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Last week, I looked at some best practices for site search, around positioning and function of search box, now it's time to look at site search results pages.
Once users have found the search box and entered their product query, the most important aspect is the speed and accuracy of the search results.
There is a lot that retailers can do on search results pages to enhance the user experience and make the route from search to purchase as smooth as possible.
Here are some examples, good and bad, from retailers, as well as some tips to improve the user experience...
Motoring website Auto Trader has recently launched a new version of its site in beta, updating the technology behind the site and introducing a more modern design.
The Auto Trader mobile website was impressive when I reviewed it recently, so I've decided to have a closer look at the new desktop site. It's a pretty big site, so I've confined my review to a used car search...
Baby products retailer Kiddicare.com has just relaunched its e-commerce site, with an emphasis on improving the site's merchandising tools and product images.
Kiddicare is a retailer that does a lot of things well online, such as offering as many payment options as possible, and organising product reviews effectively, so I've been seeing how well the new version of the website shapes up...
Book retailer Borders has just redesigned its UK website, less than a year after last relaunching, and has also introduced a new range of eBooks.
There are some improvements, including new look product pages, more products displayed above the fold and clearer calls to action throughout the site.
There are a couple of issues on the site which hamper the user experience though...
TK Maxx has started to sell online in the UK, but the discount retailer is taking a cautious approach, and is only offering handbags for sale on the site so far.
The company is asking for feedback from customers on what else they would like to buy from the site though, so it seems that other product ranges will follow.
User reviews are a well proven sales tool; there are plenty of surveys that show how important they are to customers when making a purchase decision, but what is the best way to help customers make sense of reviews?
Amazon uses the 'was this review helpful?' option to great effect, which helped users to make sense of large numbers of reviews and, according to Jared Spool, added $2.7bn to the online retail giant's bottom line.
When retailers get to a certain number of reviews on product pages (perhaps 15-20) some organisation is required to make them more meaningful to other shoppers, so how are other e-tailers handling this?
High end fashion retailer Net-A-Porter recently launched theOutnet.com, a clearance site which offers designer names at discounts of up to 80%.
Several retailers have been busy launching outlet sites this year; they offer a good way to offload out of season stock and, in the current economic circumstances, have the added effect of appealing to bargain hunters.
A bargain on theOutnet.com is more likely to mean paying £300 rather than £450 for a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, so it perhaps doesn't appeal the the same type of shoppers the Debenhams Outlet I reviewed recently, but how does Net-A-Porter's offering compare?
Several online retailers, including ASOS, Argos and JD Sports, have recently launched clearance sites to provide an outlet for older stock, and appeal to bargain hungry web shoppers.
Debenhams is the latest retailer to follow this trend; yesterday it launched Outlet, which sells discounted products all year round. I've been trying the site out...
Sears, one of the largest e-tailers in the US, has just relaunched the websites for two of its online brands, Kmart.com and Sears.com, and has introduced an interesting new multi-search feature.
This means that shoppers at either of the relaunched websites can search on one site and receive product results across both of them. Sears has also added tabs at the top of each page that allow users to quickly access any of the company's six e-commerce sites.
While some customers will arrive at an e-commerce site with a clear idea of what they want, more will prefer to browse, so it is important to accommodate this user behaviour and make browsing for products as easy as possible.
Providing effective and relevant filtered navigation can make a huge difference to the customer experience; it reduces the amount of cognitive effort required of visitors, and makes it more likely that they will find a product that suits them.
I've been taking a look at how some UK e-commerce sites handle filtered navigation (or feature filtering, faceted navigation, whatever you want to call it), and providing a few tips...