GSL 2015 in Vienna – A Review

Last week, the first-ever Guided Selling Live! conference kicked off in Vienna, Austria. A one-day conference filled with interesting insights and real best-practice examples about how creating a better shopping experiences with Guided Selling can deliver benefits for both shoppers and businesses.

From the response, it couldn’t be any clearer that the need and interest for Guided Selling solutions is growing fast. Professionals from near and far joined us to get inspired and take away valuable information to roll out a comprehensive Guided Selling strategy in their own business environments.

Differentiation is key

The day started with a welcome address by SMARTASSISTANT CEO and Co-Founder, Markus Linder who talked about the role and importance of Guided Selling in creating differentiated and truly personal experiences for shoppers.


In this “Age of the Customer” in which customers have full transperency, they increasingly struggle to manage the overload on information of options. It’s the role of businesses to make it easy for them to decide and purchase. And “them” doesn’t only refer to a single shopper type, but includes all shoppers who come to a store, as Markus explained. Businesses have to make sure that Expert Shopper and Novices alike are able to make confident purchase decisions to become their #1 Point of Decision.

Markus went on to share how SMARTASSISTANT lets retailers, brands, and service providers help shoppers choose by making their interactive product advice available across all touchpoints – in a scalable and sustainable way.

Then Vera Mayer from the SMARTASSISTANT Professional Services Team who led us through the whole day, introduced Peter Sheldon, VP Principal Analyst at Forrester Research and expert on e-commerce technologies and solutions.


Why Guided Selling really matters

In his guest keynote, Peter spoke about what really matters to the consumer when it comes to online product navigation and why retailers and manufacturers alike must up their content game to compete and become the destination of choice for their customers online research needs. Peter wrapped up his keynote by sharing his thoughts on common pitfalls to avoid and best practices to follow when designing suggestive product guides.



Treating different customers differently

Next up on the stage were Trude Nilsen (Marketing Manager) and Marianne Vikne (CRM Manager) from Komplett Group (NO), the Nordic countries’ largest eCommerce player.


Trude and Marianne took us on a journey through their very unique company history and explained why Guided Selling has a strategic importance for the company.

Our product guides are very important for us in reaching our vision of being the obvious choice for the consumer.
Marianne Vikne (Komplett)

It was also fascinating to see how online shops looked like back in 1996 and how much has changed since then. The focus has clearly shifted from merely displaying products to displaying products that the customer really wants. In this context, it’s crucial for businesses to use the right tools that allow them to successfully transition into a customer-focused company.

Backed up by lots of exciting video material, Marianne and Trude showed us how extensively Komplett leverages Guided Selling to boost the impact of their marketing communication on-site, on social media, and through TV ads that convey the difference between Komplett and regular big-box stores.


We’re moms, we get it!

After Komplett’s presentation, Esti Barker the Marketing Director at PishPoshBaby (US) took the stage. PishPoshBaby’s success is driven by sharing sincere advice with new moms and dads to make their shopping experience at PishPoshBaby exceptional and more enjoyable.


PishPoshBaby has already implemented several services to ensure that their shoppers do not get frustrated while buying baby gear and consider Guided Selling as another step towards an excellent shopping experience. Guided Selling allows PishPoshBaby to also share their product advice with the new generation of shoppers who are reluctant to start a direct conversation with sales reps over the phone or via chat.

We want to walk new parents through the steps of what is it to select a product themselves and be guided towards it instead of being pushed to the product.

In an engaging way, Esti shared how PishPoshBaby developed their interactive stroller finder by integrating existing demographic information about their shoppers during the process of designing the process flow, questions, and answers. PishPoshBaby could measure a significant increase of sessions (+33%) and a decrease of the bounce rate (-60%) for shoppers who used their stroller advisor. It confirms that shoppers need and value businesses who lend them a helping hand as they decide on what to buy.

With Guided Selling, PishPoshBaby does not only to help confused shoppers, but also generates valuable feedback about the actual preferences of their target group when it comes to baby gear.


It’s time to talk…

The conference venue, the design of the conference sessions, and the relaxed environment allowed for active exchange and networking with peers, speakers and experts. Accompanied by tasty Viennese culinary specialties, attendees were able to share best practices, insights, and learn from one another’s experiences.

The break sessions also gave visitors enough time to check our partner’s stands, where they could try out hybris‘ exciting IOT Wineshelf, talk with the experts from prudsys to learn more about prudsys’ comprehensive real-time personalization solution, or grab a coffee and read the latest copy of the Internet World Business magazine.



We don’t want to satisfy our customers, we want to inspire them!

The next batch of conference sessions started with Stephan Waldeis, Head of E-Business at AL-KO (DE), the market leading manufacturer of caravan chassis, air conditioning technology and gardening technology. Stephan added a unique view on Guided Selling from the perspective of a manufacturer.


For us as a brand or as a manufacturer, it is important to guide our customers, we don’t just want to sell the products on our website, we want to give them guidance, we want to make them feel safe with the choice they make (…) these are the main reasons why we decided to look into Guided Selling solutions.

Stephan explained how AL-KO, with a huge selection of products and continuously innovating, has to make sure that their customers are always able to discover and choose the products that are right from them. The additional challenge for international manufacturers lies in dealing with regional differences in customer preferences and available budgets. AL-KO currently provides shoppers in 16 countries with different lawn mower product advisors in 15 languages.

We believe that Guided Selling is now at the tipping point of e-commerce. We are now at the next step of e-commerce, of an evolution where its not about satisfying our customer, but about inspiring them.


The Art of Choosing

An eagerly awaited talk was that by world-renowned choice expert Dr. Sheena S. Iyengar from the Columbia Business School (US) who explores the psychology behind decision-making. Sheena spoke about her personal experience with choices and the consequences of too much choice:

  1. More likely to delay making a choice
  2. More likely to make worse choices
  3. Less satisfied with the choices we make



Traditionally, businesses see offering lots of choices as one of their strategic advantages. However, as customers today are being overloaded with too many choices, the strategic advantage lies in helping people to figure out what it is that they really want.

The biggest change that is confronting businesses in the last 20 years is the sheer number of choices that they are expected to offer their customers, how you managed that choosing process becomes a company’s key advantage or disadvantage, it’s what can kill you or help you to swim to the top.

Sheena went on to explain the 4 C’s. The 4 different techniques that businesses who sell to people have to observe to help their customers manage the choice they provide to them:

  1. Cut – get rid of the irrelevant or redundant options.
  2. Categorize – organize your choices in a way that is meaningful.
  3. Concretize – make it real, make people be able to feel the choice.
  4. Condition for Complexity – help create a choosing experience for customers that makes it easy for them to learn about the choice.

In her captivating presentation, Sheena did inspire us to think about choice differently – and that, not only in a business context, but at all times.

The Future of Guided Selling

In the last presentation of the day, Jacek Wojciechowski, VP Software Development at SMARTASSISTANT and Guided Selling technology mastermind, share some of the future innovations in Guided Selling with the audience. From personalization, bundled recommendations, innovative in-store solutions to consumer trend analysis and automation, there are several exciting ways for businesses to create engaging and personal shopping experiences with Guided Selling.

Contact SMARTASSISTANT for more information about the technological innovations in Guided Selling.
Thank you to all our speakers, our partners, our prospects, our attendees, the blog team and our SMARTASSISTANT team!

This year’s event was inspiring, insightful and fun – We cant’ wait for the next edition of the Guided Selling Live! to touch down in the US in 2016.

Quotes from the Guided Selling Live! 2015 conference

It is wonderful that so many retailers here are all are trying to figure out how to make choosing a better experience for their customers in different ways.
Sheena Iyengar

I think it was a great event, it was a great idea to share the experience with all the different customers across the globe who use Guided Selling.
Stephan Waldeis, AL-KO

At GSL I learned a lot in terms of how retailers are trying to work through that problem, find solutions, specially also transferring the online experience to the store.
Jonathan Warrad, Moki

We are very interested in Guided Selling because we have very complex products, and this solution can help the customers to find the right product. The whole package is fantastic, Vienna is a beautiful city and it’s very interesting for me to come and be in touch with all the customers here and to discuss how they promote their Guided Selling solutions.I’m happy to be here and I hope I ll be here next year too.
Jörg Heinemann, Otto

At GSL, I could get a good picture and a insights from other companies that we can use as a benchmark.
Cornelia Krause, METRO Group


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