The Psychology of Recommendation Engines “If you don’t ask you don’t get”

Recommendation EnginesAmazon is the king of upsell, and their popularity has largely been down to harnessing the ability to get people to spend more than they want to. In contrast, the weakness of other product sites is their inability to recommend things the customer actually wants and encouraging the customer to spend more than they want to. The recommendation engine is a massive part of the Amazon sales funnel and overall strategy, and whilst we are often too proud to copy strategy, every online store owner should start take note of the way Amazon present their recommendations and subsequently increase sales.

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By nature we are tribalistic beings and like to belong to a group we identify with, this is the reason we follow certain trends and often purchase things others in our peer group like. When we buy a book from Amazon, for example, we are alerted to other books that like-minded people have previously bought. We think, wow, other people who like stuff I like bought these things, too, especially if we are reading what is socially perceived as a slightly obscure subject or genre. We are also enticed by the fact that we might be missing out on something, is there an aspect of this genre or hobby interest that we don’t know about that other like-minded individuals do.

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A little less enticing perhaps, but nevertheless worth a punt because it’s 50/50. Chances are that if I buy a teapot I might need some tea cups or some tea, so why not politely force my hand and suggest it to me. Good salesman are chancers and your website should utilise every opportunity to pick up a chance sale. It isn’t rude to ask politely. Think about a high street store or a restaurant, you are always asked if you would like anything else, and this should be a standard feature of your website.

So think upsell this Christmas and think of ways to recommend items to customers. Don’t just recommend random products, track sales trends and develop a recommendation engine that compliments your site and is appealing to customers. Remember: if you don’t ask you don’t get, and in this case asking means more money.



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