When you use Google, you almost always find relevant results for your search query. There are a lot of things going on in the background that make Google results so uncannily accurate but the average shopper doesn’t spend any time thinking about this. They bring their search results expectations from Google to your site and woe unto you if you disappoint them.
What does auto-applying filters have to do with customer satisfaction?
The quickest way to find anything on the internet is through search and that’s why the search bar is the most used element on e-commerce sites. Let’s use the example of a customer named Jonah.
Jonah comes in looking for a t-shirt so he duly enters the term ‘t-shirt’ into the search bar. Due to the broadness of the term he gets some 800 results so he refines his search term to ‘red t-shirt’. He expects you to display only red t-shirts in the search results. The color red should be automatically applied as a filter to all search results.
Failing to do this and mixing red and blue t-shirts will leave Jonah supremely annoyed at you. It also gives him the impression that your search algorithm is substandard or worse, it doesn’t work. If you can’t give your customers relevant results, they’ll go to a site that can.
Other features that customers might include in search terms:
Size – Jonah might search for XL t-shirts. In that case only return results containing t-shirts in that size.
Material – If Jonah uses the search term ‘silk t-shirt’, you have no business including cotton t-shirts in your search results.
Price – If Jonah searches for a 50-dollar t-shirt he wouldn’t object much anything costing between $45 and $55. If it’s a 500-dollar t-shirt then $450 to $550 is an acceptable range.
Brand – ‘Louis Vuitton t-shirt’, ‘Zara t-shirt’, and so on.
Style/format – ‘V-neck t-shirt’, ‘long-sleeved t-shirt’, ‘muscle t-shirt’ and such.
How to implement feature search
The best way of implementing feature search is indexing all your product features. That way, if any of them appears in the search box, it can be automatically added as a filter on the search results. This speeds up your search algorithm by sparing it the hassle of having to crawl through every inch of every product listing.
Customers might also include multiple features in a search query. Jonah could search for a ‘black XL silk t-shirt’. In such a case, all the descriptive features should be automatically applied as filters.