Hey folks, just something I noticed today. LupEx used to display listings when you search chronologically by who ever had posted most recently. I really liked that way of sorting because it felt considerably more fair and evened out the playing field. However, I just now noticed that when I list hops and search that variety, Im way down the list under “Featured” vendors. Can someone explain why this change was made and what “Featured” vendors even means? I understand that the search can be configured to display price/recent/distance/etc but its just weird to me that the default search is now heavily weighted to “Featured” vendors.
In May of 2022, you emailed me the following:
“One of the things that has always frustrated me about LupEx too is the listing order is chronological, really incentivizing people to relist hops often to remain top of the pile.”
I agreed with you and that was one of the reasons we made this change.
Featured listings come from CO-HOP suppliers. When a brewery purchases a featured listing, it improves their CO-HOP release ratio, which is one of the metrics in the brewery risk score calculation that determines a brewery’s eligibility.
The default “featured” sort displays all featured listings first, followed by Best Deals. I’ve been meaning to write up a post to explain Best Deals because a few folks have asked. Best Deals compares the list price to trading price history for the same combination of variety, crop year, and hop product. The bigger the delta, the better the deal.
Regardless, I don’t think many brewers are shopping based on results pre-search. Most brewers come to the site with a mission to get specific varieties. Now they can leverage more sophisticated search, filter, and sorting options to find exactly what they need.
Makes sense, sorry those two points seemed contradictory! For some reason, when I searched “Magnum” to see how things were being displayed right after listing some for sale the entire page was unrelated varieties from “Featured” vendors? It was odd prompting this questions. I just checked again and it seems that only happens if you dont enter a variety in the search bar and hit enter, then the whole page is basically “Featured/Co-Hop” listings which makes sense.
I agree that it sure seems brewers tend to refine their searches and the updated funcionality makes that better than ever for them!
Thanks for the explanation and continuing to operate a great site! Cheers!
I don’t mind the sort defaulting to Featured when you view listings. I do wish that once I change it to a different sort option it would stay with that sort option. If I select a variety, then change my sort option, and then select a filter such as year, the sort returns to Featured. I would like to see it stay at selected sort option until I clear all filters or until I change variety.
Thanks, Randy. I’ll look into that.
It’s still a work in progress evidently. The sorting feature is still buggy.
Agreed, still a little screwy
I have noticed that our LEX sales have decreased since the listing order changed. The current system prioritizes price over anything else and that makes it even harder for small farms to be relevant on the site. I was wondering if you would consider adding a feature that highlights small/independent/owner operated farms? We think that LEX is a great website but are worried that the new listing system is going to push small growers out. I’m open to ideas! Thank you.
@brian1 Everything is a work in progress. I’m unaware of any bugs - if you think there is a bug, please report it.
I think I like Randy’s suggestion for changing the behavior to make a selected sort persist, but I’m waiting to see how many hearts his post gets, so I can get an idea of whether or not that’s what the majority of users want.
I don’t agree with your statement:
“The current system prioritizes price over anything else”
To prioritize price over anything else, we’d always sort by cheapest. But we’ve never done that. The expanded filter, search, and sort capabilities make it easier for brewers to find exactly what they want. If a brewer wants to search by any combination of price, brand, crop year, package size, seller’s profile score, shipping speed, distance, storage condition or location, lot reviews, attributes, or growing region, etc. it is now much easier for them to do so. That’s not prioritizing price but allowing each brewer to choose their own priorities.
Anecdotally, I can tell you that price has become a greater priority for more brewers than was the case in past years. This is the beginning of a long-term trend that has nothing to do with LEx. It’s a result of the 40+ million pound surplus of hops announced during the annual Hop Growers Convention in January, slowing consumer demand for craft beer, the rising costs to operate a brewery, and nearly every brewery in the country reporting that they are:
“madly overstocked like so many breweries”
“still working through contracts we signed a few years ago.”
The decrease in sales that you’ve observed is likely due to market conditions rather than recent improvements made to LEx. You’re also facing increased competition. Just about every hop grower & merchant is now listing on LEx. That means you’re now competing with direct listings from the largest growers & merchants in the PNW, all of whom are trying to unload their share of that 40+ million pound surplus.
Would I consider adding a feature that highlights small/independent/owner-operated farms? I’d consider it if a large number of breweries were asking for this, but that’s not the case and here’s why I don’t think it’s a good idea: Highlighting any particular group of sellers isn’t consistent with the purpose of LEx. There are both large & small growers on LEx with good & bad track records. I’d rather highlight a seller’s performance against metrics that brewers care about rather than highlight a seller’s size. My job is to transparently present relevant information to brewers and give them the tools they need to make their own decisions. If a brewer wants to prioritize hops grown in Vermont (or quality, shipping speed, etc.) over price, we already make that easy for them to do. To be relevant on LEx, a seller (regardless of size) needs to be competitive in many areas (reliability, quality, shipping speed, response time, etc.) and offer varieties brewers want at prices they are willing to pay.
I can certainly empathize with how difficult it must for a small hop farm to compete on LEx (and anywhere else) but doing anything to tip the scales in your favor doesn’t feel fair or consistent with our purpose/mission, and I don’t think that’s what brewers want or expect from LEx.