Faceted Search

Faceted search is an eCommerce technique that improves your brand’s search functions by enabling multiple dimensions (facets) and filters to narrow down a product selection to the most relevant results. It helps customers sift through extensive inventories based on specific details such as price, color, style, brand, or occasion, among others.

It improves product discovery because it displays every available option as well as pertinent product information to customers. The descriptive filters also enable shoppers to gain a better understanding of the SKUs in your inventory.

Faceted search is also referred to as faceted browsing or navigation.

A screenshot of search filtering on White Rose WR
White Rose’s faceted search helps shoppers easily narrow down results to the most relevant products.

Why Is It Important?

Faceted search is essential to brands because it optimizes the user experience and brings customers closer to purchasing. When you have thousands of products, it can be challenging to find the right item in a timely fashion. If a shopper has to go through multiple pages to find a desired item, it can lead to frustration and prompt customers to leave your site. With faceted search, shoppers can sort through specific attributes to make shopping less overwhelming and quickly learn how to navigate your catalog to easily uncover the most relevant items. The process becomes intuitive because the results already reflect users’ individual preferences. When customers face less friction (because multiple searches are no longer necessary), they are more likely to purchase.

Here are some best practices to implement for faceted search on your website:

  • Ensure product tags are detailed and organized – By standardizing your product tags, you can manage thousands of SKUs and show the most relevant items. Enabling visual AI also improves product tagging because it can identify the most granular attributes from product images. Search queries will return with high-quality results even when a customer has a limited vocabulary.
  • Employ product-specific facets – The filters you use should be relevant to the product category. For example, sizes are not uniform across different items. Your data should lend an understanding of how customers engage with specific products and help you focus on the most useful filters for different items. Note: There is a limit on how many facets you can use effectively, or else you can overwhelm shoppers. Read more about choosing the right facets here.
  • Indicate the number of items on filters – By showing how many products are contained in each facet, brands can manage customer expectations and guide shoppers effectively along the search process.
  • Do not display filters with empty results – Avoid frustrating customers with no results after they’ve done the work of filtering through attributes. This can easily prompt them to jump to another brand. However, if it’s inevitable, make sure to provide guidance or possible next steps that shoppers can do to continue their shopping journey and prevent them from completely abandoning your site.
  • Use images as filters – Your customers won’t always know the right words to describe the product/s they have in mind. Make it easier by utilizing visual filters that group your products based on shape, size, orientation, and more.

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