I'm developing a strip at the bottom of our product pages for "related" items that the user might find beneficial. I have several coworkers (who are not in UX) that like the auto-rotate feature on the related items bar. I have a feeling that it is distracting from the primary focus - the Add to Cart button. What are your thoughts? Do you have research/articles that would lead to one choice over the other? Thanks for your help!
A auto-rotate feature can be nice for featured products that you are showcasing that you might not be able to fit on one page. However yes they tend to distract and might give a sense of clutter if you have a lot of items you are trying to recommend.
Based on your wanting to show related items I think a more static approach would be appropriate based on it being recommended products. Newegg does this really well by using check boxes instead with a single button off to the side allowing users to check and add multiple items at once.
I wouldn't prefer Autorotate in this case but I see the point which is asking for this feature. You are looking to display more products than the space available. In this case, you can use "Roate on Demand" instead of "Auto Rotate".
Provide Next and Back scroll controls and that would do. BUT using this approach, you would need to decide which items are more important and should be shown by default.