Published on September 17, 2013 No fuss search-filters boost online shop conversion
Product Filters are a powerful marketing tool for any shop owner. What makes them powerful is that they put your customers in control of navigating through your website, by letting them see just the products in your store that meet their own search criteria. This means they don’t need to know or understand the particulars of your category to find the products they want to buy. It also means they will be more engaged with your online shop as filters effectively give your customers a personalised search experience.
With research studies showing that shopping cart abandonment rates are consistently over 60% in online stores, everything that you do to help customers find the products that they really what faster and easier will increase the chances that they complete checkout and buy from your online store. Visual Website Optimiser report that implementing filters in a store with a large number of categories increased their store revenue in the store by 76% as a result of the change.
What is a product filter?
Product filters are also called layered navigation. They are website search tools that can sit either across the top of a page or down the side of the page. Filters help your customers shop by their own search criteria – e.g. shop by price, shop by colour, shop by brand, shop by product feature.
Filters mean customers don’t have to be restricted to browsing products in your store category by category. Customers can select a combination of the features and criteria that suit their needs to produce very specific searches in your store. Filters are particularly good for businesses that have a large number of categories, for complex products (like printers or printer toner cartridges) or many different variations or uses for the same product.
Filters v Advanced Search
Filters are very similar to a website’s advanced search facility with one main difference: filters start with all of the possible products in the category or store and remove from the list ones that don’t match the filter criteria, whereas an advanced search takes a list of criteria and shows the results. Filters can therefore be beneficial for a customer who is searching and isn’t sure to start with what the product range looks like, as they will see a sample of products and see how changing criteria gets closer or further away from what they want to achieve.
Most filters use a technology called Ajax to do the search and return results which to the end user means that the page doesn’t reload. This enhances the browsing experience for customers as they are more engaged in the search process and feel like they’re more in control. It is often easier to see all of the possible options in a sidebar menu list than in a series of tick boxes in an advanced search so this is another reason why filters are often considered to be a superior form of navigation to an advanced search.
Benefits of using product filters
Filters are your online salesperson. In a shop where the selection of products is overwhelming, you’ll normally look to a salesperson to provide you with input and insight as to whether a product fits your specific situation. Filters can help customers make these decisions themselves and therefore increasing the chance that they’ll buy from you.
Other benefits of filters are:
- Products can be organised with filters in a different way from your formal category structure. This means you can ensure your website can match the way different people might search for them.For example your products may have sizes but your filters can organise products based on body shapes or for kids products based on their appropriate age group. If you have a single product that targets different customer groups, using filters can help customers find the product no matter what their particular interest or use, regardless of your store’s pre-defined category structure.
- Products can be found easily e.g. all products storewide or in a particular store category within a particular price bracket
- It’s easy for people to find things on their own terms, which is great for gift buying e.g. search red products between $5 and $10 or search for products based on a particular hobby or interest. This is useful if your target customers are not familiar with the product they are buying because they are buying it for someone else.
Examples of customers using product filters in an online store include:
- Home Electronics stores – searching by screen size, brand or particular product feature
- Fashion stores – searching by colour swatch to find products just in a particular colour or style
- Wine stores – shop by combinations of grape, age, price bracket, region, food complements or flavour to get just the wine you want
- Toy stores – searching by the appropriate age group of products
- Computer stores – searching by tablet size, operating system, WiFi or plug type rather than browsing by just laptop or tablet and needing to read the ins and outs of each product specification
Traps to avoid when selecting a cart with filters
The filtering systems between shopping cart software products are not always comparable, and a range of potential issues can exist between shopping cart products. When deciding whether a filtering system is right for your business, consider the following things:
- Can the same product have different values for each filter attribute/specification?
For example, if you are filtering on appropriate age group, can your filter show a product for two different age groups? or for both boys and girls? If you are filtering on the use of a product for pets, can your filter show a product for both cats and dogs?
- Is there an easy way to undo filter criteria?
For example, if you make an incorrect selection and choose multiple sizes is it easy enough to remove the option you’ve just selected and see the wider criteria again?
- Is the filter configured so that not too many results per page are shown?The appeal of using a search filter for an end customer is to take what could seem like an overwhelming selection of potential products that suit their situation and simplify them down into a shortlist of products that they might actually want to buy. If the search criteria filter is not paginated you run the risk of overly complicating things or having the search filter take too long to return results (leading to them abandoning the shopping experience)
- Is the filter administration easy to use?
Filters are hugely beneficial to customers, but if they are too hard for you to use, then what’s the point? For example, if you have to re-add your filters every time you make a change to your shopping cart, or you can’t easily set up new criteria and add it to the products or filters, then you are asking for a lot of headaches that you just don’t need.
How Ozcart™ makes setting up product filters easy
Ozcart has a simple three step process for setting up product filters:
First, choose the product feature choices (e.g. colour, style, size)
Second, assign values of those features to each product
Third, create a filter and turn it on
In Ozcart websites, products can have multiple filter attributes, so that if a product matches more than one thing you can set it to show up for all of those filter choices. For example, if a product is Unisex you can set it to show up for searches on both boys and girls. Or for products that match multiple sports teams or colours. Ozcart shopping cart software also allows you to set up colour swatches for filter items so customers can click on them directly to see the products that match – great for items like sunglasses, clothing or toys for a particular colour.
Filters are an essential part of an advanced marketing kit, but need not be hard to set up and maintain.
Careful planning and a good understanding of what your customers will be searching for, will help you help your customers find the products they want and increase the conversion rate in your store. So there is more checking out and less abandoned shopping carts. Just one more way Ozcart makes it easier to grow an online business.