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15 % Conversion Uplift: Automated vs. Manual Cross-Sells

Many online shops are offering cross-sells. What you normally don’t recognize as a shop visitor: some of the cross-sells are manually created by the shop owner, others are automated. So what are the reasons for a shop owner to use manual or automated cross-sells?

What are Manual Cross-Sells?

Many ecommerce systems like e.g. Magento have built-in solutions to add cross-sells to product pages or the cart page. You then define manually for every product which other products should be cross-sold when the customer visits a product page.

When to Use Manual Cross-Sells?

Many of our customers – especially in the fashion area – tend to argue that they know best what their customers want to buy. Of course, the shop owner is an expert for his target group and therefore it absolutely makes sense, that he adds manual cross-sells for products where he e.g. knows, that customers in their retail stores always buy a specific shirt for a selected trouser.

But then, after we’ve talked to the customers and asked, if they’ve ever tested what happens when they offer perfectly matching other shirts for the taste of the current customer. Of course, this scenario has never been tested in retail stores because it is simply not possible. But in online shops you have a user profile, recurring customers and the possibility to complement your manual recommendations with automated ones.

Advantages of Manual Cross-Sells

  • Integrate knowledge from retail stores into online shops
  • Sell outs are possible for specific products
  • You as a shop owner know exactly which products appear as cross-sell for the currently selected ones

Disadvantages of Manual Cross-Sells

  • It is a huge effort to maintain the cross-sells
  • …and therefore very expensive
  • Visitors could not like the manual recommendations
  • You have to keep your recommendations manually up-to-date after e.g. season changes

What are Automated Cross-Sells?

Automated Cross-Sells can be used on every product page and on cart pages. Looking at the current product context, this kind of cross-sells automatically determine the perfect matching products for the currently selected one. This can be influenced by the conversion of the current products (“Others also bought”), but also by seasonal changes, the current stock availability, the categories of the product and much more.

Automated Cross-Sells combine personalization logics with product-based logics to get the best matching result out of the current visitor profile, combined with the knowledge of the shop owner regarding his product portfolio.

Advantages of Automated Cross-Sells

  • Automation for perfectly fitting products for the currently selected one
  • No effort to maintain the recommendations
  • Only the products currently in stock are suggested to customers
  • The conversion rate can be optimized by changing the rule set for the recommendations

Disadvantages of Automated Cross-Sells

  • You can’t exactly determine which recommendations will appear
  • Sell outs are only possible by “faking” the recommendations

Comparison of Manual and Automated Cross-Sells

A real comparison of manual and automated cross-sells is difficult, because except of the name the two kinds of recommendations don’t have any commonality. That’s also the reason, why we always have to explain, that “manual” cross-sells on product pages are actually only a manual way to add some kinds of recommendations on these pages if you have no automation. But: many of our customers still believe in the manual way and don’t want to switch completely to automated recommendations – at first. That’s why we recommend to use both: give your customers the chance to decide for you!

Add one manual widget next to an automated cross-sells widget and afterwards compare their performance. In our experience automated cross-sells nearly always convert better than manual ones. Which is no surprise in our opinion, because the automated cross-sells are not only suggesting product-based recommendations, but also use the knowledge about the current visitor to combine this with the product-based logics to then really suggest the best matching products for the currently selected one.

The results are amazing: e.g. our fashion customer HALLHUBER uses both. And compared to manual cross-sells the automated ones don’t only convert 15 % better, but also the revenues generated by customers using the automated cross-sells are amazing and nearly doubled compared to manual cross-sells. Therefore our customer is thinking to completely switch to automated cross-sells.

Conclusion: Don’t forgo the Revenue Uplift of Automated Cross-Sells

  1. Add automated cross-sells in addition to your manual ones and start with both: one widget with manual cross-sells and one with automated cross-sells.
  2. Compare the performance of your manual Cross-Sells to the automated cross-sells.
  3. Use an A/B testing tool to see what works better for you.
  4. For fashion customers: believe in the style of your customer. Of course you know which pieces should fit best for your customers, but maybe they have another opinion on this.
  5. If the results of your automated cross-sells are as amazing as for our customer HALLHUBER, then you can also decide to remove the manual cross-sell widget and completely trust in the automated way. Also offering two cross-sell widgets with slightly different configurations is a great conversion driver.

With Recolize you can easily add automated cross-sells to your product pages. Visit this article to see what’s possible.

Michael15 % Conversion Uplift: Automated vs. Manual Cross-Sells