E Commerce Filtering Only As Effective as Your Data filter navigationThe widespread use of ecommerce today is increasing the potential for businesses to buy and sell a variety of items that traditionally have only been available for purchase in person. A consumer example of such an item: eyeglasses. A friend of mine recently recommended that I check out an online eyeglass retailer that brings the fun and funky styles that I often consider to compliment my more traditional selections into a reasonable price range. Being practical, I rarely take a risk on an adventurous pair of glasses as I hate to tuck the money away in my drawer when I decide that I don’t like the “funky” pair after all.

My friend’s recommendation seemed like a great opportunity to venture into the world of fun eyeglass frames without the risk of paying a lot for the glasses only to find I don’t like them. The one caveat? I’d have to purchase my new specs online.

Curious about how one goes about shopping for eyeglasses online and being a veteran eyeglass wearer, I decided to check it out. Being a seasoned eyeglass wearer, I figured that I could easily navigate the selection of frames and find something I liked and that would look reasonably good on me based on past experience.What I discovered was a fantastic website that offered some very detailed filtering capability to help the online shopper find the frames that are most likely to suit their needs. For example, I created a filtered search that told the website to serve up all single vision, rectangular, women’s frames made out of any number of metals and offered in medium-sized full-rim, half-rim, and rimless styles. I also selected that I preferred to see pairs that offered styles with blues or browns in them. I was completely thrilled with my results, especially since I could upload a picture of my mug and “try on” the pairs that caught my eye virtually.

As I scrolled down, I ran into some very rounded, yet rectangular shaped lenses. Since the overall shape was rectangular, I dismissed the odd roundedness and continued scrolling. About halfway down the page I happened upon a rimless pair of glasses with COMPLETELY round lenses. Think Harry Potter or Steve Jobs round. Here’s a screen shot of the sneaky, round-lensed glasses.

E Commerce Filtering Only As Effective as Your Data Round Rimless Lenses

What in the world are these round lensed spectacles doing in my search for rectangular shaped lenses? 

The answer is simple–the glasses with round lenses should have been filtered out by my filtering selections. Unfortunately, for some reason, they weren’t. While the pair with rounded rectanglular lenses made sense in my search results, the completely rounded pair did not. Somewhere in the data for these glasses, they were listed as rectangular. While I’m not sure how, it’s clear that they were.

The E-Commerce Take Away

Filtering is a powerful ecommerce tool that can help your customer quickly identify the products she is looking for. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your search engine is only as powerful as the data that has been supplied to it. (The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” comes to mind here.) With this in mind, it’s essential that any organization with an ecommerce presence have clean and accurate product data in their data tables. Without it, the most powerful of search and filtering functionality won’t perform as expected.

To learn more about how to leverage the power of your B2B ecommerce site, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.