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How Supplementary Products Increase Profit

17 Oct 2018

Using alternative product suggestions in a ecommerce store is becoming a more commonly utilised way to help customers find the exact right item for their needs and last time we looked at how you can use this technique correctly so that your ecommerce store shows helpful product suggestions in a way that doesn't negatively impact on your customer's navigation journey. This week we are looking at the lesser known supplementary product and how using both sorts of products on your ecommerce store can help you increase the amount of profit that you are making.

Supplementary products are the items which go with the product that your customer is interested in purchasing; a bag for their camera, shoes to go with a dress, colouring pencils for a colouring book, for instance. Showing them not only helps to jog a customer's memory as to other things they may have forgotten, but when you get the functionality right then it can help to make them more aware of your products and result in additional item purchases from the fact that they have continued to browse around your ecommerce store.

It all starts with the wording...

As mentioned last month, one of the most important things you need to do when offering any kind of product suggestion is to make sure that each area is labelled correctly; otherwise your customers have no way of working out what you are basing these recommendations on and they'll most likley just be overlooked.

When offering alternative products, stick with wording such as 'Similar products' or 'Have you considered?'. Clicking on one of these products should take the customer to a new product details page.

Supplementary products are different - these are items that you want your customer to purchase in addition to the item they are looking at. Unlike alternative products, there should be an option to add these products directly into the cart without needing to load another page. The wording used for supplementary products should be 'have you forgotten about:' or 'other products you may need:' It's important that the wording used is clear that these suggested products are here for the purpose of enhancing the experience they will have with the product they are about to purchase.


In this example you can see both alternative and supplementary product suggestions in use. It's important to remember that each option serves a different purpose so the functionality of each option needs to change slightly in order to offer the right user experience for your customer.

Generic vs Specific supplementary products

In most instances supplementary products are going to be generic - as in if your customer is purchasing a colouring book, then you could show them any packet of felts or pencils as a supplementary product and it wouldn't really matter too much. Likewise if your customer had picked a product via a 'gifts' category, then you would be fairly safe showing them a selection of birthday cards as supplementary suggestions.

But for some products showing a generic item could lead to an angry customer - think about cameras for instance; any supplementary products suggested should be guaranteed to work with that particular product, so you'll need to make sure that your ecommerce store is capable of having products connected to other products so that your customer can be confident that the memory stick, bag, tripod, additional lenses, etc that your ecommerce store is showing are the correct ones for the camera they are about to purchase.

The power of 'see all'...

Remember when we said that getting the functionality of supplementary products right can help to make customers more aware of your products? Well one of the side effects of showing additional products is you can spark a 'oh, I need something like that, but not that' moment. Unfortunately in these instances most ecommerce stores don't have an easy way for the customer to find those sorts of issues, outside of forcing them to go back to the product navigation and then jumping through the hoops until they find the category which matches.

Why not remove this hurdle entirely by including functionality that allows your customers to easily jump to the categories of the products that you're showing them - something like this for instance:


The above example provides one easy way of allowing your customers to explore new categories if they spot a product that they need, but isn't quite the right one.

If you've been wondering about how you can increase the amount of profit your ecommerce store makes, why not send us an email - we'd love to hear from you and see how we can help you unlock the power of alternative and supplementary products.

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