Automated vs Customized: The Related Products Debate

Boris Kwemo

14 Nov 23
Reading Time: 7 min

As eCommerce continues to evolve, the quest for better conversion rates never ceases. Today, we introduce you to another crucial debate in the eCommerce world: Automated vs Customized Related Products. This refers to how online shops recommend related products to shoppers, either through automated algorithms or customized manual selections.

Here at ConvertMate, we leverage data analysis and AI to help Shopify brands optimize their product descriptions, and by extension, their product detail pages. We understand the intricacies of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) for eCommerce, and with this blog post, we hope to shed light on the Automated Vs Customized debate, helping you make informed decisions that boost your conversion rates.

Understanding Automated and Customized Related Products

What are Automated Related Products

Automated related products refer to items that are automatically suggested to customers based on their browsing history, previous purchases, and other data-driven factors. This is typically achieved through complex algorithms that analyze consumer behavior and trends to identify products that are likely to appeal to the shopper. When utilized correctly, automated related products can significantly enhance the shopping experience, boost customer engagement, and ultimately drive sales and increase conversion rates.

However, it's important to note that while the automation of related products offers significant advantages such as efficiency and scalability, it also has its limitations. Given that algorithms are not perfect, there can be instances where the product recommendations may not be as accurate or relevant. This is where the debate between automated and customized related products comes into play.

Customized related products, on the other hand, involve manually selecting and recommending products that are deemed suitable for a specific customer or segment. This approach allows for a more personal touch and can sometimes result in more accurate product recommendations. However, it can be time-consuming and may not be feasible for larger e-commerce stores with a vast product range. As an ecommerce store owner or marketer, it's crucial to strike a balance between automation and customization to offer the best shopping experience for your customers.

What are Customized Related Products

Customized Related Products refer to a personalized selection of items that are displayed to the customers based on their browsing history, preferences, or previous purchases. This approach gives the store owner or marketer the power to control the related products shown. Unlike automated related products that use algorithms to suggest related items, customized related products ensure that the items shown are strategically chosen to complement the customer's interests or the product they are viewing.

Customized related products give ecommerce store owners and marketers an opportunity to leverage their understanding of their products and customers. They can use this strategy to cross-sell and upsell products, thereby increasing the average transaction value and overall store revenue. The primary advantage of customized related products is that they allow for a much higher level of personalization than automated related products. This can significantly enhance the shopping experience, leading to increased customer loyalty and higher conversion rates.

However, the success of the customized related products strategy depends on the marketer’s ability to understand their customers and products. If done incorrectly, it can overwhelm customers with irrelevant product recommendations, leading to a decrease in conversion rates. Therefore, while it may be more labor-intensive than an automated approach, customized related products can prove to be highly effective when implemented correctly.

The Impact of Related Products on Conversion Rates

How Automated Related Products Affect Conversion

When considering the impact of automated related products on conversion rates, it is crucial to understand the fundamental role they play in enhancing the shopping experience. Automated related products, often generated through algorithms based on browsing history and purchasing patterns, provide customers with a personalized shopping experience. By suggesting items that are relevant to the user's interests, they not only increase the potential for additional purchases but also enhance customer engagement with your ecommerce store. Ultimately, this can significantly boost your conversion rates.

However, it’s not all about algorithms. While automation can certainly increase efficiency and provide a broad range of product recommendations, it lacks the human touch that can often make a significant difference. Customized related products, selected manually based on a deeper understanding of the customer's preferences, can potentially create a more meaningful connection with the customer. They can also cater to nuances that an algorithm might miss. The key is finding the right balance between automated and customized related products to optimize your conversion rates.

Ultimately, whether you choose to focus on automated or customized related products will depend on the unique needs of your ecommerce store. Remember, the goal is not just to drive sales, but to create a shopping experience that is enjoyable and engaging for the customer. By carefully considering how related products can enhance this experience, you will be well-equipped to make the right choice for your business and see positive results in your conversion rates.

How Customized Related Products Affect Conversion

One of the most effective strategies for boosting conversion rates in ecommerce is the use of related products. This tactic is based on the premise that if a customer is interested in a particular item, they may also be interested in similar or complementary products. However, the debate between automated and customized related products plays a crucial role in its success.

Customized related products have a significant influence on conversion rates. They are specifically selected by the business based on a deep understanding of the customer’s individual needs and preferences. This personalized approach not only makes the customer feel valued but also increases the likelihood of them purchasing additional items.

On the other hand, automated related products are chosen by an algorithm. While it’s faster and more efficient, it may not always accurately reflect the customer’s unique tastes and requirements. Therefore, though it may seem more convenient, it can potentially lead to lower conversion rates.

In conclusion, in the debate between automated and customized related products, the latter seems to yield better results in terms of conversion rates. The personal touch and attention to detail in customized related products resonate more with the customer, leading to higher engagement and ultimately, better conversion rates.

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Automated Related Products

Pros of Automated Related Products

One significant advantage of automated related products is the efficiency and accuracy they bring to your ecommerce business. Automation removes the manual effort of selecting and updating related products, saving valuable time that can be invested in other aspects of your business. This is particularly beneficial for large-scale businesses with hundreds or thousands of products. Furthermore, the data-driven approach of automated related products ensures precision, delivering recommendations based on empirical data rather than human intuition.

Another positive aspect of automated related products is their ability to boost sales and increase conversion rates. By recommending related products, you are not only enhancing the customer’s shopping experience and offering them a wider array of choices, but also encouraging them to add more items to their cart. This can lead to an overall increase in the average order value. Furthermore, automated systems can analyze and learn from customer behavior, allowing for personalized recommendations that are likely to appeal to individual customers, thereby leading to higher conversions.

Additionally, automated related products provide scalability. As your ecommerce store grows, it can become increasingly challenging to manage related product recommendations manually. Automated systems, on the other hand, grow with your business, continuously analyzing new data and adjusting recommendations accordingly, ensuring that they remain relevant and effective. This scalability can give you a competitive edge, allowing you to focus on business expansion without worrying about keeping up with related product recommendations.

Cons of Automated Related Products

While automated related products offer a degree of efficiency and convenience for ecommerce store owners, there are considerable drawbacks that must be acknowledged. The primary concern revolves around the lack of precision and personalization that automation can sometimes entail. An automated system may not always be able to discern the nuances of consumer behavior or preferences, thereby recommending products that are irrelevant or misaligned with the shopper's interests.

Algorithmic Shortcomings

One of the cons of automated related products is the potential for algorithmic shortcomings. Automation is typically powered by algorithms that analyze previous customer behavior to suggest related products. However, these algorithms can make mistakes. They might suggest items that the customer has already purchased or show products that are out of stock. These errors can frustrate customers and potentially deter them from making a purchase.

Lack of Personal Touch

Another disadvantage is the lack of a personal touch. Despite advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, automated systems still lack the human ability to understand context and make intuitive connections. They can't replicate the personalized advice a trained salesperson might provide in a physical store. This can lead to less effective cross-selling and upselling, which are key strategies for increasing conversion rates in ecommerce. Hence, relying solely on automation may not always yield the desired results.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Customized Related Products

Pros of Customized Related Products

One of the key advantages of customized related products lies in the level of personalization it offers for your customers. While automated related products simply throw in general suggestions based on an algorithm, customization allows you to tailor your suggestions to each individual customer. This leads to a unique shopping experience that feels personalized and considerate. It shows that your ecommerce store understands and anticipates the customer's needs, which can significantly increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Increased conversion rate is another prominent advantage of customized related products. Since the product recommendations are personalized, there's a higher likelihood that customers will find them appealing and relevant. This can greatly improve your store's upselling and cross-selling efforts, leading to larger basket sizes and more sales. In fact, according to a study by Barilliance, personalized product recommendations can account for up to 31% of ecommerce revenues.

Further, customized related products can provide a wealth of valuable data about your customers. By monitoring which recommendations are successful and which aren't, you can gain a better understanding of your customers' preferences and shopping habits. This data can then be used to further refine your product offerings and marketing strategies, resulting in a more effective and profitable ecommerce store.

Cons of Customized Related Products

While customized related products might be a tempting solution for ecommerce store owners looking to boost their conversion rate, there are several notable cons to keep in mind. One significant disadvantage is the amount of time and effort required to customize related products for each individual customer. Unlike automated systems which can quickly suggest related products based on algorithms and consumer behavior, a customized approach demands a great deal of manual work and a deep understanding of each customer's preferences.

The cost associated with customized related products can also be a major downside. Creating a truly customized related products feature may involve hiring dedicated staff or engaging an external agency, both of which come with considerable expenses. In addition, maintaining this kind of feature is not a one-time job - it requires constant updates and tweaks to keep up with changing customer behaviors and trends.

Another potential con of customized related products is its potential to be less accurate than automated systems. While human customization can add a personal touch, it may not always accurately predict what customers want or need, leading to missed opportunities for upselling or cross-selling. Automated systems, on the other hand, leverage big data and sophisticated algorithms, which can potentially provide more accurate product suggestions and thus, higher conversion rates.

Choosing the Right Approach for Your Store

Factors to Consider when Choosing Automated or Customized

When it comes to the debate between automated and customized related products, there are several factors ecommerce store owners should consider. First and foremost, it’s important to assess the level of control you want to have. Automated systems do most of the work for you, analyzing customers’ browsing and purchasing behaviors to generate related product suggestions. This can be helpful for store owners who have a large number of products and don’t have the time to manually select related items for each one. However, it can sometimes lead to less-than-ideal product pairings.

On the other hand, customized systems give store owners full control over the related products that are shown. This can allow for more strategic product placement, such as promoting new products or items with higher profit margins. However, it can also be more time-consuming, especially for stores with a large product range. It’s also important to remember that what works for one ecommerce store may not work for another. Factors such as your store’s size, product range, and target audience can all influence which approach is best.

In conclusion, while there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, understanding the pros and cons of each approach can help you make an informed decision. Whether you opt for an automated or customized system, the most important thing is to stay focused on your ultimate goal: boosting conversions and enhancing the shopping experience for your customers.

Making an Informed Decision Based on Your Store’s Needs

Understanding the unique needs of your ecommerce store is key to making an informed decision between an automated and customized approach to showcasing related products. Each method has its own set of advantages and limitations, and the most effective choice will largely depend on the specific requirements of your store. By carefully assessing your store's needs, you can determine which method will best boost your conversion rate and enhance customer experience.

Automated related products are driven by algorithms that analyze a shopper's browsing behavior, previous purchases, and other data. This method is typically easier to implement and can handle a large volume of products, making it a practical choice for larger stores. On the other hand, customized related products involve manually choosing and assigning related products for each item. This method offers a high level of control and can be more precise in targeting specific customer preferences, though it can be time-consuming and may not be feasible for stores with a vast product range.

Therefore, the choice between automated and customized related products should be based on your store's size, the diversity of your product range, and the resources you have for managing related products. It's also essential to consider your customers' preferences and shopping behavior, as the ultimate goal is to provide relevant product suggestions that can boost sales and customer satisfaction. Regardless of the method you choose, ongoing monitoring and adjustment are necessary to ensure that your related products strategy remains effective over time.

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