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Experiment with personalized product recommendations

Jun 22, 2021

Some buyers visit a website with a vague idea in mind of what they’re looking for but are open to suggestions. Surfacing context-sensitive products to a casual shopper can lead to additional purchases.

Consider blending typical recommendations, like best-sellers, with suggestions based on what buyers engage with, like a wishlist, recently viewed products, and items abandoned in the cart. Additional considerations:

  • Items in the same price range as the items currently in the cart
  • Products related to an ad that the customer clicked on to visit the site
  • Previously purchased items that make sense to rebuy (e.g. acne cream)
  • Complimentary products to what’s in the cart (e.g. batteries for a flashlight)
  • Items from categories the visitor has previously viewed a lot or purchased from

Homepage and category pages

Reflect on which kinds of recommendations would have the most impact on these pages. Recommending items abandoned in the cart on the homepage, for instance, might be very impactful for a returning visitor.

Recently viewed or previously purchased

It can be helpful to remind customers what they previously viewed or purchased.

  • Previously viewed – A window shopper might want to look at the product a few times before they buy it. A reminder at the right time might be what drives them to click Add to cart.
  • Previously purchased – We can be creatures of habit. We tend to repurchase what we like.

Test out different placements on the page to see what resonates. One option to strongly consider, though, is adding a section at the bottom of the category page for recently purchased and/or viewed products from that category.

Recommended for you

Another option to consider is showcasing a subset of a category’s products that are related to the customer’s previous purchases from this category. This subcategory could feature:

  • Products that other customers also bought
  • Products that complement previous purchases
  • Products that are similar to previous purchases

You may also include a filter or sort option on the category pages to show a recommended list of products.

Example: Amazon

You can see several product listings on Amazon, like this “Recommended for you” section. These recommendations are based on your past purchases and viewing habits to pique your interest.

Product details page recommendations

Consider including a section on the product details page that points to other products that customers who viewed this product were also interested in. These might include:

  • Related items from the same category
  • Complementary items (e.g. batteries for a battery-powered product)
  • Items abandoned in the cart
  • Items other customers also/ultimately purchased after viewing this product

Example: e.l.f. Cosmetics

When viewing a particular face hydration cream, e.l.f. Cosmetics suggests that it “pairs well” with two complementary products. This kind of advice might be exactly what some customers are looking for and they may buy all three products.

Related Item Recommendations

Try different placements on the page

The goal of the PDP is to drive buyers to click Add to Cart, so you don’t want the page to be too overwhelming. Consider areas of the page that might lend well for recommendations that will both make an impact but not be too distracting.

Some examples may include:

  • Alongside the product info (e.g. a tab or collapsible section)
  • Below the product info in its own horizontal section
  • To the side of the product in a vertical sidebar

Example: Amazon

Below each product’s details, buyers can see recommendations within carousels that span the page’s width for:

  • “Frequently bought together”
  • “More items to explore”
  • “Products related to this item.”

Here, additional dog chew toys from the same category as a product are listed:

Last-minute purchase ideas on the cart page

Physical retail and grocery stores often have a lot of little odds and ends on display at the checkout line. These are like “last-minute” additions you might want to toss in with your purchases that you didn’t even know you needed. For instance, you might see cold drinks, candy bars, batteries, headphones, or phone chargers.

You can emulate that approach on the cart page. Consider adding a section below the items in the cart for things like:

  • Items on the customer’s wishlist
  • Recommendations based on what’s in the cart (e.g. “pairs well with” or “what other people also bought”)
  • Promotional content (e.g. Bestsellers, time-sensitive sales, etc.)

Example: Best Buy, similar items

In this example, an Apple iPad is in the cart. Best Buy suggests that people also buy the Apple Pencil and a cover for the device. Buyers can click Add to Cart without leaving the cart page.

Example: Sephora, wishlist

Similarly, Sephora offers a “Recommended for you” section but also has a section showcasing your wishlist items (called “Your Loves”). Buyers can click Add without leaving the cart page.

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