Six important steps to successfully implementing ecommerce site search as well as a few features to consider adding to your site search short list (updated from an earlier article in this blog by Todd Follansbee).
From one of Google’s Blogs, “In the online shopping world, site search quality is a huge factor in converting browsers to buyers, and in keeping customers happy. In fact, 43% of visitors to online retail sites say the very first thing they do is type the product name or product category into the search box (Source: Marketing Sherpa).
While most of the top retailers have a search engine on their websites, the speed and accuracy of search results can make a real difference in visitor engagement and conversion rates. Visitors spend an average of only 8 seconds before deciding whether or not to remain on a website (so fast, accurate results can make a big difference in conversions)”. (Source Marketing Sherpa).
6 Steps to Successful Ecommerce Site Search Implementation
One: Place your search box in one of the places people expect it to be found such as above the navigation bar (see examples below).
Make the search box field large enough to handle most inquiries without the search term scrolling to the left as it’s typed.
Follow the convention of using a “Search” or “Go” button to the left or right, along with the term “enter search” or something instructive such as “enter item # or keyword” in the search field. Of course, make sure “enter search” disappears as soon as the first character is entered in the search box.
Examples of Site Search Placement
Notice the similar placement in all the above?
Two: Insure that your site search tool records the search terms that people enter so you can review them at your convenience.
Three: Insure that the search tool is able to be modified to “map” results to existing and new terms. So that, for example, a hungry Cajun from New Orleans can enter “Poor Boy” or even the colloquial “Po Boy” and find it mapped to the sandwich results instead of getting a “nothing found” response.
Here’s an Example to Try:
Go to LL Bean’s site, www.llbean.com, and search on “tops”.
Notice that many of the results do not include the word “top” or “tops” in the descriptions. Apparently they have “mapped” these products to be retuned for this common search phrase.
Four: Review the results for products people search for that you don’t carry. Should you consider carrying them?
Five: Map misspelled variations people are searching for to the proper results.
Six: Monitor the search terms carefully and use the information to improve your site. People may be asking for a variety of information which should be apparent at first glance. They should never have to search for contact information, basic product categories or your location. Even though it will be obvious to you, if others are searching, consider modifying the site to improve its visibility.
Some Features to Consider Putting On Your Site Search Short List
Google released its Commerce Search (GCS) last November and while we’re not advocating for Google’s site search, you have to figure these guys know a little about search! Here are some important features in Google’s Commerce Search that you might want to make sure your site search handles.
Search Suggest and Auto completion. You’ve seen this on Google’s web search and it’s very helpful in site search too. As the shopper types into the search field suggestions build up in a drop down below. The shopper only needs to point and click on a suggested search phrase to complete the search.
Search Suggest and Auto completion
Spell check, stemming and synonyms – By leveraging the larger Google search engine, GCS can include these advanced search and synonym options, so the shopping experience is smoother for customers – even customers who mistype.
Parametric search and sorting – GCS allows users to refine or sort results by category, price, brand, or other attribute; this is fully-functional parametric search for e-stores.
You often get only one chance to make a sale and many folks won’t come back if they don’t find what they need. Use the right search tool and optimize its results and you will increase conversions and improve customer satisfaction (and loyalty).
Side Bar: I was recently shopping for something online for bicycling. There was a listing on a review site for two online sites that carry a product I was looking for. I went to the first and didn’t see a site search and didn’t quickly see the vendor’s name for the product I was looking for. So I hit the “Back” Button and went to the other retailer’s site.
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