What is Faceted Search?

Wikipedia definition: Faceted Search

Faceted search is a technique which involves augmenting traditional search techniques with a faceted navigation system, allowing users to narrow down search results by applying multiple filters based on faceted classification of the items.[1] A faceted classification system classifies each information element along multiple explicit dimensions, called facets, enabling the classifications to be accessed and ordered in multiple ways rather than in a single, pre-determined, taxonomic order.[1]


Facets correspond to properties of the information elements. They are often derived by analysis of the text of an item using entity extraction techniques or from pre-existing fields in a database such as author, descriptor, language, and format. Thus, existing web-pages, product descriptions or online collections of articles can be augmented with navigational facets.

Why doesn’t faceted search or search filter options provide a great customer experience for industrial supply websites?

•Large volume of catalog DATA

•Industrial suppliers generally carry from 50,000 up to a few million SKU’s depending on the size of the industrial supplier.

•Not only are there a lot of SKU’s but they are complex product categories.

•A simple search hex cap screw can have 15,000 or more results based on diameters, thread pitch, length, grade, materials, plating, etc.

•Translating all this data and product catalogs into a digital representation that is easy to use and accurately displays complex product categories has been difficult for distributors and manufacturers.

•eCommerce hasn’t changed in over 20 years, up to this point the only method available for sorting these complex product categories has been faceted search filters.

Check out our video showing how faceted search works for industrial products. We are using the Fastenal website for example but understand that all industrial suppliers are currently using the same method for search, sort and display of complex product categories like Fasteners. We’ll be looking at buying Bolts for the example.