Guest Post by Amy Weissfeld

Retailers don't always know who their customers are. In a physical store, salespeople can meet, greet, and learn customers’ desires. Online retailers don't have that advantage.

Yet the more we know about our customers, the more likely we are to generate additional sales during their shopping visits. This is why personalized product recommendations are proven to increase sales 10-25%. Let's take a look at how we can create the best possible customer experience for Albert, our hypothetical shopper, while increasing sales for you, the retailer.
What could prospective new customer Albert see on his first visit to your store?
Many times a new customer such as Albert first lands on a product page. You don't know Albert's identity or buying habits because he’s never been to your site before. You may be thinking you don’t know anything about Albert. But wait. You do know something about Albert. You know that Albert is interested in a specific product because he’s clicked onto a product page. In this case, 4-Tell Boost (my company’s recommendation solution) shows Albert product-centric recommendations based on your store's aggregate sales data and product attributes – known as wisdom of the crowd. You can suggest these types of product recommendations to all anonymous customers like Albert:

  1. Cross-sell items: These are products that are often bought together. People who purchased this item chose to add these other (related) products together in the same shopping cart.
  2. Similar items: These are alternative choices based upon Albert's selected product. Items he might buy instead of the product he’s looking at.

You can aid Albert's decision by presenting either or both of these recommendation types on the product page, with a higher probability of converting your new shopper to a happy, satisfied customer by helping him find what he wants. We also suggest showing top sellers on your home page, category landing pages and on user-admin pages.
What would Albert, now your existing customer, see in a personalized email?
Now you know Albert, and you know what he has purchased in the past. So you can suggest cross-sell and similar products in order and shipping confirmation emails. This is very effective since these emails tend to be kept longer and opened more often than other email types. Since Albert is not coming to your site to choose a product, 4-Tell can suggest customer-centric recommendations - products from your catalog that Albert is likely to buy based upon his previous purchase history.
These personalized up-sell recommendations factor in stored historical purchases for that particular customer. And, as Albert accumulates a purchase history, his recommendations are less influenced by a single purchase such as a gift for someone else, since his longer buying history is taken into account. The longer you know Albert, the more focused his recommendations become.  Recommendations are also effective in rating / review requests, and monthly branding email campaigns.
What would Albert, now your existing customer, see in a personalized website visit?
When you know both what product(s) Albert is viewing or purchasing AND his identity, 4-Tell's recommendations are at their most powerful. While Albert is looking at a product, you can provide personalized cross-sell recommendations, which suggest products based upon both of these factors:

  1. Products that are most often bought alongside the current selected product(s), and
  2. Products that are personalized to the shopper based upon his personal buying history

In this case, if you choose to show similar recommendations, they are also personalized for Albert. In fact, if Albert adds one or more products to his cart and then views another product, the recommendations are further personalized to Albert and his current shopping experience.
The bottom line is that customers appreciate when you personalize. You no longer need to serve the same content to all your customers. Create a better experience for all your Alberts and boost conversion for your store at the same time. Get to know your customers, and increase sales with instant integration of personalized product recommendations into your store.
For more information, you can download our free whitepaper, “Personalization Q&A”, or contact me at or 503.516.1800.

Amy is the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at 4-Tell. She has 7 years of ecommerce and interactive experience, successfully leading companies of all sizes. At 4-Tell, Amy works to bring value to clients and partners by helping strategically implement 4-Tell’s personalization and recommendation solution.