What is Faceted Search?

For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about how Product Intelligence is going to redefine and shape the shopping experiences of the future. In today’s post, I want to introduce one of the myriad scenarios that Product Intelligence can enable – faceted search.

What is faceted search? Everyone is familiar with the filtering/navigation menus usually found on the left side on the product listings page of a retailer’s website. When we are able to narrow down products based on different filters, we are doing a faceted search. It is one of the key elements of the web user experience.

One of the components of Product Intelligence is Catalog Intelligence. It comprises of relatively unchanging product information such as attributes, features, brand, images, descriptions, tags, facets, specifications etc. This rich level of information enables consumers to find the product that they are looking for, if it is presented in the right way. Price is no longer the primary attribute driving a sale. Enabling faceted search on websites is quintessential to product discovery.

Let’s look at an example. Say I’m looking for hypoallergenic and fragrance-free baby wipes. I start looking on The category path navigation leads me to Baby -> Diapering -> Wipes and Warmers. There are a 129 products under that sub-category on the website. As you can see, there are some self-explanatory filtering options on the left. But are they comprehensive enough?

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Here’s where a retailer might lose a customer. I’m looking for a certain product type and the navigation system isn’t letting me get to it quickly. The product does exist.

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Here’s are the details from one of the Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes. It is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and made of cotton fiber. For a consumer that cares about these different facets, there needs to be a way to get to the product faster on the website.

What if a consumer is accessing your website on their mobile phone? The user experience there needs to be even more intuitive and customized. For a product such as baby wipes, the package quantity is also an important feature that could be highlighted through a faceted search. Every parent’s needs are different.

Retailers might want to ask themselves, “Is my website/mobile app optimized to get consumers to the right product in the fastest way possible?” They also need to know the different product attributes that consumers care about under specific categories, and that goes way beyond price. Once this is established, the next step is to ensure that the product information is comprehensive and that the ecommerce platform being used has the capability to integrate this kind of search.

These are challenging but exciting times. Are you ready?

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