Although several industries have already leveraged the diverse capabilities and strong benefits of recommendation solutions, their future business applications (largely extended in scope by the introduction of ‘recommendation as a service’ – platforms) still hold a substantial unexploited potential. Therefore, these services continue to gain an increasing importance from an economic perspective.
The evolution of ‘recommendation as a service’ platforms
If you expect that after buying a recommender system and hitting the start button you can lean back, you are in a serious misbelief. You have to develop, integrate, maintain and support your engine and algorithms. Relatively a few notable corporations manage these tasks by creating and sustaining a specific, in-house business unit. This strategy characterizes generally those firms that consider the technology as crucial for conducting their business operations. This can be the case either if therein lies their distinctive competitive advantage on their target market, or it is simply a given attribute of the type of services they are providing. Music streaming is a great example of this.
However, the internalization of the related research and development activities require highly specific, relatively hardly accessible knowledge and capabilities. Therefore, corporations that do not necessarily need to be in full control of the solutions they apply, or cannot afford the associated costs, are more likely to prefer solutions developed and administered by independent vendors.
The Democratization of eCommerce Recommendation Services
Even a few years ago, only larger players were able to harness the power of these technologies. Back those times recommender systems required custom integrations which involved development costs that were simply too high for most SMEs.
‘Recommendation as a service’ – platforms started to proliferate in the past couple of years and they inevitably transformed the whole recommender system business landscape. It is not at all surprising if we consider how recommendation engines are an obvious domain for SaaS-based solutions, due to their excellent value propositions and the sophistication of the underlying technologies.
Therefore, we can find a number of suppliers focusing solely or mostly on these solutions. We can classify their products in the following way:
1.eCommerce engine add-ons, plugins
These are the easiest to install and configure and plenty of them are available for most major CMSs and eCommerce engines. Most of these — especially the free ones — only provide very simple recommendations, e.g. ‘popular’, ‘best selling’ etc. logics. However, these can already be very helpful for increasing sales and engagement, for the following e-business types:
-Stores having 100-500 items and a moderate customer base,
-Stores with a clientele of a smaller niche,
-B2B stores, with a lower client number, where informal leads are still more important.
More compound business types can make a great use of more sophisticated logics, such as collaborative filtering methods or product similarity based recommendations.
2. Self-service ‘recommendation as a service’ systems
These are generally more elaborated solutions supporting DIY integration. Ideally, you can connect these to any web-based platform where there are items, users and events. The eCommerce recommender system market is inevitably the most saturated in this category. However, you can find numerous vendors with specialized solutions for certain eCommerce niches or content recommendations.
Most of these systems offer analytics dashboards, customization options and come at a price that is affordable for most SMEs. Please note, that despite the risk-free message solely or partly commission-based pricing plans send, if you’re able to leverage the solution to the maximum and it ends up fitting your business strategy well, you’ll end up paying more than with a traffic-based plan, that at first might sound less appealing — especially to small businesses who have to consider investments even more carefully. Professional recommendation service providers are self-confident enough to offer a free trial. Also, the one-month trial period is usually enough to define how the solution performs in your store.
Recommendation as a service — more and more a must for eCommerce
See the countless studies and articles that the experts publish on a weekly basis on the importance of personalization features! It is more and more clear, that personalization technologies don’t just provide great business results, but they also please, engage, and satisfy users, and can dramatically increase customer retention. Recommender systems are important cornerstones of any personalized website. Moreover, ‘recommendation as a service’ – solutions are easy to implement and they provide very reliable business results. For every SME seeking to apply personalization to its site, subscribing to such a service should be a top priority.
So there you have it, recommendation systems as a service. Does your business use any of these solutions?
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