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I have a large catalogue of products which users can filter using a combination of attributes to find products that meet their needs. It's as efficient as you'd expect from any ecommerce store, so long as the user knows what they're looking for.

I want to create a feature which surfaces product for users who need a bit more inspiration. I want to create a sense of discovery - of finding hidden gems from within the huge choice of product. But how can a data driven product search have a sense of serendipity?

Does anyone have any ideas for how I might achieve this? Any examples of similar features?

Thanks.

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1 Answer 1

Here are some suggestions

  • Auto complete and suggested results in the search results: I assume your site has a search feature and you can use auto complete as well as suggested results to help users find what they are looking for. To quote this uxmag article

When users type in a search field, it’s nice to give them some suggested autocompleted searches, but it’s even better to show them some potential search results right then and there. Advanced suggested search results instantly provide users with images, category names, product details, and pricing without them having to click through to a search results page. enter image description here

  • As ethrbunny suggested, consider providing related options or suggestions based upon browsing history. This will help in upselling and crosselling content as long as the content shown is relevant to the user. To quote this smashing magazine article

Upselling and cross-selling is great for business. And, when implemented appropriately, they can be great for usability, too. Suggesting supplementary products is great for users who are looking for add-ons or accessories to the product they are viewing, while suggesting similar products is great for users who are searching for alternatives or substitutes.

If the user arrives on a product page that turns out not to match their criteria, they will either give up and abandon or look for alternatives or substitutes. Luckily, most users are patient in the beginning and opt for the latter, but they will quickly grow tired if the only way to browse alternatives is to go back to the overview list of products.

This is where suggesting similar products helps. By listing alternatives and substitutes directly on the product page, the user can go directly from one product to the next. This much richer display of information about the product keeps the user engaged on the page and close to the “Add to Cart” button and checkout process. Good suggestions of similar products also help the user find alternatives or substitutes across the website’s entire product catalog, not only easing the browsing experience but also enhancing product findability (and enabling cross-sectional navigation via breadcrumbs).

  • Allow the user to see his previously searched items : Users often shift between items while trying to find a match with regards to what they searched for and often my find something they like but they also want to check out further to see what is available.. Also they might want to compare two similar products to see how they match up. To quote the smashing magazine article

During testing, subjects often wanted to return to a previously visited item — sometimes to check whether certain features of the previous item were compatible with the new one, other times to compare two products before deciding on one to purchase

enter image description here

  • Provide options to users to find related accessories which went along with the product they are interested in. : This can be a significant upsell since a persons buying decision can be driven by the accessories available and the relative pricing and compatibility. Quoting a user study mentioned in this smashing magazine article

Finding a spare adapter for your laptop or buying a camera and matching case might sound like trivial tasks, but during testing, it turned out to be extremely difficult for subjects, who had a completion rate of only 35%. This means that 65% had to give up or, worse, ended up purchasing a product that they believed was compatible but was, in fact, not.

enter image description here

The subject above opened the camera page in a new tab, but even with the camera’s dimensions close at hand, finding a matching case proved to be tiresome, as he still had to open the page for the camera case, go to the specifications, locate the dimensions, compare it to the camera’s, and repeat this for every single case. After a few attempts he gave up, like 65% of the subjects.

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Thanks for the suggestions @Mervin - some useful ideas for enhancing the search journey. In particular, I can see that the suggested results feature could throw up some surprising and intriguing ideas. Appreciated. –  trbaldwin Nov 28 '13 at 18:46
    
@trbaldwin You could then mark it as the answer then :) –  Mervin Johnsingh Nov 28 '13 at 18:47

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