Marks & Spencer has introduced personalised recommendations to its website.

Customers will be shown other products based on recently viewed items, items that other customers have purchased and top sellers. 

M&S says that by adjusting results in real-time users see suggestions that are “highly relevant and meaningful.”

Powered by RichRelevance, this is a useful addition to the M&S shopping experience online - but research has shown that it's actually more effective to upsell than cross-sell similar products.

Upselling, in which visitors are shown similar but more expensive products than the one in view, drives over 4% of sales compared to just 0.2% of sales driven by cross-sales tactics.

M&S, which recently came third in YouGov’s BrandIndex behind Google and Amazon, may also benefit by integrating social media into the recommendation tool.

Several brands have successfully used Facebook to promote their products and increase sales – you can see 11 examples here – and while M&S’s core target demographic are perhaps not heavy social media users, it does have 540,000 Facebook fans and 72,000 Twitter followers.

With a community of this size there may be value in incorporating peer-driven recommendations, possibly through a branded Facebook timeline app.

Yesterday Groupon set its sights on improving social commerce offering by acquiring Mertado.

M&S has already shown that it is willing to incorporate peer reviews into its marketing activities by using customer reviews in its post-purchase email campaigns.

After redesigning its consumer feedback process to make it more convenient for customers to respond, the response rate increased 427% and the reviews are used by the product marketing team - as well as the customer service and buying departments.

M&S has also integrated social media into its recycling programme with Oxfam.

Customers can take used M&S clothes into a ‘Clothing Exchange’ instore, and are then given a voucher for a £5 discount when spending over £35.

An interactive web app shows how each item goes to help worthy causes and the results can then shared on Twitter and Facebook.

David Moth

Published 24 January, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (1)


Darren Hitchcock

An interesting article that brings together the real conundrum of a merchandisers decisioning process and quite rightfully asks the question on social.

There are many ways to entice the shoppers towards the merchants typical goals of AOV and increased revenue; however by fixing specific strategies such as up-sell to always appear may cause conflict when you look across the range of merchandise sold by retailers. This in fact is one of the main online growth strategies [along with Internationalisation] to increase range and so molding one method across these large catalogues, will gain some opportunities as much as lose some.

For example on the Marks & Spencer site, we see gentlemen buying multiple items of similar nature such as casual tees and formal shirts and so understanding the attributes of products they browse can often drive greater conversion. Men however are quite flippant after a mental decision has been made and so understanding the shoppers' preferences and supporting the intital buying mindset with relevant alternatives be it Brand related, affinity related or simple cross-sell helps personalise their journey and drive greater engagement.

For women, demonstrating looks and cross-selling collaborations can often leverage more activity across adjacent categories; however they also like to browse the greater range.

I think truly respecting the shopper is to offer as many pathways to support product discovery but in line with their known behaviour and of course a unique journey for each customer.

Social has many turns; behaviour is as social as review data as is the Facebook opengraph. With retailers losing market share and fighting competition on price, any data input could be leveraged but the outcome and performance always wins the day; or at least for phase 1.

With Social Sign in now enabling more data points - the future is certainly in this direction and I look forward to innovating.

over 6 years ago

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