April 23, 2008, 12:00 AM

Horizon Hobby uses the passion of customers to recommend products

With a devoted base of fans enthusiastic over radio-control cars and model trains, Horizon Hobby uses its customers’ interests to recommend products and drive up revenue, the retailer says.

With a devoted base of fans enthusiastic over radio-control cars and model trains, Horizon Hobby taps its customers’ interests to recommend products and drive up revenue, the retailer says.

Sections or “storefronts” within HorizonHobby.com dedicated to particular product categories and brands, as well as other sections of the site, offer cross-selling recommendations based on the shopping activity of consumers with a shared passion-like radio-control cars, says Sebo Dapper, former director of web commerce and now head of the retailer’s European markets.

By using site search-and-navigation technology from Endeca Technologies Inc. combined with cross-selling recommendations technology from Baynote Inc., Horizon Hobby displays groups of products by brand as well as category within dedicated sections of its site. The special sections have produced a double-digit lift in revenue, Dapper says.

Baynote tags web site pages to monitor more than 20 sets of visitor activity such as the navigation patterns shoppers use before clicking on particular products or categories, whether and for how long they read supplementary editorial content, and whether they add items to carts and eventually purchase them. Gathering this data among groups of visitors showing similar interests, the Baynote technology automatically displays products new visitors are most likely to view and purchase, Dapper says. Certain criteria, such as whether a shopper adds a product to a shopping cart, add weight to recommendations to give products a more prominent position in cross-selling displays.

“Endeca gives us the ability to help shoppers get to our products, and Baynote is taking that to another level,” Dapper says. “Baynote came up with good recommendations sooner than we expected. Our hobbyists are really into our products, and some of them probably know more about our products than we do.”

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