eCommerce Marketing Blog

The current State of ecommerce site filtering

Posted by Paul Kaye on Sep 30, 2015 12:30:00 PM

In a 2015 benchmarking report, web usability testing expert Baymard Institute revealed that the number of major e-commerce websites offering what they measure to be a “reasonably good” filtering experience comes in at a paltry 16%. It’s quite a detailed study, benchmarking 50 major US eCommerce websites. The results? A paper with 4,500-plus benchmark data points on eCommerce product list design and performance.

Though you might not be able to do as much as they can in terms of scale and investment, there are things you should do to achieve better personalization performance for your own eCommerce site.

How much thought have you put into list filtering lately?

The user expectations for search experience continue to change along with the availability and subsequent rapid adoption of new technologies. Consider this: A user is searching for a “gray Henley size 3T” for her toddler. A few years ago she’d likely have had more patience to sift through the pages of product suggestions. Today, that same user expects to see a gray Henley size 3T or something very, very close at the top of the page.

Compare your eCommerce site against your customers’ wants and needs.

The most common filter types:

  1. Category-specific: How many filters does your eCommerce site use? Are they general filters that span your entire offering like brand and price, or do you include a range of filters specific to each category? For example, category-specific filters for a pen within an office supply store might include gel, fountain and ballpoint.
  2. Thematic: Think going to the holiday section at a brick and mortar store. Everything you are looking for is right in one physical location or at least easily viewed as a holiday display. Research shows that abandonment is high when a user is looking for a seasonal item and has to wade through an entire product line instead of being provided a thematic filter. It seems that thematic filters are not only nice to have, but customers like them. Of the sites that provide them, the study shows usage rates are often above 50%.
  3. Compatibility: Compatibility filters serve a number of purposes. First, they drive the sale of compatible items (like the right laptop sleeve or kitchen appliance add-on). Second, they give consumers a much-appreciated sense of security in knowing that the item they ordered is exactly the right one they need.

Faults in filtering logic and filtering user interface.

Even if you have enough relevant filters, your users have to be able to easily find them. According to the Baynard study, 40% of test subjects could not find filters —even when they were actively looking for them. The study found that among the three most commonly-used patterns for displaying lists of 10+ filtering values, truncating the filtering values was the most successfu. The study also speaks to truncation design specifics.

It’s a good report with a lot of interesting takeaways anyone involved in the success of their e-commerce site could learn and make gains from.

The last word? All eCommerce sites have a lot of homework to do in terms of thinking about and making changes to the way they are currently filtering. And, we are learning a lot about how to increase consumer engagement using the right filters. Not only does adding relevant filters help buyers locate the things they want faster (improving conversion), but providing easily-accessed filters—including those they may never have thought of—can be yet another source of incremental revenue results. And we are all searching for that.

If you’d like to find out how Strands personalized recommendation solutions can help you improve your filtering strategy to convert customers and improve revenue:

Contact Us Using Big Data to Understand Buyer Behaviour 


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Topics: Ecommerce Marketing

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