Ground-breaking search functionality for RS Components helps customers find products in record time.

It may be a cliché, but when it comes to searching for products online, time is money. The longer it takes a customer to locate a product, the greater the chance that they’ll go elsewhere. You need to make sure they find it – and fast.

As one of the trading brands of Electrocomponents plc, which offers more than 550,000 products sourced from 2,500 leading suppliers to clients across the globe, RS Components understand the importance of a quick and easy searching experience more than most. That’s why they called upon Box UK’s bespoke software development services to deliver them an innovative, scalable search platform that could be integrated into their main website.

The groundbreaking search functionality we delivered – initially trialled with a product range containing 15,000 separate items – proved to be an instant success. Users can easily filter and refine their searches and get straight to the products they’re after – helping transform the online browsing experience and strengthening RS Components’ reputation as a technical leader in their industry.

If you’ve been looking to improve the performance of your online sales channels, you’ve just found the answer.

Filtering out the noise

It’s probably no surprise to find that the products offered by RS Components are often highly complex. Minor variations in memory size, physical features and electrical specifications can make all the difference. It was vitally important, therefore, that users be able to search and filter according to these attributes – which meant a faceted search system was required.

Intuitive and informative searching

Our User Experience (UX) consultants were on hand to help define how this search mechanism should be implemented – drawing on discussions with key stakeholders as well as general best practice principles to guide the design of an optimised index schema that:

  • Captured all necessary product attributes
  • Made sure important metadata such as product names was included
  • Highlighted relationships between fields such as dependencies and prerequisites
  • Displayed search fields in the most appropriate format – covering ranges, free text, sliders and more
  • Offered additional functionality to improve the search experience, including an alternative text-based search option and ‘shortlist’ feature

Powerful performance

Of course, the usability of the system needed to be backed up by blazingly-fast performance – especially considering the immense size of the initial product range. Reducing the number of round trips to the server is crucial to achieving this, and our development team had numerous tricks up their sleeve to do exactly that. Performance and speed were further safeguarded through the use of leading search technologies such as Lucene and Solr – this had the added benefit of providing users with familiar tools and components, reducing the time needed to get up to speed.

A market-disrupting solution

The beta launch of the bespoke solution – across three of the retailer’s key geographical markets, for a product range comprising over 15,000 separate items – has been a huge success. Not only can users more quickly and easily find what they’re looking for, but RS Components has demonstrated its commitment to utilising innovative technologies and techniques to better meet the needs of its users – reinforcing its status as a leading service provider in the sector.

As the platform has been designed to scale across the entire product catalogue, the sky really is the limit for RS Components. If you too want to push the boundaries of what’s possible, we should talk.

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