Many online retailers still don’t capitalize that much on offering both alternative and supplementary products in their eCommerce stores.
According to Baymard Institute’s research of the top 50 ecommerce sites, only 42% actually tap into this beneficial marketing strategy. What more for those stores that are not in the top 50 list?
Hence, it only means that there is still a lot to be done in this arena.
Why Both Alternative and Supplementary Products Must Be Offered
Both these types of products are not just good for jacking up your overall profit, but they can actually enhance a certain product’s usability. They can even improve the user experience for your visitors and customers.
The problem here often lies not just in the absence of such suggestions, but also in the distinction between the two. Many just put them together in one carousel or in the same area without distinguishing one from the other. Doing this lowers its efficiency. It decreases the possibility of a buyer saying yes because you are not clear on the purpose.
To clarify, note that alternative products are those which are related but can replace the first option. The purpose here is to provide recommendations so as to assist consumers in finding the right product that they really want or need. You have to take note that most of those who land on your product pages are still unclear on what exactly they’re looking for.
In addition, you must realize that supplementary products are the additional items that could be bundled with the main product or could contribute to the functional operations of the main product. These are the items offered for cross-selling.
The two types of products should therefore not be mixed or interchanged.
The Power of Alternative Products
What do you think happens to a user who discovers that the item in the product page he landed on isn’t the one he’s actually looking for?
There’s a big chance that he’ll leave the site and go to your competitors. Thus, your platform must be ready with alternative options to help him find what it is he wants. Since the prospective buyer is most likely searching for something fairly similar, then chances are one of your alternative products may hit the jackpot.
You can put something like a “More to Consider” sidebar to show alternative suggestions. It’s an effective way to make the user stay and jump from one product page to another. Think YouTube suggested videos, which could actually become addicting. It makes people stay longer because they are presented with alternatives also related to what they’re interested in.
The Magic of Supplementary Products
There’s a huge opportunity here because most customers may actually need accessories for the product they are buying. They could be thinking to get these somewhere else or later on. Well, why not encourage them to get it right away together with the main product so you can ensure that they actually buy from you? It would be good to offer special deals or discounts to entice them.
This is where cross-selling comes into play. At times, the customer may not really be aware that you also have the supplementary products they want or need. So it’s a must for you to display them as well— at the right time, of course.
Many people who come to fashion sites, for instance, are looking to buy complete outfits or matching clothes to “finish the look”. Those who buy costumes may also need headgear or props, so you ought to make sure you have those recommendations available.
Furthermore, such supplementary offers are actually great for easy and convenient navigation since a user ends up going across various categories when clicking on the suggested items. This is good too in showing what other categories you have in your product catalog, making potential buyers aware of what else you offer in your online store.
The Right Implementation
It’s not enough for you to offer both alternative and supplementary products on your e-store. As an effective merchant, it’s pertinent to do it right so you can profit the most from this strategy.
Here are some tips on how to implement this the right way:
Provide Clear, Separate Labels.
It’s important for users to understand where you’re coming from. This means that you cannot mix together the alternative and supplementary items. Make sure they’re separate and labeled properly. For instance, you can put “More to Consider” on a sidebar to help customers find the right product and then place “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought” at the bottom to provide suggestions for supplementary products.
When your recommendations are confusing, they will not make much sense. And if this happens, the customer might assume that you just want to make more money off him rather than benefit him more. The basis for the suggestions ought to be clear.
Be Careful with Product Compatibility.
When setting up suggestions, be sure that the products you’re showing are actually compatible with the main product the customer is currently checking out. This is more applicable for supplementary products or in terms of cross-selling.
Let’s say a user is considering to buy a TV and your software displays suggested wall bracket. You must make sure that all of these wall brackets actually fit the TV or are appropriate for it. This is because consumers will always assume that your suggestions are compatible. What if they buy one of the additional items and then it doesn’t actually match the main product? That would be really bad for your business.
Think Diversity for Recommendations.
It’s also good to have diversity in your recommendations. Even if they are related to the main item on a particular product page, there could still be diverse options. For example, if a user is on the product page of a baby shampoo. In the area of alternative products, you could include not just baby soap but also a baby bathtub, lotion, powder, bath time toys, and more. Or if the main item is a DSLR camera, you could have a variety too in your supplementary items— tripods, straps, carry-on bags, memory cards.
Now that you realize the great importance of alternative and supplementary products, you ought to carefully plan how best to offer them separately on your website. Ask help from your webmaster or software provider. It’s important to do market research and testing as well to see which one works best for your business. Good luck!
Yahoo! Store Merchants are advised to take advantage of the Cross Sell Manager. We are always happy to install it for you. For more information, visit “Auto Suggest Cross Sell Installation“, or “Intelligent Cross Sell for Yahoo Stores“. For Big Commerce and Shopify customers, visit the app stores for your platform where you will find multiple solutions from third party vendors.
Joe is Your Store Wizards Marketing Wizard. Joe has been in the eCommerce industry since the very beginning. Joe used to own a multi-million dollar pet supply company that he sold to Doctor’s Foster and Smith in 2007 and a web development company named Solid Cactus that he sold to the web.com Group in 2008. Joe now enjoys his time being a Store Wizard.