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5 Ways to Build a Better Product Discovery Experience for eCommerce

eCommerce Best Practices
UX and Digital Marketing
Sarah HillelSarah Hillel | July 20, 2020

In eCommerce, like all things in life, change is constant. But the difference today compared with a decade ago is that online shopping is now a much more dynamic space. Technology advancements and new shopping behaviors due to the COVID-19 pandemic are rapidly transforming digital commerce and product discovery.

The number of online shoppers is increasing, but so are the brands competing for their attention, wallet, and loyalty. So, retailers and brands have to do what it takes to stand out. One critical way to do so is through a stellar product discovery experience. In this post, we’ll share five ways to build and deploy a product discovery experience that delights customers.

What is product discovery?

Product discovery is the process of enabling shoppers to find the items they’re looking for and exposing them to new items they may want. It happens throughout the shopping journey. But often, it begins with a product search. Let’s look at some stats from ClickZ and Catalyst: 

  • When consumers know what they want, product discovery and the start of online shopping journeys are split between a retailer (50%) and a search engine (50%) 
  • The most popular starting point is Google (46%), followed by Amazon (20%)
  • When consumers are not sure or don’t have an idea of what they want, most (62%) eCommerce journeys start with a search engine and only 38% start with a retailer

Product discovery is becoming one of the most significant elements of the eCommerce experience. When done right, it can provide brands with more opportunities to increase conversion, average order value, and customer loyalty.

woman shopping, product discovery

How to create a better product discovery experience

In a digital-first world, customers can search for products using any touchpoint that is most relevant and convenient for them at a given time. This means that product discovery continues to happen at every stage of the customer journey—not only at the start. 

So, how do you ensure that your customers can uncover products that matter to them when you have thousands of items?

1) Pay attention to navigation, filters, and search

Your navigation set-up is your customers’ map of your website. It not only makes your products accessible but also presents your inventory in an organized way. Just look at how product discovery on Amazon works: The menu/navigation panel is overwhelming, however, it also ensures that customers on a product hunt can find what they’re looking for—from the most general to niche items. 

For customers who are not keen on using the menu navigation, the search is paramount. There are two key search capabilities that are must-haves for eCommerce sites. The first is text search with advanced features such as auto-complete, auto-suggest, spell check, and more. The second is visual search, which allows shoppers to find visually similar products by uploading an image.

In addition to navigation and search, filters also make a huge difference in the product discovery experience. They enable your customers to customize their search results using a variety of attributes such as price, size, color, and more. As a result, shoppers can easily zero in on products that they want. 

2) Keep your homepage dynamic with promos and social content

Your homepage is your online “window display.” It should not only catch the interest of your customers but also entice them into exploring more of your products. Just think about it: Customers who repeatedly see the same homepage content will probably think that you don’t have new products in your inventory. 

How can you improve the product discovery experience on your homepage? Keep it up to date with your latest products. If you don’t always have new products to showcase, no problem. You can instead create a feed with your latest shoppable social content and/or create trendy product collections with appealing promos and discounts.

woman checking out clothes, product discovery

3) Transform every page into a product discovery experience

Once customers are on an individual product page, it’s crucial to keep the product discovery experience going. 

Start by including multiple product images and even a video. Make sure to feature product shots from different angles and in the fashion industry, on different body types. Since social media is now a part of your customers’ daily lives, including user-generated content that features ‘real people’ using your products can increase relatability and provide powerful social proof. 

Encourage continuous discovery journeys by making product images dynamic and shoppable. With this feature, your customers can click on product images and explore any item that sparks their interest, and see visually similar items within your inventory, ensuring continued product discovery even when the initial item on the page isn’t quite right for them

Additionally, as your customers scroll down on your PDPs, keep product discovery going with personalized recommendations. Based on their browsing history, you can automatically recommend visually similar items, or offer them the option to “shop the look” displayed in the main product image. 

4) Create a holistic strategy that includes mobile and advertising efforts

Product discovery happens throughout the customer journey. In addition to making sure that your website is mobile-friendly, you also need to have tactics for bringing traffic to your site. Consider how many of your potential shoppers start their eCommerce journey on Google or Amazon. How can you guarantee that they find your products, go to your website to explore more, and make a purchase from your brand?

The key is to be present where your customers are, such as on desktop or mobile search engines, social media, and third-party retailers and marketplaces. Forrester shared that “customers cite Amazon as the No. 1 touchpoint for starting their shopping research” and that “marketers should look to promote their products for discovery on Amazon.”

Including Amazon in your product discovery strategy can provide you with more chances of showing your products to the right, high-intent shoppers. But it shouldn’t just be Amazon, you also must consider other marketplaces that are relevant to your vertical. To ensure you continue to drive traffic to your site, where you will have access to customer data and feedback, consider offering a limited product selection on these third-party marketplaces to unlock discovery while ensuring that shoppers have an added incentive to visit your website. 

Two women analyzing data on computer

5) Monitor, evaluate, and improve the product discovery experience with data

What is product discovery without personalization? It’s the most vital part of a seamless product discovery experience. To deliver a deeper level of personalized experiences that your customers will notice and love, you need data.

Many types of retail and customer data can help you understand your shoppers. In product discovery, the important ones are search queries, product page and image engagement, shopping cart abandonment, source of traffic, landing page conversion, and so forth.

In addition to analytics software, another way to gather and analyze data is through your product tags. When you assign detailed tags to your products, it not only allows you to collect data around popular attributes — such as a particular cut or color —  but also supports the overall product discovery experience. It’s the foundation of intelligent recommendations, textual and visual search results, and search engine optimized pages.

There you have it! Five robust ways to improve and build a better product discovery experience. Remember, you have to make it as easy as possible for your customers to find the products they’re looking for. By implementing these approaches, you’ll enable your shoppers to find and buy your products at the most opportune moment for them.


Sarah Hillel

Sarah Hillel

Sarah is the Global Events and Marketing Manager at Syte. From conception to evaluation, Sarah is passionate about delivering impactful events that enhance the organization's image and brand to client experience.

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