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In our last usability research, Aliuser confirmed that users had a very strong tendency to search products with photo images. We also discussed casually how photo images were handled in Photo Talks  in May.  Alibaba.com (HKSE 1688) is now developing its image search and has it first phase online.

To be more accurate, the image search does not let users search for product images, it’s more like a directory search. Unlike Google or Yahoo, users would not be able to see an image tab on the search bar and won’t be able to find the SERP with loads of product photos.

Instead, users will see an array of related product images that match the keyword at the bottom of pages after doing a keyword search. Once users click on a matched photo, it will lead to an image index page or directory whereas 20 images will be displayed.

According to the release, the first phase covers 288 Product keywords  only and the B2B company will devote more efforts to furnishing its tools. Aliuser sees it as a nice move while in the meantime, Aliuser thinks that the image match tool requires more hard work and time to make it perfect!!

Aliuser suggests the project team spending more effort in improving its search relevance and the way it presents the product images. For example, users should be able to choose how many products can be displayed at one time, pagination can be kept more closely with the products on the result pages and having the related photo images at the bottom of each page may not be very helpful since users tends to ignore them anyway.

On the pro side,  the UI helps users and robots to find product through numeric figures e.g. 3-wheel bikes, 4 ports USB hubs etc.

Want to learn how to make use of the image search?  You can visit Alibaba image match  

 

Alibaba Search image

Alibaba Search image

 

 

 

 

 

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Alibaba.com provides a few tips to suppliers who want to escalate themselves to become super suppliers.  For those who succeeded in performing a 3-step task, they will get free promotion in the new Super Supplier Channel.  

 

Alibaba.com Super Supplier October Offer

Alibaba.com Super Supplier October Offer

Of those tips, Alibaba.com gives away 3 formulas: 

  1. Display more products so as to enable buyers can find them in search results.
  2. Downloading TradeManager, an IM tool, will gap the bridge between suppliers and buyers and get feedback faster.
  3. Upload your own portrait photos on-line in order to become more trustworthy. 

“Our Super Suppliers believe that you can set yourself apart from other faceless suppliers and buyers trust faster with a face picture”

On top of it, Aliuser would like to offer a few suggestions to enhance its usability, creating a more engaging users experience:

  • Given that ONLY Alibaba registered users are eligible for the Super Suppliers program, the following information – “Not a member yet? Let us make you a Super Supplier for FREE. Join now!should be placed in a more prominent  position for clarity
  • The content on the right and the left seems to be the same. Not sure how they are different from each other?
  • Instead of opening up new individual window for each step to complicate the process, it may be worthwhile to consider a three-in-one task while developing the user work flow so as to minimize drop off rate. It will definitely be beneficial to users but unfortunately create more work to engineers! Life is a trade-off though
  • Take away icons or graphics that are not value-added or are meaningless to users. It also can make the page lighter
  • May consider TM “Super Supplier”

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Who doesn’t like photo?  We are conceived that buyers, suppliers and trade show goers prefer to see images more than anything else.  A good photo image worth more than a thousand words! It brings up site traffic and stickiness. 

Alibaba‘s newly-established photo gallery has a lot of good images: ornate watches, designers’ partydress, Fendi high heels, you name it. Below you can see a screen shot of products displayed on different windows. How do you feel?

Product windows

One click one window

We have to admit that we feel odd about its user experience design. There are too many pop-up windows. One click one window. It worn us down using its user interface.

Products bunjee jump

When clicking on a product to see another related product image, window is supposed to  refresh, display another product. We find the window, along with the next product image, will jump up and down.  As users, we don’t feel it enjoyable browsing the product in varying sizes.

The page layout is interesting too. We find pictures in some pages have zigzag arrangement. Will it capture more click-through?  If I were Winnie the Pooh, I would have complained Alibaba for making my friend pixelized in the product shot!

Zigzag arrangement

Winnie the Pooh

 

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 Alibaba International site put her news channel to test several weeks ago, and then came the Sichuan earthquake which has truly shaken Heaven and Earth.

The timing may be just right, but these are two separated incidents. We do not mean to suggest anything! We’ve seen Alibaba has done something that goes beyond what she’s supposed to be. Alibaba makes a household name for herself as a B2B eCommerce platform, now it also plays the role of being an online news center.

Alibaba news channel

With the news channel, the internet marketplace manages to unite her news features in China site to international edition. Content and photos are different but certainly give us a panoramic view of what’s happened in both languages. It’s a good move to increase site stickiness. 

We would like to make some suggestions:

  • Create more linkages between the news features and news channel. Now the features page has a different set of url with its news section. Navigation seems to be a bit odd to us!
  • The photo images highlight are flashy, users need a pair of “robot eyes” to catch the motion!
  • RSS feature is required
  • Avoid having too much pop-ups

 

 

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What’s the first thing that will come across your mind when it comes down to search in the sourcing world? Most users will essentially look for “products”.

Alibaba.com’s latest move to swap the products and selling leads tabs in the search box will make some differences. It helps users to find suppliers’ products more easily. Users don’t need to press on the Product tab in order to start searching. With that changes, they don’t need to think – a move to echo with Steve Krug’s ultimate rule – “Don’t make me think!”.

Product tab

To suppliers, they should be proud of having a flurry of their own products marching across their websites or the B2B trading platform. In fact, the more exposure their products get in the marketplace, the more likely they get business.

What’s the differences between selling leads and products? According to Alibaba.com, they are the same except one thing: product posting does not have a limited lifespan. Selling leads will expire and be removed from search result pages.

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