Are you confident in the results and coverage of your product search? Think again.

Are you confident in the results and coverage of your product search? Think again.

One of the most important aspects of a food retailer’s site is its search functionality. Without a robust system in place, you inhibit your customers ability to shop for the products they need. With the correct indexing customers can find what they’re looking for with ease.

However, not all customers use search, customers will also use the cleverly crafted taxonomy to browse the catalog of products, selecting the products they need through a retailer’s expertly tuned and arranged virtual isles. 

Regardless of whether customers use search or taxonomy, what fundamentally drives the visibility of products in a search or a section of a retailer’s website is the accuracy of product data.

For example if a SKU contains gluten, but this isn’t clear from the product data, then it could be returned as gluten free to a customer, or worse – a nut free product could be returned when it actually contains nuts.

This is especially important when customers are searching for a specific set of products that suit a dietary requirement, for example where they might need products that are free from gluten. Customers put their trust in the retailer to return an accurate number of products that meet their exact needs. 

If a customer were to search for Nut Free Cereal and was presented with one or more products that appeared nut free – but weren’t, this could have serious health implications for the consumer, with potential legal implications for the retailer. Retailers now, more than ever, have a clear responsibility to display a clear and easy to understand ingredient list, as highlighted by the recent passing of Natasha’s Law in the UK and the FASTER Act in the US.

Some retailers may limit their search capability (the number of products returned) to ensure product accuracy, but this limits the true number of products that are available to the customer, lowering coverage and thus reducing that revenue opportunity greatly. 

We recently completed an audit of some of the biggest food retailer sites worldwide.

We focussed on two specific areas for our audit:

Audit Area 1: We focussed on assessing the coverage of specific dietary searches such as ‘Gluten Free Bread’, comparing what results were returned (or, just as importantly, not returned), and what we could find. In doing this we assessed where additional products were missing from a search, yet were still available across the retailer’s website in other areas.

Audit Area 2: This part of the audit focussed on running the same specific dietary searches again, and assessing whether the search results matched the dietary requirement within the search term. We did this by running the search results through our AI system, and identifying any products that were not suitable. 

Out of 10 well-known international retailers we found an average of 72 errors per search where products didn’t match the search term from a dietary perspective. This included products being returned in gluten free and dairy free searches that actually contained gluten and dairy. 

We found an average of 181 products missing that should have been returned in the search term. Spoon Guru found these additional products across the retailer’s site after they weren’t picked up in a dietary search.

We ran 8 core searches across these sites. If we extended these searches to just 1,000 search executions a day that could be 9,000 errors that customers are exposed to, and 22,626 missing products that customers are not able to view. This raises serious concerns from a legal and health perspective, as well as lost revenue through non-optimised coverage.

Both these issues are driven by the accuracy of the available nutritional identifiers in product data. Here at Spoon Guru we are able to enrich your data and clearly identify lifestyle, allergen and now sustainability markers in product data. We guarantee the accuracy of your product data using our Product TAGs® system, meaning your customers are able to to view with confidence a range of products that meet their dietary needs through our TAGs® and filters; and you as the retailer are filled with confidence that the you are mitigating risk while maximising every opportunity to meet the needs of your customer and maximising revenue.

The full Intelligent Audit study can be found here. For an Intelligent Audit of your current site, please contact us to see how we can help.

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Max Saban
Senior Product Owner