Attraqt Product Search: Standardizing product data for a guided navigation

Knowledgebase Articles: Attraqt Product Search: Standardizing product data for a guided navigation

This article outlines the guidelines that need to be followed when enabling the guided navigation functionality on your website. It includes some tips as well as some points to take into consideration when structuring/populating your product data.

See also Locayta Product Search

What is Guided navigation?

Guided navigation functionality combines powerful search and merchandising technologies to help customers find exactly what they are looking for, quickly and easily. As a navigational aid, guided navigation can result in significantly improved customer satisfaction, higher checkout conversion rates, and increased average basket sizes.

Guided navigation works by allowing customers to quickly distil a shortlist of products with features that match their specified requirements. Using a parametrically-based search methodology, guided navigation puts customers in the driver’s seat: from a list of hundreds of similar products, they can define and locate exactly what they are looking for in a just a few mouse clicks. 

For example in a search that yields hundreds of results, guided navigation provides multiple refine options enabling the customer to drill down to the product they want.

Guided navigation can be implemented in one of two ways: 

1.    Guided navigation on a keyword search results page only
2.    Guided navigation on a keyword search results page and have it replacing a standard category/brand navigation on a category/brand landing page

If you choose to opt for option 2, you may wish to retain some top level category navigation and have a guided navigation kicking in two or three category levels down.

The Swifty platform team recommends taking it in steps when switching over from standard category/brand navigation to a guided navigation on your website.

It is sometimes best to start using guided navigation for a keyword search results page only as this will give you time to adapt your product data – structure and values. In addition to this, you will learn what does and doesn’t work for your site. Much of the product data on your website will have to be reworked so a gradual approach is often the most sensible way.

Refine options:

Guided navigation can be refined by the following parameters:
1)    Price
2)    Weight
3)    Brand
4)    Category
5)    Any product custom attribute
6)    Any product choice list option value


Product custom attributes vs. Categories

Essentially, a category is where a product lives and a product custom attribute is how a product can be defined. For example, a product can live in multiple categories (e.g. Television, Best Sellers, Top 10) but it can only ever be associated with one custom attribute value (e.g. product type=”TV”, screen type=”LCD” or “Plasma”).

Product custom attributes

One of the most important points to remember when you’re thinking about implementing a guided navigation is how you define your product custom attributes and their values. You need to be concise but at the same time not go into too much detail.

For example, if you have a product custom attribute “Product type”, having “volumising shampoo” and “moisturising shampoo” as its values is too detailed, but “shampoo” encompasses all the types of shampoo and would be appropriate for a product type value.

Values “volumising” and “moisturising” can be stored against another product custom attribute “Cleansing and Conditioning type” and this custom attribute can then be used to define product characteristics not only for shampoo products, but also for shower gels, conditioners, etc.

The product data contained in the custom attributes is that your customers would refine their search by.

Different product types can have a different set of product custom attributes. For example, a “Flat screen TV” may have the following product custom attributes: resolution, inches, dimensions, and any other related properties of a flat screen TV. A “moisturiser” product will have completely different product custom attributes, for example: moisturiser type, skin type and application type.

You may have as many product custom attributes/values defining a product as you like, but we recommend not exceeding a total of 50 across the website for a guided navigation to work effectively. The recommended rule for a front end display is no more than 5-7 filters appearing for a customer to choose from and a list of possible variations for each filter ideally should not exceed 10-15 values.


Defining product custom attributes

Creating these product custom attributes can sometimes be confusing. The best way to approach it is by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes and thinking logically about what they would search for when they come to your website.

Once you have identified this, you will be able to decide which product custom attributes will be suitable for each product and you will be able to effectively define your product types.


Product choice list option values – size and colour 

The Choice List option is most appropriate if you wish to allow a customer to select a particular preference relating to the variations of the product, such as size or colour.
 
If you would like your customers to be able to filter by size or colour and you store this information in a product choice list option field, a filter based on this field should be created.

There is an option to configure a filter to have a Pictogram display type. This means that the filter options will be displayed as images instead of text which makes a refinement by colour for example, a more visual experience for the customers. For more information please read the Product Search: Working with Pictograms article.


Tips & Tricks:

The most important fact to note is that the product search results will completely depend on the quality of your website product database.

Here are a few tips to help you when defining search parameters.

1)    Ensure the filter you created can yield at least 10 search results (not refine options) in the first few refines; otherwise the site search can appear empty.

2)    When creating product custom attributes, ensure that each of them has a unique name. For example if you have a "hat type" and a "bag type", name them so the meaning will be understandable on its own. Otherwise you could end up in a situation where you will get a refine parameter called ‘type’ twice.

3)    The data in any indexed fields used as filters is very important:

-    Spelling mistakes or typos will yield multiple results, for example: “blue” and “blu” will appear as 2 separate filter options.
-    Using values that will only yield few results is not advisable as the site will seem empty if there are multiple results with only 1 product in each.
-    Try to limit the number of values variations for a product custom attribute if it’s configured as a filter because a customer may end up being presented with a very long list of filter values to choose from. 

4)    Filters by custom attributes and product options are created based on the list of available attribute/option names. If there is a misspelling in a name of a custom attribute/option, it will appear as a separate source name in the dropdown for a filter configuration. If a filter is created based on a correctly spelled attribute/option name, products associated with a misspelled attribute/option name won’t be returned by search when this filter is applied.

Restrictions:

1)    Guided navigation cannot be used to return the full category tree, only the list of all categories where the item is assigned to. The list of categories will not be displayed based on a category hierarchy.

2)    Guided navigation returns product search results after every refine; therefore if a guided navigation section is added to a category/brand landing page, a crumb trail is only available when a customer lands on that page without applying any further filtering. Once a customer starts applying filters, he’s taken to a product search results page where a crumb trail is not available.

3)    If a custom attribute field contains a list of comma separated values, they will be indexed as separate values. For example, “blue, white, red” will be indexed as 3 separate values (blue, white and red) and not as one string. This affects the list of available options returned for a filter during the search. If you use commas in some of your custom attribute field values, please review the values before configuring the field as a filter to avoid any unexpected results. Please note, each value in a comma separated list should not exceed 200 characters for it to be indexed for search.
 
See also Filtering Products by Price/Weight

 

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