Site Search

by Ekaterina Kopylova

Why is a good site search so important?

Meeting customer expectations

Thanks to the big players like Amazon, Alibaba, and Walmart, today’s online shoppers have certain expectations for their on-site search experiences: they see a search box as an answering machine and expect immediate, relevant responses to their search queries.

Let’s check out wireless headphones on Amazon. As you start typing, the search box expands the menu with suggestions changing from categories of wireless devices to wireless headphones for particular needs. Try to miss the “e” in “wireless”; the search still understands you. Will you end up on the “no results” page if you search for “bluetooth headphones” instead? No, you will have the same list of results as for “wireless headphones.” 

Features like search autocomplete, typo correction, and synonyms have become e-commerce usability standards and are expected to be in place. They provide the ultimate search experience shoppers have quickly become accustomed to.

But what can smaller retailers do to replicate such digital experiences on their sites to stay in the competitive e-commerce playfield? With the limitations of the native search functionality of popular e-commerce platforms, one practical and budget-friendly way is to integrate a third-party site search app.

Maximizing conversions

A good site search can interpret a searcher’s intent and give relevant results. 

Modern users are less forgiving about inaccurate information. When the search results show “squash soup” when they actually meant ‘squash shoes,” they immediately begin to question the credibility of your site and are ready to leave for good.  

An effective site search goes far beyond just looking for matching words in the product names. The advanced technology behind the e-commerce search engines makes us think of it as having a sales assistant in a physical store that:

  • keeps the customers on the site regardless of how they framed their query
  • suggests relevant offerings or alternatives
  • educates about the product range and helps to make the right choice
  • informs about special offers

And how important is it to have qualified helpful staff in a physical store? Priceless as they do the heavy lifting of converting visitors into customers.

How to use on-site search data (with consent) to understand shopper intent and offer relevant discounts and promotions?

One of the superpowers you get with an advanced site search is promoting products in search by making them more visible in search results with the help of in-built merchandising tools.

But how to decide what products to promote to drive more sales? This can be done only if you have the necessary data. 

Site search apps like collect data of on-site shopper behavior and give you a clear overview of: 

  • how your visitors search: what products they search, what they find, and what they don’t
  • how they interact with search results: products with high and low click-through rates, products bought through search

As a strategically thinking business owner, you can make the best use of this data and adapt your sales and marketing tactics.

Understanding customers’ needs

Knowing your top search terms helps you understand how customers perceive you and come up with relevant offers.

One of our clients, a grocery retailer, found that visitors were entering search terms related to food storage (zipper bags, freezer bags, plastic containers). They did not sell such products but saw this as an opportunity to start carrying such items. As a result, they saw an immediate revenue boost.

Tracking searches that return no results can also be super helpful to discover new trends. Another client of ours, an electronic goods retailer, noticed that a few search queries gave no results. They were “smartphone lens” queries. They researched what they were and realized it is something that was getting trendy. Adding smartphone lenses to their catalog gave them a competitive edge and increased sales.

Homepage merchandising

Around 70% of online shoppers expect to see trending products when they land on a site. Knowing your top searched products can give you ideas on how to arrange your homepage. 

For example, you can create recommendation blocks featuring products that are mostly searched on your site. It’s a great way to catch the attention of “just browsing” visitors and lure them further into your website. You can also apply upsell and cross-sell strategies by enticing visitors with product bundles at reduced prices.

Pricing strategy

Suppose you use a competitor price tracking software to monitor price changes in your market and site search analytics. You discover that last month product A is in “Top search queries” but at the same time has a low click-through rate. This might be the case because the product price customers see in search results is higher than on competitors’ sites, which drives them away. 

You may want to set a lower price than competitors and label this product with a discount tag. Now as your shoppers’ search for product A, they see the discount label in the search results and click to see more.

Examples from the industry

The owner of Suits Outlets, a store that sells suits for men, believes it is crucial that customers find products in 5 clicks. Since shopping for a suit online is different from buying a book, their biggest struggle was to design the user experience to make it easy.

“With Searchanise, we provide a great convenience for customers to directly filter suit size/color/styles and make shopping really easy.” Daniel Liu, the owner.

As a result, Suits Outlets established a strong brand name over a year and now continues to evolve with the industry.

One of the challenges Tapestry Girls, a store that sells furnishings for student dorms, had was staying relevant to changing tastes of college students. They had to come up with some very strategic ways to listen to the market.

“It’s given us the ability to add products that some customers are looking for, as well as remove products that aren’t prominently searched. Not only does Searchanise help us understand customer behavior, it also helps with procurement and inventory management. ” Kyle Leighton, founder of Tapestry Girls.

As a result, they saw a 30% increase in conversions and continue gaining loyal customers worldwide.

The bottom line

Retailers using site search apps live up to shopper expectations and cater to their needs by improving their search experience and using customer behavioral data derived from the site search analytics. As a result, they see a significant increase in the number of converting customers and revenue boost.