Science matters: scientific product recommendation as a success factor in e-commerce

One in three consumers in the USA, Germany, and France have great confidence in technology-based recommendations for the online purchase of products requiring intensive advice. This is one of the findings of a study by Brooklyn-based Motesque and ECC COLOGNE which inquires into the relevance of scientifically based product recommendations in online retailing.

Brooklyn, New York, October 05, 2021 – The selection of suitable products, especially those that require intensive consultation, is a constant challenge for consumers shopping online. Therefore, the majority is open to support in the buying process in the form of services and technologies. In some areas, scientifically based product recommendations can already be a real asset in the buying process. In the current study, “Science, Technology, Personalization – How Online Providers Can Score with Individualized Product Recommendations,” Motesque and ECC COLOGNE examined just how great the potential is. For this purpose, more than 1,500 consumers in the USA, Germany, and France, were asked about their attitudes toward technology-based product recommendations.

Potential of scientific recommendations already pronounced

Around two-thirds of consumers state that scientifically based product recommendations are important to them when buying online. One-third go even further and reveal that they would instead rely on technology-based suggestions than on the opinion of personal advisors when it comes to products that require a great deal of advice. When buying mattresses, just as many consumers would prefer to buy based on scientific recommendations rather than the classic purchase with a test phase and return option, this represents an enormous potential for retailers and manufacturers, especially among the group of heavy online shoppers*. But providing technology-based recommendations not only pays off economically it also benefits the image of suppliers. It has been shown that consumers across countries perceive these providers much more positively. Security as well as trust, and customer loyalty are strengthened. Younger and online-savvy consumers, in particular, can be won over in this way.

“When we are in a specialty store, we naturally expect competent advice. In this day and age, something like that can also be guaranteed online. And the results are often even more reliable because they are based on scientific methods. As you can see from the study, these technologies are not yet taken for granted. Nevertheless, the interest is very high. Above all, I was very positively surprised by the image gain that goes hand in hand with this for manufacturers and retailers who offer such a solution,” said Prof. Dr. Kai Oberländer, CEO and Co-Founder at Motesque.

Problems for consumers when buying bicycles and mattresses online

While consumers store online for everyday products without any problems, purchasing products that require more advice, such as bicycles or mattresses, poses problems for consumers across countries. In particular, the search for relevant product information such as product-specific specifications, answering personal questions, and possible returns are challenges that consumers face when selecting products, which leads them to purchase products requiring more advice in stationary stores. In this respect, bricks-and-mortar retail can score points with exclusive advisory service and good customer service. One in two consumers in the USA (52%) and France (53%) and one in three consumers in Germany (39%) would also like to have such an advisory service online.

“Many consumers still shy away from buying products online that require a lot of advice. However, this reluctance can be overcome by designing customer-centric technologies and services. It is important to use the openness of customers for scientifically-based recommendations and to communicate the relevant information in such a way that they trust the product selection and the selection process,” says Dr. Kai Hudetz, Managing Director of IFH COLOGNE, on the results of the study.

Individual advice beats protection of personal data

How does the online channel enter the relevant set of consumers, even for products that require more advice? With technology-based product recommendations, one in three consumers in all countries can imagine buying advice-intensive products online if they receive scientifically based recommendations. Consumers are even prepared to provide personal data for the provision of individual recommendations. 

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About the study

The study “Science, Technology, Personalization – How Online Providers Can Score with Individualized Product Recommendations” by Motesque and ECC COLOGNE examines consumer expectations about technology-based product recommendations and provides information on the potential of their use. For this purpose, 1,502 consumers in the USA, Germany, and France, were surveyed on the Internet.


As a subsidiary brand of IFH KÖLN, ECC KÖLN is the first point of contact for know-how transfer in the digital retail world. Retailers, manufacturers, and service providers benefit from unique market and customer insights as well as individual success- and business-relevant impulses, events and training. With the ECC CLUB (, ECC COLOGNE offers a unique community and networking platform for decision-makers in e-commerce. Expertise, channels, community – that’s what ECC COLOGNE stands for.

More at: (in German).

The study can be downloaded free of charge from the IFH COLOGNE store or from

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Our international study surveyed  1500+ consumers‘ expectation towards the online-shopping of advice-intensive products.
Download the findings on how manufacturers and retailers can optimize their product recommendations for a more satisfied customers and less product returns!