Government to improve digital marketplace search experience

The government has admitted that finding products on its flagship digital marketplace, Cloudstore, is difficult and will overhaul search and categorisation functions.

In February, the government announced that it would work towards integrating the Cloudstore with other government digital frameworks under the new name the Government Digital Marketplace.

In a blog post yesterday, Ivanka Majic, service manager at Digital Commercial Services Programme at the Government Digital Service, confirmed that one of the aims of the rebuilt store would be to improve the ability of public sector customers to find products within the system.

Majic said: “We know that search is a problem within the current Cloudstore but the problem goes deeper than a search engine.

“The issue is about finding things. Technology is only part of the answer. We need to look closely at how products and services have been described and categorised.”

According to her assessment, suppliers have included marketing information, employed keywords and other tactics to try to attract buyers.

She said that this has made “many descriptions and product titles confusing and difficult to clearly understand”.

In turn, Majic added, it makes it more difficult for buyers to establish if their search results do indeed represent answers to their query.

“Simply put, if potential buyers can’t find services, and feel confident in them, they aren’t able to buy them,” he said.

The government will now help suppliers learn and adapt to the marketplace, and how to improve their offerings to make them easier to find.

It is holding regular user research sessions and Majic said more detail of the results would be published.

An Alpha version of the Digital Marketplace will include a new search experience, test ideas for suppliers to understand their listings, introduce new ideas around researching and comparing products and services, in addition to testing processes for deciding what a good description looks like.

In December, it was revealed that around 90 per cent of UK councils haven’t made a procurement using the government’s G-Cloud service, with more than three quarters saying they don’t know what they would use it for.

Colin Marrs

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