Studies show that a poor functioning Site Search feature, is one of the leading complaints customers make about their experience with today’s the top 100 UK and US eCommerce websites. If your an online merchant, here are a few keys elements you should consider when building out your site search solution.
1. Appeal to all mediums
Ensure your on site search conforms to all popular form factors. By form factors I mean, the three major mediums by which people shop online like mobile, tablet, and desktop. It is largely understood that a successful website in todays day in age requires a presence on all major view-ports. While much effort has been made to ensure the customer experience on each of these view-ports remain consistent, the same is not true for a website’s search-ability. Today’s customer is making it abundantly clear that they are not having any more of it. A recent report conducted by APSU and IBM analyzed customer comments directed at the top 100 eCommerce websites in the United States and United Kingdom, and revealed that the single biggest reason for visitor dissatisfaction were due to poor search capabilities; representing approximately 25% of all negative customer comments logged. Alternatively, only 0.1% were expressions of dissatisfaction with the websites’ navigation.
2. Rich autocomplete
Consider for a moment, why customers use the site’s search in the first place. Maybe it is because they know exactly what they want, maybe it’s their first time to your site and not really sure what they want. Regardless of the scenario the opportunity to you, (the merchant) is the same. It is another opportunity to engage your customer, and one you should make the most of. Plus, an easy and effective way to do that is with adding auto-complete.
Depending on the platform your site is built on, you may natively have the ability to enable autocomplete. In the event that you don’t, a quick Google search will certainly uncover a wide variety of extensions for your choosing. If you have the option of including rich media (images) as part of the auto-complete, DO IT!. The added cost will be well worth it to your customer and ultimately your bottom line, especially when you can drive a customer directly to the product they are interested in.
Self explanatory for most, but if you are new to all of this let me explain. Remember the purpose of using search in the first place – The ability to find something you are looking for. If you are searching for red shoes and returned something that isn’t red shoes or related to red shoes, you’ll be one confused and eventually frustrated consumer. Simply put, websites that return irrelevant results against a search term are losing conversion opportunities. There are many ways to ensure that your site’s search-ability remains relevant. Depending on the number of product variations, the options can range from built-in platform rules and associations or enterprise solutions.
4. Additional Content
If you are a retailer, having a customer use your search is about more than just finding a product or information. It is another opportunity to engage
Providing additional information like video, reviews, blogs, guides, recommendations, twitter updates and others related to the search term will further engage the visitor and help differentiate your business.
For example, if you’re searching for an article about a country on a travel site why not include videos and reviews about the location as well as other information like a list of accommodation and events? Similarly, if you are retailing health and beauty products include guides pertaining to the application of the product, best practice tips, related products and so on.
5. Reports & Analytics
Often the most neglected, but yet the most insightful part of a site search solution. Analytics allow you to review what poor searches are being generated, allowing you to assess the results e.g:
Is it a merchandising problem? You don’t stock the item.
A data problem. You are returning hundreds or thousands of products for a search term
A usability problem. Lack of synonyms, resulting in irrelevant or fewer products being shown or not making it easy to refine search result.
Equally, your top keywords will give you an indication of what terms are being associated with your site once visitors arrive as well as some insight into what are the most popular products for those keywords. Coupling Site Search Analytics with Web Analytics, you’ll have a clearer picture of where your purchases are coming from and their associated value.