Doran Robinson previously worked for healthcare information technology vendor athenahealth.
The outdoor gear retailer bases recommendations on a consumer’s current site visit.
Web-only retailer Altrec.com Inc. considers the relevance of the content it displays to each shopper a way to differentiate itself from other retailers of outdoor apparel and accessories, says John Hnanicek, chief information officer and vice president, merchandising.
Layering that individual consumer’s behaviors on top of how thousands of previous shoppers acted enables Altrec to recommend to him the products bought by consumers who acted in similar fashion. The approach works, Hnanicek says. A/B tests show that the conversion rate is 4.5 times higher than the manually entered recommendations the retailer previously offered. And the average order value stands about 15% higher.
Key to that success is correctly pinpointing the current shopper’s interests and which group of previous consumers, or persona, he matches up with, says Hnanicek. He says making that determination based on current behavior avoids disconnects that can occur when e-retailers base recommendations on past purchases. For instance, a few months ago Hnanicek bought a children’s DVD for his niece. The purchase was extremely atypical. Yet nearly every time he arrived at that retail site for the next two months the site suggested he might be interested in other children’s DVDs.
“Our suggestions are based on a consumer’s intent or interest rather than looking in a rear-view mirror,” he says. “Relying on the wisdom of the invisible crowd works.” An added benefit to the approach is that it avoids any complications that could occur if the site based its recommendations on a cookie that tracked a consumer’s past behaviors. In that scenario, if a consumer deleted the retailer’s cookie, the site’s ability to offer relevant recommendations would be lost, he says. A recent study by web measurement firm comScore Inc. estimates 28.5% of online consumers delete their cookies each month.
Altrec is No. 408 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.