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How to improve your eCommerce search experience

Are people frustrated with the search capabilities in your e-commerce store? Is it slow, frustrating, or clunky? If so, let’s learn about how to improve the CX of your search.

But first, let’s look at some statistics on search:

Here’s a handful of the most interesting statistics found on the 50 top-grossing, US e-commerce sites, according to Smashing Magazine:

  • 16% of e-commerce websites do not support searching by product name or model number, despite those details appearing on the product page! An additional 18% of websites provide no useful results when people type just a single character wrong in the product’s name.
  • 70% require people to search by the exact jargon for the product type that the website uses, failing to return relevant products for, say, “blow dryer” if “hair dryer” is typed, or “multifunction printer” if “all-in-one printer” is typed
  • Searches with symbols and abbreviations are not supported by 60% of e-commerce websites. For example, the websites do not map the double quotation mark (often substituted for the double prime symbol: ″) or “in” to “inch.”
  • Autocomplete suggestions are found on 82% of e-commerce websites. While some implementations greatly enhance the search experience, 36% of implementations do more harm than good.

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.”

How to discover what’s wrong with your search

As you’ve read, there’s a lot that can go wrong with the search. But how do we figure out the exact issues? Here a few things to look out for to make it a great CX:

  1. Is it prominent?
    Within less than a second people should be able to find your search bar.
  2. Is it big enough?
    It should be wide enough to type a typical keyword search or phrase. (around 20 characters)
  3. Is it fast?
    People should see results in a second or less. Time your results to see where your search stands.
  4. What can you find?
    People should be able to search for products, categories, and content (blog) simultaneously.
  5. What’s it like on mobile?
    People should have an experience on par with their desktop experience.
  6. Is it helpful?
    Your search should make recommendations based on what people are looking for — both recommended categories and products.
  7. Is it smart?
    People shouldn’t get a dead-end of zero results if they mistype a phrase. Your search should be smart enough to point them in the right direction.
  8. Bonus: You can’t fine-tune your search all that effectively until you know how people are using it. Make sure search engagement is trackable and has analytics attached to its usage.

There is a 3rd-party solution as well…

(Please note, I’m NOT paid to say this) I highly recommend you do some research into Searchanise [link] — a powerful e-commerce search application that embeds directly into your store. Searchanise integrates with popular e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Magento. 

It solves many, if not all, of the above-mentioned issues. Plus it includes the ability to:

  • Search as fast as you type
    In a store of 500,000 products, Searchanise finds relevant products in less than 1 second. And not only products. Searchanise also finds matching categories/collections and pages/blog posts.
  • Search suggestions, autocomplete and spelling correction
    Searchanise helps you find things faster. It knows all the popular search queries and remembers your customers’ search history. Searchanise uses this information to guess what you’re looking for and suggests the right thing.

    Searchanise is typo-resistant. If you sell Apple products, and your customer types “ipgonr,” Searchanise will offer to search for “iphone” instead.
  • Synonym dictionary
    If you sell red paint then red, ruby, and cherry might mean the same thing. Add them to the synonym dictionary, and Searchanise will show the same results for red paint and cherry paint.
  • Powerful analytics
    See detailed reports on your customers’ search requests, clicks, popular and zero-result queries.

    Research customer behavior to improve your product strategy and adjust Searchanise settings for more sales (Synonyms, Redirects).

    Track conversion by analyzing purchases through search.

Several of my clients currently use Searchanise and are thrilled by the results of their improved customer experience. If you’re interested in learning more about Searchanise, or how you can improve your own search capabilities, let me know, and I’d be happy to discuss what’s possible.

To wrap up, I hope this article is helping you determine the best way to improve your search experience, which will ultimately improve your customer’s experience. If you aren’t sure where to start or need a second set of eyes on your search, let me know, and I’d be happy to talk with you about it.