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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : February 16, 2010

What makes a good recommendation?

When it comes to product reviews, most etailers have at least some idea of how they work. A consumer buys a product and comments on it. The problem is that all reviews are not created equally and many etailers are disengaging the consumer by giving them bad review information. Here are a few tips to bring better recommendations - and more conversions - to etailer websites.

by Kristina Knight

Retailers are missing the mark with most product reviews - even those created by trusted consumers. Why? Because the quality of the recommendation isn't up to par or the information presented is not relevant to the consumer at that moment. A recent ChoiceStream report indicates that upwards of 60% of consumers are dissatisfied with online recommendations.

"[Consumers] are demanding more and are tougher critics about quality," said Lori Trahan, Vice President of Marketing and Communications with ChoiceStream. "Oftentimes we will see a recommendation that doesn't take into account the actual purchase. The consumer may have been in-market for a barbecue grill, for example, during the last visit. They may now be in-market for complimentary products - a grill cover, grilling utensils - or a completely different product."

What makes a good recommendation? Common sense. Etailers must take into account that shopper's recent shopping behavior rather than focusing on one shopping incident.

"Consumers want the recommendations [on the page] to reflect what they are doing today online rather than what they did two days or weeks ago," said Ms. Trahan. "You want to use recommendations to show cross-sells as well as up-sells. Recommendations help consumers settle into a purchase so substitute items should be there, products that compliment the purchase should be shown. That way the brand is maximizing the effect of the recommendation."

One definite no-no: not knowing the shopper's behavior. Trahan notes that she has seen etailers who presented a recommendation for a product after the consumer had already made the same purchase.

"It isn't just throwing up a bunch of recommendations based on current browsing," said Ms. Trahan. "The consumer may be in-market for complimentary products or may be looking for a completely different product. Brands need to take into account the place and the label of the recommendation."

Tomorrow: what to include in a product recommendation and where to place recommendations for the best results.

Tags: ChoiceStream, ecommerce, online shopping, product recommendations, product reviews

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