The Inconsistency of Anthropologie

I received a gift card for Anthropoligie for Christmas, so I was scoping out their site today to see what kind of goodies I could find. I really love Anthropologie, and I think they have some beautiful merchandise to offer, but I have to say that their website is only so-so. When it comes to browsing, the site leaves a lot to be desired, especially in the way of filters and refinements.

First, I started at the Sale section, which is actually pretty great. You can browse through All Sale, and then use the options on the left of the page to refine by price, category, brand, size and color.

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Now that is how I wish the whole site operated, but unfortunately, it’s not. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be nice to just look at All Clothing or All Accessories, and then narrow down your selection from there. But Anthropologie’s site doesn’t have a View All option for the Clothing, Accessories or House & Home categories. You have to pick a subcategory, which is kind of a bummer if you like to browse through different types of products.

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Once you do pick a subcategory, you still might not have as many filtering options as the sale section offers. I can consistently sort by newest, highest rated, most reviewed, and price (low to high). However, the options to refine by color or brand aren’t always available. For example, here’s the Pants section:

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To me, this is pretty frustrating. I would suggest offering those helpful filtering options throughout the online store, not just the sale section. It would make the experience on this site a whole lot easier for shoppers who like to browse.

What's your favorite way to shop online?
1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Posted January 7, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    I believe Anthropologie is a sister brand of Urban Outfitters. And it’s based on FredHopper’s search platform (just like, a platform that hasn’t really gained much traction in the United States. They seem to position themselves as something larger in scope than Endeca (which arguably is the “standard” over here in the States) — and that may be true — but in my opinion Endeca addresses the core issues better. I could document lots of holes, but …

    One issue you’re bringing up here is the capability of starting from a ‘sale’ link, or starting from view-all. We get this right, and Endeca gets this right. In fact, the idea of sale-as-a-category is usually flawed from a merchandising point of view. Why? What if you start from sale, filter by tops,size-6, and don’t see anything you like?

    Ideally you’d be able to remove the ‘sale’ _facet_ (not a category) and be presented with all tops in size 6 (tops,size-6). If you visualize faceted search as a physical store, it allows 1 product to be physically “located” on billions of virtual racks that are tuned to your exact desires. This is an advantage. Using categories to model it is going back to the sale rack in the corner all over again. They might never find the items that are not on the sale rack.

    And isn’t it often the whole point to lure them in with the deals and get them _also_ to buy something not on sale?

    So how does all this relate? Well, if they did this, you’d be able to start from the ‘sale’ link and navigate to what you wanted — “Clothing” or “Accessories”:

    1. Drill to Clothing (or Accessories)
    2. Remove ‘sale’

    #2 is what they will not let you do.

    I would guess, however, that this is a phased rollout of FredHopper’s search platform. The facets will appear in other categories over time. Urban Outfitters has some issues, including a search box that naively extracts facet value unigrams (i.e. “black”) from search queries like, ignoring basic information retrieval gotchas like polysemy. Look closely at that SERP — they’re incorrect results. They’re probably using that as a band-aid to fix another problem in eCommerce IR, the product-variation problem (showing the correct photo for the query “black shirts,”) but like most workarounds, it causes other problems — in this case errors resulting from polysemy.

    Regardless, they’re going to roll out faceted search to the various categories. I wish they’d fix some of the mistakes, though.

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