Product filters or “facets” are one of the most commonly used tools that online shoppers use to find specific products or discover products they might want based on product attributes such as color, brand, size, etc. Effectively managing facets to accelerate the path to purchase, however, is something of an art. Getting it right can have a dramatic impact on conversion and cart value. Getting it wrong can literally drive shoppers away in frustration. Consequently, care is required in deciding which facet options to show to which shoppers and how to manage those options during any given shopping session.

SLI now offers two complimentary approaches to managing facets to maximize conversion rates and average order values. The first approach completely automates the process of managing how facets are presented and prioritized while the second offers merchandising teams the ability to hand tune their facet presentation based upon their unique knowledge of their product catalog and target customers. This blended automated/manual approach provides merchandisers the “best-of-both worlds” by leveraging automated machine learning while also providing very granular control of search and navigation pages.

As an example of the kind of issues SLI facet management tools address, consider the page on the right. This (artificially generated) page shows all 21 of the facet categories in use by a UK based seller of light fixtures, bulbs, switches, and accessories.

Obviously if they presented all 21 with each product search results page they would overwhelm their shoppers and probably drive many away. The question is which facets should they present on which pages and in what order should they appear?  At SLI we know from long experience that answering these questions correctly can have a dramatic impact on the results achieved by online retailers.

The easiest and most automated approach to answering these questions is to leverage the recently announced Smarter Facet functionality included in the SLI Product Discovery Suite. Smarter Facets automatically calculates optimum facet presentation based upon the behavior of previous shoppers on a store and which facets historically have the most impact on purchase behavior.

For online retailers with larger merchandising teams, SLI also offers Facet Merchandising Controls to allow retailers to boost, suppress, or even hide various product attributes (aka facet topics) based on shopper behavior. These new facet control features allow merchandisers to manually tune filters based upon their business objectives and unique shopper behavior patterns.

Thus, if a shopper searches for “fixtures” on our example lighting site, the results page (left) displayed only shows 6 of the 21 facets we know have historically impacted purchases based on that search term. SLI automatically displays 6-8 of the most relevant facets allowing the shopper to select the refinements that make the most sense to them.

Manual facet control is executed with a modern graphical drag’n’drop console shown below. When used in conjunction with the Results Tuning Console, it gives merchandisers very granular control of how and when facets affect product presentation to shoppers.

So, which of these two facet control tools should a thoughtful merchandiser use and when? The table below provides guidance on this question and if you have further questions, please do reach out to your SLI Customer Success Manager.

Smarter Facets Manual Facet Control
Controlled Facets All facets that are configured to be “smart”. Standard facets are shown first. All facets may be controlled.
Setup Required Yes. Facets to be automatically managed must be identified and marked as such. No. Merchandisers can directly manage all facets from their existing Commerce Console.
Triggered by A set of configurable thresholds related to facet membership for the results on the page A tuning condition similar to the ones available for results tunings or banners
Based Upon Extensions to learning Extensions to merchandising
Manual Facet Control
Controlled Facets All facets may be controlled.
Setup Required No. Merchandisers can directly manage all facets from their existing Commerce Console.
Triggered by A tuning condition similar to the ones available for results tunings or banners
Based Upon Extensions to merchandising