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10 Tips for Improving eCommerce Search Functionality

One of the most foundational elements of your online store is the product search bar. Learn what features and functions to implement now for maximum customer benefit and improved conversions.

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10 Tips for Improving Your eCommerce Search Functionality

One of the most important components of an eCommerce site is an optimized search and an organized online catalog. Unfortunately, some eCommerce site searches and catalogs leave a lot to be desired. 

Companies that optimize their eCommerce search functions see a 43% increase in conversion rates on average.  In fact, visitors that take advantage of site search functionality tend to:

  • Account for nearly 14% of all revenue
  • Convert at a three-time higher rate
  • Spend 15% more per visit on average  

With these facts in mind, this blog post will lay out ten best practices for creating powerful site search experiences. 

1. Create the right search engine

Creating a good eCommerce site search function requires thought, analysis, and planning. Ultimately, an effective site search function should lead customers directly to the products they are looking for with minimal effort. A site search function should also be able to answer common questions and provide relevant product suggestions. In general, a site search bar exists to move prospects closer to purchase and improve conversion rates. Whether an online retailer chooses to partner with an eCommerce solutions partner to provide this function or build their own with custom code, site search exists to drive sales. 

2. Make the search box easy to find

Research shows that 30% of site visitors will use a search box when the feature is offered. So why do so many eCommerce sites make it hard to find? The search box should be placed in the top-right corner or center of a page for visibility. It should also be distinctively designed to stand out with high-visibility contrast. The font should be clear and accessible. Make it at least 27 characters wide with a clear CTA. The search box is your customer’s gateway to your site, so don’t make them hunt for it. 

3. Maintain an organized product catalog

A well-maintained product catalog keeps your products findable. It also provides accurate product information. Give online customers all the details they need to make a good purchase. According to Helena Lessare, one of Scalefast‘s Product Analysts, this is the main function of the product catalog. “The key for a good search tool is to use a very efficient and strong search engine,” she says. “By focusing on those attributes of a product that are less variable and more popular among customers, you make it easy for visitors to find what they need quickly.” 

4. Streamline with autocomplete search

Utilize autocomplete and autosuggest techniques that can predict and provide different types of search results. The best site searches can anticipate where a search is headed and offer suggestions, even as customers type in just a few characters. Keep in mind that customers might not know a product name or the correct spelling. Fortunately, typos and misspellings are no match for good autocomplete features. 

Image of young man outside city at night using his mobile phone

5. Prioritize mobile search

Searches from mobile devices now account for 65% of all eCommerce traffic, so a fast return of results and ease of use are essential to keep customers engaged. Some smart ways to improve the mobile customer shopping and search experience include: 

6. Practice "searchandising"

“Searchandising”, (aka search merchandising) is the technique of tailoring search results to fit specific criteria. Properly merchandised search results can highlight trending and seasonal products. Searchandising can also showcase related products with higher profit margins. Retailers can also provide specific search filters to help consumers find new, relevant, and attribute-specific products. 

Search results can be personalized based on past order history. If your eCommerce solutions provider has the capability to map past customer purchases to in-store search results, retailers should take advantage.

7. Use search to make your visitors feel special

Today’s customers expect personalized experiences. Personalized search results can be individualized based on factors such as:

  • purchase history
  • search history
  • browsing behavior
  • customer demographics
  • and more

When done right, personalization leads to better sales, conversion rates, and increased customer trust. In fact, a recent report reveals that 91% of consumers will buy from brands that personalize and cater the digital experiences to them

8. Make search fast

In eCommerce, milliseconds matter. A website that is built for speed will have better sales and customer retention than a slow site. This is especially true for users shopping on mobile. So just how important is speed to site search? According to Google, just a 0.1-second improvement in site load speed can lead to an 8.4% increase in conversion

9. Keep your customers engaged

Nothing will have customers bouncing faster than a “no results found” search result. Avoid this by anticipating common spelling errors and typos with autocomplete. You can also offer visitors a chance to browse through curated product selections. Suggest related products, or provide a link to your customer service contact channels. 

10. Conduct A/B testing

Gather invaluable insight into your eCommerce site’s search performance with A/B testing. The results of your testing and analysis could yield new marketing ideas, such as revised product placement strategies, and targeted search results. Continually work to enhance the search experience by taking a customer-first approach to queries and results. 

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