Ecommerce Growth

eCommerce Product Recommendation: Examples, Ideas, Do's/Don'ts

Product recommendations are a great tool for businesses to showcase what they've got—here's a list of ideas you can put to use.

eCommerce Product Recommendation: Examples, Ideas, Do's/Don'ts

It's clear that your average online shopper comes looking for a product that fulfills a specific need or is in search of a product that’ll solve a problem. 

However, who has the time to discover ALL the products that’ll be a good fit?

Enter product recommendations.

Consider them able assistants to your product listing pages and product pages. 

By displaying relevant information to users, recommendations nudge them to take action resulting in a win-win situation for the customer and the eCommerce brand. 

The information is gathered based on their distinct needs, interests, and buying habits. 

But why do they work so well? What in the consumer psyche makes them so relevant? And what could be done further to increase their capacity in creating conversions?

To explore these crucial questions, in this post, we'll be covering the following sections -

4 Ways to Match Consumer Expectations with Product Recommendations

5 Ways Product Recommendations Improve the Shopping Experience

5 Product Recommendation Strategies & Examples for Inspiration

4 Best Practices to Elevate Your Product Recommendations

What types of product recommendations exist? 

1. Collaborative filtering (make use of similarities)

Collaborative filtering makes product recommendations by grouping items that may be liked by users based on preferences by similar groups of users. 

It collects key data points such as customer behavior, activities, and interests. 

This kind of product recommendation uses collaborative filtering which further has two sub-types - 

Decide through similar tastes (User-User collaborative filtering) 

Product recommendations based on each set of user behaviors that are either identical or similar is called User-User collaborative filtering. 

Ikea offers “You might like” product recommendations based on the purchases made by a lookalike audience.

The ratings serve as social proof. With the use of “Last Chance to buy”, there is a sense of curiosity to check the product.

Finally, it creates an urgency to react. 

ikea product recommendation example that uses collaborative filtering

Let items be the common factor (Item-Item collaborative filtering) 

Item-item collaborative filtering is similar to its predecessor albeit with a difference. Instead of user-user lookalikes, it looks for item lookalikes.

This means it looks for users who bought additional items and finds its corresponding lookalike. 

JC Penney product recommendations use collaborative filtering methods

JCPenney recommends products based on item lookalikes under “Customers also bought”.  

2. Content-based filtering (where content leads the way)

Product recommendations based on content such as browsing history, purchases made, downloads, items added to cart, ratings, and the like are content-based filtering. 

Here is an example of a browsing history recommendation by Amazon

amazon content-based product recommendation example

Humans spend time researching and contemplating buying items owing to too many options, risk-aversion, and pricing.

Browsing history-based recommendations can help you win customers because of last-minute impulsive purchases.

3. Hybrid recommendation system (the best of both worlds)

By combining collaborative filtering and content-based filtering, product recommendations can be made more accurate and powerful.

In the hybrid version, the quality of recommendations does not depend on only:

  • similarities in behavior with other users & between products
  • similarities with past purchases

Netflix, for example, shows the world how a great hybrid recommendation system can work—making use of BOTH what other users prefer and content that is close to the preferences of a specific user.

4 Ways to Match Consumer Expectations with Product Recommendations

1. Make it easy for shoppers to purchase

Making it easy for a shopper to discover new products and eventually make a purchase, is the ideal scenario. 

Here’s how Allbirds does it.

Whether it’s on the homepage where they entice shoppers old and new with “New Arrivals”, or suggestions specifically meant for the product page (with “Frequently Viewed Together”), the brand constantly shows the way for shoppers to take their next action. 

allbirds eCommerce product recommendation example
allbirds product recommendation example

2. Help shoppers discover products of liking 

eCommerce recommendations, especially the more personalized ones, ensure a shopper experiences convenience of discovery without having to put in any hard work themselves. 

Bring certain top category sections upfront through display and design, and you’re all set. 

Covergirl, the cosmetics brand, lays special stress on the convenience of discovery.

This is especially true for those who may never have experienced the brand before but find themselves browsing the brand’s eStore. 

Not only does Covergirl showcase a “Shop Best Sellers” section the moment you land on their homepage, they also feature a separate “Best Sellers” tab on their primary navigation menu

covergirl eCommerce product recommendation example

3. Give them the same experience across channels

An effective omnichannel experience contributes to multiple critical things - 

  • Eases browsing and buying 
  • Makes it easier to collect and track data in detail
  • Improves customer support 
  • Integrates various parts of the business 

So an omnichannel experience is a driving factor for both consumers and businesses.

Personalization in the form of product recommendations based on browsing and purchase history and personal profile, becomes a natural outcome of an omnichannel approach.

A great eCommerce example in this regard is Under Armour.

It is a brand that began as a domestic wholesale apparel company, but has now revamped into being a modern omnichannel expert retail giant.

Their ArmourBox subscription service exemplifies how product recommendations can be deeply personalized. 

All that the customer needs to do is go online and fill in some details about their training schedule, their favorite shoe style and what kind of fitness goals they have.

From the business side, an Under Armour stylist then personally sees to it that the box reflects the preferences of its recipient. 

under armour does eCommerce recommendations through the armourbox subscription service

4. Make the smallest brand interactions meaningful

No matter which category you do business in, your customers are looking to be assured, delighted, (pleasantly) surprised and have their promises kept. 

From a business angle, attending to this makes sense—statistics prove that 82% businesses agree on finding it easier to retain customers compared to finding new ones. 

And product recommendations, done right, can come in handy in making your brand interactions be remembered and recalled.

Bellroy is a brand that creates unmatched interaction possibilities every step of the way.

They bring precision into their recommendations and make them complementary enough for shoppers to add them to a bundle.

bellroy improves a customer's brand interaction through their eCommerce recommendations

5 Ways You Can Use Product Recommendations To Improve the Shopping Experience

1. Make shoppers feel like their preferences matter

eCommerce shoppers return to their favorite brands when they feel like their preferences are being taken care of—be it the returns flexibility, shipping costs or payment methods.

Personalizing your product recommendations more accurately, can add to the mix.

Just like fashion brand Asos does. 

When we looked for plus size clothing, we found that the brand personalizes their recommendations enough to return suggestions in the same category.

Notice how in our example, the first three recommendations all fall under “Plus Size”

asos caters to plus sizes in their eCommerce product recommendations

2. Offer social proof to drive consumer confidence

Social proof is often a good reason why a shopper will continue to engage with a brand, and in the best case scenario, even choose to buy from it.

So, go ahead, and offer it. 

Product recommendations can be a great source of social proof, especially if you know how to plug the feature in. 

In the following example, Cuvee Coffee showcases the number of ratings and reviews a recommended product has got in the product recommendation section. 

cuvee product recommendation example

Covenant Health Products, on the other hand, does this a little more subtly, by displaying a dynamic banner filled with client logos right beneath their recommended products section. 

covenant health products product recommendation example

3. Offer timely choices based on personal/likely preferences

Serve up a few really good deals around the year, and many recreational browsers will eventually convert. 

The good news is that eCommerce recommendations can amplify this effect. For example, a fashion brand decides to declare a sale on select products. 

Since it’s not a sitewide sale, it’s not obvious that a shopper will land on a discounted product they would likely buy.

In this situation, the product recommendation feature can bring to their notice discounted products that they may prefer based on their purchase and browsing history . 

Here’s how Bulk Apothecary approaches their product recommendations.

Under “Related Products”, they have two products that are considerably lower in price. 

Both the products are clearly complementary to the main product featured on the page - an aromatherapy starter kit.

This makes it even more likely for shoppers to want to add an extra product at a marginal cost. 

bulk apothecary brings in complementary suggestions across their recommended products

4. Create a pathway for consumers to explore

People like to make the right decisions - or make the decisions that are closest to what they consider is right or perfect. 

And that’s where product recommendations can be so helpful. In a crowd of choices, options as well as decisions to be made, recommendations simplify life. 

What Sephora does to deepen the personalization in their recommended products, is a great example.

Their recommendation engines are clearly working hard to keep track of previous purchases and what products one may have browsed before. 

So when they bring forth a “Chosen For You” section, you can be rest assured it covers a gamut of brands and a variety of products. 

sephora showcases numerous brands across their eCommerce product recommendations

5. Create a sustained promise of shopping satisfaction

Alex Schultz, the former vice president of growth is often remembered for stating that if a business can get 20% to 30% customers coming back every month for a purchase, then they will do really well.

Now if you think about it, you’ll figure that personalization has got a lot to do with it.

And within the spectrum of personalization, eCommerce recommendations have a huge role to play. 

The amount of effort a business has to expend to get a new customer is more than it is to retain an already existing customer. 

And this makes sustained shopping satisfaction indispensable.

LeSportSac, for example, throws up recommendations highlighting “sale”, “new” and “collaboration” to highlight products across price points. 

This is a good move because it offers the target audience to explore more products based on what their intent of shopping is. 

And because it eventually gets so specific, there’s a high chance that a shopper ends up buying something.

le sport sac product recommendation example
le sport sac product recommendation example

5 Product Recommendation Strategies & Examples for Inspiration

1. Go deeper into signals of interest

Purchase behavior is a generic term for assessing a host of purchase decisions. 

It’s not just about what a customer bought across many different purchases—it’s also broken down into what their immediately last purchase was about, what they bought right before, what they may have paired with what in their last purchase as well as those right before and so on.

When you go deeper into signals of interest like this, the greater is the likelihood that you can mine the data to come up with even sharper recommendations in the future.

Here’s a look at how Zalando does it.

Notice how they introduce three different sections to entice the customer into looking at possibly preferred products across different categories. 

Specifically, they induce interest by using copy effectively - “how about these?”, “winter vacation” and “better together” are all means to an end - for the customer to think in different directions and then to come to a purchase conclusion. 

zalando feaures similar items as recommended products
zalando product recommendations are placed within categories that will interest the shopper
zalando product recommendations feature complementary items

2. Capture the imagination of explorative shoppers

You’ll have multiple kinds of people visiting your eCommerce store.

Some will exactly know what they’re looking for and head right where they are likely to find a preferred product. 

Some come over intent on research and are likely taking stock of similar products across various eCommerce stores within the same category. 

And some others are just browsing out of interest—they may be bored, may have heard about your brand or may have seen your store coming up as a result of something they searched for. 

The last of these kinds has a good chance of becoming repeat customers if you know how to keep them engaged on their first few visits. 

How you spread recommendations across your site, across various pages and also channels, can become crucial. 

Ikea does this effortlessly across their eStore.

They start with their homepage and continue beyond, deeper into the categories as a new visitor explores them. 

In our examples from Ikea, we decided we’ll explore “workspace essentials” and found a recommendation section to “upgrade your workspace” and another called “find the lunch box you love”

What’s the takeaway? When you showcase a category, ensure you take the customer deeper into relevant sub-categories. 

ikea product recommendations draw attention to sub-categories
ikea product recommendations draw attention to sub-categories
ikea product recommendations draw attention to sub-categories

3. Present categories similar to the one being browsed

Contrary to what we said in the previous point, what also holds merit is to help shoppers explore more of a specific category

Let’s say, they’re looking for bedroom furniture.

Instead of showing related products like wall accessories or door and window furnishings, you could cull out more bedroom furniture options. 

Here’s a quick look at what fashion brand Missguided does.

It captures the vocabulary of audiences likely to prefer a brand like them. 

Alongside, they also make sure a new shopper feels boosted by what fellow shoppers are searching for. 

missguided product recommendation example
 missguided product recommendation example

4. Deepen affinity-based suggestions

One of the most personalized ways to showcase eCommerce recommendations is to take user affinities into consideration.

Affinity-based suggestions can especially be fruitful for those who are already at the “awareness” stage of the purchase funnel. 

Shoppers at the awareness stage are clear about what they want and why they want it.

Interactions can span across the kind of products they’re viewing, what they are reviewing, what questions they are asking and what they are adding to cart. 

One brand that takes its affinity based suggestions seriously is 100% Pure.

For example, when we displayed interest in a restorative overnight balm, they threw up other options like an eye cream, a vitamin C serum and an anti-oxidants PM serum. 

The affinity that they have clearly picked up is that the person who is looking for an overnight balm is essentially looking for options to improve their nightly skin routine.

This attribute has helped bring about the other suggestions. 

100% pure displays affinity based eCommerce recommendations

5. Create more engagement with wishlist recommendations

A feature that’s integral to eCommerce sales and engagement but is often left out of conversations is the wishlist

And why not—it’s a tiny feature tucked away next to the “add to cart” button and not often viewed by people who aren’t serious about purchasing a product later. 

But we tend to disagree, because the eCommerce wishlist has immense potential. 

Here are a few crucial reasons why bringing wishlist recommendations may be helpful. 

  • To communicate price drops
  • To inform about specific brand sales & discounts
  • To declare a wishlist product as “fast selling” if it’s selling well (and create a sense of urgency in the process)
  • To announce promos around wishlist products
  • To inform when a wishlist product is low on stock/ is back in stock

One brand that follows up on email with wishlist recommendations is Missguided

The emails stay nurturing, relevant and feature super specific content, making them easy to be viewed and understood.

missguided product recommendation email example

4 Best Practices to Elevate Your Product Recommendations

1. Focus on the images you use

Clear, engaging images of suggested products increase the chances of shoppers wanting to click and get onto the specific product pages.

And this is why product recommendations are a lot about quality photography. 

One brand we admire for this aspect is Gymshark.

The images they use have consistent poses, apply similar background and reveal effortless athleticism and comfort. 

gymshark uses high definition photography to highlight recommended products

2. Use relevant pop-ups to draw attention

It’s not necessary that your product recommendations feature only at the end of product pages. 

They are after all slight nudges that shoppers can do with during any part of their journey - provided you do them well (read: in service of the shopper’s intent.)

One way of drawing a shopper’s attention is to show them popups featuring recommendations. 

There are many ways to do this, including featuring a special discount on products they may have added to cart and not yet bought or viewed but not added to cart. 

In the following example, Ruroc shows us how it’s possible to wheel back in shoppers who are visiting the site again after a brief spell.

Instead of a simple “welcome back”, the brand chooses to display relevant recommendations based on past user behavior. 

ruroc eCommerce recommendation popup example

3. Present fewer, more specific recommendations 

The point is not to offer a shopper so many suggestions that they feel crippled by the deluge of choices.

And this is why presenting fewer, more specific recommendations is usually the way to go. 

In the Nordstrom example we’ve picked, alongside the main product on the product page, the brand suggests only four options. 

This makes it less tiresome for shoppers to view and explore the individual products, while keeping the suggestions within their chosen spectrum. 

nordstrom eCommerce recommendation example

This might interest you: 13 Brilliant Ways To Overcome Choice Paralysis in eCommerce (2022)

4. Create a dedicated, predictable space for recommendations

There’s a reason why good UX is about making navigation predictable for customers.

It’s not very different for product recommendations and how you choose to display them. 

Only one aspect has to do with whether the recommendations are available within ready view or not.

The more important consideration is whether customers will find it at a predictable location. 

The typical locations where people look for product recommendations are soon after the main banner on the homepage or towards the end and before or after the reviews section on a product page. 

Recommended reading:

19 Creative Ways to Display eCommerce Products (w/ Brilliant Examples)

15 product bundling examples that convert (& 10 proven ideas)

11 Secrets behind Amazon’s high-converting product comparison charts

Before you go

98% of visitors who visit an eCommerce site—drop off without buying anything.

Why: user experience issues that cause friction for visitors.

And this is the problem Convertcart solves.

We've helped 500+ eCommerce stores (in the US) improve user experience—and 2X their conversions.

How we can help you:

Our conversion experts can audit your site—identify UX issues, and suggest changes to improve conversions.

Conversion rate optimization
Free Guide 👉 👉

eCommerce Product Page Conversions Guide