Google has become synonymous with search, but when it comes to furniture shopping, the site may be selling users short.
On a whim, I decided to give Bing a try to aid in my hunt for the perfect vanity table. For the unfamiliar, vanity or dressing tables epitomize the height of old Hollywood glamour—movies often show starlets perfecting their look in the well-lit mirror.
I already knew what sort of table I wanted—art deco and built from wood—but the ones that Google kept pulling up in regular search left me wanting. Switching over to Google Images helped somewhat, but the process of clicking a picture, closing it out, and then having to navigate the new site was tiresome.
That's when I got the idea to try Bing. MSN's search rival has caught its fair share of flak for having fewer "plugged-in" users, a clunkier system and a bad habit of turning up irrelevant information. And while that's all true, the site's Image section is much more intuitive for shopping. Here's why:
An attractive results page. Shoppers want to see what they're buying, and the best way to get ideas is by looking at pictures. Not only is the quality more crisp to my eyes, users have the option to break down searches by various search terms listed atop the page. Some were throwaways (see "Vanity tables for sale"), but others like "DIY vanity table" turned up some helpful results. You can also search by Related Topics on the right-hand side.
Clicking photos won't bump you off the site. Bing keeps it simple by showing the image on the left hand side, a series of search terms on the right, and the site where the image originally appeared underneath. That's right, you can scroll down to view the site without abandoning your search.
Bonus: Bing replaces its search terms from the previous page with a clickable banner of photos. No going back to view your search or start over again.
More ways to shop. A lesser-known feature of Bing is its Shopping tab. Here you can search by site, price, brand and set type, or just click an image to view an item you like in more detail.
Bing will either boot you to the site where it's being sold or take you to a page with a product description, a list of alternatives sorted by price and stores nearby where you can pick it up.
Again, the site shows a banner of images up top, so you can easily click and view another item.