February 5, 2010, 12:00 AM

More consumers are displeased with e-retailers’ recommendations

Online retailers are missing the mark on their product recommendations, according to a ChoiceStream survey. The survey found that 59% of online shoppers reported receiving poor quality product recommendations in 2009, a 31% increase over 45% in 2008.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Online retailers are missing the mark on their product recommendations, according to the 2009 Personalization Survey by product recommendations and display ads provider ChoiceStream.

The survey found that 59% of online shoppers reported receiving poor quality product recommendations in 2009, a 31% increase over 45% in 2008. Only 17% of shoppers rated retailers’ recommendations as excellent.

When asked what they disliked about the recommendations, 54% of shoppers said the recommendations were for products unrelated to what they were looking for. 49% said the recommendations did not match their preferences, and 45% said they already owned the product.

“Consumers expect more from recommendations than they did even a year ago,” says Lori Trahan, vice president of marketing at ChoiceStream. “They expect them to be accurate and on target, so when they’re not, shoppers are disappointed.”

Not surprisingly, the product categories that offered the highest quality recommendations were those that have offered recommendations the longest, says Steve Johnson, founder and CEO of ChoiceStream. “Considering the complexities involved in delivering good quality recommendations, it makes sense that those with the most experience rise to the top.”

The survey of 525 U.S. adult Internet users, 98% of whom made a purchase in the last six months, asked respondents for the quality of recommendations they saw by product category. The categories ranked by quality, with percent ranking excellent, were:

  • Music and entertainment, 21%
  • Mass merchants, 19%
  • Grocery stores, 18%
  • Bookstores, 18%
  • Electronics, 17%
  • Comparison sites, 16%
  • Department stores, 15%
  • Shoes, 14%
  • Toy stores, 14%
  • Office supplies, 14%

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