As a retailer, your ultimate goal is to serve up the products that will inspire shoppers to buy. To deliver relevant products in the search results, you need to understand your shoppers and the language they use to describe products.
More than just a box
The search box is more than just a box – it’s a way to connect shoppers with your products. By studying how shoppers search on your site, you’ll understand what to optimise for and which products to promote.
Consumer search methods vary depending on the type of product they’re seeking. For example, shoppers looking for electronic products will search in a much more refined way than those shopping for new clothes. Your search optimisation goals should be aligned with these tendencies.
Push products based on search terms and phrases
Another thing to keep in mind is that shoppers search in different ways, depending on their purchase intent. When they are in the discovery phase and looking for inspiration, they often search in a less refined way. They might key in a single word, such as a brand name or category. These types of searches often account for a large volume of overall search activity, and this is when shoppers are more receptive to browsing through your catalogue.
As their purchase intent rises, shoppers’ searches become more refined. They use two or three words, indicating a sub-category or a brand name plus a product type. This is when it makes sense for you to offer more specific promotions and use ranking strategies related to the search phrase. Adjusting search results might be convenient!
At the highest end of the spectrum – when they are most intent on making a purchase – shoppers will often use four or more words in their searches. They include a specific product name or version. Since the shopper is primed for purchase, you should focus here on delivering the right result and avoid distracting the shopper with merchandising.
Give customers feedback on their searches
When shoppers search on terms or phrases that are unusual or uncommon, don’t just offer a random set of results. Instead, be sure to deliver a meaningful response. For example, your on-site search engine could display a message saying, “We didn’t find anything to match your search term”, and could suggest another known phrase. The point is to never leave a shopper without guidance. At the very least, explain why your site is displaying the search results that it is.
Consider the impact of not doing it
If you choose not to optimise your Search & Discovery, it’s likely you’ll experience both short- and long-term consequences. If customers experience ineffective search once, it means a lost sales opportunity. If they experience it over and over again, you’ll see the negative customer feedback start to roll in. And of course, most likely, they’ll simply find another site that offers them a better shopper experience.