hop from site to site to get one job done.”
Additionally, with further advances in natural language processing, combined with advances in predictive intelligence, shoppers can expect to receive more accurate query results, whether black, orange or any other color.