Steal This #1 – Amazon Recommendations


Welcome to the first edition of my new weekly blog series, Steal This. Each week I’ll highlight a marketing activity that a company is using and suggest ways that you can model it and make it work for you.

Today’s topic is: Amazon Recommendations

Amazon is one of the leaders in everything from ecommerce checkout experiences, to customer service, to email marketing. But what you should steal from them is their use of customer recommendations to help sell more products.

Amazon uses recommendations in a number of ways. When you log on at, your homepage is customized to you. Immediately, you are shown products that might be of interest to you based on recent shopping history, other users’ behavior, and new products in areas where you have viewed an older product.

This use of recommendations continues on nearly every page of the site. In each category there are products Amazon thinks you might like. On each product page, they offer similar items purchased by people who also liked the product you’re looking at. And when you go to checkout you are prompted to add items to your shopping cart that might go well with the product you’re about to purchase.

Without the specifics from Amazon, it’s hard to pinpoint what each of these product recommendations adds to their business. But one can only assume that each time they show recommendations, they incrementally increase the amount of purchases a customer makes and the value of each shopping cart. And they’re doing this not by being tricky, but by making the shopping experience simpler and helping customers discover products they might have never found on their own.

So how can you steal it?

First, you can start tracking what people are purchasing from you. Track products that are purchased with other products. Group products together that are similar, or that support each other (ie. gardening gloves with gardening tools).

Develop a page within your shopping cart to suggest “add-ons”.

Allow customers to create accounts so that each time they log in you can show them something new, or something similar to what they bought last time. Customizing the shopping experience to each customer will improve usability and likely increase your customer loyalty.

As always, tell me what you think of this week’s idea and suggest other marketing programs to “Steal” in the comments below.