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I work at an e-commerce company which sells replacement parts, we carry thousands of products which fall into several categories & subcategories and at the same time, fit different brand, model and version items.

Currently the only way for a user to find any part he needs is to provide the brand, model and version of the item he has using a set of selection boxes. After that, he is taken to a page with the list of all the categories, and then after clicking one of the categories, he sees a list of all the parts that match what he was looking for.

There is no other way to navigate the site, there is no link to the categories or subcategories on the home page.

Would this have any impact on the purchase decision of the users? Would the current navigation flow (via select boxes) give the users a "weird" experience and reduce the change that they place an order?

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Have you looked at the site statistics to see what the drop out rate is, and where it's happening? It would be good to know how your target customers purchase your products. Do they almost always have Brand, Model, Version information on hand when they're using your web site? –  Jung Lee Jan 21 at 1:16
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Yes, they always have Brand, Model and Version at hand. –  Ox3 Jan 21 at 2:49
    
Yes, certainly it can affect sales. –  DA01 Jan 21 at 2:51

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It could have a massive effect on sales.

Users can't buy what they can't find. And some users prefer searching, others browsing, and others faceted search like the one you offer. You clearly ignore the former two types and only account for the latter.

By not offering browsing, you are also miss on discovery - it is often a business goal to show what they do, and what products they sell.

Not offering a simple search function is also a problem - what if there's a unique part id (similar to an ISBN) that users wish to search for?

In the current system you force users to enter 3 pieces of data, before they get to see another long list of options. Are you sure you can't make life easier to your customers?

And what if someone hasn't got all the details you require them to provide?

In addition, what if a company only has one model and one version? Wouldn't it be nice if when a user types the company name, the search result show all products from that company, and since there's only one, users can simply click on it.

In short, there is high likelihood that supporting more ways to find items, and improving the current system will yield higher sales.

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Thank you for the great reply. The main concern is that by allowing the users to discover by adding intermediate pages that could have a negative impact on SEO (pagerank dilution) –  Ox3 Jan 21 at 2:48
    
Pagerank is calculated for individual pages, not for entire websites. Adding more (useful) pages isn't going to somehow leech pagerank from your existing pages. –  Racheet Jan 22 at 17:36
    
It is known that users like to search. Allowing feasibility in search refinements and the like. –  Majo0od Jan 22 at 18:02
    
@Racheet: I know, what I mean was dilution of the few pagerank that is passed between pages via internal links. It's linking to several internal pages vs. link to a few internal pages. –  Ox3 Jan 23 at 2:37

Small changes to the way things are organised on a site, both in where they are placed in the hierarchy and how they are labeled, make big differences to sales.

A well known site I worked on the UK saw a significant improvements in sales by reorganising how high tech items where organised and how game consoles where labeled.

A good Information Architect is worth their weight in gold for a large ecommerce site.

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