Product Findability In the Electronics
Product Findability In the Electronics

The business world faced a major shift after 2020, and few places provided more evidence of that than the electronics industry. With supply chain shortages, electrical engineers (EEs) working from home, and a general shift toward digital, suppliers and distributors need to improve the ways their audience find products online.

Product findability—or an engineer’s ability to quickly locate a product on a supplier’s site—has always been a key factor in the designer-vendor relationship. A recent EETech survey underscored this point: manufacturer and distributor website searches were the next go-to finding route after Google.

EEs: Types of Information Relied on Most in Designs

EEs:Types of Information Relied on Most in Designs

With a renewed industry focus on digital, however, it’s never been more important to establish effective tools for finding products online.

Aspencore’s 2020 “Mind of the Engineer” survey revealed that when engineers need to learn about a new product or technology, they first head to component or equipment manufacturer websites.

Information modes utilized to learn about new products/technologies

Information modes utilized to learn about new products/technologies

During the design process, these engineers seek quick access to technical documentation, including datasheets, application notes, and reference designs.

EEs: Types of Information Relied on Most in Designs

EEs: Types of Information Relied on Most in Designs

So, how exactly are engineers interacting with a vendor’s site to reach these resources?

Information modes utilized to learn about new products/technologies

Information modes utilized to learn about new products/technologies

“Electronics websites are moving toward becoming a digital salesperson,” remarks Jesse Nielsen, a technical sales engineer at Big Zeta. “With the potential to reach a global audience, the ROI is too great to ignore these tools any longer. Those companies unwilling to improve the ways engineers and buyers find products online are going to find it difficult to compete.”

Given the central place of technical search on a designer’s buyer’s journey, electronic suppliers are revving up their product-finding tools to make product sourcing (and design cycles) faster than ever.

Here are a few ways successful B2B companies in the electronics industry are thinking outside the box when it comes to product findability.

First, Get the Basics Right

When a designer comes to your site for a specific product, he or she will most likely head straight to the keyword search box. You can ensure that your keyword search is meeting industry standards by including synonym tables, spell check, auto complete, and thumbnails with product images and product numbers.

Another linchpin of product findability is parametric search. 90 percent of users rate sellers highly when they offer quick and reliable parametric search. Parametric search allows engineers to tailor search by specific project requirements, such as voltage, tolerance, size, and quantity.

In fortifying your basic search tools, you might consider other avenues that will help users quickly navigate from your homepage to their end product. These might include selector-configurators, chat bots, and search wizards.

Finally, consider ways to measure your search success internally. For instance, you might implement SaaS-based business intelligence tools to give your webmasters at-a-glance access to your latest search metrics.

Big Zeta’s VP of Marketing and Demand Sales Tyler Crockett explains, “Systems like customer portals, marketing automation, and customer relationship management work together to give you the customer knowledge you need.” He also notes that site search—in addition to ecommerce, content management, and product information management—can give you “the right information at the right time and place in the buyer’s journey.”

Next, Get Granular

Once you’ve nailed down your key search tools, think about ways to optimize the overall UI/UX.

Many B2B companies are now implementing AI and machine learning to tailor search to the individual user in real-time. AI and machine learning can also come into play with your backend dashboards, which can provide insights about user search behavior. These dashboards can reveal common user pain points, generate a/b testing with reports, and more.

Further, take a magnifying glass to your search results data. Do your keyword and parametric search share an integrated backend for more comprehensive results? What kinds of documentation and features are you offering once users find the right results?

The 2020 “Mind of the Engineer” survey suggests that while engineers may reach out to sales representatives early in the design process, they rely heavily on manufacturer/distributor sites for documentation while in the throes of a project.

Information Resource Clusters

Supplier and distributor product and support resources are more apt to be used in the midst of
detailed design, although knowledgeable sales reps can provide useful insights early in the process.

information resources cluster

Product findability is just the first step. Be sure these essential documents are just a click away for your users once they hit the right result. These include:

What are the three most essential systems or tools you use today to complete your projects?

what are the three most essential systems-min

While product findability requires that you examine the fine details of your search tools, be sure not to go overboard with new features. “Digital experience has become more and more simplistic, mirroring the less formal nature of business in general,” Crockett notes. “Trust that those ‘nice-to-have’ pieces of content can be put somewhere findable that isn’t in the main flow of the buyer’s journey, or dropped altogether.”

Finally, Gauge Your Effectiveness

It’s not enough to upgrade your search tools one time and call it a day. Because technical search is continually evolving, you must periodically take the pulse of the user experience on your website.

For example, you might:

• Periodically survey what search technology works for other B2B—and even B2C—companies.

• Hold a meeting internally to ask your sales reps what search products might work for your company.

• Solicit feedback from your users.

Remember that the payoff of product findability speaks for itself. In fact, website usability is the fourth most determining factor when a designer is choosing a distributor.

EEs Career Pros/Next Gen: Most Important When Choosing a Distributor

EEs Career Pros:Next Gen- Most Important When Choosing a Distrtibutor

“If a particular enhanced search is a good fit for your site and company objectives, don't hesitate to pay a small price for a big reward,” Nielsen asserts. “When implemented correctly, [these tools] may include improved customer retention and click-through rate, improved user's journey, and additional revenue from sales.”

This is where an effective maturity model comes into play. A maturity model refers to your company’s continuous growth—in this case, in your site’s product findability. While you may have started with basic search functions like a CMS plugin, you may look to enhanced search as a next step. Enhanced search indexes results from your whole site and allows users to home in on certain specifications to conduct a search (think parametric search). Finally, the evolution of your maturity model may land on integrated search, where you’ll find the features that make modern search great: analytics dashboards, AI and ML capabilities, and API endpoints that allow for integration with tech stacks.

Big Zeta Can Get Buyers to Their Destination

In recent years, the number of engineers likely to contact a supplier for help has plummeted. Instead, EEs, makers, and students alike are increasingly relying on a supplier or distributor’s site to do the talking instead of an over-the-phone salesperson.

How Often Do EEs and Others Turn to Distributors for Design Support?

EEs Career Pros/Next Gen: Most Important When Choosing a Distrtibutor

That said, it’s never been more pressing to establish a search powerhouse on your site.

There isn’t one tip or trick to ensure that buyers find the right product with ease. The findability of a product sprouts from a constellation of factors, from the SEO of your site to hook users organically to internal search tools. While it’s your job as a manufacturer or distributor to prioritize a navigable site, the details can get complex if you’re not an expert in technical search.

Big Zeta specializes in product findability for B2B electronics companies. We can help you establish your core search toolkit and iron out the details to set you apart from competitors. We’ll also set you up for success once we step away with a maturity model that makes sense for your company and an analytics dashboard to help you take the temperature of your users’ satisfaction.

Get in touch with one of our consultants to learn how you can bridge the gap between a query and a purchase.

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