You Stink at Personalization

Recommendation service provider ChoiceStream, which provides its technology to many leading Internet retailers including Tesco, Zappos, Borders, Blockbuster and Ticketmaster, announced part 2 of the findings of their 2009 Personalization Survey - the first part can be found here.

The quality of the product recommendations on retailers' sites declined significantly year over year with more shoppers reporting that they received poor quality recommendations in 2009 versus 2008. The survey also found a discrepancy in recommendation quality between retail categories with shoppers giving music and entertainment stores top scores while rating toy stores and office supplied at the bottom.

Overall, the number of online shoppers who received poor quality recommendations in 2009 was 59 percent, which represents a 31 percent increase over the 45 percent reported in 2008. When asked for a reason why the recommendations were considered poor, the majority of shoppers responded that the recommendations were for products that were unrelated to what they were looking for. Separately, shoppers were asked to rate the quality of product recommendations across 10 retail categories. On average, only 17 percent of shoppers rate retailers' recommendations as 'excellent.' There is also a wide discrepancy in recommendation quality between the categories. For example, music and entertainment stores are 48 percent more likely to receive excellent ratings than toy or office supply stores.

"It's unfortunate, but not surprising, that so many consumers report receiving poor quality product recommendations. Consumers expect more from recommendations than they did even a year ago. They expect them to be accurate and on target, so when they're not, shoppers are disappointed," said Lori Trahan, vice president of marketing at ChoiceStream. "It's also true that as product recommendations become more pervasive and more recommendation providers enter the market to meet demand, these vendors lack the in-market experience necessary to create good quality recommendations. This should highlight for retailers the importance of working with solution providers that have deep expertise in analyzing specific shopping behaviors and factoring them into their recommendation strategy."