G1 Featured Products

G1 Featured Products

Figure G1.1. CDNOW highlights several kinds of featured products, including "Recommendations," "Recent Reviews," and "Today's Picks." It also editorializes about the items, giving them a seductive quality.

(www.cdnow.com, October 8, 2001)


graphics/common.jpg Background

In PERSONAL E-COMMERCE (A1) we provided a solution for building sites and promoting sales within those sites. Recommendations can make customers more confident in their choices and help close more sales. This pattern, along with CROSS-SELLING AND UP-SELLING (G2), PERSONALIZED RECOMMENDATIONS (G3), and RECOMMENDATION COMMUNITY (G4), describes how to provide useful recommendations. Specifically, this pattern describes the featured product page, which provides recommendations on or near the homepage.

graphics/common.jpg Problem

Customers find value when sites identify specific products as recommended or featured. Otherwise product lists can appear bland and tedious.

Having tens, hundreds, thousands, even millions of products on a Web site gives customers a wide selection of choices. But if they can get to those products only through long lists or search engines, they will find it difficult to browse through your site, and you will make fewer sales. If your site presumes that visitors already know what they want and gives them no easy way to explore the site, people who like to browse will be at a loss. The site will not be a place to gather information before making a buying decision.

One way to make it easy for your customers to explore your products is by showing them a list of featured products. This gives them an opportunity to window-shop and lets them know that there is always something new to look at. On the downside, the site must be set up so that it can be quickly updated either manually or automatically.

Editorialize in Your Product Recommendations

For some customers, simply having the product name, a picture, and the price is not enough. These customers are accustomed to getting personal recommendations from salespeople and friends when they shop in a store. On the Web, however, there is no direct connection, and people are usually alone at their computers. You can minimize their feelings of isolation by editorializing in your recommendations, giving the site a personality and a human touch (see Figure G1.2).

Figure G1.2. Electronics Boutique's homepage lists several product recommendations with editorial comments that seduce customers much more effectively than a simple list would.

(www.ebgames.com, October 8, 2001)


Adopting a consistent editorial voice gives the site personality, and it gives customers the sense that they're interacting with a real person instead of a large, faceless company. Decide on your voice and make the copy match. Do you want your site to be friendly? Wisecracking? Authoritative? Avuncular? Whatever you choose, be consistent to avoid confusion.

Provide Different Kinds of Recommendations

Shoppers have diverse needs and different values. On a site that sells jewelry, for example, a shopper who likes to see the latest styles may decide to go elsewhere if she cannot see what's new. Fashionable shoppers want to see what's popular; cost-conscious customers may want to see what's on sale. Those who need help with a purchase will want to see a buyer's guide. Featuring products from all of these different slants can dramatically improve your customers' ability to find the desired items. Categories to use for featuring products might include things like best-sellers, editor's choice, rare finds, and new releases. Figure G1.3 shows two examples, of top-selling products and rare finds.

Figure G1.3. Here are two different kinds of recommendations. (a) Barnes&Noble.com's recommendation shows top-selling books. (b) Eziba shows rare finds for people looking for exotic pieces for their homes.

(www.bn.com, February 1, 2002)


(www.eziba.com, October 6, 2001)


Table G1.1 shows another way of thinking about featured products. Any of the questions shown in the table can be used as the basis for categorizing featured products. Start with the most relevant and appropriate products for your customers' needs. Keep in mind that each of these tools takes time to build and that some will be more important than others, depending on how your shopper looks for products. For example, shopping by brand might be very important on a clothing site.

Table G1.1. Questions customers commonly ask can be used as the basis for categorizing featured products.
  Choose One Choose One
I'm interested in + all of + a product type. Where is it?
  the best of a product.
  the least expensive of a brand.
  the best for this price of anything.
  what's new of anything on sale.
    something new.
    something for a friend.

Table G1.2. Patterns to Apply
So that your customers can find … Provide These Tools
all of / the best of a product type Product type CATEGORY PAGES (B8), SEARCH ACTION MODULE (J1)
all of / the best of a brand Brand CATEGORY PAGES (B8)
all of / the best of anything SEARCH ACTION MODULE (J1)
all of / the best of anything on sale "On Sale" CATEGORY PAGES (B8)
all of / the best of something new "What's New" CATEGORY PAGES (B8)
all of / the best of something for a friend "Gift Finder" PROCESS FUNNEL (H1) and GIFT GIVING (G6)
the least expensive of a product type Price sort on Product type CATEGORY PAGES (B8)
the least expensive of a brand Price sort on Brand CATEGORY PAGES (B8)
the least expensive of anything Price sort after SEARCH ACTION MODULE (J1)
the least expensive of anything on sale Price sort in "On Sale" CATEGORY PAGES (B8)
the least expensive of something new Price sort on "What's New" CATEGORY PAGES (B8)
the least expensive of something for a friend Price criteria in "Gift Finder" PROCESS FUNNEL (H1) and GIFT GIVING (G6)

Table G1.2 is more extensive than what you can provide on your site. Pare it down according to your customers' needs, and customize it for your site by naming the appropriate products and categories.

To implement these featured products, you can also refer to the patterns for MULTIPLE WAYS TO NAVIGATE (B1), BROWSABLE CONTENT (B2), ORGANIZED SEARCH RESULTS (J3), PERSONALIZED CONTENT (D4), and RECOMMENDATION COMMUNITY (G4).

Give Chances to Explore

Not everyone will come to your site with a specific question, goal, or product in mind. Yet visitors will not browse through thousands of products over a slow connection. Like a virtual window dresser, you have to give your customers chances to explore your products by highlighting imagery and detail that will compel them to click for more information. By featuring several different ways for people to experience your products, you will draw people in according to their varying interests (see Figure G1.4).

Figure G1.4. Amazon.com starts editorializing right on its homepage, which can be customized for visitors. Note the enticing use of titles in the middle of the Web page, such as "Top Sellers" and "Get the Best."

(www.amazon.com, October 6, 2001)


graphics/common.jpg Solution

To give people a better sense of what's on your site, build category pages that highlight special featured products and editorialize in the product recommendations. Provide different kinds of recommendations, choosing different categories, such as top sellers, editor's choice, and so on. Let visitors explore by highlighting as many areas of interest as possible.

Figure G1.5. Feature products in a variety of ways to recommend and promote sales.


graphics/common.jpg Consider These Other Patterns

Provide MULTIPLE WAYS TO NAVIGATE (B1) to the best products on your site, including a SEARCH ACTION MODULE (J1) and BROWSABLE CONTENT (B2). Use PERSONALIZED CONTENT (D4) in a PAGE TEMPLATE (D1), as well as the reviews of a RECOMMENDATION COMMUNITY (G4). Different sets of featured products can be thought of as different CATEGORY PAGES (B8).

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