Product recommendations best practices part four: Tips and tricks

If you've been following along with our product recommendations best practices series, we've covered three important topics. First, we broke down how to (and why you should!) create a 360 degree product recommendations strategy. Then, we dove into strategies to make your product recommendations increase average order value (AOV) and drive higher conversion rates.

In our final instalment, we wanted to share seven of the best tips and tricks around to take your product recommendations from standard to sensational.

#1: Mimic a brick & mortar checkout line

If you've ever stood in line at a grocery store, or even many retailers, you'll notice that there are plenty of small items surrounding you. From a pack of gum to a pair of socks to a trial size of a beloved beauty product, these last-ditch cross-sells are a proven merchandizing strategy in brick and mortar retail. Your shoppers are a captive audience, the items are often affordably priced, and the store has just made it so convenient to grab one or two top ups to your order.

Smart ecommerce brands think the same way that a retailer does, by offering lower-priced cross-sells in the cart and at checkout. These smaller items can add up to big profits when customers feel like they're an easy 'add to cart' on their way through checkout.

#2: Place product recommendations in unexpected places

Many shoppers are used to see product recommendations on the home page or product detail pages of a website, to the point where they can be potentially be overlooked. Another strategy to drive more results from your product recommendations is to simply use more of them, including placing them in less expected locations.

For example, adding product recommendations to the customer account center is a great way to capture returning shoppers who are checking in on an order or updating information, effectively help to tee up their next purchase.

Or add product recommendations to your content pages, like your blog or about pages. Have a page dedicated to your sustainable practices? Include a block of product recommendations that draw from a collection of sustainable products.  

#3: Present recommendations as a personalized collection

Product recommendations

Most people associate product recommendations with a classic carousel or row layout. But an interesting application is actually the grid layout, that can display a full page's worth of product recommendations. While you can place a grid anywhere on your site, one interesting strategy is to use product recommendations to generate a personalized collection for every single shopper.

Try adding a navigation item like 'Just For You' or 'Your Closet'. Shoppers that click on the collection will have product recommendations served up in real time based on their browsing or buying behavior, ensuring the content always remains fresh and relevant.

Learn more about using grid layouts by watching the video below.

#4: Offer post-purchase cross-sells

How many times have you made a purchase, only to realize you forgot one last thing to top up your order? Post-purchase cross-sells help customers immediately add onto their orders by highlighting a must-have item or something they may have missed on their way to checking out.

Make this strategy ultra effective by using the product(s) a customer just checked out with as the reference point for what cross-sells you offer after purchase.

#5: Link product recommendations with collections

Many product recommendations strategies hinge on engaging with specific products. But it's equally important to think of what collection a product belongs to. There are two main ways to connect your product recommendations to your collections.

#1: Spotlight bestsellers or trending products on a collection page

Product recommendations aren't just for product detail pages (PDPs). They can be added to any collection page as a way to drive more clicks to high-converting products.

Another strategy is to add Recent Views boxes to the bottom of collection pages. If a shopper doesn't find what they're looking for in a collection, they may be reminded of something else they loved and circle back.

#2: Set a collection, instead of a product, as the reference point for product recommendations elsewhere on your site

Reference points (or reference products) are a critical part of any product recommendations strategy. The most common approach with reference points is to simply look at the exact product a customer is looking at and suggest alternatives, or complementary products. For example, a shopper looking at a sports bra on an athletic wear site might be served other sports bras (You May Also Like) or matching bottoms (Frequently Bought Together, Related Items).

But instead of looking at just the product itself, it may make sense to look at the collection that sports bra belongs to instead to serve even more relevant recommendations. An athleticwear store with thousands of SKUs may create a collection for 'High impact adidas sports bras'. When a shopper browses a sports bra in this collection, instead of being served just 'other sports bras', they may see other 'high impact bras' or 'adidas bras' to ensure their recommendations are as useful as possible.

Remember that reference points can apply to more than just the product a customer is looking at. It can also refer to what's in a customer's cart or what they've bought in the past. Again, setting reference points based on collection, not just product, can give you a more macro look at what a customer's interests actually are.

#6 Use recent views as a secondary navigation

Every website has its own way of setting up the navigation experience to create the most frictionless customer journey possible. In fact 94% of customers say your website must be easy to navigate, making it a key area for digital ecommerce marketers to focus on. Yet many ecommerce marketers miss a simple truth: Customers have their own unique ways of browsing and buying.

Adding recent views boxes can actually be thought of as a secondary navigation - one that is completely user-generated. Rather than having to use the search or navigate back to a collection page, recent views allow shoppers to easily jump back to an item they were interested in. And if your personalization strategy is well thought through, going to the specific product detail pages a customer is interested in will keep them clicking on other product recommendations, creating an entirely self-generated user experience that works for every individual shopper.

#7 Add recommendations to email


Email marketing is as critical as the on-site experience for brands, whether it's to promote new collections, send out special offers, re-engage lapsed customers, or to simply follow up on administrative details. Yet many brands overlook the opportunity to personalize these emails with 1:1 product recommendations.

Adding recommendations is an easy way to drive up the click-through rate. Even if a shopper isn't interested in the primary email offer, they may be reminded of a product they were checking out or see something new that catches their attention. Once a customer becomes accustomed to seeing 1:1 product recommendations in email, it may also have the effect of driving up open rates as well as they begin to anticipate what might be in store for them.

Here are a few strategies to boost the performance of your email recommendations:

  • Inspirational emails: Dropping a new collection? Use 1:1 recommendations to show the products a shopper is most likely to convert on from your new line.
  • Promotional emails: Give shoppers a glimpse of products that are on sale from collections or lines they've previously shown an interest in.
  • Transactional emails: Shoppers are way more likely to open a transactional email, such as an order confirmation or shipping notification, over any other type of communication, with open rates as high as 85-90%. Tee up your next sale by highlighting other products a customer might be interested in based on what they've just bought to increase the customer lifetime value (CLTV) of every shopper.
  • Browse / cart abandonment: Re-hook shoppers that have abandoned the checkout process by reminding them of what product they've left behind. Give them another reason to look twice by including product recommendations for other items they may want to buy at the same time.
  • Re-engagement emails: Show shoppers what they've been missing by including product recommendations on lapsed customer emails. Include a promotional offer and products they're more likely to love to drive more clicks and conversions.
  • Out-of-stock emails: If a shopper signs up for a 'Restock Notification' email, they likely trigger an auto-confirmation email. Use this email as an opportunity to promote other products that are in stock so they can add to their cart while waiting for their dream product to be available.


We hope by the conclusion of this series your product recommendations are helping the revenue roll. Want to get even more inspired for upgrading your product recommendations? Visit the LimeSpot Idea Guide for dozens of ways to boost personalization on your site. Or get started with LimeSpot now and start building a better shopping experience for every customer.

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