Picture a typical shopping journey for a brick & mortar store:
A customer is walking in the Summer heat. She passes a display of mannequins with cooling linen clothes and decides to check out the store. Upon entering, an assistant greets her and guides her to the right sections. The assistant also suggests additional items that fit her style and even finds them in the right size. Thirty minutes later, she walks out with a great new outfit.
Brick & mortar stores employ a variety of strategies to recommend products to customers, such as displaying hot-selling items at the store-front, suggesting items based on someone’s shopping history, or placing certain items closer to each other.
These tweaks not only increase the average basket size, they transform the entire shopping experience for customers.
For e-commerce websites the opportunities are endless - so what is the optimal strategy to grow your business?
The challenge for e-commerce
For digital stores, designing a good shopping experience is even more critical.
Not only do e-commerce websites present a completely different medium for shopping, online customers also tend to be unforgiving. It’s common for customers to abandon a shop because a webpage looks messy, or the images are blurry, or they can’t find what they want with the search bar. Hence, improving the online shopping experience, with the right technologies and the right strategies, is key to customer retention and conversion.
Each component of a website must be designed with the shopping experience in mind. For now, let’s focus on an important part of your online store: recommendation widgets.
As with every website component, there are many different types of recommendations to consider and many different ways to style them. And it’s hard to identify the best solution because the strategy you use depends on changing business circumstances.
We’re here to help. In this article, we’ll be improving our understanding of recommendations and covering some strategies for using them.
The purpose of recommendations
At the heart of it, recommendations are a way to present products that a shopper is not looking for, but is likely to buy. Recommendation widgets are commonly employed by e-commerce websites. For example, when you’re shopping on Amazon and you see a widget that says “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” followed by various products — that’s a recommendation widget.
To break it down even further, recommendations work by accomplishing one of three things:
Why are recommendations so important?
Let’s go back to a time when humans were hunters and gatherers, a time when choosing the right products wasn’t simply a matter of fashion or comfort, but of life and death.
Picture a young homo sapien who finds a berry bush. The fruits are brightly coloured and plump, but a homo sapien who reached for the fruit without a second thought wouldn’t survive for long: the berries might be poisonous!
So what does the homo sapien do? He relies on the testimonies of tribe members who have tried the fruit. Maybe they tell him that it is safe to eat, or maybe he sees other tribe members eating them. This gives him the confidence, and desire, to try the berries. If they turn out to be sweet and juicy, he’ll return for more.
These are the underlying roots of recommendations and branding.
We try new products (an unknown berry) based on the recommendations of friends and family (the suggestions of tribe members). When we trust the brand of a product (the shape and colour of the berries) to satisfy our needs (whether the berries are safe to eat), we become loyal to the brand.
It’s been ingrained into our psyche since primitive times to rely on recommendations. Those who lacked this instinct didn’t survive.
How should I employ recommendations on my e-commerce website?
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Knowing that something needs to be done is easy, knowing what to do is hard. There are many different strategies for leveraging recommendations on your e-commerce website, and the strategy to use depends on your business circumstances — who are your customers, what are your products, what’s happening around you.
Navigating the possible strategies can be dizzying, that’s why we’ve prepared a flowchart to help you pinpoint the appropriate kind of recommendations for your business needs.
Let’s take a closer look at two recommendation strategies on this flowchart: ‘#1 Hot Sellers’ and ‘#8 Frequently Purchased Together’.
Leverage purchasing trends with ‘Hot Sellers’
Consumer purchases don’t happen in a void, there’s usually an external context to them.
Sometimes customers buy new clothes to replace worn out ones, or warmer and lighter clothes when the seasons change. Sometimes there’s a sports event and customers want to display their support for their favourite teams, or maybe the holidays are here and festive products become popular.
There are two ways to perceive this. It could be a source of frustration for retailers to keep up with changing trends, but it could also be a source of endless opportunities. If you’re always pushing out new products or you have a versatile product line that ties well with current events and seasons, then each changing trend presents a fresh opportunity to sell different products to your customers.
‘Hot Sellers’ is a recommendation strategy that works on this principle by presenting trending items to your shoppers. Utilizing an intelligent recommendation system enables these recommendations to be rapidly updated based on real-time shopping trends, so that they remain relevant every day and every hour.
Sell more complementing items with ‘Frequently Purchased Together’
‘Frequently Purchased Together’ is a great strategy to consider when you have products with good synergy.
Think of luggage bags with neck pillows, salsa with tortilla chips, swimming suits with flip flops. Shoppers looking at certain products are likely to buy other related products.
If you have products that fit this pattern, this is an opportunity to let shoppers know that they can tick off more items on their shopping list while they’re here.
And of course, there are endless combinations between products, and some work better than others. It’s best to use an intelligent recommendation system that can study purchasing patterns and identify the products with the best synergy for you.
Where to go from here
These are examples of strategies that, implemented appropriately and with the right technologies, can greatly improve the shopping experience of your online stores.
If you haven’t been using recommendations, or you’re not sure how to proceed, the best thing to do is to start then iteratively improve from there.
Ultimately, there are endless opportunities to use recommendations, and endless ways to combine and style strategies. E-commerce is an evolving industry. To thrive in this environment, you must use the strategies that fit your current needs, and be flexible enough to adapt your strategies to ever-changing business circumstances.
Want to Learn More?
If you’re interested in learning more about different recommendation strategies and figure out which is the right one for you, please reach out to email@example.com
Do you use all the great features Findify has to grow sales on your store? Things like:
The results of the work of this happy trio will be available in the fall so keep an eye out then!
For more information about Findify features, book a 15-minute demo with us by clicking here and choosing a time that suits you.
As we grow, we are increasingly customizing Findify to integrate seamlessly with the branding of each merchant site. We have changed everything from how pages are displayed to how shoppers move through Findify areas - and have even helped finish site development to get stores up and running!
"The one thing that really stuck out was Findify’s ability to work with us on customizing—meeting our demands." Richard Enriquez, Director of Marketing, White River
Findify’s four levels of customization
Customization in action
Our team can customize all sorts of elements:
#1 The Autocomplete works beatifully out-of-the-box but you can also tailor it to fully look and behave like you wish. Here are a few examples:
#2 The product grid can be designed with a simple, minimalist feel right up to an extravagant, ‘more-is-more’ experience. Findify can cater for any level of information to display, desired stickers, ‘select-to-compare’ selection of several products, desired size of images - and almost any other dimension.
#3 Recommendations can be controlled to fully deliver on your up- and cross-selling strategies. You can set the personalization algortihm to broadly recommend what the shopper is most likely to buy in general or be extremly specific in recommending a matching item in the same series.
Multiple alternatives for both setting up and tailoring recommendations can be found in the dashboard:
All customizations are optimized for mobile devices to ensure a consistent user experience.
Read more about customizing Findify in action for White River
White River replatformed their consumer-facing (B2C) site to be laser-focused on creating a premium visitor experience for homeowners. With over 2,200 unique products, White River knew they needed a nimble search solution that they could customize deeply. Already battling slow pages without dynamic filtering, White River’s number one priority became finding a solution that could handle the company’s huge product range and variants seamlessly to minimize buying friction. The ability to customize by SKU was paramount.
Read more about how White River uses Findify here.
Support from our team
“Every time we need something, they’re just a call or email away. They’re very responsive.” SLEEFS
The Findify Customer Success team are there to help you customize Findify to bring in the most revenue possible. Sometimes we even help agencies with other site development to get the merchant’s site ready and launched!
“Not only is Findify tech more advanced, the Findify support, sales and general customer service is awesome. Integration was simple, we had one customization that needed to be fixed – done in 30 min.” toyuniverse.com.au
This is just a few of the customizations that are possible with Findify. For more information, check out our developer resources or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are often asked what the value of personalization is for an ecommerce store.
Here at Findify we talk a whole lot about personalization. We should - our artificial intelligence is built to personalize the online shopping experience – for everything from search results to collections pages and recommendations. So, we came up with this simple overview to show its effects:
Searching and browsing without personalization
The standard search engines embedded in shopping platform sites uses proven, open-source technologies such as ElasticSearch (Bigcommerce) or Solr (Shopify). Basic search results are generated from product tags or product descriptions only and collection pages bring up products in either the same order for everyone or a random order.
More advanced search technologies, like Findify’s base search algorithm, take account of further factors, such as how popular a product is and whether a merchant wants to promote a product when choosing what to put in search results.
The effect of personalizing the results
Findify’s artificial intelligence considers factors that are totally individual to the current shopper. Things like:
A great example of personalized search results can be seen when a shopper types in ‘green shoes’ after browsing an ecommerce site for a while. Findify follows a process of identification:
Findify’s AI can see that this shopper has already clicked on four pairs of shoes, all of them women’s shoes with green on them and with varying heal heights. They have ignored all shoes with laces and zips and has previously searched for ‘ballerina shoes’. This shopper hasn’t clicked on any shoes that cost more than $60 so Findify prioritizes shoes that cost less than that.
Based on Findify’s analysis, the search results look like this:
The results speak for themselves
As you can see, the personalized search results give a much higher chance of the shopper buying and converting into a sale for the merchant.
There are thousands of knobs you can tune to make search results better and at Findify, we’ve been teaching the machine to automatically make the best ranking decisions for you. Your customer John will see different products from your customer Jack because Findify shows the products that are most relevant to each.
Findify puts the right products in front of shoppers – in their search results, on the collections pages they see and in the recommendations that they read.
For more information about how Findify personalizes each individual shopping experience, get in touch and we’ll show you around.
Do you have blog, image and video content on your store? If so, Findify can now search that too, giving results that offer shoppers both products and content.
Shoppers can now take themselves through a longer buying decision-making process.
Yotpo helps great brands accelerate their online growth by providing a full suite of solutions for customer reviews, visual marketing, loyalty programs and referrals. It offers a variety of ways for shoppers to ask questions and leave comments, making it simple for them to give their feedback and review each and every purchase.
By integrating Yotpo with Findify, you can to add those product ratings and reviews to your search results and shoppers can use these to filter products by.
As the market leader in online pet products, Pet n’GO’s CEO and Co-founder Alex Gzz and his team are laser-focused on ﬁnding tools that help his business diﬀerentiate itself from ﬁerce competition, much of which is offline. Alex knows that to meet— and exceed— the expectations of customers who would normally run to their local pet store, an exceptional shopper experience is essential and the challenge to provide this is constant.
Findify is thrilled to be listed as Shopify’s Staff Pick this week!
Shopify has recognised the success and development of the app but the increase in revenue that Findify enables for Shopify ecommerce stores is why it was chosen. Users can see an immediate increase in sales from Findify’s easy-to-install artificial intelligence that puts the products each individual customer is most likely to buy right in front of them.
Findify is extremely pleased to announce that Jacob Tooman has joined our team as Head of Sales.
Jacob is based in San Diego. He will be helping US-based online merchants scale and increase sales using Findify’s artificial intelligence search and personalization technology.
Findify’s co-founder and Head of Product, Meni, gives a talk to the Slush crowd in Helsinki back in November 2015. With Gil Dibner, an angel investor in Findify, Meni discusses the current state of ecommerce search, what is “intelligent search” and how to leverage data to optimize for conversion.
Watch the full talk here: