Optimizing for Hunters Part 2: Beyond Search and Navigation

To follow up our recent post on customer motivation and optimizing your website for hunters (e.g. moms armed with Christmas lists), I want to show you some examples beyond the search box and navigation menu.

I’ll use a personal story – I’m in the market for a car GPS. Previously knowing nothing about them (features, brands, prices etc), so I started off a howser. I decided I want to check Crutchfield (great product filters and product descriptions), Amazon (access to more products, the seller marketplace and more customer reviews) and Best Buy Canada (Canadian pricing, option to pick up in store).

I began as a howser hunting for information about GPS and comparing GPS models, but not looking for a particular product or even sure what my “must-have” features were. I checked out several electronics online stores including Crutchfield and Amazon as well as reading gadget blogs and watching YouTube video reviews of various GPS models.

After my research phase, I determined the features I really care about are a 4.3″ screen (rather than the 3.5″) and text-to-speech (reads street names out loud).

Armed with this mission, I became a true hunter. Though I’m not hunting for a particular model at this stage, I am looking for a unit that specifically matches what I’m looking for and I’m pretty much ready to buy today.

So if I return to Crutchfield and select the portable GPS category, I am greeted with a budget friendly choice, the customer favorite and the staff pick.

Crutchfield once again addresses customer personalities (competitive, spontaneous, methodical and humanistic) with these picks.

I love these suggestions, but not for this product because I need to know I’m buying something with a 4.3″ screen and text-to-speech. So I use the filtered navigation on the left to narrow results by screen size and features.

I can then sort by price or best customer rating (again, catering to personality types). But because I care about features, I’m going to either filter to under $300 on the left menu, or sort by price and compare the 5 lowest priced units.

Comparing them all side-by-side, I can then make an informed decision.

Amazon has filtered navigation by feature but only allows you to select one feature at a time, so you can’t get as targeted results as you could with Crutchfield.

Amazon does have one leg up on Crutchfield, it greets the returning hunter with the product he/she last viewed, and alternatives based on the aggregate browsing and buying behavior of other shoppers:

And a close-up:

This is a huge time saver for the hunter who is returning to research more or buy today. It cuts out all the complicated filtering and sorting steps. The hunter can also leverage other shoppers’ research and decision making. If a large enough percentage end up buying something else after viewing Item X, I may trust the “wisdom of the crowds” and follow suit (within reason).

Not every product category needs a comparison matrix, of course, but filtered navigation and sort-by options are great for usability and supporting hunters. Other sites that use filtering very well are Endless.com (shoes and handbags) and Overstock (everything).


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7 Responses to “Optimizing for Hunters Part 2: Beyond Search and Navigation”

  1. The Crutchfield site looks excellent in your example though unfortunately I’m getting an access denied error when I try to visit… it doesn’t matter how good your filtering is if your site is down :)

  2. Very interesting. The Crutchfield comparison is perfect for us “methodical” types. The Amazon “What others bought” probably appeals more to humanistic.

    So if your target market is swayed heavily in one direction, pick the one that works best for them. For example, if you sell virtual servers, you’re dealing with IT folk who may be more methodical. Give them a matrix. If you’re selling fashion-related items, maybe the “most popular” angle works better.

    Again, thanks for sharing.

    Michael

    P.S. Don’t keep us hanging, Linda… wha’d ya get??

  3. @Jack Hughes,

    Was Crutchfield’s site down for you or our blog? I wonder if Crutchfield uses IP blocking for the UK?

    @ Michael Straker,

    I decided on the Garmin Nuvi 260W :)

  4. @Linda – your blog wasn’t down. The Crutchfield site gave the following “error”:

    Access Denied
    You don’t have permission to access “http://www.crutchfield.com/” on this server.

    Reference #18.da0dd58.1229083577.4489a64

    They may well be geo-targetting…seems odd that they don’t use international traffic to feed adverts to.

  5. @Jack — If it’s geo-targeting, it sure isn’t implemented well.

    @Linda — Ah, but where’d you buy it? (London Drugs?)

  6. I have been want to add a ‘help me decide’ tool for my website, for those that need alittle help.

    I think it would be highly used. Has anyone any test data about a selection/help tool like this?

    Any good dos and don’ts if I want to add this to my site?

  7. [...] Picking up where we left off in the Marketing Experiments Conversion Sequence C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) -2a, the last couple posts covered “m” for Motivation discussing optimizing your ecommerce sites for “hunters” on home pages and search and navigation. [...]

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