B2B Ecommerce Review: Grainger’s Site Search

Today we’re taking a look at another B2B ecommerce retailer. Grainger is a retailer of all types of industrial supplies, and we heard they had a nice website experience. Of course we had to check it out for ourselves. Overall, this site is pretty solid in terms of usability. But I came across something a little confusing when I tried out the site search function.

I decided to try a search for pallets, and as I began to type this into the search field, I quickly saw that this function was using auto-complete to predict my search. I generally like this from a search function, like in last week’s Badge of Honor where we complimented the search on Kidrobot.com. However, Grainger’s is not as simple. Rather than suggesting search terms and products separately, this suggests products within a category. It shows all the categories and subcategories with the product at the very end. Check it out:

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As you can see, this is hard to read and a bit confusing for the user, especially since the included categories aren’t even grouped together. I suggest eliminating the categories from the title and just displaying the product name. They don’t really make sense here, but might be more helpful on the search results page to help users narrow down their results. Also, if thumbnail images of the items could be added to this drop-down, that would be even better.

Now, rather than clicking on any of these suggested terms, I just hit the search button for the term “pallet.” When I got here, I saw a sorting menu as well as some filtering options on the left, which is always good. Brand, price and rating are all nice, but what about those categories I had seen in the search menu? Being able to choose a category or sub-category, like shipping supplies or shelving and storage racks, could help shoppers get to the type of pallet product they want in a simpler way. I strongly recommend making that addition to the filtering menu.

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Auto-complete can be a good addition to a search function, but only if it’s done well. In the case of Grainger’s ecommerce store, this B2B retailer has some improvements to make. A drop-down that’s easier to read and a results page with more filtering options will go a long way toward that improvement.


1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Electric Motor
    Posted October 12, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to find well-informed people about this topic, however, you sound like you know
    what you’re talking about! Thanks

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