Propose Related Items: Identify User Needs for Ecommerce

Smart sales assistants know when and how to introduce “related” products to customers, so that customers can happily buy more. For example, if a customer tries on a pair of boots, an experienced sales assistant might suggest a pair of slim jeans that go perfectly with the boots. If the sales assistant suggests other pants or jeans that don’t match the boots at all, it won’t work.

More and more e-commerce websites are trying to do the same thing.

For example, the other day, I bought a stylus for iPad online. The next day, I received emails from the e-commerce website introducing “other products you might be interested in”. What’s on top of that list? The same style of stylus as the one I just bought, but in different colors.

I can understand that those are of course in the same product group, but I don’t need different colors of stylus unless I am collecting. Besides, I already knew there are different colors when making purchase decisions, so the information sent to me seemed redundant.

In order to make the “related products” really functional, a sound information architecture of the e-commerce websites is vital.

UX/IA professionals should not only have solid knowledge such as taxonomy and content strategy, but also a good understanding of customer buying habits. Such knowledge can be gained through observing in real life, talking with sales people at retail stores, and last but not least, reading books on retailing and sales can also be helpful.

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