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“The first law of ecommerce is that if customers cannot
1. Offer multiple ways to find products
Five common methods of finding products on a website or app
As a general guide:
The effectiveness of each method can vary depending on the usage scenario. Don’t dismiss the less popular methods entirely as they can still be the best fit for certain customers, under certain scenarios.
Factors that can influence the best method of finding products:
2. Make sure your product finding tools work together
As an example, a customer may start by typing ‘laptop’ into the search bar, then switch to browsing the ‘laptop’ category by clicking on the breadcrumb, then filter by the product specifics such as screen size, CPU etc, then add the product to a watchlist in order to find it easily at a later time.
3. Identify the most efficient and effective methods for finding products and make these the most discoverable and accessible
Pick a range of representative scenarios and measure the time that it takes to get the result, or count the touches / clicks / keystrokes required, using each method.
Make the most efficient and effective methods for finding products the most discoverable and accessible.
Note: adding more elements to your page will lower the discoverability of the existing elements.
4. Have great search
7 Elements of great search functionality:
5. Check your zero search results
Zero search results are the terms that your customers searched for that produced no results.
*** Zero search results data is HIGHLY valuable information ***
Zero search results let you identify:
6. Identify when searches require more information than a search term
Some searches require more information than a search term to give the best search results.
For example, booking.com has a form to request the number of people, their ages and the date range of the booking.
When using a form approach, pay attention to pre-populating each of the the fields to the most common settings in order to make the customer experience of completing the form as quick and easy as possible.
7. Have great browse functionality
Customers should be able to browse your products by category and you should be able to easily manage how your products are categorised.
Your ecommerce system should allow you to:
8. Offer Lists
Lists are great when your customer behaviour involves ordering multiple products.
Lists also work well when paired with content tiles and banners to highlight groups of products that do not fit together under existing groupings like categories.
Lists can be:
The ability for customers to create a new list, or add to an existing list should be accessible as a feature when viewing products.
If lists could be large, then consider having the ability to search, and sort and filter in the same way that’s available when browsing products or viewing search results.
10. Have promotional content that links to products or lists
Promotional tiles and banners are great ways to highlight products and offers.
11. Be able to add to basket when viewing products from past orders
If your customers have high return purchase frequencies then past orders is a great way to help them find the products that they are looking for.
Where possible include your customers offline order information by linking transactions through loyalty programmes or digital receipts.
12. Offer great filtering and sorting for search results, browsing, and lists
Searching on a term will often produce many results. For example, search for the word ‘cheese’ on a grocery website can be a great way to narrow down a range of 20,000 products to around 300.
The quality of the sorting and filtering functionality then determines how easily your customers can then narrow down the list of 300 products to the product that they are looking for.
Common sorting options
13. Show a product – even when it’s not available
Displaying unavailable products gives an answer to the customers question of ‘Where is it?‘.
Showing a product that’s not available then let’s you suggest a substitute product, or advise the customer when the unavailable product will be available again.
The alternative of not showing the product gives the customer zero information, which may result in them continuing to look for it, as they may believe that the issue stems from them not using the correct search term, or from them browsing in the wrong location, looking in the wrong list etc
14. Link replacement products to discontinued products
Discontinued products should have a link to a replacement product. This is particularly useful in environments where return purchases of products are common.
It’s a lose / lose scenario when a product disappears from a customers ordering list, resulting in 1) the customer not ordering a product that they needed and 2) a ‘lost sale’ for the website. Supersession functionality that shows, or suggests, a replacement product avoids these issues.
15. Determine what the most important product information is that needs to be shown on a product listing view
A product listing view is how a product is shown in search results, or when browsing categories. The product can have a lot of information and only some of that can be shown on a list product view.
You should rank your product information and from the most important to least important eg
Note , there pros and cons of showing less information on a product listing view:
16. Product Details
Customers click through from product listings to view the full product details so that they can get more information on the product.
Make sure you show as much information as possible on your product detail page and order the information from the most important element to the least important element.
Make sure your product details page has breadcrumbs to allow customers to navigate up the category tree to view similar products.
18. Algorithmic generated lists such as ‘People who bought also bought’. ‘Have you forgotten?’ or ‘Favourites’.
Algorithmic generated lists are a great way to help people find products.
A good algorithm will account for last purchased dates, return purchase frequencies and similar customer behaviour.
19. Upselling and Cross-Selling
Relevance is a key factor in a great upselling and cross-selling experience.
Placement in the journey can also influence the effectiveness as to how well your promotion converts.
Placing your upselling and cross-selling immediately prior to checkout works well, as you can use the products in the order to calculate the most relevant suggestions based on:
Placing your upselling and cross-selling immediately prior to checkout may allow for your customer to engage more, as they are no longer focused on their primary objective of ordering what they initially wanted.
Be aware that some people love upselling and cross-selling in their digital shopping experience, while others do not. You can please them both by:
About Norm Achibald, Senior Trader Product Lead.
In 2009, I was extremely fortunate to accelerate my e-commerce learning with Olympic Software and Countdown Supermarkets, who at that time had been leading the market for over a decade.
From 2009 to 2017 we continued to grow the market with the introduction of new features like mobile sites, and 'click and collect' - it's hard to believe now that these once didn't exist.
In 2017 I moved to Bidfood and continued to learn more on the nuances of food and drink e-commerce for B2B.
Ange and I live in Morningside, and when I'm not obsessing on how 👪people, 📐design, and 🚀technology can combine to improve e-commerce, then you'll likely find me acting as an uber-like driving service for teenage children, and working out how to best fit a game of squash, and at least one hot yoga session, into my weekly schedule.
My role at Olympic is the Product Owner for an extremely empowering enterprise ecommerce platform known as Trader.
Working with Trader in FMCG, I was able to attain growth milestones of $1m per week, followed by $1m per day, and upwards again from there.
The quality of the platform gave me the confidence to continually set, and achieve, higher growth targets for sales, margin and customer satisfaction.
The platform was adopted by the Australian retail giants of Woolworths and Dan Murphys in 2013 and 2016 where it achieved even greater scale and sales volume levels.
🛒 A basket that supports complex, targeted, pricing and discounting.
🎯 A content management system that provides powerful options for personalised and targeted communication.
📈 A team that quickly understands your business with a focus on maximising your e-commerce opportunities.
🔗 A pragmatic approach to integrating with internal and 3rd party systems to provide a complete e-commerce ecosystem covering essential areas such as customer service, order fulfilment, delivery, email marketing, loyalty, rewards, SEO, SEM, analytics and business insights.
Once established, Trader often meets new business requests without the need for additional development, making an extremely empowering enterprise ecommerce platform.