HP Finds Showing Fewer Related Items Boosts Sales

When are related product lists helpful and when are they distracting? Is it an obviously useful upsell or is it doomed to the fate of the salesperson who shows a customer one too many choices? HP thinks it's often the latter and has sharply trimmed the number of related items it shows. And the company is claiming a 30 percent sales increase as a result.

An interesting detail in this BusinessWeek piece points out that an Argentinean physicist apparently analyzed—on HP's nickel—data from Facebook, YouTube, Digg and Amazon to mathematically model user attention. Conclusion: "The long lists of recommended add-on products commonly featured on E-Commerce sites yield diminishing returns. Web shoppers tend to stop paying attention after a certain point." Aside from the fact that all of the sites selected (other than Amazon) skew to one demographic extreme of Web shoppers, this raises the question: Don't HP E-Commerce workers ever shop online for themselves? They truly needed a physicist to tell them this?