Brett happens

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The new SAQ.com: cons (search engine and results)

with 8 comments

While searches are much improved on the new site, they’re far from perfect.

  • The typing cursor used to default to the search box on every page. Now it doesn’t. You now have to click the search box before entering your search string. Why?
  • The search engine doesn’t recognize Boolean or other operators. The search string alsace -riesling displays – wait for it – Rieslings. Why can’t I search for every Alsatian product that isn’t a Riesling?
  • From the search results page, you used to be able to get to the Availability in Outlets page with one click. Now if you click the Available in Outlets bar under the product’s picture, it takes you to the product info page, where you then have to click the Availability in Outlets button.
  • Narrowing the search results down to a district of a city used to require selecting an option from a single drop-down menu. Now it requires selecting a option from two drop-down menus (more clicks, more mousing).
  • The search results take up far more real estate. On my monitor at the site’s default size setting, I see the full results for a grand total of four products and partial results for four more. To see the remaining 12 products (at the default setting of 20 results per page), I have to scroll.
  • You can’t select more than one option in a filter. If you want to know which champagnes are available in 375 ml and 500 ml formats, you have to do two searches.
  • The Price filter tops out at $40. That’s too low a bar these days: there are currently more than 3,000 wines that meet that description! I’m often asked to recommend an expensive bottle to mark a wine lover’s birthday or anniversary, so it’s clear people would find it useful to search for bottles priced between, say $75 and $125. Or sparklers over $150. You can’t do that now.
  • The Price filter brackets over $20 are too broad: $20.00 to $29.99; $30.00 to $39.99; $40 and more. At the very least, the ranges should be in increments of $4.99.
  • On the other hand, why not just let users set their own price range parameters? It’s not hard to imagine people looking for wines that cost, say, $30 give or take a couple of bucks. Why can’t they set the price range filter for $28 to $32? As it stands now, they’d have to do a search for bottles between $20 and $29.99 and then another search for bottles between $30 and $39.99 and then sort each set of results by price. Same thing if you’re looking for a product between $20 and $40. Ridiculous!
  • When you search for a product’s availability based on your postal code or district, the results are displayed as a list. Why not on a map?
  • You still can’t display a given outlet’s inventory (reportedly to come in a future version).
  • ADDED 13/02/18: The product descriptions on the Availability in Outlets pages have been condensed to the point of obscurity. For example, take the two currently available wines from Clos Canarelli. Vintage, price and SAQ code aside, the descriptions for the red and white are identical. Unless you remember that the red is the 2010, say, or the white runs $39.25, you’re not going to know which product’s availability you’re looking at. The description on the product info page includes the category (e.g. red wine) and size (e.g. 750 ml). Why not include them on the availability page too?
  • ADDED 13/06/09: The search engine distinguishes between accented and unaccented characters. It shouldn’t. Many anglos (and quite a few francos) don’t type accents or don’t know how to. Confounding the issue, the SAQ is inconsistent, sometimes spelling Barmès (as in Barmès Buecher) with the accent and other times without. As a result, searching for barmès currently finds four wines (three of them from Barmès Buecher) while searching for barmes finds three different Barmès Buecher wines. In an ideal world, searching for barmès or barmes would turn up all seven wines.
  • ADDED 13/07/31: Language discrimination! Plug Noilly into the French SAQ.com search engine and you’ll get back: Cinzano extra sec, Martini sec and Stock extra sec. Plug it into the English engine and you’ll get back zilch.
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Written by carswell

February 14, 2013 at 12:08

Posted in Commentary

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8 Responses

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  1. Your comments are great! One thing I noticed – if I do a search for stores in my region (Laurentides), They still show the stores for Montreal but it shows up as a big black and gray blob. It looks amateurish and if I wanted to see Montreal stores I would have asked for them!!

    Linda

    February 14, 2013 at 12:16

    • Sounds bad, Linda, though I’m having trouble reproducing the bug. What wine were you searching for? Did you set the region for Laurentides and not specify a city? Have just tried Borsao and Big House Red in the Laurentides region with no city specified and get the inventories only for Laurentian outlets. No Montreal outlets listed.

      This does have me wondering why we can’t change the number of outlets displayed per page (ten). Product searches let you display 20, 60 or 100 results.

      carswell

      February 14, 2013 at 12:55

  2. When I search GUILLAUME on SAQ.com English, I get good results. When I search GUILLAUME on SAQ.com français I get this:

    “Recherche pour GUILLAUME – 0 résultats

    Voulez-vous essayer de parcourir le catalogue des produits, l’outil d’accords vins et mets ou la section Trouver une succursale?

    Vous pouvez aussi relancer votre recherche en utilisant un autre terme.”

    This behaviour only seems to apply when my SAQ.com search is launched by upper case letters.

    Marcus Gilliam (@weingolb)

    February 20, 2013 at 11:55

    • Just tried it, Marcus. Uppercase doesn’t work but lowercase does. How bizarre.
      Over on Fou du vin, someone reports that search strings that include hyphens (e.g. st-émilion) return radically fewer results than those that left them out (e.g. st émilion).
      Some of the errors reported to date have been fixed. Am hoping these will be too. (It appears that the SAQ.com team is reading online error reports and adding them to its to-do list. Judging by the number of hits this post has been getting, they may well be checking this site too.)

      carswell

      February 20, 2013 at 12:13

  3. Per your last comment, this is invaluable bug reporting for the SAQ.
    I don’t mean to excuse the shortfalls and blind spots but I think google and other search portals have taught us to expect more of site search than is reasonable. The major search portals, and sites like Amazon, have invested massively is getting search right. (When the SAQ Annual Report is published we might see a line item for this site.)
    The SAQ site appears to be all new and the search engine would be the one area that would improve most after launch. No matter how you test it in the shop, you can’t beat having tens of thousands of live users bash at it.
    The good news is that the SAQ.com search engine is reacting to all this test data. That’s a massive improvement over the old site, which I don’t think advanced at all over the years.

    Re your fourth point, I think this is an improvement. The first pull-down is a query for what region you are looking in, which then sets the contents of the second, sub-regional pull-down. I’ve yet to select an option from the second pull-down and get a null result for that sub-region. That used to drive me crazy, and was one of the huge advantages of the mobile app over the website.

    Elkin

    February 22, 2013 at 16:46

    • You’re right about the contextual pruning of the pull-downs, Elkin. It’s a definite improvement, though not one that affects me much, since I almost always use the postal code search (nicely implemented except for your having to enter the code for each and every search). My point about the new site’s increased clicking and mousing here and elsewhere still stands, however. Those are user interface flaws.

      And, yes, there are bound to be early bugs in any system that involves real-time inventories of 10,000+ products in 400+ outlets. It’s impressive that, out of the gate, it’s working as well as it is. I’ve found another one, by the way: Thursday’s tasting included the 2011 Bandol blanc from Domaine La Suffrene ($22.85, 11903491), which I’d bought at the Laurier West outlet earlier in the day. Searches on the name, product code, appellation, etc. give you zero results. Oddly, though, when you start typing the name in the search box, the suggested keywords include “suffrene” and “suffrene bandol.”

      carswell

      February 22, 2013 at 20:03

  4. I can’t believe they still haven’t fixed the navigation bug in search results/product listings.
    Navigate to Produits > Champagnes et mousseux and then browse the listing to page 2, or deeper. Select a product to view in detail, then go back, and you end up on the first page of the listing.
    Tedious!

    Elkin

    July 17, 2013 at 08:20

    • Tedious indeed. I’ve adopted the habit of right-clicking the link and opening the product info page in a new tab.

      carswell

      July 17, 2013 at 08:26


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