Optimize Product Recommendations to Increase eCommerce Sales

Hermes Fang

Photo by William Fortunato

Almost every online shopper on earth has that story where they wanted to buy just a single product but ended up spending more than they planned. That’s the power of product recommendations. If you’re an eCommerce store owner who is not optimizing the use of product recommendations, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. Studies show that online shoppers engaged with product recommendations have a 70% conversion rate.

This makes product recommendation a vital tool used by e-commerce stores generally. The product recommendation is a sorting engine that runs the analysis, predicts, and shows customers products they’re more likely to purchase. This system uses search history, attributes, browsing behavior, and so on to determine recommendations specific to each customer.

The product recommendation narrows down and selects products a customer is likely to buy and shows them as a recommendation. This useful tool and strategy helps increase sales and make running an online store easier.

If you’re using product recommendations on your site and aren’t seeing results, you’re probably not doing it right. You need to check out these tips if you'd love to see some positive dividends from your product recommendation algorithm.

Use Product Recommendations Data for Cross-Selling

You can analyze data from the product recommendation engine and use it to sell complementary products to what a customer wants to purchase (cross-sells). You should not underrate this tactic, as research from McKinsey shows that cross-sells could raise sales by 30%.

It is advisable to place these complementary products on your cart page. This is because you will recommend products that complement the items already chosen for purchase by the customer.

For example, you can recommend a pair of socks to a customer that wants to purchase a sneaker or a jacket to someone purchasing a T-shirt—recommendations in this format prompt customers to purchase more items from your store, thereby increasing your sales.

Add Product Recommendations to 404 Error Pages

Do you have a page on your site that is temporarily closed due to exhausted products or some other reason? These are usually known as 404 error pages. This can frustrate customers, causing them to leave your store without making a purchase.

However, you can make the best out of your 404 error page by using it to display some of your bestselling products as recommendations. Instead of feeling disappointed due to the error page, customers might take an interest in the product recommended on the page. This helps close sales while some of your products are out of stock.

Photo by Polina Zimmerman

Present the right number of recommendations

The primary purpose of using product recommendations in your store is to help customers find what they might be interested in purchasing. So be sure not to get carried away by suggesting too many product recommendations to customers. You should prioritize quantity over quality. Recommendations should be moderate and never in excess to give a smooth user experience.

Provide social proof to gain customers’ trust

Adding social proof like positive reviews to recommended products helps you gain customers’ trust, as statistics show that reviews influence around 95% of purchases made online. Social proof also helps establish your products’ authenticity and increase sales conversion.

Visually Stimulate your Customers to Buy

You know the saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words." In online selling, the product photography is critical. According to Google’s Consumer Survey, 50% of online shoppers use images to decide what to buy. So, you must ensure you’re using high-quality product images. This gives your consumers a huge sense of confidence in your products.

However, you must ensure your products are just like the images. According to research by Trueship, 22% of eCommerce product returns are due to the products not looking like the actual images. Thus, you need to ensure you’re not deceptive with the photos used.


Product recommendation is a tested and working strategy to help improve sales in your online store. However, setting up and optimizing product recommendations the right way is important for them to be effective.

(Contributed by Oluwafemi Adedeji & Hermes Fang)

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7 years experience in digital marketing, KOL marketing, and SEO.


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