eProcurement & Procure-to-Pay Resources

The Best Practices to Follow for Successful Marketplace Search

Published August 30, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Search is an increasingly important component in desktop and mobile experiences. Why? Because improving search capabilities enhances the end user's shopping experience.

Search is Under-Utilized

But it often happens that procurement teams don’t utilize search capabilities to their fullest extent—leaving shoppers frustrated and making purchases from punchout supplier sites. Additional challenges of poor search include:

    • The punchout approach to procurement creates a disjointed user experience. This drives down user adoption and builds communication barriers.
    • Poor search capabilities lead to high out-of-contract spend because users can’t find what they need.
    • Users can’t configure their shopping carts across multiple supply lines using bundled or configurable products, which makes the process more cumbersome and time-consuming.

A Single Interface is Needed

So, what is the solution to these challenges? A marketplace that provides a seamless, single interface for all goods and services. Users shop, requisition, complete approval workflows, and pay within one clean and consistent user interface—no punchouts necessary.

Continue reading for marketplace best practices that create a smooth search experience.

Best Practices to Follow for Successful Marketplace Search

1. Design user-friendly search capabilities.

Improving search starts with making the experience more user-focused, interactive, and relevant. The most important components of a successful search experience include:

  • Easy-to-find and use search bar: A search bar that stands out and is easy to use will catch the eye of shoppers and start their experience off right.
  • Breadcrumbs: Explicit breadcrumbs allow shoppers to locate precise results without clearing their entire search history. Allowing users to check, uncheck, refine, and filter their results provides a more intuitive shopping experience.
  • Long-tail keyword search ability: Enhancing a search engine with the capacity to handle long-tail keyword searches will curate more relevant results.

2. Feature clear and concise product descriptions.

Informed shoppers are happy shoppers. To educate users about available goods and services procurement teams need to ensure detailed product descriptions are featured for every item.

The best descriptions not only describe products, but also speak to the user. Different products require different types of details, but a few staple descriptors include use, size, color, and capabilities.

Bonus search feature: Because shoppers can’t touch online merchandise, they need quality images to visual a product.

3. Use data and analytics guide search strategy.

Real-time strategic data provides visibility into shopping behavior to drive smarter spending decisions. With this data, procurement teams gain a better sense of where company money is being spent and how savings might be generated.

Data specific to search results can inform the strengths and weaknesses of search functionalities:

  • Procurement teams can measure precision (the percentage of retrieved relevant search results) and recall (the percentage of all relevant results the system receives)
  • If a user does not find the item on the site, it can cause an increase in non-catalog orders and could result in paying more for an item
  • Enabling limited scope search with real-time data can help reduce and pinpoint recall

Best-in-class teams report 69% of spend is contract compliant, compared to 54% from all others. Having visibility into historical spend enables CPOs to drive greater in-contract spending and compliance.


The Results: A Better Search Experience

Most Chief Procurement Officers want to know—what are the results of an improved search experience? Some of the most impactful include:

  • Boosted realized savings
  • Increased on-contract spend
  • Improved user adoption rates

Ready to start improving your search experience?

Speak to BuyerQuest About Next-Gen eProcurement


Interested in more fresh content about eProcurement? Sign up to receive blog notifications below.