3 Ways to Improve Product Findability on Your Ecommerce Website
Ecommerce website fundamental number 1. If a customer can’t find a product, they can’t buy it. The relationship between product findability and conversion rate on ecommerce websites cannot be overstated.
It’s always an area we focus on when we’re optimising ecommerce websites and trying to improve a website’s sales. It should be a high priority for you if you’re trying to improve your website’s conversion rate.
Below are 3 ways you can make your product navigation more usable in order to get more people buying what you’re selling.
Don’t forget though; test everything before you make wholesale changes.
1. Make the ecommerce website search bar prominent and use auto-complete
The search bar should never be more than one click away for the user to see their results. We’ve experienced higher conversion rates by simply increasing the usability and prominence of the search field on an ecommerce website.
TicketWeb is a good example of how not to do it:
Although the search icon is relatively prominent and labelled with the word search, to begin your query you first have to click on the icon to display the search field, then type your query, and then click again to search.
A great illustration of a good search facility in the same industry is stubhub.co.uk. They have a good sized search box that is permanently available for the user to type in and a large ‘Search’ button next to it: further increasing the field’s prominence.
They also guide the user with micro-copy showing them what they can enter in the search field.
Both Stubhub and Ticketweb showcase another requirement for effectual search: auto-complete.
Auto-complete will increase the efficiency of the search for users with high purchase intent and get them to the product they are looking for.
This can vastly improve conversion rates because we’re helping users get to where they want to be quickly and with minimal effort.
The retro clothes retailer, Modcloth, is another example of a good search function. The team there were able to increase overall orders by 5%, average order value by 3%, and per visit value (PVV) by 8% by adding predictive product results with accompanying product images for tablet users.
So whilst auto-complete is good, by including graphics or images in your results you can really start to outperform those without auto-complete or with text only auto-complete results.
2. Design mega menus so category groupings are easy to digest and make parent categories clickable
Over the past few years the mega menu has become a very common way to present the user with multiple product categories quickly on ecommerce websites.
The approach to the design of these menus has definitely evolved, but what’s clear is the need to present categories to the user in a way which is scannable and easy to digest.
By labelling the groups and providing distinct visual groupings, you can see in the example above that Next have managed to avoid long lists of product categories, therefore helping the user find what they are looking for quickly.
Another navigation trait we’ve learned to avoid through usability testing is non-clickable parent categories. Regardless of how your mega menu looks, parent categories should always be clickable.
We’ve seen users getting frustrated in many usability studies because they are unable to browse in a more explorative way when they don’t yet know the narrower category of products they want to look at.
A website that does a good job on their mega menu is Wilko.com.
When you place your mouse over a parent category in the navigation, a comprehensive dropdown menu appears with clearly grouped product categories making it very easy to scan and digest.
You can then go into a narrower product category such as ‘Sheds & Summerhouses’ or the more general parent category such as ‘Garden’.
3. Allow users to filter to narrow their choices
Giving users the option of filtering the products they are looking at, thereby narrowing the choices they have, is a logical way to get them to the product they want quicker and avoid the paradox of choice.
Most sites use filters such as price or colour but there’s also a big opportunity to add filters which help the user actually make their choice. These could be things like ‘Great for Beginners’ on a camera website or ‘Goes Well with Lamb’ on a wine website.
By giving the user purchase guidance through filters, we reduce the need for them to consume detailed product description copy before they can reach the point where they are happy to make their choice.
The product filtering on the Argos website is a good example of the variety of filtering options the user can be presented with in order to reduce their options and make a choice.
These three simple methods are cornerstones to effective product findability and contribute to the overall good website usability that is necessary for ecommerce success.
Ecommerce website owners are definitely moving into the light when it comes to product navigability but we still encounter a large number of retailers who are investing thousands in marketing and optimisation, whilst overlooking the basics of product navigation.
So take this opportunity to put yourself ahead of the competition and please do share your results with us.
17th July 2015