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Product recommendation, the best ally for upselling and cross-selling

Product recommendation is a sales technique as old as time itself, but it has taken on a new dimension with the digitalisation of buying journeys, which facilitates data collection and thus enhances personalisation capabilities.

The relevance of recommendations indeed relies on a deep understanding of your customers, their needs, preferences, and your products, as we shall see.

In this article, we will explore together what product recommendation entails and share with you the key things to know to implement an effective recommendation strategy.


What is product recommendation?

Product recommendation is a marketing technique that involves offering your customers personalised products based on criteria that may include:

  • Purchase history.

  • Browsing behaviour.

  • Expressed preferences.

  • Overall buying trends.

Product recommendation indeed relies on data analysis and the use of filtering algorithms that predict and present the most relevant products to each customer.

Product recommendation offers a twofold advantage:

  • It personalises the customer's shopping experience, presenting them with products that are likely to match their interests, expectations, and needs. A well-orchestrated product recommendation is a vector for customer satisfaction.

  • It helps to increase the company's commercial performance. Product recommendation is one of the techniques used for upselling or cross-selling.

Implementing a product recommendation system serves to improve both customer experience and the company's revenue.

Best practices in a product recommendation strategy

Analysing Buying Behaviours

The art of product recommendation lies in suggesting the right products to the right customers. Analysing buying behaviours is essential to understand your customers' preferences and habits.

This analysis will allow you to:

  • Feed the recommendation technologies/tools you use to personalise recommendations at an individual level.

  • Identify typical behavioural patterns, such as frequently viewed products together, recurring purchase sequences... For example, if you notice that a certain category of customers often buys sports articles at the same time as specific dietary supplements, you can adjust your recommendations to propose these combinations to similar customers.

  • And, ultimately, improve the personalisation of the products recommended to your customers.

Segmenting customers (and products)

Customer segmentation involves dividing your customer base into distinct groups that share similar characteristics, whether in terms of buying behaviour, product preferences, demographic data (gender, age, etc.), loyalty level, and so on.

Customer segmentation helps to better target product recommendation campaigns by identifying the right product recommendations based on the category the customer belongs to.

Because product recommendation is about suggesting the right products to the right customers, it's not enough to segment your customers; you also need to segment your product catalogue if it hasn’t been done already.

Catalogue segmentation will allow you to group products that share common characteristics or complementarities, and to offer customers products that belong to the same product family or to a complementary product family.

N.B.: Product recommendation is particularly useful for organisations with a very large and diverse product catalogue.

Personalising recommendations

Product recommendation is a marketing strategy that enables the sale of more products but also pursues another goal: improving the shopping experience. This goal can only be achieved if and only if the product recommendations you make to your customers are personalised.

Product personalisation relies on everything we've talked about above: an analysis of buying behaviours, customer segmentation, and categorisation of your products.

Carefully choose placement and timing

It's not enough to offer the right products to the right customers. Recommendations must be made at the right time and in the right context.

We will review the different contexts in which you can make product recommendations to your customers later. Let's just note here that recommendations will not have the same impact and meaning depending on the context and where they are made: home page, product page, shopping cart, post-purchase email...

As for the timing, we advise you to tailor your recommendations to the customer's buying cycle. For example:

  • Suggest a product replenishment just before the previous purchase is completely used up.

  • Recommend appropriate seasonal products, such as warm outerwear just before winter arrives or beach items at the start of summer...

  • Suggest additional camera lenses or advanced photography courses to customers who purchased a camera a few months ago.

Mastering the art of persuasion

Product recommendation relies on persuasion, that is, your ability to capture your customers' attention, arouse their interest, and charm them to the point of convincing them to buy.

Here are some examples of techniques you can use in the context of product recommendations:

  • Use catchy phrases like "Exclusive Offer", "Customer Favorite", "Bestseller"... These formulations attract attention and can have a persuasive effect on your customers.

  • Leverage the FOMO effect (Fear of Missing Out) to create urgency. FOMO can be induced by explaining to customers that only a few products are left in stock, that the offer is time-limited, that there are only a few days left to take advantage of it…

  • Highlight testimonials from satisfied customers or high ratings to enhance the credibility of the recommended product. Positive reviews from other customers act as social proof. They help persuade new buyers of the product's value and quality.

These persuasion techniques, if used intelligently and ethically, can turn hesitation into action, interest into purchase and increase conversions.

Below is an example from our client Jennyfer who uses the terms "selling fast" to trigger the addition of a new product to the cart.


Pay attention to design

Capturing a customer's attention first and foremost means catching their eye. Thus, the design of your product recommendations also plays an important role. It should be visually attractive and harmoniously integrate with the aesthetics of your distribution medium (website, email...) while standing out enough to be noticeable.

Here are some scattered tips:

  • Ensure that product recommendations are mobile-friendly to provide a smooth user experience across all devices.

  • Use contrasting colours for your call-to-action (CTA) buttons to make them easily noticeable and encourage clicks.

  • Incorporate demonstration videos or interactive visuals to showcase the product in action.

  • Simplify navigation between product recommendations using carousels, for example.

The different types of product recommendation

What products to recommend to your customers? Personalised products? Sure, but what more specifically? We're going to introduce you to the main approaches you can use to boost your sales through product recommendation.

Complementary products

The first option is to offer your customers complementary products to their main purchase. This is what's known in the jargon as cross-selling.

Two examples of cross-selling:

  • A shopper is on your e-commerce site. They are about to validate their cart and finalise the order of their new computer -> You suggest a mouse or antivirus software to complement their purchase.

  • One of your customers bought a new camera 2 months ago -> You send them an email offering an additional memory card.

The recommendation of complementary products is based on a detailed understanding of the complementarity between the products in your catalogue.


Products frequently bought together

This category of recommendation relies on analysing customers' buying habits to identify product combinations often purchased together. By presenting these combinations to your customers, you help them discover products that not only match their interests but have also been validated by the choices of other buyers. This type of recommendation is very commonly used on e-commerce sites.


Multi-packs and bundles

Multi-packs and bundles, or grouped offers, involve combining several products into a single package at a price that is more advantageous than buying the items separately. Multi-packs encourage the purchase of multiple identical products at a price more advantageous than the same number of products multiplied by their unit price. Bundles, on the other hand, encourage the simultaneous purchase of related products, introducing customers to products they might not have considered otherwise.

Bundles facilitate the discovery of products in the catalogue, thereby enhancing the shopping experience while helping to boost your company's revenue. This brings us back to the basic principle of any smart marketing strategy: aligning the interests of the customer (better experience) and the company (commercial performance).


“Previously viewed” or “You might also like” products

Here are two types of product recommendations based on the customer's previous browsing behaviour on your website.

In the first case (“Previously Viewed”), you remind customers of products they have considered in the past but did not purchase. In the second case (“You Might Also Like”), you suggest to your customers items similar to those they have already viewed during their previous visits.

For example, if a customer spent time looking at a selection of cookbooks, presenting them with similar titles or new releases in that category during their next visit can encourage a purchase.

This recommendation method not only helps to personalise the shopping experience but also promotes the discovery of new products that match the customer's tastes and preferences.

Below is an example from our client Damart suggesting products similar to the one previously considered.


"Customers also bought" products

This last form of product recommendation uses overall purchase data. It is based on the analysis of purchase behaviours of other customers who bought the same item.

The strength of this approach lies in its reliance on social proof, which, as is well known, is a powerful lever of trust and persuasion. Customers are more inclined to consider a product when it has been validated by other consumers.

Each of these types of recommendation offers a unique way to personalise product suggestions. Which to prioritise? There's no need to choose necessarily. In fact, most brands combine approaches.

Here, our client Afibel, who uses this approach at the moment a product is added to the cart.


At what stage of the customer journey to use product recommendation?

Here, we will delve more into the context question. At which stages of the customer journey should you offer your product recommendations? On which channels? At which touchpoints? We will see how to integrate product recommendations throughout the customer journey onsite and then offsite.



The homepage is often the first point of contact between your customers and your brand. Using this space to present product recommendations can help immediately engage visitors and encourage them to explore your website further.

Recommendations on the homepage can be:

  • Generalist, based on sales trends, new products...

  • Personalised based on the visitor's previous browsing behaviour, provided you have the necessary data.

Product page

Product pages are one of the most strategic places to position product recommendations. A quick benchmark of e-commerce practices will give you an idea of the possibilities: product pages are ideal for placing recommendations of complementary products, alternative products, popular products, products frequently bought together...

If Amazon has mastered this, most e-commerce sites maximise their conversion by incorporating recommendations on product pages.

Take the example of our client Afibel, who on the product page suggests other products that could complete the look.


404 page

The 404 page is the page a visitor lands on after clicking a link to a page that no longer exists. This 404 page is often unloved and neglected, yet it can be leveraged for marketing purposes.

Instead of leaving your customers at a dead end, you can use these pages to offer general product recommendations related to current trends, ongoing offers, new arrivals...

This can help you recapture potential customers who might otherwise have left your site.

An excellent example here from our client Afibel, who uses their 404 page to suggest products.


Adding to cart

The moment of adding to the cart is ideal for presenting complementary products or essential accessories. By offering relevant recommendations at this stage, you can encourage your customers to complete their initial purchase with products that increase its utility or value.

For instance, offering insurance or a protective case at the time of purchasing a smartphone. This can not only increase the cart size but also enhance customer satisfaction if the suggested products are useful and relevant.

Another example from our client Afibel, who, at the moment of adding a product to the cart, suggests products also bought by other customers.


Checkout page

The checkout page is your last chance to capture the customer's interest with recommendations before they finalise their order. At this stage, it's wise to propose low-value items that do not require much thought. For example: maintenance products for the items purchased, small gadgets, accessories...

These recommendations can help increase the total order amount without disrupting the payment process. Recommendations at this stage must be subtle and relevant, with the challenge being not to distract the customer from completing their purchase.


Is a customer about to leave your website without making a purchase or finalising their current order? In this case, two options are available to you:

  • Do nothing and let your potential customer slip away.

  • Trigger an exit pop-up when your visitor's mouse gets too close to the page close button to persuade them to stay...and buy.

Exit pop-ups are particularly suitable for highlighting product recommendations, even though this can present technical challenges. It's also possible to feature product recommendations in other types of pop-ups.

In summary, each step of the onsite buying journey can be an opportunity to push product recommendations to optimise the shopping experience and increase the value of the shopping cart.



The email channel is an excellent choice for sending product recommendations to your clients.

You can incorporate recommendations in:

  • Your marketing automation scenarios, for example, the email sequence sent following a purchase on the website or the emails for abandoned cart recovery. Customers who have recently made a purchase or have just abandoned a cart are more likely to be receptive to recommendations.

Here is an example of a post-purchase email from our client Afibel, which records a 6% improvement in the conversion rate compared to an email without product recommendation.


  • Your newsletters and promotional emails. The level of personalisation of the recommendations will depend on the granularity of your customer segmentation.

Ad campaigns

Advertising campaigns allow you to extend your product recommendations beyond your website and emails. Through retargeting, you can present personalised ads to people who have visited your site without making a purchase.

The ads can highlight specific products that the customer viewed, recommendations based on their browsing behaviour, or popular items that might interest them.

Well-executed, these campaigns can significantly increase the return of visitors to your site and encourage purchases.

As you can see, product recommendation is not limited to one stage of the customer journey or a specific channel. Nearly all touchpoints can be leveraged to make product recommendations.


A/B Test your product recommendation strategy

So, you have a plethora of options. This is both an opportunity and a challenge, raising several questions:

  • Which types of recommendations to leverage?

  • When to send the recommendations?

  • On which customer journey touchpoints?

  • What messages?

  • What designs?

  • Where to position the CTAs?

  • etc.

Unfortunately, there are no one-size-fits-all answers to these questions. It depends on many factors that are difficult to analyse. That's why we recommend A/B testing your product recommendation strategy.

Test multiple approaches in parallel and compare the performances: this is how you will eventually identify which formats, placements, messages, or types of recommendation engage your customers the most and generate the most conversions.

A piece of advice: test one variable at a time to isolate the effect of each change. For example, you start by comparing recommendations based on browsing behaviour vs. previous purchases. Then, you compare the impact of placement by testing two locations: the homepage vs. the product page, etc.

It's a task that requires rigor and patience, but it's the only way to find the winning formula for your business.

Which Product Recommendation Solution to Choose?

There are many product recommendation platforms available, but as a member of the QNTM Group, like us, we have chosen to introduce you to Raptor Services today.

Founded in 2013 in Denmark, Raptor Services is a leading software provider in the market for personalisation platforms, recommendation systems, and customer data.

The Raptor Services data platform gathers, analyses, and recognises each individual and their interactions, enabling marketers to present relevant content and products based on consumer behaviour across all platforms and channels. This makes it possible to act on collected data, offering users the personalised and relevant experience they expect.

Raptor Services offers a wide range of customisable modules for your website or application, utilising 10 different machine learning algorithms that have been proven to increase sales, conversion rates, and overall engagement.


The Raptor product recommendation module is an optional module of Actito. Integrating this module allows you to add up to 6 product recommendation strategies based on web behaviour, and for each strategy, 3 or 4 products are displayed. The recommendation is available in the block library of Actito's email builder.


Key Takeaways

When effectively managed, product recommendation is one of the most powerful sales techniques. It simultaneously increases your revenue and enriches your customers' shopping experience.

Product recommendation is inseparable from the techniques of upselling and cross-selling that we discussed in a previous article, which we invite you to explore for further insights…

Now you know why, how, and when to implement product recommendation. It's your turn to play!

About the author


Isabelle Henry

Head of Inbound and Growth

Always on the lookout for new skills and always ready to launch new marketing projects at Actito, I rely on my personal experiences but also on everything that is happening in the digital world to continue to learn, educate and share with you through inspiring content. My little extras? Video editing and photography!

Would you like to implement a product recommendation strategy?