Personalization & Recommendation Technology: 5 Aspects of Top Online Solutions
Product or content personalization recommendation technology enables companies to more easily and more efficiently meet consumer desires and expectations. The result is often a win-win for everyone involved: an uptick in sales as well as in customer satisfaction. That’s because product recommendation software is a solution that helps refine, understand and sometimes even anticipate a shopper’s preferences and needs in a way that creates a more personalized experience.
But if you’re a business, how do you filter through the many companies offering these solutions and pick the one that best fits your needs? To help guide you in your decision-making, here are five areas to consider for product recommendation technology:
- Integration – Make sure the solution you’re considering can run on your ecommerce platform. Or if the technology can’t run on your current platform, it must be a solution that can be integrated cost-effectively. Integration should be easy and fast and, if needed, immediate. Look for a solution that requires minimal start-up time. And if possible, avoid products that might require a lengthy burn-in period. In sales, time is critical and once you decide to automate you’ll want the solution to begin making recommendations to your customers as soon as possible.
- Personalization – “One-to-One” marketing is a concept popularized by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers in their 1996 groundbreaking book on the topic. But it hasn’t been truly practical for retailers until the arrival of automated product recommendation technology. A Forrester Research study found that 52% of those shoppers who have experienced personalization – such as when a store remembers their name, or recommend a relevant product – preferred the experience. Although all recommendation technology providers will claim to support some level of personalization, make sure it’s a true one-to-one personalization solution. One-to-one personalization delivers unique, relevant and dynamic recommendations with every click a customer makes as opposed to a solution that is based on the segmentation of categories. Along these same lines, look for a solution that can deliver effective recommendations, even when based on limited customer or sales history.
- Customization – Recommendation tools typically use proprietary algorithms in combination with several data inputs, such as individual shopping history and product category. But the best solutions are customizable and are flexible enough to work with your current business rules and merchandising strategies. The option to fine-tune an out-of-the-box recommendation tool can make a huge difference when trying to match the right product with the right customer at the right time.
- Operation – It’s indispensable to be able to see exactly what your website visitors will see and have the ability to control your recommendations. Many vendors offer a dashboard that enables previewing of how their product and content recommendation solution works in a live environment. This quality assurance capability enables you to make sure the system is functioning as desired along with the capability to make changes in a timely fashion.
- Distribution – Ask if the automated recommendations the software generates will be limited to your website or can be used across other. Serious shoppers don’t always begin or end with a company’s website and your product recommendations shouldn’t either. Ideally, you should be able to distribute these automated recommendations wherever you are engaging customers: website, emails, mobile phones and tablets, social media sites, call centers, and in-store kiosks.
Thinking of automating your product recommendation process? You probably won’t have time to stress test the many solutions offered by vendors, but by incorporating these key considerations into your evaluation process you will go a long way toward ensuring you’ve picked the right vendor for your needs.
Chris Crompton is the Group Marketing Manager at ROI Revolution, a retail-focused digital marketing agency.
Tagged conversion, personalization, product recommendations
Is there an overview of the best or biggest online recommendation solutions?
Patrick, thanks for the great question. Unfortunately, we’re not aware of any independent site (or free report offering) that provides this information. Our best suggestion is to start your search with the term “product recommendation software” and keep the 5 areas discussed in this article in mind. Please don’t hesitate to contact us – or me – directly if you have any questions or would like a demo on 4-Tell’s Boost Recs4 Web product.