If your online commerce site returns the equivalent of a blank stare to a shopper’s search query, the site probably missed out on a conversion. Add a few dozen, hundred, or more, and the lost conversions become significant. It’s a situation ecommerce pros will want to address.
One helpful item comes from Search Technologies, part of Accenture. The concern recently released their report, U.S. E-Commerce Site Search Evaluation. Their intent: determining key features and functions of site search leading to improved conversions and revenue.
Site visitors want their expected results
Search Technologies shared some insights with EcommerceBytes on the topic, such as the importance of effective site search. “Consider this: a search on your e-commerce site returns many results but none is what the shopper is looking for. Or the product is in your inventory but won’t show up because the user types in a synonym rather than an exact match. As shoppers have become familiar with Google and Amazon, they would expect site search to work as well elsewhere.”
“So site search functionalities are important for a simple reason: without them, your online shoppers will not find what they need and may abandon their carts, leave your website, and worse, turn to your competitors for future purchases.”
Does your search do the basics well?
Where to focus one’s efforts on improving site search? Search Technologies noted, “As every business is different, the most essential feature for a site would depend on the business and its shoppers. In most cases, it’s practical to first make sure that the basic features are working well before planning enhancements/more complex ones.”
“For example, once we implemented three basic features – Query Completion, Spell Correction, and “Did You Mean” – for a client, they immediately saw a 2% increase in conversion rate and 50% reduction in failed queries. We use a Site Search Optimization Scorecard to guide this process – note that the features on the scorecard can be organized differently based on where a company’s site search is at.”
Here are some examples of the problems Query Completion, Spell Correction, and “Did You Mean” are trying to solve for:
A shopper might search for a “cuting board” instead of a “cutting board.”
A shopper might enter the term “pop” for a carbonated beverage when a merchant may refer to it as “soda.”
In addition, when a user begins typing search terms, it is a best practice for the search engine to type ahead to predict what the user is trying to find.
How can you proceed with search improvements?
Online sellers may face one or more challenges in implementing effective site search themselves, for various reasons. Said Search Technologies, “Many times, it is because of the lack of specialized search expertise and effective metrics to identify the functionalities that are missing or need improvements. Or, the feature gaps may have been identified, but internal skills/resources are insufficient to successfully solve them.”
“In addition, businesses using out-of-the-box e-commerce search products may find it challenging to add new features or tweak the existing ones to work for their requirements.”
The essence of providing search functions expected by site visitors weighs upon conversions and profitability. In an unforgiving competitive arena, fulfilling common expectations could be the most important process a site improves.