Product Discovery — what exactly is this?
Remember the times, when you are searching for a specific product on some e-commerce sites/apps and you get frustrated because you get everything possible in your search result except for the product you are searching for!! Well,You get the hint now.
Something similar happened with me too. So, I thought, I’ll share my experience of searching a product on various retail e-commerce platforms.
I recently bought a new phone — Motorola Moto Z Play ( yes I fell for its Moto mods). I placed my order on Flipkart. The delivery experience was awesome. A phone stocked in Chennai is shipped next day to Mumbai; surely, they deserve a brownie point for that.
Naturally, the next thing I was looking for was a back case for my phone. That’s where things turn interesting.
Before we proceed, you should note that Motorola devices are named quite similar to one another. But that should not be a reason that I get inaccurate results when I search for the item.
Anyways, moving forward, let’s consider Flipkart.
I used the search term — “Moto Z Play Back Cover”
I got a meager 38 result out of which first 4–5 lines showed fairly accurate results –
However, after scrolling down 3–4 rows, this is how my result list looks like— Covers for Moto X Play!!!
I tried searching using expression — “Moto Z Play Back Case”
There’s a surprising increase in search result from 38 to 1942. Surely, the association between search terms is quite low!
I scrolled down through the products. After around 25 products, my result list is again spammed by “Super Cases Back Cover for Moto X Play” and in big time.
This blasphemy continued till Page 4.
However, there’s a twist. After page 5, I start getting accurate results. What surprises me more is the fact that these results are not displayed when I search for “Moto Z Play Back Cover” (even though the results have similar expression as their title).
Agreed, the search ranking algorithm might be working on tags or description, but it’s hard to believe that the algorithm would leave out on such necessary details and jeopardize an important aspect of customer satisfaction; when it is a well known fact that a normal customer views only few products available at the top of the results.
Plus, displaying results pertaining to Moto X Play when the user is searching for items related to Moto Z Play!! Flipkart, you ought to do something! Your search algorithms and product ranking algorithm really need an overhaul.
Both the search term — “Moto Z Play Back Case” and “Moto Z Play Back Cover” fetches similar and accurate results.
Also, the number of search result is impressive (10000 ). I scrolled down to view around 600 items and found the results to be fairly accurate.
However, what pissed me off, is the so called “Featured” row, that contains items that are utterly useless for me and were miles apart in relation to what I searched for.
To further add to the frustration, this featured row reappears after every 4 rows I scroll (or after few items in case of app).
Again, both the search term fetches similar results; but, I found result for “Moto Z Play Back Case” cleaner than “Moto Z Play Back Cover”.
With the latter search, you do find few related items appearing on the list.
One could view the phone as well as the Moto mods appearing in the search result list on second page, i.e. item 17–32 of 9185 results.
I personally wouldn’t mind such closely related items appearing in my result list.
However, there is a certain improvements that I would want. Instead of restricting 16 results on a single page and then have user to click on next page button, I would want the list to populate as I scroll down.
Next, let’s take an item that has a tendency to be searched frequently.
“Brown Formal Women’s Shoes”
Here’s what I get on Flipkart —
Quite a mixed result of shoes with flats and few men shoes in between..!??
With Amazon, I got mixed results consisting of other related items appearing apart from the searched product. However, what is not acceptable is the list consisting of men’s shoes when I’ve strictly specified women shoes.
But here’s an odd ball. Snapdeal went totally out of the way with no single women shoe appearing in the search result!
Certainly the results were a bit disappointing in above cases; however, for commonly search terms, the results were quite smooth.
Finally, have a look at this comparison —
P.S. — For all the above considerations, the search results are based on direct search expression (considering majority of the user do that) rather than selecting the suggested categories that pops up in drop down while typing in the search box.