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Marketplace search: 3 challenges to building a robust user experience

Feb 15th 2021 ux

Marketplace search: 3 challenges to building a robust user experience

For today’s marketplaces, differentiation is key. One of the major ways to stand out from the competition is user experience — and search and browsing as its critical lever. 

But there are challenges to making the most of search; and because marketplaces are typically platforms, they need to think wisely in terms of tech investments. For one, the search tool needs to be flexible enough to scale up or down as needed. Second, engineering resources are typically limited and must be used wisely. And third, search tools must be user-friendly so that non-technical employees can optimize to get the best results.

Optimizing for scalability and flexibility

When Brazilian tech company Zoom bought its competitor Buscapé, it faced the good problem of needing to scale up its search capabilities. The rapid growth meant more visitors, more operational requirements, and more opportunities — but the changes had to happen quickly and swiftly to not lose existing customers.

Zoom is a comparison-shopping marketplace, servicing around 90 million visitors per month with the help of 300 sellers and more than 30 million products. With that many people to please, Zoom needs to work seamlessly for both retail sellers and buyers. Algolia is experienced in handling large scale and volume while still providing flexibility, so it was able to help the team customize a solution that meets its business objectives even during peak periods. For instance, Algolia customized the search experience by category and product features to match Zoom’s goal of serving merchants and buyers alike with better results. With the Search API, Zoom now has the ability to adjust product attributes in the ranking to achieve relevant search results quickly.

Algolia also set up its Analytics Dashboard to help business users easily assess the top search results and optimize them. This enabled both new and existing Zoom teams to be on the same page even as the two companies were coming together. As a result, Zoom addressed its latency issues, accelerated the performance of its search results, and increased the conversion rate by 10%.


Using Engineering Resources Wisely

For some companies, it’s less about scale and more about how best to use limited resources. In an ideal world, changes would be easy to implement without requiring much staff. But often, engineering teams find themselves focused on more significant projects, while the small changes that should be easy to make end up requiring lots of resources and stakeholders.

ManoMano, a European marketplace that provides equipment for do-it-yourself projects, had been trying to fix the bugs in its system and optimize search but hadn’t been able to achieve tangible results. They needed a search experience that was smart and quick, as their customers don’t necessarily know which tools they need or the correct name for them.

The company had been using another in-house search tool to achieve that, but the tool required lots of time, knowledge, and staffing to optimize features. Meanwhile, several changes were needed to improve the user experience, but their existing tool wasn’t helping ManoMano implement the necessary improvements.

Algolia stepped in and implemented technology that was flexible and accessible to ManoMano’s search team without the need for hours of training that Elastic typically requires. Those qualities came into play when ManoMano had a data issue that was impacting the search experience. The team got a fix in place within an hour — compared to the past when a similar change would have taken days.

After just two weeks, ManoMano’s conversion rates increased up to 20% across the four countries that tested Algolia’s search tool. It was tangible results that directly impacted the bottom line — efficient use of resources and increased sales.


Maintaining visibility & control

While it’s great to have an engineering team that thoroughly understands search, it’s not the only team that needs to leverage a search tool. There are often non-technical teams, usually in marketing, who need to have access to both the analytics and the settings of any given search tool.

Without that access, engineering teams overextend themselves with change requests, and marketers may miss important business opportunities because they aren’t as flexible or responsive as they need to be.

Latin-American e-commerce company Linio was facing this exact problem. 

Linio carries a wide variety of products at every price point to service Latin American communities. That means search is at the center of the company’s success and customer satisfaction; however, relevant search results had been pretty elusive for Linio. 

The company did have an existing third-party partner helping out, but Linio had very low visibility and access to the algorithm. The company turned to Algolia in the hopes of obtaining a tool that had more transparency and ease of use.

Algolia was able to customize a search tool that gave the Linio team more control without necessarily needing help from engineering. As a result, Algolia’s user-friendly approach empowered non-technical employees and created more business opportunities. For example, the marketing team could now boost new SKUs, identify new sellers, and reach out to sellers to promote their items for brand campaigns.


Results that make an impact

For the challenges that site search optimization may present, it’s certainly worth the work. The upside is increased conversion rates, improved response time, and more business opportunities. 

It’s all the more achievable if you have the right partners along the way. Algolia and its ’s marketplace expertise can help you navigate the challenges of site search optimization with innovative technology, a responsive and knowledgeable support team, and a solution that can help you get the best results for your business.

About the author
Louise Vollaire

Product Marketing Manager


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