We used to have a large department store where I used to live quite a while back, now. I’m talking about the 1970s. This particular store used to sell food as well as a whole range of other goods. In the food section, every week without fail the store used to change things around. I cannot tell you how many times I saw people walking lost along the aisles and telling a member of the store’s staff “but it was here last week”.
The store’s reasoning was that by making people walk the aisles looking for things they would buy other things on impulse. It actually had the adverse effect of making their customers angry and losing sales. Eventually a new store manager put an end to the practice. Her philosophy was the eminently reasonable one that the store was likely to sell more if it made it easy for its customers to find things.
If you are an internet store owner, you can learn from your bricks and mortar counterparts. If your customers find it easy to navigate your site and find what they want, they are much more likely to buy from you. Moreover, they are much more likely to return to you and buy again from you, and they are much more likely to recommend your store to their friends.
Finding products in your store can be challenging for customers. It depends on how many products you have, of course. If you only have half a dozen or so, the challenge will not be too great. If, however, you have several hundred products spread across a large number of pages, things are a little different. You want to ensure that your customers can find what they want quickly. If they can’t find what they want they’ll go elsewhere.
What you need to do is provide your customers with the options to filter your products according to different criteria. Those criteria could be price, size, manufacturer or something else. Make it easy, make it understandable and you’ll make sales.
With layered navigation Magento extension, you have the properties of price and categories that are automatically layered navigation filters. By making a particular category an anchor category the sub-categories then appear as layered navigation choices. For example, if you are selling men’s clothing the sub-categories might be shirts, pants, jumpers, shoes and ties. Sub-categories of price will be displayed as price ranges. The price ranges are determined according to the prices of the products.
Additional Layered Navigation Filters
You can add more navigation filters according to what types of products you are selling. Keeping with the men’s clothing example, you might want to have filters for such product attributes as colour, size and manufacturer. You can use filterable attributes in two ways. First, you can have filterable attributes with results. What this means is that you only have links appearing where there is at least one result. The number of results appears in brackets next to each sub-category.Second, you can have filterable attributes with no results. This means you will have a link appearing even if there are no results.
A Final Tip
I started off by telling you about a local department store who insisted on confusing its customers. Today, we’d probably say that the customers found it difficult to navigate the store. There is some evidence that suggests that one in four customers will leave an online store when they find the navigation too complicated. Can you afford to lose a quarter of the people who come to your store? If you are not converting your visitors to sales, your Magento sales reports will not be telling you the story that you want to read.
Importantly, then, you should not see navigation of your online store as a one off event but a process of continual improvement. Use your data. If the data show you that you layered navigation is not giving you the results, you want you need to do something about it. It’s all about the experience that your customers have in your online store. If customers find it easy to find what they want they will buy from your store and they will return to your store.
Johngary is an online retailer and has written extensively about online retailing and marketing. He has been an advocate of layered navigation magento extension and magento sales reports for some considerable time. He lives in the countryside and enjoys walking and cycling.
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