IBM Product Recommendation

IBM Product Recommendations raises revenue and saves staff time. Personalized product recommendations increase sales, conversion rate, average order value and customer engagement. Product Recommendations automatically generates personalized product recommendations for each visitor based on current session and historical browsing, shopping, and purchasing data collected by IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics. With Web Analytics, you can automate personalized recommendations through a powerful set of proven and configurable algorithms. Product Recommendations is designed to specifically address the needs and concerns of the e-commerce merchandiser. Its powerful user interface enables rapid implementation, algorithm modification, business rule management and recommendation preview.

Business benefits

The business benefits of using Product Recommendations are:
  • Increase revenues
  • Increase average order value
  • Increase conversion rate
  • Increase customer engagement
  • Improve the website visitor's ability to find products and explore catalog offerings
  • Grow sales of older or infrequently purchased products
  • Save merchandiser staff time through automation
  • Rapid implementation for improved ROI
  • Support for a range of use cases to maximize revenue opportunities

Key features

The Product Recommendations key features enable you to create, configure, track and test offers.


Dashboards allow you to track the performance of active Offers and A/B Tests. All Product Recommendations clients can use the Zone Performance, KPI Spark and Site Performance modules because they simply require users to identify the parent product category in the CDF that corresponds to site Zones that are being populated with recommendations. Because A/B Test functionality requires Product Recommendations Dynamic Recommendations features, only clients that have Dynamic Recommendations enabled have access to the A/B Test Performance dashboard module.

Flat File or Dynamic Recommendations

IBM Coremetrics offers flexibility by providing two delivery methods for recommendations. With the Flat File delivery method, offer processing writes fixed lists of recommendations to output files that you can use in multiple marketing channels. With the Dynamic delivery method, recommendations are generated and delivered dynamically by the Content Delivery Network to your web pages for each visitor. Both delivery methods generate sound recommendations and drive additional sales.


An offer is a collection of settings that includes the type (product, category, or search), algorithm affinity weighting, data analysis time period, and business rules that generates a list of recommended items. You construct offers with different recommendation styles to suit different stages of the purchase process. For example, usually one offer is created for the product page and another for the shopping cart.

Offer settings

Offer settings define the frequency with which an offer is updated (monthly, weekly, or daily), the amount of data that is considered, the set of products for which recommendations will be generated, the number of recommendations per product (flat file only), and the delivery method. Offers can be delivered using a flat file or can be generated dynamically using the Product Recommendations Recommendation Service for integration directly to the web site's presentation layer.

Affinity weights

Affinity weights control the weighting of four key data points in the Product cross-sell algorithm. Changing the weights of each affinity type can dramatically alter the recommendations that are generated for each product. This capability allows clients to tune the algorithm to address a range of customer behavior patterns and product mixes. It also allows you to alter the output to address different styles of recommendations. Weighting recommendations toward items that customers view together will generally deliver recommendations of very similar items. On the other hand, weighting recommendations based on items purchased together will deliver recommendations of products across categories. Affinity weights provide controls to address a range of considerations.

Business rules

Business rules provide a user interface to create and manage rules that place further limits on recommendations output. Product Recommendations supports exclusionary, de-emphasis and promotional rules. Rules can be managed globally, at the category level, or by product attribute. Exclusionary rules eliminate products, promotional rules force products into recommendations, and de-emphasis rules move products to the back of the candidate list of recommendations rather than excluding them. You provide the data, on which exclusionary rules are based, to IBM Coremetrics using an import file.

Individual visitor personalization

No two visitors have the same interests nor do they demonstrate identical shopping patterns. Product Recommendations builds rich individual visitor profiles based on historical and in session data to automatically present each shopper with a unique set of recommendations. Even visitors who are not known receive highly relevant recommendations based on Product Recommendations proven Wisdom-of-the-Crowd based algorithms. Because visitor profiles are constructed in real time, recommendations can become personalized very quickly, allowing Product Recommendations to optimize recommendations for every visitor. In addition to automatically optimizing product page recommendations, cart recommendations, and category recommendations to the individual, specific recommendation zones can be defined to offer recommendations that are based on the visitor's observed behaviors including:
  • Recommendations based on an item the visitor recently carted.
  • Recommendations based on an item the visitor recently purchased.
  • Top selling items from a category of the visitor's interest.
  • Recommendations based on an item the visitor recently viewed.

Category Recommendations

Recommendations based on the site's top selling items, ranked by item sales or dollar sales, can be presented at various points on the web site. These top sellers are grouped by the category provided in the Enterprise Category Definition File. Special configurations are available for category top sellers. For example, visitors can find the very top selling items no matter where they are placed on the web site. Category Recommendations can be configured in the interface to remove the top 5%, 10%, or 20% of the top selling items from the recommendations. This allows additional products to be featured that customers might not have found on their own yet which already have high conversions. Overall Top Sellers can also be configured using category recommendations.

Overall Top Sellers

This allows the merchandiser to specify the key categories of products to be represented as overall top sellers. These recommendations are often displayed on the homepage, empty basket page, or no search results page. The top n selling items (where n is a configurable number) are pulled from each of the key categories and represented to the visitor so that each category gets representation through the home page recommendations. As a result, the best selling, highest converting items from the key site categories are merchandised for unknown visitors. Optionally, the order in which the collection of home page recommendations is presented can be randomly determined.

Fallback recommendations

Behavior based algorithms cannot generate recommendations for products to which the algorithms have not been applied. When new products are introduced to the site, a mechanism is needed to provide a default and compelling set of recommendations. If you have strict business rule requirements you can eliminate available recommendations through the use of business rules. There are two fallback processes. The first fallback process happens when the Wisdom-of-the-Crowd behavioral data is processed. When there is not enough site behavior data to complete the number of requested recommendations or if business rules eliminate recommendations, then top selling items from the target product EPR category are used as default recommendations. A secondary fallback process is invoked if recommendations are not available when dynamic recommendations are requested from your website. To cover this situation, you configure fallback steps in the recommendation plan. For example, you could specify that the recommendations should be top selling items in the category of the product the visitor last viewed, or top selling items in the visitor's favorite category, and so on.

Search term based recommendations

Search term based recommendations allow merchandising teams to solve two business problems:
  1. Paid search landing pages are not always relevant.
  2. Websites and on-site search results do not learn from visitor behavior.
  Product Recommendations determines the best products to recommend for visitors who search using a given query such as “Fishing Pole” or “Running Shoes”. For every search term, a view of all sources of search traffic (Paid, Natural and On-Site) feeds the Product Recommendations algorithm. This aggregated view of customer interaction data across all search sources ensures the richest underlying data set for a single customer query. Search based recommendations can be rendered on Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and on-site search results pages and other locations, such as the home page.

Image Recommendations

An image recommendation uses the dynamic delivery method to deliver recommendations as HTML images with attribute values like the product's name. Each image provides a link to the product page on your web site for that recommended item. The primary use for image recommendations is with email campaigns. This type of recommendation targets an item in the email message and then generates the list of recommended items when the email recipient opens the message.

A/B Testing

Product Recommendations includes an A/B Testing capability specifically designed to run A, B, C and D split tests to determine the impact of various Product Recommendations settings on site revenues and conversions. Also, Product Recommendations A/B Testing can be used to test alternative algorithm affinity weights, business rules, site zone locations (above or below the fold), and the number of recommendations delivered to a specific site zone.


Product Recommendations provides the ability for users to review the algorithmic and rules logic that has been specified and applied to an Offer to help clients fine-tune or troubleshoot recommendations. Up to three different types of Preview options are available, depending on whether your organization has licensed Flat File or Dynamic Recommendations capabilities.


Two native reports are available in the Reports menu, Zone Performance and A/B Test performance reports. Zone performance is a filtered version of the Product Report by Category and displays performance of the Cross-Sell parent and Subcategories. A/B test performance reports on any active A/B Test that is configured in the A/B Test tool in Product Recommendations.

Zone Performance Tracking

Zone Performance tracking is located in the Manage menu. This is where the parent cross-sell category, defined in the CDF, is set for Dashboard and Reports.

WebSphere Commerce Integration

Product Recommendations is tightly integrated with WebSphere Commerce. If you are using WebSphere Commerce and want Product Recommendation to be integrated to your online stores, consult with Royal Cyber EMM Consultants.   If you are looking for implementation services for IBM Product Recommendation or want to make recommendations appear faster on your ecommerce portal, fill up an Inquiry Form now.