E Commerce Oops Less Than Effective Product FilteringLast week I confessed in a blog post that I am not particularly athletic when I shared with you that there are no mulligans in ecommerce. Instead, I told you that my skills lean toward all things creative. Well, after some consideration, I realized that maybe that wasn’t quite true. I don’t like all things creative. I must admit that I am not a scrap booker–or “scrapper” as they are often fondly called.

I love the idea of scrapbooking, but the truthis, I’m just not that structured. Most of my creativity happens in a somewhat organic (and often messy) hurry. However, I recently picked up a Smash Book, which is, for all intents and purposes, an almost-scrap-book for those of us who can’t commit to hours with the die-cut machine and a fleet of rubber stamps. I’m thrilled to get started on mine since the idea behind the smash book is that it can be as simple as you like (just “smash it in”) or as detailed as you can stand. (Check out the examples they show off. They are pretty amazing. Anyway, I digress.)

So, not being a scrapbooker but wanting to personalize the cover of my Smash Book in some way–preferably with some sort of metal embellishement where I could slide a piece of paper that says “journey” or my name or something inside to label the book. I thought I would visit the destination of destinations within the world of scrapbookers and see if I could find just such an embellishment. Of course, being a staunch supporter of all things ecommerce, I hopped online to find the perfect bit of bling for the cover of my Smash Book. I landed on the ArchiversAnnex.com site.

Here’s the hitch: I have no idea what this little bit of blingy goodness might be called. I don’t really know a brad from a die cut and while I can make an educated guess, I was hoping that someone in the know would simply show me the way. In short, I hoped that Archivers would get my non-scrapbooking-self up to speed. Not so much.

E Commerce Oops Less Than Effective Product Filtering Navigation Close UpWhen I landed on the Archivers ecommerce site, I was utterly disappointed to find that their product filtering only went one level deeper than their left navigational categories. Down the left hand side of the page was a series of high level categories such as “Albums and Refills” and “Stamping.”

I started by clicking on category called “Embellishments” and was then presented with a short list of different types of scrap booking embellishments. Not knowing one from the other in any definitive sense, I clicked around a bit and finally settled on the sub category of “Die Cuts.”

When I clicked on the Die Cuts link, I was shown all of the different die cut options that Archiver’s sells–all 54 pages worth. Unfortunately, there was no clear way to filter the results again into like groups (e.g. cardstock die cuts, clear acrylic die cuts, metal die cuts, etc.) or to limit the results by price, size or suggested use. I was simply daunted by the volume of die cuts to consider without any sense of how to effectively sift through the results.

In a perfect world, I would have had the opportunity to sort the products in the “Die cuts” sub-category into groups such as type of material the die cut is made of, the color of the die cut, the color of the printing on the die cut, or some other feature.

Unable to effectively filter the results, I decided to try the search bar on the Archiver’s site instead. Unfortunately, it was rendered completely useless because I had no idea what the little piece of bling I was looking for was actually called. The searches I tried pulled results that had nothing to do with what I was looking for. I was stumped. And frustrated. (A “Beginners Start Here” link would have been a great help too but that is a whole different blog post.) Ultimately, I went to the Smash Book site where I learned that what I was seeking was actually a label holder. Who knew?

The Take Away

As an organization with an ecommerce presence, I encourage you to take a close look at the SKU population on your site. Is your site navigation set up in such a way that a visitor can easily filter out the results she isn’t looking for? Whether your SKU count is large or small, it’s essential to remember that some of your site visitors will not have the products name or product number available to use when searching. Some visitors may not even know the actual name of the item they are looking for (ahem, me). Help them locate the item they wish to purchase by providing intuitive filtering options that effectively limit results to those that best meet their needs

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