How Top Shopify Stores Utilize Product Recommendation

Ellie Bradford
Jun 7, 2024
3 min read

Sophisticated product recommendations are one of the hallmarks of a great Shopify store. It’s, in fact, a crucial task of e-merchants. Presenting shoppers with the products they’re sure to love not only boosts their satisfaction but can also work wonders on your bottom line.

Shopify stores that aim for the top are going far beyond the traditional product recommendations, opting for a more creative approach. In this article, we’ll investigate product recommender systems used by top stores to inspire your strategy.

Why Product Recommendations Matter

Personalization has gone past being a buzzword, it’s an expectation for 63% of shoppers.

A great way to deliver the personalized experience consumers yearn for is through product recommendations.

Using information deciphered from shopping behavior, an ideal recommender system presents customers with perfectly matched products. This approach to personalization is so effective that 75% of customers are more likely to buy recommended products. Apparently, product recommendations can have an extremely positive effect on your earnings.

Product recommendations also help to enhance the shopping experience. It brings shoppers closer to the most relevant products quickly and easily. When done right, the product discovery process is completely optimized. This ultimately drives engagement in your store and creates devoted shoppers.

Nailing product recommendations on your Shopify store can bring you a world of success. That's why top stores are going above and beyond with the way they recommend products. Let’s take a look at how top Shopify stores are aiding discovery through product recommendations.

How Top Shopify Stores Recommend Products

Complete the look: Product recommendation as a cross-sell

A tactic we’re seeing being used primarily by fashion stores is recommending products to build an outfit. Shoppers are encouraged to “complete the look” with other items being worn by the model in the product image.

red-dress complete the look product recommendation

Red Dress encourages shoppers to pair a dress with the shoes, bag, and earrings seen on the model.

This provides a strong visual stimulus as shoppers can clearly see how the products work together.

Other times, the “complete the look” recommendations are simply a selection of items the retailer believes will complement what is being viewed.

nine west complete the look product recommendation

Nine West doesn’t feature models, so they instead suggest bags in similar colors and patterns to the shoe being viewed.

This method of recommendation is an excellent way to mimic the expertise and service you’d find at a high-end fashion store. By recommending products that style well together, retailers are able to show they’re fashion savvy and trustworthy. It also ensures that relevancy among recommended items as the products go hand in hand.

Recommending products in this way can be a great nudge towards a larger purchase, particularly when the compatibility between the products is visualized.

If you want to give it a try, be sure to keep the number of “create the look" items a minimum. Around 3 products seem to be the norm. Aim to keep up with fashion trends so you can suggest outfits that align with what’s popular. It’s also great if the look can be seen in one product image.

Social media as inspiration

Social media is fast becoming a popular vehicle for commerce, particularly when it comes to finding inspiration. With 65% of consumers using social media to spark shopping ideas, it’s clear why top brands are incorporating these channels for product recommendations.

On homepages and product pages, shoppable social media feeds are joining the recommendation ranks. Visitors to sites such as Red Dress, Mavi, and Nine West are presented with images of real customers using their products which they can shop for.

red dress shoppable social media recommendations

(Source: Red Dress)

Big brands are using user-generated content (UGC) as a more authentic way to recommend and drive the discovery of products. These photos are free from sophisticated editing. Instead, shoppers can get a more realistic idea of how the items look and function.

Moreover, these images act as a seal of approval from other customers. They’re so happy with the purchase that they were compelled to share it on social media.

If your store’s social media accounts are full of UGC, it’s simple to start displaying them on your website. Apps like Stamped.io can automatically add content from your social accounts and turn them into a shoppable gallery for your store.

Quizzes for hyper-personalized product recommendations

For online product recommendations to be top-tier, they need to be as personal as possible. While factoring in previous purchases and a user’s browsing history can well and truly set you on this path, top brands are trying something else.

dermalogica skincare quiz to formulate product recommendation

(Source: Dermalogica)

Quizzes are becoming more frequently used to curate product recommendations. Visitors are invited to answer a few questions about who they’re shopping for, the features they are after, and what the product will be used for.

allbirds product recommendation quiz

Allbirds asks up to 4 questions to match customers with products.

This is great as not only is it fun and engaging for the customer, but it also provides the most relevant and personalized recommendations possible.. With so many customers feeling persuaded to purchase when recommendations are personalized, quizzes are a no-brainer.

There are a number of apps, such as Shop Quiz Product Recommender, to help you build a quiz of your own. Make sure you keep the questions limited and include a progress bar to make it clear how far along the quiz your customers are.

Alternative product recommendations

In addition to traditional recommendations based on customer data like Frequently bought together, recommender systems based on usage, mood, or concerns very specific to the target audience are gaining popularity.

allbirds alternative product recommendations

(Source: Allbirds)

These types of product recommendations demonstrate an intricate understanding of the customer. Brands that use this tactic understand the situations their customers may be in and can pair them with the perfect product for the situation. It may also be a more palatable way for shoppers to characterize and identify what they are looking for.

This appears to be central to how Allbirds recommends its products. Directly under the hero banner, shoppers can choose from 3 products based on what they intend to use the shoe for.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with how you recommend products to your customers. A good starting point is to identify different situations your target audience may be in. Think about how your products could address these situations. Then you can use that as a basis to create unique recommendation categories.

Recommendations every step of the way

For top Shopify stores, every part of the shopping journey is an opportunity to recommendproducts. These top stores feature recommendations on the homepage, collection pages, product pages, cart page, and even checkout page. At each stage, the type of recommendation that’s presented differs.

puravida product recommendations

Product recommendations on Pura Vida’s homepage (left), product page (center), and shopping cart (right).

Stores that recommend products like this have a detailed understanding of their customers. They have figured out the state of mind and behavior of their customers at every stage of the shopping process. Therefore, they can make accurate predictions of what shoppers may want to see.

Pura Vida leaves no stone unturned when it comes to product recommendations. There is not a page you can land on that is void of them.

pura vida trending products recommendation on collections page

The homepage reveals personalized recommendations based on previous browsing, and collection pages highlight trending products. When you click on a product page, there are suggestions to help you complete the look, in addition to products other customers also viewed. Add an item to your cart, and you’ll be presented with an assortment of products related to the item.

Reaching this level of product recommendations requires some work. You’ll need to analyze the journeys your customers take when they are in your store. How does what they are browsing change as they move from page to page? What different types of product recommendations can you include on different pages? Which ones work best on these different pages?

It’ll take some time to answer these questions, but the payout will be totally worth it. A useful Shopify app to get you there is Wiser. The app allows you to place recommendations on your homepage, product page, cart page, and checkout page. What's more, you can view customer journey analytics to reveal the browsing patterns of visitors to your store.

Final Thoughts

Creating personalized, unique, and thoughtful product recommendations are a gateway to connecting with your customers. Major stores are putting a lot of effort into curating selections of products that truly speak to their customers’ needs. This is because the effectiveness of these recommendations can be the difference between a shopper staying in your store to eventually buy, or giving up and trying somewhere else.

Fortunately, crafting product recommendation experiences like the top players is very much within reach for the average e-merchant. Thanks to a few apps and a bit of experimentation and analysis, you can provide recommendations that truly resonate with your customers.

Ellie Bradford
In-Product Marketing Lead
June 17, 2024
5 min read