Strong site search is integral to any eCommerce site. More and more users are turning to search as soon as they arrive on your website, completely bi-passing your well-planned navigation!
Although more users are turning to search, it is still often an area that can be overlooked by retailers. However, if your search is intelligent and is looked after, it can really help you to boost your conversion.
It's a fact that visitors who use search are more likely to purchase. They've already entered your site knowing what they're looking for and have the intention to buy. This makes selling to them so much easier, and we should be using the information that customers give us through search to provide the best possible outcome for both ourselves and the user.
Here are 8 important search functions that shouldn't be overlooked:
Searchandising - It makes sense that you will always want to push your most popular items or products that you are marketing to the top of your search results. While there is nothing wrong with using Searchandising to put your best foot forward, it is worth remembering that your search functions main job is to find the items that they are looking for. Spend more time ensuring that results are accurate and give customers what they want and less time using this tool to push products for your own benefit.
Search Reports - Search is a great tool to help gain user insight. Use this to find out exactly what your customer wants, and give it to them. Track peaks and declines for popular terms to determine your window of opportunity and use zero hit search results to inform your buying team of the products your customers want.
Search messaging – Ensure that you have clear and obvious messaging that explains exactly what has happened when a search has been performed. This is important as it can help to neutralise user frustration when search returns results that they don't expect to see, because of factors such as spell correction or falling back to an 'OR' search rather than 'AND'.
Zero search results page – Adding recommendations to your zero search results page can help to keep users engaged and active on your site in the event that their search returns no results. In an in-store environment you'd never dream of turning a customer away without offering an alternative product first, so why do it online? It's better to show something than nothing, both in terms of sales opportunities and good customer service.
Spell correction – It's essential to have intelligent spell correction functionality. Users will inevitably make typos, and if your search cannot easily correct this and produce the right results, your sales and customers will suffer.
Make the search box easy to find – We're creatures of habit and we don't like it if the search box isn't where we would expect to find it! Ensure that your search box follows best practice and is positioned in a prominent position consistently across your site. If users can't find the search box they will quickly become frustrated, don't make it hard for them to find what they're looking for.
Redirects to content pages – Putting redirects to content pages such as delivery and returns policies can be useful to customers. Helping them to find the information they need to make an informed purchase will make them more confident in their transaction with you.
Autocomplete – Help take the work out of your customers search by making suggestions based on the terms users enter into your search bar. Looking at the most popular search terms and most popular products on your site, you can suggest highly relevant products to users immediately, without them having to trawl through a full list of search results.