February 10, 2011, 3:02 PM

Effective site navigation helps Carolina Rustica connect with customers

Retailers should cater to the different ways shoppers look for products, says a conference speaker.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Lead Photo

Richard Sexton of Carolina Rustica will present at Internet Retailer's Web Design & Usability Conference in February.

Furniture retailer Carolina Rustica uses web analytics to uncover the different methods shoppers use to look for products on its site.

“Some shop by brand, but others shop by product categories,” president and founder Richard Sexton says. “Site navigation has to accommodate both types of shoppers.”

Carolina Rustica analyzes the keywords shoppers use to arrive at its site through Internet search and monitors how they navigate once they arrive.

That enables the retailer to make sure its site navigation is accommodating how most visitors browse its site.

Based on the data, the retailer has concluded it should provide generic details on ceiling fans, for example, for shoppers who like to look at such details regardless of brands, while also displaying enough brand-focused content for brand-conscious shoppers, says Sexton, who will speak about such challenges at next week’s Internet Retailer Web Design & Usability 2001 Conference in a session titled “A navigation plan of action.” 

“Good site navigation is a constant tension between putting out generic product categories that shoppers can drill down into, and providing enough manufacturer-specific details as well,” he says.

At the same time, he adds, retailers must be careful not to overload web pages with content.

“There’s only so much space you can fill on pages before you cram so much that people can’t find anything,” he says.

Sexton also says it’s important to coordinate an effective site search feature as part of a good site navigation strategy. As a rule of thumb, he says. 45% of visitors to retail sites use site navigation, 45% use site search, and the other 10% switch back and forth between the two.

In his conference session, Sexton will also share how Carolina Rustica recently overhauled its site navigation with revised pathways.



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