Not Walmart, Amazon or Costco – these guys know how to sell tires online!

I am in the market to buy new tires for my car these days. The old ones have served me well but my service guy tells me that all four of them need a change. The type of tires I have on my car, cost more than $1000 to replace. So that automatically puts me in research mode to make sure I get the right product at a good price.

I checked prices in some local shops and figured that their cost is at least 10-15% higher than online sellers. Costco had a pretty good deal for the tires and they recommended these tires:

I also noticed that in their left side navigation, they let me look at other options using these filters:

So far so good. I wanted to make sure that this was a good deal so I also checked Walmart for tires. These are the filters I found there:

Impressive!

While I was at it, I also checked out Amazon and found these helpful filters to find the right tire:

Super Impressive!

Now I am not a tire expert and there are a lot of specifications that did not make any sense to me. I was intrigued by the Tire Speed Rating and did some googling on that to land up on this link:

This was a super helpful – now I know speed rated W tires from speed rated V tires. That would make for an interesting conversation at one of our get togethers.

I also noticed that these guys also sell tires. So I decided to get a quote from these guys too. They had a best selling tire that fit my bill:

And they also had great reviews and awesome price. So, I decided to place an order here. When I started the checkout process, they asked me for my car’s make and model. After I keyed in that information, they told me:

That was an eye opener. In fact, for my particular case, it was a deal breaker. My car does not come with a spare tire, not even the small, odd sized tire that is supposed to get you 50 odd miles so you can find a repair shop. My car depends on the tires to be ‘Run-Flat’ to get me to a point of service. Without Run Flat tires, the car cannot go anywhere without severe wheel damage.

I checked their navigation filters once again and found this:

In absence of this knowledge, I would have ordered the wrong tire only to find out during installation that it was not the right fit. Then an expensive return process would have followed in which both – the Retailer & I, would have lost money and time.

My colleague had written a post some time back on how filters are navigation are silent killers for eCommerce because they lead to unintentional returns.

This is a very difficult problem to solve. In defense of large retailers like Walmart & Amazon – they have a huge list of product categories to manage, as compared to Tire Rack which only has one product line. Plus they also have marketplaces where they let external sellers sell products. That takes this complication to a whole different level.

They spend a lot of time and resources to figure out what are relevant filters for each category. Usually these inputs come from search logs and product descriptions. But there are numerous other sources to tap into to figure out what matters to customers within each product category.

Having spent years working with online retailers, I have understood the importance of knowing that every product category has its own nuances. I believe people care about different things for a camera than they do for blenders. Generic filters like price, make, model, etc. do not help customers make purchase decisions. My tire buying experience has yet again reinforced my philosophy for product discovery.

We use Enterprise AI Technology to figure out problems like these and help in easing merchandiser’s work load to stay on top thousands of product categories – by figuring out what matters to customers and ensuring that customers keep the products they buy.

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