Do you want to sell more products on your e-Commerce store? We know, silly question, right? There aren’t a lot of businesses around trying to sell less.
Well, one of the ways you can supercharge your sales is by using product recommendations. Thanks to the wonderful world of machine learning and algorithms, you can promote tailored products to your customers at various points of their customer journey.
While no algorithm is perfect, as any Netflix user who has been recommended ‘similar’ shows that they have no interest in can attest, product recommendations on e-Commerce websites can be super-targeted when done the right way.
Strap yourself in and get ready for your crash course on website product recommendations!
Different types of website recommendations
When adding recommended products to your website, they usually come in two types.
Irrelevant and relevant.
No, we’re joking, but that’s kind of true too. Poorly designed recommendation systems don’t work well, often giving customers irrelevant products, or products that don’t really make sense. Well-designed systems deliver valuable suggestions.
But the two groups are actually, bulk and personalised.
Bulk recommendations aren’t necessarily tailored to an individual customer’s needs. Rather, they might be new products, specials, bundles or even just your best-selling items.
Personalised recommendations are…any guesses? Of course, personalised recommendations are more tailored to the individual user. The products might be commonly purchased together, or specifically targeted based on a customer’s previous purchases.
We probably don’t need to go into much detail here as the name says it all. Offering customers your best-selling items makes sense. They’re popular for a reason, so there’s every chance the next website visitor might also be interested in them.
These types of recommendations are usually best placed on a homepage or product category page because they’re more likely to appeal to a wider audience rather than customers who are further into their shopping experience.
Again, new items are more of a bulk recommendation and aren’t particularly targeted. However, it gives you a chance to showcase new products to existing customers. Because these items could appeal to anybody, they also work well on the homepage and product category pages where they’ll get more views.
Special deals are also pretty similar to best-sellers and new items. Let’s be serious, who doesn’t love a bargain? Let’s say you visit an e-commerce website that sells perfume. If you could purchase a bundle or a particular brand you love at a lower price, you’d probably want to know about it.
These recommendations can be targeted to customer preferences, but really they’re more of a catch-all proposition. The real benefit here is in the customer experience. You’re not going to go hunting for food when Uber Eats delivers to your door.
It’s the same concept – why make a customer trawl through multiple website pages to find out that their favourite product is on special when you could show them as soon as they land on the site?
Related products could technically fall into either the bulk or personalised category. Basically, these are the products that you think go well together, or that you think customers buying certain things would be interested in.
A good example is the KFC online app. We know, it sounds like we’re obsessed with food, but we’re actually obsessed with innovative tech. When you’re about to check out your order, the KFC app features a small section of ‘Did you forget to add?’ products.
If you just ordered some chicken, the app would recommend you add some chips or a drink. It’s pretty simple, but a very effective way to add a little more to each sale (upselling).
Customers also bought
This type of product recommendation is both personalised and bulk. Basically, the suggestions are just based on other customers’ orders. So, it’s not completely tailored, but also not completely random.
The website’s recommendation algorithm quickly suggests a few other items that are often purchased together. So, these types of recommendations are best placed on individual product pages or on the shopping cart.
Where to include product recommendations
There are so many different ways to include product recommendations. Do you want us to tell you why?
Ok, a LOT of research has been done over a lot of years to determine the best placement for certain things on websites. We’re not going to bore you with the science behind it, but let’s just say people have delved much further into this than you would ever want to.
Websites are like reverse supermarkets. Just go with us here, we promise it makes sense.
A supermarket typically puts sale items right at the front of the store to catch people’s attention. Usually potato chips and soft drinks – things you don’t need, but damn you want them when they’re cheap. Then they put the most popular items like milk and bread at the back of the store so you have to walk past a thousand ‘on sale’ signs before you reach your intended item. It’s tempting, right?
But on a website, you actually want to make it EASIER for customers to access what they want. So, the best sellers and new items are right there at the front. Other more personalised recommendations come later on, so as not to confuse or distract users from what they came for.
Let’s take a look at where you could consider using recommendations.
It’s usually the first place that people go, right? It’s also the page that probably gets the highest amount of traffic, which means it’s your best chance to entice new customers.
On the homepage, you might consider putting special deals or new items in a scrolling widget right at the top. However, the items you show can still be customised and targeted further.
For example, if your research tells you that social media users love one type of product, but search engine traffic is looking for other products, you can change the items you show based on where the traffic comes from.
Plus, if it’s a returning customer who has purchased from you before, you can show them the products they have previously purchased.
Actually, while we had a crack at supermarkets for their dodgy display setups before, Woolworths in Australia actually does the online version of product placement really well. On their online shopping website and app, it shows your previously purchased items really clearly for you, especially if they happen to be on special this week.
The product category page
Another place to include recommendations is on the product category pages of your website. You know, those ‘men’s shoes’ or ‘women’s dresses’ pages where customers can find all the products they love.
This is usually a good spot to offer related items, best sellers or new products. This makes it easy for people to find a great deal, but it also doesn’t stop them from browsing the whole category.
Individual product page
When a customer clicks on a certain product, you can almost hear the little conversion machine get excited. The customer has advanced in their journey, and they’re looking at an individual product.
Ever hooked a fish but realised there’s a bit of work left to pull it in? That’s what a customer landing on a product page is like.
So, you don’t really want to distract them too much from their purchases by filling the screen with other product recommendations. Instead, use this page to add related products, but not products that are exactly the same because it might make the customer lose focus on their intended purchase.
Here we go. We’ve reached the shopping cart. It’s like that fish is just near the surface and you need to pull it up into the boat. And you probably thought product recommendations would be a dry topic. Look at all the fun we’re having!
Remember the little KFC example we gave before? Once your customer gets to the shopping cart, you don’t want them to be distracted by anything like alternative products that are much the same. Again, the best products to showcase here are related items, but not similar ones. This is your real chance to upsell by allowing customers to add a complimentary product quickly and easily with one click.
Congrats, you just used product recommendations to reel in that fish, and maybe a couple of extra ones at the same time.
The advantages of using product recommendations
We’ve talked a lot about where you should put these wonderful product recommendations, but you probably want to know why it matters. So, here goes.
This is the obvious reason here. The more website visitors you convert to sales, the more money you make. Pretty simple!
By offering customers a more tailored experience, they’re able to see the products that matter most to them and purchase them more easily. How often do you dig around on a website for 10 minutes looking for a product? Not often – you’d just go to another website if it was that hard.
Make it easy for customers, make more money.
Better internal linking
Here’s a little bonus that you might not usually think of. But the Google algorithm rewards websites with a lot of internal linking. And we don’t mean they send you a trophy.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is improved when you have a lot of internal links, and this boosts your ranking on search results pages. So, by having a bunch of product links on almost every page, you’re pleasing the Google gods.
Increased website session duration
Another thing that helps with SEO is increasing the amount of time people spend on your website. It’s not a massive part of Google’s algorithm, to be fair, but it does make an impact. For example, if someone lands on your website and leaves immediately, it sends a small signal to Google that perhaps your website doesn’t offer value for that particular search term.
However, if people hit your site and spend more time there, Google thinks it is more relevant. Plus, the more time someone is on the site, the more chance they have of finding other products they like.
Especially if you recommend them…
Improved average sale amount
Did you hear about the clothing company that spent thousands on a fancy website, but then decided they were making too much money and wanted to sell fewer clothes?
No, that’s because that company doesn’t exist. Anywhere.
All businesses want to increase their average sale amount, so if you can help customers easily add more items to their cart, it makes sense to do it.
A better customer experience
Finally, there’s one thing that will keep your customers coming back again and again, and that’s a great customer experience. Well, maybe not if you’re selling terrible products at drastically expensive prices. But mostly, if you give customers a good experience, they’ll come back.
These product recommendations show your customers that you understand them, and also that you want to make online shopping easy for them.
Can you imagine if Netflix kept recommending children’s cartoons to an avid science-fiction fan? That’s not a good experience, and it would quickly see people jumping to another streaming service. It’s the same with your e-Commerce website.
How to include product recommendations on your e-Commerce website
Ok, unless you’re a website developer yourself, you probably don’t want to know each and every line of code that goes into creating these awesome product recommendations. Instead, let’s look at the three different ways you could go about adding this feature to your site.
Use your platform’s built-in product recommendations
Depending on the platform you’ve built your e-Commerce website on, you’re likely to get some built-in product recommendation functionality. This is obviously the easiest way to add recommendations, but it’s really not the most effective.
Every platform is different, but most make it pretty easy to add recommendations at various customer touchpoints. The only issue is, the recommendations aren’t super-targeted, and even on one of the biggest platforms, Shopify, you can’t change the auto-generated recommendations.
Basically, these recommendations are based on product information, rather than the unique insight into customer wants and needs that you have.
Install specialised product recommendation systems
Another option is to subscribe to an ‘off-the-shelf’ product recommendation system. We’ll be honest, there are tons of them out there, so we won’t list them. Another reason not to list them is that they’re also not particularly practical.
While many of them will give you more control than the average built-in e-Commerce platform, you need to spend a lot of time and resources setting them up to maximise their potential.
Do you or your team members have time for that?
Build your own targeted algorithm
The most effective way to enhance your website with product recommendations is to build an algorithm yourself.
What? You sell clothes online, you’re not a technical wizard too?
That’s ok, you don’t need the technical skills. Working with an e-Commerce specialist website developer is the best way to go. But don’t choose just anybody who can build websites. Choose a team that also understands business automation and marketing.
We know, that sounds a lot like Human Pixel, so of course, we’re going to push this option. But honestly, if you want something done properly, let the professionals do it. After heavy consultation and learning about your business, products and customers, we can build a product recommendation system that truly meets your needs, offers more targeted recommendations, and is structured in such a way that it improves the customer experience every time.
Talk to us today if you’d like to enhance your e-Commerce website and start selling more.