As a consumer, you know there are some websites that you love to shop on (ahem, Amazon!), while others can definitely pose a challenge when you’re looking for a specific product or service. While you may think that this is only important when you’ve got a massive inventory with a lot of different options, even a single additional click can often be enough to turn an eCommerce buyer into someone who closes the tab on your website before making a purchase. The tracking pros at CrazyEgg shared what they call the “15 Second Rule”: if people don’t find what they’re looking for in 15 seconds, they’re out.
While these stats are specifically addressing finding your website engaging as opposed to eCommerce, the same is true when shoppers are in the buying mood. If they don’t find what they’re looking for pretty quickly, they’re on to the next retailer. One of the only ways to combat this issue is to be sure you’re offering advanced product filtering that utilizes the parameters that customers are most likely to be interested in.
Choosing Your Parameters
Do your widgets come in various colors? Shapes? Sizes? Price points? Your first step is to create broad “buckets” of ways that users would be interested in browsing for your items. For books, you look at genres and authors and whether they’re a part of a series. You get the picture. Depending on how many products you have, this can take a while — and it’s always good to have conversations with your internal customer service team as part of the process. They have the most knowledge of the questions customers ask about your products and how they’re differentiating them. Take a peek at the stats on your website searches, too. This can provide you with knowledge of the keywords that customers are using to find your products. You may discover that instead of looking for “red” widgets, they’re more likely to search for “maroon” items.
Amp Up Your Metadata
Now that you know the key terms that customers are using — keep in mind, this is all about your CUSTOMERS, not how your internal staff classifies items! — then you’re ready to start amping up your metadata. All those details need to be captured in your product database to be sure you’re able to deliver them nimbly to your website when the time comes. You may need to revamp your data structure in order to get this done, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort involved to provide a more fluid shopping experience for your prospects and customers.
Creating Your Filters
There are certain filters that work well together, and there are no set rules for what works and what doesn’t. One way you can test that you have the correct filters is to do a dry run with real customers. Pick some of your best customers and provide them with an interactive model of how you want to create filters. This user experience testing is a low-cost way to test your theories before you do a lot of expensive programming that may or may not resonate with your audience and their needs.
Bonus: Personalizing the Experience
Even relatively basic eCommerce engines often have a limited amount of AI/ML (artificial intelligence or machine learning) built into them. Look for ways to correlate items that are often purchased together, and provide those options to shoppers at checkout. Upselling during the checkout process is generally painless and expected, and can be helpful both to the customer — and your bottom line!