If there’s one thing that modern-day shoppers have in common, then it’s that they want what they want when they want it. Rapid advances in technology have created customers that demand intuitive and easy shopping experiences across channels.
So it’s your responsibility as a business to meet your customers wherever they might be, whenever they want. This means thinking about how easy it is to purchase from or interact with your brand across touchpoints, channels and devices.
Two key purchasing characteristics that modern-day shoppers crave are speed and autonomy—to quickly find and purchase whatever they want on their own terms.
And that’s where site search comes in...
What is site search?
Site search is quite simply a search engine that is entirely focused on just one website. The vast majority of eCommerce stores use a site search solution that allows customers to find products without having to wade through various menus and sub-menus. And whilst the layout and look of site search might look different between brands, the end result is the same—for customers to quickly and easily find what they want, without hassle.
Why is site search important?
To illustrate why a site search tool plays such a crucial role in your eCommerce strategy, let’s look inside the mind of a typical customer.
- Most of the time, customers know exactly what they want. Indeed, a Forrester Research study found that 43% of site visitors immediately go to a search box. And that these searchers are 2-3 times more likely to convert.
- Customers are impatient, so you haven’t got much time to play with. It’s been found that you have just 8 seconds to convince a customer to remain on your site.
- Those who are searching for something specific are more likely to make that purchase! A study of 21 stores found that those using search converted at 4.63% versus the websites’ overall average of 2.77%. That’s almost 2 times more effective.
The power of search in spearheading the overall customer experience is undeniable. And it’s a clear antidote to the demands of the modern shopper because it gives customers control and autonomy in the purchasing experience. It means that customers don’t have to trawl through the noise of countless irrelevant products. They get exactly what they want in a manner that suits them.
What also makes on-site search so exciting is that it presents a serious competitive advantage in today’s market. Only 15% of companies have dedicated resources to optimising the eCommerce site search experience. And what’s more, only 7% of those companies are actually learning from internal site search data and leveraging it in other areas of the business.
The potential for search is thus relatively untapped—and something your business can start seeing quick wins from straight away.
How can on-site search improve your customer experience?
The majority of your customers will have used Google and so are used to its auto-complete functionality. This means they’ll want the same from you. The benefit of auto-complete search on your eCommerce site is that customers find what they want more quickly and with less effort.
And for those customers who might not be exactly sure what they want, auto-complete provides them with some inspiration which may lead to a purchase. Let’s say you sell clothes and someone comes to your site looking for a new jacket. With search functionality, typing ‘jacket’ will present that customer with a number of different options based on what’s trending and what their preferences are.
Or imagine a customer that comes to your site looking for a specific jacket, but doesn’t know the exact spelling of the product name. Instead of your customer searching and getting zero results (and testing their patience in the process), auto-complete will guide them to where they want to go with ease.
The benefit of auto-complete is that it accelerates the purchasing cycle, provides inspiration and improves the experience that customers have on your site—all of which help to boost your conversion rates!
Your customers are only human and so when it comes to search, they’ll make mistakes. Whether it’s misspelling a word, adding an extra unnecessary unrelated word to a search term, using a plural instead of singular or typing the wrong verb form—you can’t expect customers to type an exact match of a product heading.
And that’s where site search truly comes into its own—by removing all barriers to purchase.
Our partner Klevu’s search technology accounts for such errors, ensuring that customers are connected to the right products. One particular feature is its Synonym Dictionary through which you can train its search robot for the unique elements related to your store by providing custom keyword lists. Klevu's algorithm then automatically identifies these words and delivers the best results so that your customers are always matched to something no matter the search error.
Once again, by keeping a customer’s journey progressing (rather than coming to a standstill), search improves the user experience and your bottom line as a result.
In today’s world, consumers expect personalised purchasing experiences. Indeed, a whopping 78.6 % of consumers said they’d only engage with a brand’s offers if those promotions were directly tied to previous interactions. And, tellingly, Segment found that 71% of consumers express frustration when their shopping experience is impersonal.
Customers want to know that they matter, and want a relationship with your brand—they don’t want to be just another name amongst millions of others. So in today's competitive eCommerce landscape, personalised customer experiences are becoming the key differentiator for brands the world over. And that goes for search too.
As an example, Klevu’s site search solution automatically applies a layer of machine learning and natural language processing to a customer’s searched keywords, which then get more personalised as they search more. In effect, this is much like a shopping assistant that you’d come across in a physical store—someone that directs you to exactly what you want based on your tastes, habits, preferences and purchase history.
By promoting trending or recently viewed products in the search bar, site search engages customers, provides a streamlined experience and helps to develop brand loyalty.
Arguably the highlight of a search solution is its search analytics functionality. Let’s take the Klevu Merchant Centre as an example. With the data that this provides, you have the ability to anticipate the needs of your customers for improved experiences. With analytics, you can analyse such questions as:
- Which keywords are being searched for the most?
- Which of these is generating the most results?
- Which keywords are generating the least sales?
- What keywords are being searched for that yield zero results?
- How are keyword searches different between regions/countries?
This kind of information is invaluable in helping you to spot new opportunities and to address any shortcomings.
You may, for example, see high searches for a particular product that you don’t currently stock. Or you may see that a specific location has a high search volume for a specific product. In both examples, having this insight at your fingertips will allow your business to respond in real-time—improving your customer experience and business growth at the same time.
If you’d like to learn more about integrating site search for your eCommerce site, then simply get in touch with a member of our team today!