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Recommendations

Best Practices for using Clerk.io Product Recommendations on your online store.

Clerk.io Recommendations help you to always present the right product, to the right customer, at the right time.

One important point to keep in mind: The positive impact of recommendations are two fold because they both increase basket size and conversion rate. In general, recommendations should be used to help the customer to find the perfect product, until the point where they have added their product to the basket. Afterwards, recommendations can be used to help the customer to find more items and increase the basket size.

Here we have collected our best practices on how to do so:

Frontpage

Your frontpage is similar to the showroom of a physical store. The purpose is to get customers to enter your store (ie. click on something that interest them and thus not bounce). Recommendations on the frontpage are the easiest way to always bring a personal and updated display for your customers.

Customers on your frontpage will typically already know about your store or will have heard about you (direct visits - you probably don't lead your marketing here), and so the best recommendations are either based on their previous visit or simply to inform them about what's going on right now.

Therefore, we suggest using a mix of the following recommendations on your frontpage in order of importance:

  1. Personal recommendations based on their previous visit.
  2. The most popular products amongst your customers right now.
  3. The most popular offers right now.
  4. What are other customers are looking at right now.

As an example, look at how Lomax use Clerk.io on their frontpage to keep it fresh and relevant without needing any manual maintenance.

Lomax frontpage with personal recommendations, other customers' activity stream and today's most popular products.

Lomax frontpage with personal recommendations, other customers' activity stream and today's most popular products.

Category Page

Category pages are where the customer is looking for a particular type of product, but not a specific product (because then they would have used the search function) like t-shirts, sofas or running shoes. But categories tend to have many, many products and are thus hard to navigate.

But most customers are looking for the same few products in a category. When you have 200 running shoes customers will typically want to buy around 5-10 of them - usually those most popular today. Thus by recommending the most popular products in the category you are making it a lot easier to find the products that most customers are likely to buy, thus leading to more conversions.

Change.com category page with recommendations for the most popular products displayed at the very top.

Change.com category page with recommendations for the most popular products displayed at the very top.

Product Page

The product page is first and foremost about the product. Keep focus on the important things: name, picture, small description, price and a clear call-to-action.

Recommendations on the product page are there to help guide the customer if they fail to immediately add the product to the basket. There are 2 ways to help a customer to continue shopping:

  1. Show alternative items which are the similar to the original product. It may be that the original choice wasn't the right colour, or maybe it is almost the complete look, but lacks a feature which another product may have. If you don't show relevant alternatives then there is a high chance that people will give up and shop somewhere else.
  2. It's common sales psychology that sometimes 1 + 1 = 3 . E.g. a customer looks at a jacket but the $95 price is too high. If they are then presented with complementary products, such as a matching pair of trousers at $40, this becomes a much more interesting sale. The jacket may have been too expensive at $95, but the complete set is much better value at $135 and the customer is likely to end up buying both instead of leaving your store.

So the key is to present both alternative and complementary products.

There are two ways to achieve this. Either present both options below the main product, or use an inverse L-shape around the product. There are pros and cons with both layouts. The L-shaped layout lifts recommendations above the fold, and increases the chance that a customer will see them. The layout which shows both recommendation options under the product minimises distractions in the shopping process. We recommend you to test the layout which works best for your store.

Both are shown in the examples below:

Unisportstores.com product page with both recommendations under the product.

Unisportstores.com product page with both recommendations under the product.

Lomax product page with L-shaped layout.

Lomax product page with L-shaped layout.

Add-To-Basket Page

This is the most important thing to increase your average basket size!

If you need to do only one thing to increase your basket size - this is it. It's extremely effective, and barely anyone does it (except Amazon) so you will have a big competitive advantage.

The most important and most overlooked time to sell more to you customers is when they have just added a product to their shopping cart. Amazon has been doing it for 20 years now and yet this is still overlooked in most traditional online store designs.

The norm is to either push the customer through to the shopping cart, hoping that this will increase conversion rates (but what if they want to buy more?), or simply to keep the customer on the product page for as long as possible, hoping that they will add more items (even though this section of the shopping journey is effectively over). None of these are really a good choice.

The best choice is to lead the customer to an Add-To-Basket page. This page has 3 purposes:

  1. Clearly confirm to the customer that their product was successfully added to the shopping cart.
  2. Display a clear call-to-action which shows how to proceed to the checkout.
  3. Once these elements have been dealt with, you can start to sell as much as you want without hurting conversions!

Our recommended approach is to use a full Add-To-Basket page where you can add a display of the most relevant recommendations to the product which was added to the basket. The following is our best practice:

  1. Start by displaying complementary products to the item which was added to the basket.
  2. Then look at products which are complementary to the customer's entire on-site click history.
  3. Then bring in a display of the most popular products in your store.
  4. Finally, use the most popular sale products to bring in discounts.

There are many variations but this is a good start.

If you think the fill page is a bit too much you can try using a popup with a single recommendation slider. Note that full Add-To-Basket pages lead to 2x the number of additional sales than a popup.

Unisportstore.com Add-To-Basket page with 4 different upselling strategies.

Unisportstore.com Add-To-Basket page with 4 different upselling strategies.

Lomax Add-To-Basket popup.

Lomax Add-To-Basket popup.

Shopping Cart Page

The shopping cart page is a great way to encourage the customer to add that one extra product to their cart before checking out.

With Clerk.io you can make a unique recommendation based on the exact combination of products in their shopping cart.

The benefit of this unique combination is that, let's say, a product D was not in the top 10 recommendations for products A, B and C which were added to the basket, but instead product D shows as the number one recommendation for their exact combination! So even though the customer was not presented with D before, it may still be added to the basket based purely on the shopping cart recommendations.

Lomax shopping cart offerings.

Lomax shopping cart offerings.

Order Confirmation Page

You might think that after a customer has placed a order they will not be likely to buy more.

But we can see that some customers actually do just that.

Our theory is that they might be too focused while buying the primary product to look for any additional products. But after the purchase, they become more relaxed and start to notice your other great offerings.

Two orders in one day from the same customer is much better than one.

Blogposts, News, Articles And Landing Pages

Content pages such as blogs, news, articles and marketing landing pages often tend to be a missed opportunity when it comes to direct sales. They are often seen as long term investments rather than here-and-now conversions, but it doesn't have to be this way.

True, manually adding products is a tedious task, and what is even worse is that over time the exposed products tend to go out of stock or become outdated - even though a page gets more SEO juice and traction the older it is and the more links and shares it gathers!

To fix this, Clerk.io provides content / keyword recommendations. If you provide keywords from an article or blog post (such as title, or meta keywords) we will always provide the customer with the most relevant products for that content. Even years after is has been published.

This reduces your bounce rate on that content and gives more direct conversions.

Take a look at how Global Tools use their content to sell from:

Recommendations

Best Practices for using Clerk.io Product Recommendations on your online store.