Don't assume navigation is one-size-fits-all. Just because your site has top-level navigation, breadcrumb trails, history lists, tags clouds, a search box, and footer links you can't assume it will be successful. Of course, content is king, which Google tells you here (Best SEO advice anyone could offer by the way), but this is not about content. It's about navigation. Navigation on e-Commerce sites. Our research has concluded that there is so much room for new, product-driven navigation on the web today.
A statement like that needs a little backing up to support it. Let me illustrate. Diapers.com is growing by leaps and bounds in sales and product depth, just search around for case studies and you'll see what I'm talking about, and the navigation is evolving to support the changes. Selecting a product category on the top-level navigation returns a page that includes left side filter navigation which has values dependent on the product category level. This is slowly becoming the standard on e-Commerce sites, but there is so much more. When I create an account and login, then I'm able plug family members, but the function is limited. Sure, I can enter gender, age, and return to the home page and be shown targeted products.
How about being even more obvious about it. Help me so I can help you attitude. What if you could enter current weight and height, or allergies, or very unique health preferences that allow the product selections to be targeted in new ways? Even asking questions as to what toys my daughter plays with to begin developing a persona to better assist product targeting could be done. Then, when I shop for my daughter, the whole site could change and only display products for a two-year. Even the filters would adjust. It's a mode I can toggle.
On our website, JustBats.com, we offer category drill-down navigation, top-level navigation, search, a bat wizard, and filter-based refinement. We've come this conclusion about navigation due to the bat wizard to be very popular. People need help buying products on the web and the old navigation methods are just not going to work anymore. Understanding your products to a level where you can ask several questions and know what a customer needs reminds me of customer service in a small-town hardware store. That's a good feeling to some, but being able to find the product quickly and easily is a good feeling to others so investing in this type of navigation can greatly benefit new and existing customers.
These new micro-targeted navigation elements are coming to a website near you very soon.