Auction eCommerce

Catalog Filtering for Marketplace Auction eCommerce

September 14, 2022  |  5 min read

A robust filtering system is one of the most important parts of any eCommerce auction platform. Any user, whether they are using your site for the first time or are returning for the hundredth time, should be able to find exactly what they’re looking for quickly. After they find what they’re looking for, it should be intuitive how to take action, whether that’s investigating the item further or moving forward with a bid. Failing to do so means you’re getting fewer bids—and making less money.

Ensuring that your auction platform works as intuitively as possible doesn’t happen by accident. It requires substantial planning with an experienced developer to ensure both the back-end and front-end work to the advantage of your eAuction bidders.

Filtering on Auction eCommerce Websites

Because filtering is so important to the success of your business, it’s important to work on an auction eCommerce platform that can provide extensive—and reliable—filtering options every time someone searches for something. It must be simple enough that anyone can use it within moments of landing on your site, but it still needs to be powerful enough behind the scenes to deliver exactly what they’re asking for. In other words, you must reduce friction at every point so that they can find what they’re looking for.

Large B2C eCommerce retailer sites like Amazon might not be perfect, but they have created the standard most businesses follow. Because more than 90% of online shoppers in the US have purchased from Amazon, most people have a good idea of how to use the search and filter functions to find what they’re looking for. With Amazon teaching people how to search, and you can take advantage of this standard if you choose the right online auction platform developer.

How Are Auction Searches Categorized?

In short, the options for categorizing any type of auction is up to you and catered to your industry. Common filtering options include categories, condition (new/used), seller, seller rating, auction end date and time, price, features, shipping location, and as many other categorizations as you need. Different views can further assist customers, whether they’re looking for a list view, a large thumbnail view, or something that makes sense to your customers.

It’s also possible to return listings based on seller performance. If a seller has incredible feedback from their buyers and always takes the time to create excellent, thorough listings, then you might reward them with higher listings. After all, they’re representing your site in a positive light and making your customers happy, which translates to return customers.

Improving Your Filtering

When you work with your developer, you will set up filtering to be as logical as possible based on your industry knowledge. This may be good, but it’s important to listen to your customers so that you can make it better. You could do this via surveys, but people aren’t as conscious of the way they search as they think they are.

Fuzzy search is an excellent start, as it uses the most common spelling errors to lead customers to the right product. Another option is artificial intelligence/machine learning that tracks how customers are searching and filtering, using that information as a “heads up” to help others find out what they’re looking for. For instance, if one customer searched for “teel shurt” and ended up purchasing a blue shirt, AI may help the next user who spells it “teel shirt” find the blue shirts faster.

What About Google Searches?

Some websites without internal searching and filtering will rely on Google to bring customers to their site. For an auction website, this means waiting for Google to index the site, then hoping that the items will be unique enough that they will rise to the top of the rankings. This is not a good idea for any eCommerce site.

Relying on search engines is just what it sounds like: You’re relying on another, unpredictable company to bring traffic to your site. It’s not a reliable method because there’s no guarantee that the items on the auction site will show up in rankings, no matter how good the SEO is.

What If the Filtering Works Perfectly...

...but the item doesn’t show up?

There are times when your filtering works perfectly and the customer still won’t find what they’re looking for. Why? Because you don’t have the item on your eAuction site. Ebay has nearly two billion listings up at any given time, and even they have to have contingency plans when a customer asks for something that no one is selling.

This can create an opportunity, though. In addition to the standard, “I’m sorry, we couldn’t find any matches for that search/filter/combination,” you have the chance to offer similar items that might entice them. It’s important to note that the offered items aren’t an exact match, but it could get the bidder to reconsider their needs and say, “Yeah, I’ll bet I can make that work.” The AI we mentioned above can play an important part in this.

If the person doing the search won’t accept any alternates, that’s when it’s time to offer what we call the “scout” option. The user can put in specifications for what they’re looking for, and the eAuction platform can email/text them whenever anything matching their criteria shows up on the site. This makes it much more likely you’ll have additional bidders when the item is eventually listed on your platform.

Clarity’s Online Auction Platform

It’s very important to work with a developer with online auction experience. While standard eCommerce and eAuctions have a lot in common, the differences are much more than cosmetic. EAuction requires a significantly different approach that requires experience and careful planning.

Clarity offers an extensive set of videos about all aspects on our online auctions YouTube channel, and the website you're currently on has dozens of articles about the subject. We also offer a one-on-one discovery session that’s completely complimentary, where we’ll help you create a plan to launch—or upgrade—your current auction website. You can use this plan with us or take it with you to a different developer, because we simply want you to succeed. Get in touch to make it happen!

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Stephen Beer is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures and has written about various tech industries for nearly a decade. He is determined to demystify HIPAA, integration, and eCommerce with easy-to-read, easy-to-understand articles to help businesses make the best decisions.