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Providing feature filtering on e-commerce websites is a no-brainer in terms of improving the user experience, so why aren't more retailers doing it properly?

Effective feature filtering allows shoppers to remove much of the pain of finding products. When there are hundreds of products to display these tools are essential.

I spent the weekend looking for a new TV, mainly using the websites of Currys and Comet. Both are good sites, but Comet was much more effective at helping me narrow my search options - here's why...

After navigating to the TV category, this is what both sites look like:

Comet:

Comet TVs

Currys:

Comet TV section

The difference here is that, with Comet, I can immediately start to narrow down and remove products from my search that I don't want - TV's that are too expensive, too small, aren't HD ready, and so on.

Comet allows filtering by screen size, resolution, brand, price range, type of sound system and more:

Filter options on Currys' website are less extensive, and it takes a few more clicks from the homepage before you find them:

This means that, once I have seIected screen size and price range, I still have to browse through three pages of products on the Currys website.

To make things worse, Currys has not removed out of stock items from my search, so that when I decided to add this Sony TV to my basket and head for the checkout I get this message - very frustrating:

Currys out of stock message

Comet provides a far better example of how it should be done, displaying the product features selected so far, allowing consumers to easily remove individual filters, and showing the number of products matching the filter options.

This means that users can easily add or remove filter options without affecting other selections, while the fact that the number of matching products is getting smaller shows the customer that they are making progress towards a purchase.

So, while both are competitve on product ranges and pricing, Comet's more effective and extensive product filtering options saved me a lot of wasted time trawling through lists of irrelevent products.

Comet 1 - 0 Currys.

Related stories:
Feature filtering - what is it and why do you need it?
House of Fraser - a user experience review
Top 10 most common e-commerce mistakes

Related research:
Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks

Graham Charlton

Published 17 December, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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crowdstormer

This is the second interesting blog post about how important search functions are on e-commerce sites that I've read today! I completely agree that it's vital as a user to be able to refine your search based on your own criteria. It seems strange to me sometimes that many e-commerce sites don't take the time to make the customer experience as simple and useful as possible, when it can make such a difference to conversion rates.

almost 9 years ago

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Henri

Did you buy your TV in the end?

about 6 years ago

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