The list of “best practices” for eCommerce sites is constantly changing and developing. One of the most important of the current standards is strong on-site search.
When a shopper visits an eCommerce site they often already know what they are looking for, and therefore head straight for the search bar. What happens next is critical. Sites with robust site search functionality provide their visitors with relevant results, and experience dramatically increased revenue, conversion rates and average order value compared to the industry average.
But strong site search can also be the fuel behind many other site improvements. Nextopia is pleased to share with you three of the major areas where site search can help enhance your eCommerce site.
1. Site visitors can find what they are looking for
As an eCommerce retailer you never want to give a site visitor a reason to leave and shop somewhere else. But if a shopper can’t locate the product they are after with ease, you are basically inviting them to purchase from your competitor.
This sounds simple, but there is more to providing an effective search solution than meets the eye.
First, the easy part. The site search bar should be available on every page of your eCommerce site and should be easy to locate. A search bar that is hidden is not going to be used.
There’s more to it than that however. To be truly effective, your search needs built-in intelligence, of which several different types are available as part of the advanced site search solutions offered by Nextopia.
Search bars powered by Nextopia do more than just simply present shoppers with accurate search results, they also have the ability to learn over time what customers want. By adapting to actual shopping behavior, increasingly relevant products are presented in your search results, and these results will be categorized according to popularity.
Nextopia’s search bars also have the intelligence to predict text, helping guide shoppers to their destination. Our technology also has the ability to correct spelling errors, ensuring that shoppers are able to find the product they desire rather than landing on the dreaded “No Results Found” page.
If a customer wants to purchase a computer but accidentally enters the search term “compter”, for example, Nextopia’s intelligent fuzzy matching technology can understand what the customer is trying to search for and will still present accurate search results. Fuzzy matching also comes in handy when an eCommerce site sells products to customers from different areas of the word. For example, on a furniture website, an American may search using the word “sofa” while a Canadian may search using the term “couch.” Nextopia would present both of these customers with the same search results.
2. Retailers can better understand their customers
The search terms visitors use to describe products can tell online retailers a lot about their customers’ wants, needs and frustrations.
Search analytics and reports reveal exactly which products your customers are interested in buying. Nextopia not only offers a trustworthy search solution, but also offers the tools needed to leverage these valuable insights. Our clients are able to log into their Nextopia Control Panel and clearly see which search terms their customers are using with the greatest frequently, along with a list of terms that present zero search results.
Knowing what site visitors are looking for can assist a retailer with product development and buying. For example, if an online shoe retailer finds that customers are regularly entering the search term “winter boots” and are being presented with zero search results because their store doesn’t carry this product category, it may be something this retailer will consider stocking.
Search reports not only tell retailers which products are popular but also what ancillary information their visitors require. For example, if the term “shipping” is regularly entered in the search bar, this indicates that the site’s shipping information is hard to locate and needs to be more accessible. These insights can be used to significantly improve the layout and functionality of your site.
3. Retailers can more effectively merchandise their products
Effective merchandising can make a huge difference to the success of on an eCommerce site. Where a brick-and-mortar store might use signs and displays to entice and inform their shoppers, online stores use techniques such as promotional banners, product reviews, product spotlighting and unique landing pages.
Merchandising with promo banners and spotlights becomes much easier when an online retailer has access to data that demonstrates what their site visitors are searching for. For example, if shoppers regularly search for the term “sale”, this indicates that this target market is clearly interested in finding discounted items. In order to take advantage of this, the online retailer’s Marketing team could create a promotional banner on the home page that promotes any available special offers and leads the customer directly the details page, and can also add “special price” badges to all sale items returned during normal searches.
Customer search data can also assist online retailers in developing ideas or themes for unique landing pages. For example, if an online retailer is seeing the term “Easter” appear as a common search term in spring, they could take advantage of this by creating a unique search results page that is triggered by this search, where they can display all of their appropriate products. Additionally, a promotional banner could be used to promote this page.
While we’ve only mentioned three improvements strong site search can bring to your online store, it is important to note this is just the beginning! The more time a retailer puts into optimizing their on-site search, the better the results they are going to see. The same goes with taking the time to investigate, understand and leverage the insights available from your site search reports and analytics. Remember, not every site search solution will provide the amazing results Nextopia does. Do your research and make sure you understand what each solution can offer.
Written By: Sanjay Arora, Founder & CEO of Nextopia