Welcoming New Customers: How to Leverage Recommendations in Retail and Ecommerce

Ecommerce and retail marketers are equally blessed and challenged — on one hand, they can inject their brand and marketing with tons of personality, but they also have to constantly temper that with deeply shrewd and strategic business moves to attract and retain today’s easily swayed consumer. Because of the overwhelming amount of choices shoppers have when purchasing (especially online) your first impression and every brand experience thereafter has to be spot on. But when customers are new to your brand and you know very little about their likes and dislikes, how can you still provide a tailored omnichannel experience that makes a lasting impression? A fantastic way to welcome your new customers to your brand while also driving engagement and sales is through product recommendations.

Research has shown that 44% of consumers become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience. As the customer-brand relationship deepens and you capture more data for each customer, predictive recommendations should be the gold standard you aim towards. Early on, this might not be feasible, but there are easy ways to implement effective recommendation strategies within your omnichannel Welcome Series — and here’s how.

Best recommendation themes to use for new customers

As you begin to collect data and learn more about your customers, we suggest showcasing your most popular items from across your top categories and then driving urgency and hype by highlighting what’s trending or what’s new and fresh to your brand. These broad suggestions can always be narrowed down by data you already possess for each customer such as by region, category, or stated preferences — then, as you amass customer-specific data, you can start personalizing product recommendations to their tastes

To pull off great product recommendations at any stage of the omnichannel customer journey, you’ll need to understand which recommendation themes are right for you. These themes are used within AI-powered recommender systems to assist you in connecting customers with relevant products based on their individual interests, including stated preferences, inferred affinities, and browsing behaviors. And while these systems utilize AI to perfect the recommendations they generate, they still need marketers who understand the fundamentals of recommendations to apply the correct themes to run based on the customer journey stage. Here are a few themes that are successful for New Customers:

  • Most Popular & Tending: Best-sellers and trending items are popular because they resonate. Highlight top purchased, carted, or browsed items and then narrow down by filters like category, recency, or location.
  • New Arrivals: New items are perceived to be more desirable. Build interest by suggesting the latest products from across all inventory or in a specific category or location.
  • Early Access: Give VIP treatment and a feeling of exclusivity by providing first access to new products from across all categories or in a specific category or location.
  • Limited Stock and Expiring Deals: Create urgency and play up FOMO (fear of missing out) by giving one last chance to purchase items before they’re out of stock or the offer/promotion expires.
  • Best Value: Make the customer feel confident in their purchase by highlighting the best price point items in a category.
  • Seasonal: Drive interest by showcasing in-season must-have products. Items featured can be from across all inventory or in a specific category or location.

Recommendation Tip: Drive interest and product discovery by highlighting what’s most popular, trending, and new arrivals.

How to apply themes throughout the omnichannel customer experience

The first purchase is critical so provide extra white-glove service. You should incorporate these recommendation themes throughout your site — on the homepage, category pages, and product pages — to make product discovery effortless by immediately offering up other compelling products to explore if the initial ones didn’t resonate.

Similarly, you can add these recommendation themes to a multi-touch Welcome Series with omnichannel touch points across email, onsite, in-app, mobile push, SMS, and other key channels. This will help your brand stay top of mind and keep product exploration going by bringing the shopping experience to the customer. Which of these themes to use when? There’s no reason to stick to just one theme — include multiple themes within a message to help increase the chances of surfacing the right products and always continue to A/B test which theme or combination of themes works best.

Recommendation Tip: Include multiple recommendation themes in messages to increase the odds of showcasing the right products.

More about our Smart Guide to Product Recommendations: Retail and Ecommerce

What we’ve shared here is just a fraction of the helpful insider knowledge we offer within our Smart Guide to Product Recommendations: Retail and Ecommerce. In this guide, we will cover all the best product recommendation themes, how to select the right ones throughout your omnichannel customer journey, and best practices to add relevance across every interaction with your brand. You can access the full guide, available now.

If you’re interested in learning what Blueshift experts know beyond product recommendations, you can discover our full library of Smart Guides here, and be sure to check out some of our companion courses on Blueshift Academy.


Learn about different product recommendation themes, how to select the right ones throughout your customer journey, and best practices to add relevance across every interaction with your brand.