How E-Commerce Search Starts Closing the Gap to General Web Search

A screenshot of a webshop with no hits for the search term «summer jacket»
Situations like these are still too common in online retail. This screenshot is from 31st May, 2021.
A graph showing how e-commerce retail could reach a third of the total in the UK by the year 2024
This infographic is from emarketer.com, as are the numbers in the paragraph above.
Technology photo created by pvproductions — www.freepik.com
  • There were too few hits for «downlights». It turned out that while some suppliers had the word «downlights» in their product description, others did not. They didn’t even have other words for it. Solution: add «downlights» to a stopword list specific to the description field. We kept the word searchable in a category field, so that the search now embraces all products in the relevant category, regardless of this word’s appearence (or lack thereof) in the description field.
  • Luminairies were also underrepresented. Maybe because of the extensive use of compound words in Norwegian (so things like «ceiling luminairies» are written as one, single word). The Solr solution is to define certain words as targets for compound word searching. We couldn’t use that, however, because searching for «luminairies» would then also bring up «luminaire rails» (which are rails, not luminairies). Or with an English example: if one defines «ball» as a compound word in order to include «basketball», one would also get «eyeballs» and «ballerinas». So then what? We defined synonyms. A lot of synonyms.

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