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Searching for meaning(ful results)

By Eduardo Oliveira
Eduardo Oliveira
Striving to find elegant solutions to complex problems. Product and experimentation enthusiast with way too many Nike sneakers.
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Searching for meaning(ful results)
Moving the needle on product discoverability is hard work. People’s online journeys today are scattered across devices, moments and intentions, their behaviours are a reflection of the millions of tiny interactions they have with their devices every day. When you add people’s love of fashion into the mix, it becomes very hard to interpret whether someone is repeatedly looking at the newest collection from a designer because they’re intent on purchasing, or just because their favourite fashion influencer has been raving about it and they can’t quite figure out why.

Our data is the reflection of these behavioural patterns and when we try to give people ways to discover products, designers and collections they love frictionlessly, we need to create the tools that support all of these journeys and get users to where they need (and would love) to be.

Our team set an ambitious goal: We want any user to be able to get to a product they love in under 4 taps. I will focus on the search experience and how that can be used to guide users to the right product.

Defining the moments to solve for

We’ve essentially categorised the search journey into 5 key moments that can be solved for:
  1. "I want to find something."
  2. "I’ll tell you what I’m looking for." (I’ve started typing)
  3. "I’m scanning the results for the right one."
  4. "I’ve made a mistake."
  5. "I haven’t found what I’m looking for."
In our ideal end state, we want:
  • Users to have a tool that’s always at hand when they want to do 1).
  • "Magically" guess 2) as early as possible.
  • To have super accurate, visible and personalised results in 3).
  • To prevent or quickly help overcome 4).
  • To reduce 5) and help users make positive progress when it’s inevitable.

Prioritising the right tools

With those tools in mind, we are now experimenting towards the best possible user experience we can give Farfetch customers. 

1. I want to find something

When a customer wants to find something, we want to ensure the search and browsing experience is intuitive and easy to use. We are constantly fine-tuning this to make sure the 'balance' of the site between search, and menu navigation is correct.

2. I’ll tell you what I’m looking for

In the context of 2, we need to get out of people’s way, so we need to capture their intent before they even start typing. For returning customers, we can try to infer their next steps from past behaviour and surface recently and recurrently searched/viewed products, designers and categories. For new customers, we can try to find a cohort that’s similar to them, and provide recommendations that can guide them to the right product.

3. I’m scanning results for the right item

One specific example we’re prioritising is the depth and breadth of results we’re providing when the user is searching for a designer. We know > 60% of people search for a designer on Farfetch, and that a lot of those that do, use a category filter right after landing on their product listing page. As such, we want to surface relevant category suggestions within the designer the user is searching for.

4. And 5. I’ve made a mistake OR I haven’t found what I’m looking for

In these scenarios,  the goal is to offer the best possible onward journeys. When the search experience breaks down, we want to be as smart as possible in providing customers with alternative routes to reach their goal. This involves, for example, improved ‘Did You Mean?’ or ‘Autocomplete’ suggestions, a better understanding of the search input when there are no results in order to offer smarter recommendations, and hyper-relevant results even in contexts of little information.

Finding a framework

Starting from what a customer wants to do on site, we’ve defined a framework that is guiding our qualitative research and our quantitative testing, with the goal of providing a best in class search experience, for any Farfetch customer to find a product they love in under four taps.

What we’ve done is to map out the user’s journey all to way to get to a product people love by using search. This journey begins with the realisation that they need to find something on Farfetch, which we need to respond to by having search perfectly discoverable and available to our customers, all the way through typing (and potentially making - and gracefully handling mistakes), scanning results, landing on a Product Listing Page, sorting or refining them, and eventually getting to a Product Detail Page that truly resonates with them. It means identifying friction points and dead ends, so we can solve for them to help the user make constant progress and create a sense of ease and flow in their product discovery journey.
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