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Maximising Revenue #3 - How Taxonomy and Recommendations are key to a successful Christmas Retail Season

AffinoAffino 7Affino Social Commerce SolutionArgosArgos Gift GuideChristmas GiftsChristmas Internet RetailChristmas KeywordsChristmas Online RetailChristmas RecommendationsChristmas RetailChristmas TaxonomyChristmas TopicsComrzJohn LewisJohn Lewis ChristmasKeyword AssignmentKeywordsMaximising RevenuetaxonomyTopic Assignment+-

Christmas is a scary time of year for many shoppers as they have to buy gifts for the extended family - some members of which they don’t know particularly well. Even though it’s customary to ask recipients what they would like to receive, there is still usually a plethora of vague messages which leave a heavy burden on the shopper.


There are two ways to help out such shoppers, and usually two quite different types of shoppers actually. The first way is to set up manual recommendations - in terms of simple Bestsellers Lists or Recommended Gifts within fixed themes. I know some of my family members who shop this way - i.e. what’s the most popular within a category. It’s also the lazy way out for both retailers and shoppers alike, and often a surefire way to give someone something they may have already. For Retailers though it is a quick and easy fix, as you can usually create recommended product selections by simply assigning existing products and multi-displaying them into new seasonal categories.


The second route is one in which John Lewis in particular has always excelled at - which is in making recommendations to shoppers based on specified input criteria. If you view the Toys sections of their site for instance, you get to filter by Age, Brand, Character, Type, Boys’ Toys and Girls’ Toys. This is never more important than at Christmas when so many shoppers are venturing out into unknown territory. Most shoppers do care also about what they are giving and would like to be in a position to make the best choices.


The way John Lewis and our own Affino Social Commerce Solution achieve these kinds of recommendations is via careful Topics Assignment, such that every product available on site is assigned defining Topics - gender, age, occasion, theme etc. This allows shoppers to filter products / gifts on precise criteria. Moreover the topics can be used to create ’Topic Landing Pages’ where all products in the same category can be grouped and displayed together for increased impact.


Smaller retailers can compete with the likes of John Lewis by applying their Topics criteria more finely, and more creatively - by using personal knowledge to highlight specific categories of products which are not specified in such a way on other retail sites. If there is a big Christmas movie for instance you can create a whole page which pulls together all the merchandising and memorabilia for that movie - from across several categories.


For sake of interest, I also tried Argos’s new Gift Guide - which has similar counterparts on other sites, but which I found confusing and disappointing. The Category / filters route is definitely the way to go, as Argos’s approach seems to generate somewhat random results from selecting pictures you feel would most appeal to the intended recipient.


For me though, the following would be an ideal kind of Topics workflow for selecting a Christmas Gift:

  • Recipient - Man | Woman | Boy | Girl | Couples
  • Age - 1 month to 100+
  • Category - Technology | Clothes | Beauty | Jewellery | Toys | Gadgets | etc.
  • Type - Sporty | Fashionista | Practical | Foodie | Intellectual | Laddish | Girlie | etc.
  • Theme - Modern | Heritage | Art Deco | Sci-fi | Eco | etc.
  • Provenance - Hand Made | Hand Assembled | Manufactured | etc.
  • Origin - Local | National | European | USA | China | etc.
  • Price - 5 | 10 | 20 | 30 | 40 | etc.
  • etc. -

You could also have exclusion filters - e.g. No Guns | No Pigs | No Nuts | etc. These all work as incremental filters so you only need to select singular criteria to get results, but you can narrow and filter your results further should you wish to.

John Lewis’s ’Christmas’ Navigation (as pictured above) works very much on these principles - segregating Christmas gifts into specic Topic groupings. Although they use somewhat more generic terms at times; for instance defining recipients as For ...:

  • Her | Him | Couples | Teenage Girls | Teenage Boys | Girls | Boys | Babies | Grandparents


In Affino you can set up your Topic Groups and Topics however you want to, and use Product Search Profiles or Product Drill Down Menus to recommend and help customers select the most relevant / appropriate Christmas gifts. This can be a lot of work to set up, so you need to start off selectively and then scale up over time dependening on resources available. The better you are at meeting your customers’ needs (i.e. more closely matching their requirements) the more they will want to shop from you.


Contact our Business Development Director Marcus Svensson on to find out how the Affino Social Commerce System can empower you to compete with the likes of John Lewis for the Christmas Season.

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