How can Amazon still have such suckass search a quarter century and billions into it?

So funny, their search is significantly better than most shopping sites.
Try Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, Best Buy, Target or WalMart as a comparison.

Their delivery and tracking blows away everyone else and still complaints.

I want to know what benchmark they’re being compared to?

I mean, they’re common, but that’s not built into the email protocols that actually move them from person to person. But I just looked at my Gmail account and it seems to have quite a lot of advanced features that match what you want. It has nested labels (which can be used as a folder tree) and it looks like some ways to customize filtering, etc. although I personally find it’s default behavior good enough for my purposes. It’s rare for actual unsolicited spam to end up in my main inbox. And it does a lot of “smart” things like flagging important looking email and reminding me to respond to things that look like actual conversations. I may not like all of these features, but I don’t think I could say that there wasn’t a lot of innovation and enhancements being worked on all the time.

I don’t know about “universal” - I assumed Gmail wasn’t an outlier here and other providers would include similar functionality. Perhaps there’s more of a gap between them than I thought?

Off topic sidetrack: it’s short for “happy as a clam at high tide”. In other words, the clam is happy because clam diggers won’t be able to find it. The common omission of the “high tide” part makes the saying somewhat inscrutable.

Google, at least, had a plan to completely rewrite their search engine software every five years or so, to make sure it was never too far out of date.

In this current market environment, everyone’s shipping promises suck.

Here to pile on with 90+% of results that do not match what I typed as search strings but your post reminded me of an incident. I accidently found something I wanted on Amazon through Google but I blew out the page. Went back on Amazon. Absolutely no search I put in with combos of key words could find that product - including the key words I used in Google. Eventually had to go back to Google search to re-find the product.

Yeah, mine is not as sophisticated.

This. Even moreso with brand names that are not often used as generic terms (I think Xacto has become a bit of a generic term). If I search for a specific brand of something that’s not a generic term, I want that brand. But, they must have data showing it’s better to make it the third result in some cases. Maybe to bracket its price? (As in, people are more likely to buy something that’s seen as a middle-priced option.)

Also, I’m sure that they are capable of making a search for “real leather” or “full grain leather” exclude results with “PU leather” and “faux leather” in the title, but they clearly don’t want to. I find it infuriating that there’s no way to exclude those results. Similarly, I’ve actually bought accessories for the wrong phone on two occasions because I failed to notice when I searched for my phone model that it said, e.g., “Pixel 2, not Pixel 2 XL” in the title, which then was returned as a search result for “Pixel 2XL.”

Yes, this too.

I truly don’t understand how Walmart has any online sales. I cannot find even the most basic product information on their site. Which is fine because I don’t want to buy from them anyway. But why would anyone with such crappy listings?

I just want to note that the distinguishing factor about Google hasn’t ever been in the utility of its searching syntax, but rather in the relevance of the returns that you specified using the syntax. So Google not only gives you what you ask for, it returns them in a way that’s purportedly more relevant to you.

Amazon’s problem isn’t quite the same thing. If it was, what we’d see would be things like searching for “Xacto Knife” and getting stuff like an Xacto brand box-cutter (they make one actually) showing up first, instead of the archetypical pointy craft knife. That fits the search term, but isn’t really what people mean by “xacto knife”.

But instead what we see with Amazon is that their search engine just returns stuff that kinda, sorta lines up with what you specified. If I search for “craft knife”, and click the “X-Acto” box under “Brand”, I get all sorts of X-acto stuff, but not necessarily the union of the set of things with “Craft Knife” and “X-Acto” brand. That’s the problem. For example, doing that exact search returns an X-Acto brand paper guillotine cutter. That’s X-Acto, but hardly a craft knife.

Yeah, for all the bitching about Amazon, Wal-mart is worse. But differently- their search engine works ok, but the problem is divining which results are going to stick you with shipping charges, which ones are in-store only, and so on.

Amazon does that work thing where if you search for a 10 inch thingie, most of the results will be thingies that are bigger or smaller than 10 inches, mainly because at some point those stores sold 10 inch thingies but are long out of stock but they keep the listing on to drag you in and force you to buy a 9 inch thingie instead.

Exactly what I came here to say. I Google what I want first, and often end up getting it from Amazon. But it’s just plain weird to find something on Google that Amazon can’t seem to find at all.

Damnit. I knew that. Thanks totally though, and cheers

There’s a better Amazon search tool here:

Actually it’s just a more advanced interface to the native Amazon search. So it still sucks in some of the same ways, but does at least allow sorting by relevance and a few other things.

For some reason though I’m occasionally getting server error (500) from the site. Your mileage may vary.

Works for me, and it works a bit better.

I don’t use most of those sites very much, but I tend to have pretty good results using Walmart’s native search.

It’s worse than it used to be. I will type in a specific title, author, and format and be redirected to other products.

Perhaps you have heard of the global pandemic and associated supply chain issues?

Pandemic? Supply chain issues? What’s that?

Amazon suffers from the same shit that social media suffers from. The platform isn’t bad but the userbase (sellers) is out of control and unwieldy, and whatever automated tools they have to control it aren’t worth shit.

I have clients with web stores with hundreds of products, and they can’t be fucked to fill in all the right details for each item. The details are missing or incorrect. Amazon has thousands of sellers each selling hundreds to thousands of products with missing or incorrect details.

Then Amazon also has shady sellers that try to manipulate their exposure in search results by purposely adding incorrect information. And/or flooding the results with slightly tweaked “different” versions of products sold by “different” sellers who are all the same.

Because of all the missing details (I promise you most listings for 10" thingies have totally not included the 10" in their item detail field for “size” because that’d be too tedious for the seller), Amazon probably has a helpful algorithm to help fill in details for items based off their title. This is why you see items titled like “RED ROUND MICKEY MOUSE CLOCK ANALOG 12-INCH FACE TIMEX” where on a regular store with its own curated inventory it would just be titled “Mickey Mouse Clock.” Because they can use those titles to inject themselves into search results and be lazy on the fine details.

Amazon even has sellers that switch up their products within their product page. Check out reviews sometimes…they’ll be for a completely different product than you’re looking at. The sellers will replace an item with a lot of positive reviews with some new, unrelated item and get themselves better search results based on the ratings of the other product. Whee!

Anyway, Amazon sucks since they opened themselves up to third party suppliers/sellers. It’s the Wild West out there. Wal Mart did the same and their search is just as messy. I even find that Etsy search results get similarly messy, with people trying to get an edge by fudging details and ending up in random search results.

You get the best store search results when you have the most product attributes to catalog, and none of the sellers are doing it. Or if they’re doing it, they’re doing it half-assed.

Google does it better because, as someone else said, they are scraping the words on the page and have more intelligent algorithms. But Google isn’t trying to be a store so they HAVE to have these powerful algorithms. Amazon is probably pulling their hair out saying “HEY WE ARE A STORE SO JUST ADD YOUR PRODUCT ATTRIBUTES THEN EVERYTHING WOULD BE EASILY FILTERED.”

Don’t get too deep into Amazon search results. After the first few items or so, it’s all bullshit.

It’s the same reason the grocery store re-arranges the shelves on a regular basis. The additional time you have to spend searching while seeing a bunch of other stuff is not a bug, it’s a feature. They’re hoping you see more stuff you want to buy. Apparently, it works often enough to make it worthwhile to them.