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Best practices for web site inventory search functionality

jfriedman

Noob
Mar 30, 2011
3
0
1
First Name
Joshua
My own hunches and biases aside, I am more familiar with vehicle detail page content dos and don'ts (photos/videos, descriptions, equipment, calls-to-action) that I've read in forums and heard in presentations at conferences. But I am unfamiliar with any authoritative dos and don'ts, when it comes to inventory search... whether on the home page or on search results pages. Most sites have sort criterium (price - low to high, model - A to Z, etc.) and filters (type, year, model, color, trim, body style, etc.). Some sites have natural language search bars.

How do we make it easy for shoppers to search for inventory on a web site, desktop or mobile?

What research can anyone share that's more than just opinion?
 
Mar 17, 2014
21
12
8
First Name
Carl
I was pretty surprised that the speed of vehicle results made such a big difference. We recently made our inventory pages update instantly and measured the change in user behavior. We saw:
  • 33.64% increase in used car filter usage
  • 20.16% increase in new car filter usage
  • People went deeper into the results.
  • Page 2 visits increased by 37%
  • Page 3 visits increased by 55%
  • etc
This was for 26 days of data in January compared YoY.
Filter usage and page depth visits were calculated on a per visitor basis, not based on total visits.

There was also a 10.87% increase in the conversion rate but I don't think 26 days is enough time to accurately measure a conversion rate change.

You can see how fast the filters are here:
The page loads very quickly and filters, pages and text searches return results instantly.
 
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Reactions: Rick Buffkin

jfriedman

Noob
Mar 30, 2011
3
0
1
First Name
Joshua
Yes, very fast -- what filters are your shoppers using, from most to least often?

Also, on our site, the past 60 days, 75% of sessions with at least one VDP page were on mobile/tablet; only 25% of sessions with at least one VDP page were on desktop. So, we know desktop search is not our main channel. But we still want it to be as good as it can be.
 
Mar 17, 2014
21
12
8
First Name
Carl
Someone else just asked the same question about the most used filters. The list is quite different for new vs used. For new vehicles, we have:
  1. Model selection
  2. Pagination
  3. Trim
  4. Bodystyle
For used vehicles, we have:
  1. Pagination
  2. Make
  3. Price
  4. Model
  5. Bodystyle
* Note: this is only for 26 days of data.

Your mobile percentage is a little higher than what I normally see but that's good you're thinking of the mobile website experience too.
 
  • 1
Reactions: Rick Buffkin

csabatka1

Refresher
Jan 7, 2013
145
72
28
First Name
Chad
I've done a ton of testing on filters, homepage query, and search bar to see how customers get into the inventory and how they use them when on the SRP. I have a rollout in the next couple days which will track this even further and the order they were applied.

My latest math around Aug/Sept of last year and a year worth of data across 20ish sites:
83% use advanced query, 15% use navigation to get into inventory from homepage, and 2% use manual typed search.

From that query on homepage:
Used-Make-Model - 19.14%
New or Used - Make - Model - 9.68%
New-Make-Model - 9.25%
New-Make-Model-Trim - 7.14%
New-Make-Bodystyle - 4.99%
Used-Make - 4.97%
Used-Bodystyle - 4.66%
Used-Model-Trim - 3.78%

Of the typed search 96% had a model in the search (just model or make-model). 38% had more than 1 keyword (make+model, year+model, etc).


From SRPs
If truck - #1 filter applied is bodystyle (like SuperCrew), #2 is 4WD
If sort order is other than low to high - 92.3% switched at some point to low to high order
#1 filter applied to SUV/Crossover search is 3rd Row seating option

Here the filters in order as applied:
Salesclass (new or used)
Make
Vehicle Class (Car, Truck, SUV/Crossover, Van)
Model
Bodystyle (SuperCrew,Quad Cab)
Trim
....
Price
Options (3rd row seating, backup camera)
......
......
......
Ext Color
Drivetrain
Vehicle Location or Dealership (multiple cities on the SRP)

Fuel Type (on 3/4 and 1 tons)
Hwy MPG or City MPG --- basically zero