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Filtering and Categorization of Products

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How will users find the products you're offering

The Search, Filtering, and Catalog of Products

One of the biggest opportunities within a marketplace application is being able to accurately search for numerous products. There are many facets to the search, filtering, and catalog of products with different forms being able to enable its most basic level of user function.

Search itself is a pretty extensive topic, but at its most fundamental level it's typically a search box with a text input that's consistent across the site, typically in the header. Most search boxes have an auto-complete function for related topics. Ultimately, once somebody has typed in a search it's important for the search results to be accurate and up-to-date. If properly implemented with the ability to drill down with filters that dynamically represent the content in the application intuitively, it will improve UI/UX for your site visitors by quickly directing them to their results.

Planning not just for now, but also years to come

Ever Growing, Adapting, & Scaling to Business Needs

Technology and software in marketplaces are constantly evolving as the business segments grow. Users consistently gravitate toward the more performant and intuitive applications. What was intuitive and optimal 2 years ago is no longer at the head of the pack because of their competitors’ drive to increase top-line revenue. All their competitors are evolving and improving and may have improved beyond the fundamental features within standard search functions.

The end goal of searches is to get a quick return on the results that someone is searching for and to intuitively show options to filter sort and to further refine the search. One of the big things about search within the marketplace in particular, is that there's a lot of data that you'll be searching through as a user and if the application is not optimized the data filtering and searching can take multiple seconds, even 10s of seconds or minutes. Depending on how much data is being filtered and searched through, your application will need to be further optimized to avoid long load-times.

There are too many sites without optimized searching and that's not acceptable in today's day and age. One of the big baseline requirements is to have some form of caching that allows for the search to return in milliseconds typically hundreds of milliseconds. Users have come to expect search results to be available within a few 100 milliseconds, making this incredibly important to run a successful marketplace.

Which aisles will your products be on?

Evaluating What Tags & Categories Go Where

Right out the gate you will want to evaluate different marketplaces based on how they perform at scale because eventually that's where you'll be. You’ll also want to begin thinking about the categories, filters, and tags for your content. A lot of the searching that happens will guidea user to a category or segment of products and offerings that you’ve listed in the marketplace. In order to properly search on those, it's important that the filters and the tagging in the category display pricing information, reviews, etc. be dynamically displayed. For example, if a user is searching for an airplane engine then you don't want to show filters and categories that are completely unrelated to airplane engines Another example would be showing a computer motherboard filter and the compatible products, so the filtering logic itself needs to be intuitive and that's standard nowadays. That's something that you want to consider ultimately from a setup and configuration perspective.

You also want to consider what synonyms, misspellings, and acronyms that folks will use when searching for an item. They might be using a SKU, part of the description, keywords or even content within a spec of its association to an item.

These are all things that you want to consider when indexing in the search. Indexing is essentially exposing that content in a structured way so that the search has access to it. With proper indexing, you can present your products in an intuitive manner with proper attributes of the different products, categories, and tags. Each different line of products or category might have a different set of attributes, tags, prices, and range of manufacturers that supply them. A well implemented search can drastically improve your UI/UX for your users.

They’re expecting these functions right out the gate as some of these are part of the core functionality of the search and filtering of products. Other things you will have to consider in the scope of your project is having content that displays based on popularity so the items getting viewed are ones that are frequently getting purchased. Some businesses consider things like:

  • Does the customer have a parent product that might need this supporting product?
  • Do they know if your marketplace is selling replacement parts for your product?
  • Can we determine if the user has a certain type of product or which version of a product they have?

With information like this we can show the appropriate replacement parts, related products, etc. and not things that are not relevant. A possible solution would be for the user to use a wizard to get to that information. Set out the criteria they are looking for and then we can filter based on that, but it's also possible for them to select a parent product and have the children or replacement parts appear.

Make Data Driven Decisions

Diving Into the Importance of Analytics & Tracking

Filtering where the user interacts with the detailed view of a product once they click on it and which ones result in the actual activity reflects their behavior and how they find what they were looking for. We want to move products and search results up the chain so the user is actually getting what they need even when they do not directly tell us. That is how we want to leverage the marketplaces analytics and tracking.

For example, if they click on something and they don't stay on that page for very long on that detailed view of a product, then it’s clear they didn't add it to their cart. If they didn't take any other action, then it is a sign they didn’t get a good search result or it's not what they want. On the other hand, if they do spend time looking at that product, maybe they added it to a wish list or a saved shopping cart. Maybe they eventually processed an order with it. These are good signs that we can aggregate overtime. We can use machine learning and artificial intelligence to then influence future search results to better display what the user is looking for.

In addition, it's helpful to consider that we’re wanting to present information within the search results that are not just directly what the user searched for, but also related items, items based on what they're clicking on their viewing, etc. That's another way to aggregate data within the system to learn what each user is looking at and get them engaging with all of the products in the system.

One of the biggest benefits of a marketplace is that we can gather huge amounts of data overtime about the product's and all their meta information, but also about the users and what they're interacting with.

Your Own Personal Shop Guide

How Can Clarity Help Guide Your Shoppers

We provide more detailed information within some of the additional articles in this section on marketplaces. We encourage you to spend some time digging into each of these key aspects of designing and iteratively improving your marketplace. This is not just turning on all the features under the sun, but selectively finding the features that match the market you're working with and making sure that the minimal functionality that is needed is presented, but not so that folks get overwhelmed. With analytics and information, you can dramatically improve the conversions and the stickiness of your marketplace. Which ultimately is going to drive the bottom line and improve margins for the business and for the vendors selling on the platform.

So if you're diligent and constantly watching and working on this, it will be reflected as your business continues to improve. Clarity would love to help you with just looking at and evaluating some of these options and how to configure the search functions for the targeted segments in your marketplace. We also have helpful guides below, and we encourage you to reach out to us if you’d like a complimentary consultation or to look at how we can collaborate and help your business continue to grow. GiveClarity a call and we can walk you through each important step with your project.

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