Personalising Product and Basket Pages


In this article, we look at ways to personalize product and basket pages based on visitor data and real-time behavior. Examples and tips from companies are also presented.

Visualizing Personalization

In this section we look at where personalization is best deployed in the customer journey and some tips about how best to present products and content. Firstly, it’s important to understand how a visitor arrives at a site. The use of search, pay-per-click ads and social media means that typically customers are entering websites on category, product and editorial pages.In this section we look at where personalization is best deployed in the customer journey and some tips about how best to present products and content. Firstly, it’s important to understand how a visitor arrives at a site. The use of search, pay-per-click ads and social media means that typically customers are entering websites on category, product and editorial pages.

The homepage, however, is the place where loyal shoppers are likely to enter. Using this space to insert personalized product recommendations and personalized messages has proved highly effective, increasing click-through rates by over 15% when compared with click-through rates for non-personalized homepages.

Getting above the fold

Secondly, product recommendations need to appear above the fold since 60% of customers won’t scroll down. This is less so when accessing a site using a smartphone, as users are more likely to scroll there, but the best product recommendations still need to be visible as soon as possible.

Presenting products in a skyscraper widget rather than landscape makes this potential problem disappear.

Optimize Every Page

Thirdly, consider all the page types for some element of personalization. Retailers tend to consider the product and basket pages but these account for only about 45% of all shopping sessions. That leaves a massive 55% not exposed to some form of personalization and therefore not receiving some extra encouragement to purchase.

Customers may enter the site through many points, representing a clear opportunity to optimize every page. Research shows that where over 80% of all shopping sessions are personalized the incremental sales achieved are 10%-20% greater than on sites personalizing only 45% of shopping sessions.

Personalizing Page Types

Experience tells us that different configurations of personalizing and merchandising strategies are effective at different customer points. At any given moment, the depth of behavioral data available for each visitor will vary considerably, and this needs to be reflected in the strategies selected at each point.

Here we look at some of the different strategies used on generic homepages, while recognizing that there can be many variations depending on the behavior data profile of each site.

To drive the strategies that deliver the most relevant product recommendations, for example, Episerver Perform uses over 100 algorithms that help determine what a visitor will be most likely to purchase.

The Homepage

Visitors to this page can be divided into two categories: new and returning.

Visitors who have not visited the site before, and for whom there is no behavior data as yet, might be served product recommendations based on a number of merchandising strategies.

However, Episerver’s personalization engine begins working immediately to understand the intent in the current shopping session and serve products accordingly.

New Visitors

Popular items from the most popular categories based on:

  • Conversion
  • Units
  • Revenue
  • Click-through rates
  • Product View

Returning Customers and Visitors

Returning customers who have previously browsed or purchased present clear opportunities to personalize the next shopping experience.

Personalization Strategies Might Include:

  • Abandoned basket content and alternatives
  • Targeted discounts on recently viewed products
  • Recently viewed products
  • Recently bought and cross-sells
  • Products based on categories the user has recently viewed or purchased from
  • Cross-sell products based on recent and previous purchases
  • Popular products from previously browsed categories
  • New products based on categories the user has recently browsed or purchased

In all cases, it is the combination and configuration of all the strategies working together that produces the best results. Episerver’s personalization engine, for example, may identify ten products that meet the strategies selected in any one instance.

If the retailer can only serve four products on a given page, it will choose those products with the highest propensity for purchase. If the customer doesn’t click on what has been served, products with a higher propensity score will be shown the next time the page is visited.

The ability of Episerver’s technology to automatically self learn is crucial, as it constantly adapts to finding the best products to present to each visitor without any merchandiser intervention.

Hawes & Curtis

  1. The homepage presents current promotions and new, exclusive products
  2. A widget shows recommendations based on each visitor’s behavior and preferences.

Category Pages and Product Listing Pages

After the homepage, the next stage in the shopping journey is probably the category page. Again, consideration should be given to treating new and returning visitors differently.

But firstly, at the category level, the page can be further optimized by reordering the display of thumbnail images, based on what is known about the individual visitor. This means that the most relevant products appear first and at the top of the page, in the best possible and most visible position.

This is particularly effective where the visitor is using a mobile phone. With limited screen real estate, it’s essential to show the most relevant products first. Although mobile browsers are prepared to scroll more than desktop browsers their attention span is still limited.

Strategies adopted might include:

  • Variant colors prioritized based on user preference
  • Abandoned items
  • Recently viewed
  • Popular items from users’ favorite subcategories
  • Last week’s popular items (by units)
  • Category variety emphasized for new visitors
  • Best sellers

Cooksongold displays eight widgets on each category page. Each widget represents a different personalization strategy, such as sale items, new products and popular items.

Product Pages

Product pages are perhaps the most important pages on a site, given that visitors will spend the most time browsing and choosing between products to add to their basket.

Important considerations here include how many recommendation containers (widgets) to include, and how many products to display. Widgets displayed as right-sided skyscrapers offer the best visibility and outperform widgets placed at the bottom of the page, particularly where they appear below the fold. No amount of creative input or intelligent personalization is going to work if the recommendations are invisible to the visitor.

It’s also important to have a clear strategy here: whether the goal is to offer complimentary items to increase the average order value or whether to offer alternatives to help improve conversions.

Most retailers wanting to achieve the best of both worlds will use a hybrid of strategies that can be A/B tested to establish the best mix.

Strategies adopted might include:

Alternative Products

  • Recently viewed
  • Most recently viewed/purchased products from the same category
  • Products linked to past browsing and purchases
  • Most strongly associated products which encourage conversion


  • Complementary products from other categories
  • Outfit build products
  • Frequently bought products from a different category based on the product viewed
  • Products linked to past browsing and purchases
  • Recently viewed products form a different category


  1. The widget on the left presents items that match the style of the item viewed.
  2. The widget on the right presents items that are alternative choices for the visitor.

Basket Pages

With basket pages, it is essential to help the customer to complete their purchase successfully and not distract them with more products that have no relevance to what’s already in their basket.

With the right care here, it’s possible to increase the units per order and consequently the average order value. Tests measuring recommendation revenue derived from the basket page reveal that it can account for 5-10% of total recommendation revenue achieved.

Strategies to surface the appropriate products might include:

  • Products from a different category based on items in the basket
  • Subcategories of products considered as add-ons, accessories, gift vouchers
  • Cross-sells frequently co-purchased with the basketed product
  • Display a highly merchandised set of products only according to trading requirements.

1.A duplicate of what would be seen in the product page is presented underneath the basket recommendations. This provides users with the necessary information and allows them to choose a size and add it to the basket without leaving the page.

Zero Results Page

These pages are a missed opportunity if the page only returns “No Search Results”. Click-through rates can be as high as 22% using simple strategies such as:

  • Products linked to search keyword or phrase
  • Recently viewed with variety
  • Popular items from users favorite categories
  • Popular items from popular categories, variety promoted
  • Site wide best sellers


1. Cooksongold keeps it simple by offering a selection of products based on user behavior. The widget appears above the fold, which allows users to click through and continue browsing or to search again by rephrasing their search.

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