We all know that classic song “The Bare Necessities” from the 1967 Disney animated film, The Jungle Book, which reflects on the idea that all we need is the just the bare necessities of life in order to be happy. This life motto of getting back to the basics is meant to keep us all grounded, and has certainly been talked about as an important theme in the retail circuit over the last few years. Getting back to the roots of retail means really knowing your customers, anticipating what they really want, and helping them to find what they are looking for before it’s too late.
With that being said, however, retailers today still need to go the extra mile in order to achieve a roots-based, “mom and pop” retail reality. Focusing on evolving these core components of the shopping experience can be a real struggle for online retailers who must also develop new capabilities to meet new shopper expectations. Investment is often funneled to the tough priorities of the moment, creating scenarios where crucial shopper tools (like site search and navigation) are left under-optimized…often for years!
In a recent Kissmetrics survey, 100 people were asked to describe their search behaviors when looking for specific products online. Their responses showed that over half (60%) prefer to use on-page navigation over search to find specific products online, while 47% of respondents prefer to filter down to specific product details (size, color, etc.). In the survey report, Kissmetrics theorizes that one possible reason for the lack of preference for on-site search engines is that many shoppers don’t expect those sites to be as intelligent as filtering down products manually from all available choices.
Excuse me (and the rest of the Edgecase team) as we quite literally cringed after reading this data. Site search and navigation are still vital tools customers use and they must keep pace with evolving shopper usability habits and vernacular.
It’s clear that so many retailers today are missing a huge opportunity by not offering their customers a better and smarter way to help them find the right products they are looking for when shopping online.
The Edgecase team has identified a few best practices to help retailers evolve their navigation:
Filters are similar to a customer being able to tell a store associate what they care about and what attributes they are looking for in a certain product – make sure the words (i.e. product data) are there to match the modern shopper’s natural vocabulary.
Not every shopper’s decision is black and white. Provide options for shoppers to denote their preferences as “must have” or “nice to have” to view a more constrained or more broad set of product options.
Most often, each category on a site includes products that are quite different from one another. So why the same filter options on each category? Make sure shoppers are given the most relevant and useful filters that will help them truly differentiate products and find the ones that best fit their needs.
Not every shopper can tell you exactly what they are looking for, but they can point to it when they see it. Provide visual shopping options to help shoppers visually identify what they’re looking for and easily see “more like this.”
Navigation is such a major component of a retailer’s site and can make or break a possible conversion and win loyal customers. One of the basic elements of retail is to make it easy for customers to find the products they want – offer them more than just the bare necessities on your site.