off target.com: issues with metadata and online shopping

Dear Target.com,

I just moved back to Raleigh, NC a few months ago for a new job.

Everything's great, I'm with my friends again, I like my job/co-workers … and my apartment.

Well, not quite yet.

I'm still working on getting the place furnished and not only do I find shopping of this sort annoying, it's also really stressful.

Thankfully, you sell a lot of the stuff I need and I made a big purchase on your website yesterday for various household items.

And while I've already handed over to you a good deal of money, I'm now going to offer you some advice.

Work on your metadata.

Facets are virtually ubiquitous on shopping websites now. And I used them quite a bit last night to find what I wanted.

But I couldn't help but notice that when trying to limit a search for "dinnerware sets" to only those made by the "Threshold" company (which seems like a company you likely own or have an exclusive deal with …) that there were two facets, one for "Threshold" and one for "Threshold™". Here's a screenshot.

Personally, I don't particularly like seeing a trademark symbol in a my facet/filter values because it's just so very corporate. Your site should draw me in, akin to literary suspension of disbelief, and make me forgot that I'm buying and spending money. The experience should divert my attention to the idea that I'm acquiring things – for me. The fact that you profit from this acquisition shouldn't be at the forefront on my mind. But that little trademark symbol kind of messes up the illusion.

But really, you should be more worried that you seem to have two facets, both which point to the same idea, yet are distinct. So depending on which facet I select, I get different results when I should be getting all the dish sets made by that company because you should only have one unifying facet for that company.

Sure, maybe you're getting the metadata from the company. But it's still your job to try and make sure those inconsistencies don't reach the consumer.

Also, while I was looking at a specific comforter set, I saw the options for both "FULL/QUEEN" and "Full/Queen" sizes. Here's a screenshot.

Of course, when I selected either the blue or the grey color, I saw that the blue comforter was the item with the fully capitalized sizes (here's a screenshot) and the grey set was the one using the normal case sizes (here's a screenshot).

Now, I could suggest some ways to try and work on these inconsistencies, but I've already given you a good deal of my money (damn you little trademark symbol for making me aware of that!) and some things you should consider working on.

The better your metadata, the better your user experience can be, and the more money you can make. You would be shocked(!) that some people don't understand that metadata is part of UI/UX! Hopefully, that includes many of your competitors and not you. By the way, while there are a lot of technical solutions to these sorts of problems, in the end these sorts of things come down to thinking problems and communication problems between various groups of people.

Lastly, I'd like to say that I think you do a lot of things well. I'm sure you could find fault with many of the things I do either privately or at work. For example, when it comes to decorating, my sense of style needs at least as much work as your metadata. Actually I think your problem is easier to remedy, I'm sad to say.

While there's no hope for me, there is for you.

Thanks.

Sincerely,
a customer.

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