As we head into the holiday season, etailers everywhere are looking at ways engage customers and boost sales. Personalization tactics can be an etailer’s best friend -- helping you in the primary goal of getting an initial product in the cart and purchased -- but to take it to the next level, drilling down into advanced tips for optimized personalization can make a big difference.

From your product metadata to the way you group, filter and display your products, there are a variety of things that will ensure that your personalized recommendations are optimized for success. Below are four advanced personalization tactics that will help you pinpoint the sweet spot between automated and manual merchandizing techniques.

1. Begin with the End in Mind -- Catalog Attributes

The critical first step for creating relevant and personalized product recommendations starts with your catalog. A consistently and thoughtfully organized catalog is easier to understand by both machines and merchandisers.

The product attributes are the key. The attributes in your catalog should be consistent with the way you represent products on your site and expressed in a way that humans can understand.

Catalog Attribute Tips

  • Catalog item attributes should match the attributes on your website
  • Letter case and punctuation should also be the same. It’s about having exact attributes and unique case-sensitive values. For example, a sub-category should not have the values of thermals, men’s thermals, Mens Thermals and Men’s thermals. While these are the same thing, systems will view them as four different values.
  • Don’t assign multiple attributes to the same value. For example, you may not want to allocate the value “women” to Department, Parent Category or Category if you only have one over-arching “Women’s” top-level hierarchy.
  • Group individual catalog items into categories such as: price, title, image, category, category path, keywords, availability, sale price, brand, size and color.
  • Assign attributes based on star ratings or reviews. If there is a shirt with one rating of 5 stars and another shirt with 50 ratings of 4 stars, which would you use to rank one over the other? People are skeptical of one rating whether it is great or horrible, but it’s harder to refute 50 people with the same opinion. With ratings, you need to consider both quantity and quality.
  • Include non-product pages such as category pages as attributes in your catalog feed where category attributes are matched to a product attribute. For instance, if the category page tells us ParentCat=Furniture and all the product pages of sofas and chairs also have ParentCat=Furniture, this information ensures that only products that belong to furniture show in this category.

2. Filtering

A filter is a type of rule that tailors the recommendation set shown to consumers based on known attributes. For example, an automated system may think that the best recommendation to show on a page with dresses is a pair of pants or jewelry, but the merchandizer only wants other dresses to be displayed.