Info Your Site Search May be Hurting Your Conversion And Bottom Line

On average, nearly 40% of e-commerce shoppers use the website’s internal search engine to find the product they are looking for. Since they are likely to be in the final stages of the buying process and have a specificintent, using site search indicates higher chances of conversion among those who use search, compared to casual browsers.

Every online retailer wants to increase sales, that’s a given. And yet, it’s amazing how many e-commerce sites fail to perform some of the basic optimization processes that help boost profitability and conversions. Site search usability is one of the core areas which, if not fully optimized,can cause visitors to quickly head over to a competitor’s site, where it may be easier to find what they’re looking for.

Only 15% of companies have dedicated resources to optimizing the e-commerce site search experience, while 40% of retailers are ignoring it altogether. While most retailers still seem to underestimate the importance of a finely tuned site search, this trend is gaining momentum.

If you own an online shop, look at it from the customer’s perspective, which should be easy since we all shop online. By now, we are accustomed to the “search-as-you-type” functionality, and we don’t just expect it from Google – we expect it while shopping on any e-commerce website. And, as you may also notice at one point or another, there’s a considerable difference between generic implementation and what happens when you start typing a keyword into an advanced, clever search bar.

According to various digital trends & reports, an optimized site search functionality improves conversion and sales for several reasons. Here’s why site search is one of the best areas to invest in on your own site:

  • Leads to increased site usage
  • Results in more return visits
  • Delivers better overall user experience
  • Contributes tobranding
  • Improves customer retention and loyalty rates

You might be thinking, ‘my site is already awesome. My graphics are easy on the eyes. My content is on point. I offer some of the best products or services in my industry. I’ve conducted comprehensive research on my target audience. What’s causing my conversion to lag behind?’

Well, there are several ways your sitesearch may be hurting your conversion and bottom line. Have a look at them, and see if they apply:

1.  Search trends

In an e-commerce business, if the search trends aren’t apt, chances are that buyers may not return, resulting in a missed opportunity for conversion. Some search trends are seasonal and easily predictable, while others may appear suddenly and for particular reasons that are virtually impossible to pinpoint or predict. Keeping track of all the upwards and downwards trends will help you manage your inventory more efficiently and present more relevant results.

2.  Marketing-related insights

Some customers search in unexpected ways, using various synonyms and phrases when they are looking for a particular product you may have named and described differently that what they imagine. If this is the case, a low AdWords quality score and CTR, and SEO efforts may be the biggest constraint in your conversion. Therefore, it’s best to align your marketing copy with your customers’ language – despite your best efforts to be cool, innovative or original.

3.  Product-query relevance rank

An importantbut rarely provided insight, is how specific products rank in terms of relevance for a given search term, and how that rank changes over time. Search engines strive to interpret the intended meaning behind a search query, and provide the most relevant results in the most pertinent order for each individual user. If the product query or a search term is not relevant, then there will be a decline in conversion rate.

For example, perhaps you’ve always assumed mid-November was the best time to promote the winter collection of a particular clothing brand, but when looking at trends in product rank for searches of that brand you might find that customers are engaging with the winter collection much earlier than expected. Understanding when and which products are more relevant to the search query can help guide other decisions related to in-store navigation, merchandising, and promotion – particularly if there are seasonal changes. Search is often your best real-time pulse to learn the shifting demands and needs of customers.

4.  Low conversion rate and average order value

If your conversion rate and/or average order value (AOV) are low compared to search visits, it is likely negatively affectingyour bottom line. Both of these are vital KPIs and are more indicative or success thantraffic or organic search visits. So, if you want to promote your on site search box, get a redesign that encourages your visitors to use your search functionality.

5. Navigation issues

On which pages are most site-searches initiated? When a customer enters a search term, if that certain page shows an uncharacteristically large amount of initiated searches, it could point to problems with your product categorization as well as in your site’s navigation. Site search tools provide a powerful and familiar means to help with navigation elements.

6.  Less filtering options

If a user is not able to narrow down their searches using a variety of sorting tools to filter the product selection, then the conversion rate may drop. That’s why filtering options are essential to a sound user experience,including product category, price range, size, brand, color, and user ratings. The more filtering options you can offer, the better it is for the buyers looking to narrow down the search to their preferences.

7.  Zero results pages

Site-search result pages that turn up blank – particularly due to synonyms or typos that aren’t recognized – can result in failure to convert. Avoid displaying empty results pages at any cost. Delivering null or irrelevant results can cause visitors to assume you don’t carry the product they’re looking for – or anything similar to it – andhead over to your competitor’s site instead. This problem is minimized by using an advanced site search engine. If you’re using an e-commerce platform with a built-in search feature, there are ways to reduce null-results by improving your products’ meta data.

In a nutshell, make sure your site search engine is fast, relevant, can handle misspellings and is capable of evolving through learning user behaviour. Even small, simple improvements can lead to improving your conversion rate by as much as 50%, and we trust you won’t stop there.