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In e-commerce, user experience is one of the most important factors that allow online businesses to thrive. One of the most important features of online stores and service sites is a site-hosted search tools that allows users to navigate across pages and look for items based on specific requirements.
Research shows that nearly a third of all visitors on online store websites use the search feature. Meanwhile, having an onsite search facility has been reported to increase conversions by close to 200%. And yet, the vast majority of e-commerce sites don’t have an optimized search function for their users.
Let’s discuss the significance of onsite searching for online businesses and how they can go about implementing them.
Broadly speaking, searches performed on e-commerce and other web pages can be divided into two groups. Semantic searches are the ones where users get literal results based on the phrase they’ve added to the search bar. Faceted searches, however, are where users employ filters to get to their destination.
Site searches are associated largely on a site’s individual capabilities, and their effectiveness is a product of their ability to retrieve relevant or helpful results or offer smooth navigation. Aside from that, there are eight types of e-commerce searches based on queries, of which four are the most essential.
- “Exact” searches are where online store users look for products based on precise names or model numbers.
- “Feature” searches involve a product’s specifications or traits, like color, size, price range, manufacturer, etc.
- “Product-type” is where you go to a web store and search for certain items without any added detail. For instance, you may go to a site that sells various audio hardware. Search terms like “woofers”, “guitar amp”, and “headsets” qualify as product-type searches, as no other information is specified.
- “Thematic” searches are for finding items that follow a common topic. “Spring collections”, “designer watches”, and “bathroom tiles” are common examples. These can be thought of as an extension of product-type searches where the somewhat vague categories are distinct from exact description or feature-based queries.
Apart from these, there are also searches based on
- Compatibility (different items often bought together e.g gardening tools and flower pots)
- Abbreviated or informal queries
- Symptom-based searches
- Non-product searches (customer support, FAQs, etc.)
It is found that most site search functions don’t adequately support most of these queries. Take the example of Mermaid Straw, an organization that sells recycled, eco-friendly products like straws and other related items.
The search option is not hard to find, as you can clearly see the magnifying glass on the top right of the page. If you type in a certain product like a straw, cup, or even specify things like item color or pack size you can get results.
There are even compatible results like holding cases or rubber tips when you look for straws. Plus, the results are fast and you are even given a window of top matches below the search bar before you even press enter for more detailed results.
However, the option to search for help options and things like grammar or spelling correction, symptom searches, and even some subjective terms doesn’t offer much promise. To be fair, this particular organization caters to a niche market. However, this should give you an idea of what constitutes a search option that promises results.
By capitalizing on just these search methods (and especially the four big ones), sites can offer the perfect browsing experience for their users.
The reason why online shops and services fail to provide a thorough search mechanism is that they don’t recognize the potential of such a robust facility. Comprehensive search solutions are meant to benefit everyone involved in an e-commerce transaction. And they do so through a number of ways.
The reason why, as we stated earlier, sites with competent search features enjoy better traffic and conversions are the implications regarding user experience.
Fully optimized site search function gets visitors to their onsite destination much faster. Plus, they help them sort through irrelevant results to get matches based on their exact preferences, as well as new items they didn’t know they needed.
As more customers find the availability of a search feature impressive, your online store will enjoy more regular visits, and you in turn benefit from improved recognition and revenue.
As a rule of thumb, a good online service should not take too long for its customers to avail services from. The longer a consumer must stay on your site, especially if they are in a hurry, the more likely they are to opt for a service (probably a competitor) that works faster.
A search feature helps slash the time spent from when a customer visits your store to the point where they find more or less exactly what they’re looking for. Many sites have filters or predictive search settings that allow users to navigate more effectively.
Additionally, some stores even have site search functions that help users through deep learning techniques. For instance, retrieving results based on spelling corrections or semantic similarities. That way, even if human error prevents you from getting things right the first time, you are still offered a route to quickly rectify things.
Not everyone visiting an online store is there for something particular. Like how visitors to a real, physical shop might pick up unplanned items during their spree that they find useful, site searches can introduce shoppers to a new set of possibilities.
Search results can offer compatible products, superior alternatives, or new, previously unconsidered goods which customers can add to their cart as they go on. As a result, their purchases increase and so do your profits.
Onsite search results are collectable as consumer data by online companies and store owners. This is valuable data as it helps gauge customer trends and adjust your store’s layout and business model as your clients please.
For one thing, stores can handle their inventory based on customer consensus as underlined by searches. If, for instance, if a certain product is in low demand through the search bar, you can consider if it’s worth keeping or improving through feedback.
Similarly, overwhelming favorites among searched products can be boosted through front page promotions and discounts. Meanwhile, search queries might also contain products that customers found were not available in your store, but are worth adding if they fit your brand.
To benefit from your site search function, you need to present it in a way that makes it easy to oversee while actually benefiting customers. There are a few mistakes online stores might end up making or overlooking, so let’s discuss the main issues.
A major disappointment for users is the overall lack of a visible search feature on a website. Usually, online businesses that have an implemented search feature fail to make it properly visible to users. This is an issue that requires immediate attention or you might lose visitors.
The bare minimum that websites need to ensure is a magnifying glass icon (the universal sign of online searches) either on the site header or the middle of the screen. Ideally, a prominent character bar with “search” written either on it or the button next to it works best.
Even with advanced search technology, human error is usually expected. It should not, however, be an obstacle in user experience.
For that reason, many of the best search solutions have detailed features that allow for the correction of typos or grammatical mistakes and bring in recommendations nonetheless.
Sometimes you’ve even typed the right thing but the page refuses to give any useful information just because what you’ve searched for isn’t on the site.
Deep learning through artificial intelligence (AI) and similar approaches allows site search functions to identify queries more comprehensively. That way, the results page will at least provide relevant results rather than leave you with nothing.
Slow site loading is poison in e-commerce. Even with a site that is otherwise optimized for speed, third party search solutions that lack speedy results are not acceptable for serious businesses. Therefore, make sure that your site search is lightning fast.
Faceted searching and the use of menus reinforces e-commerce search mechanisms for maximum ease and efficiency towards users. For best results, each of your products must carry tags or keywords which can be integrated to search tools for effective categorization as well as semantic or loose search results.
Given that the vast majority of online clients exclusively buy through phones, optimizing every aspect of your search tool for mobile-first functionality is a must.
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Adding a site search function to your e-store can be a complex undertaking, but solutions are available through third party agencies (like WeLoveWeb).
Usually, sites should implement interface features through coding as that helps lower server load. But adding some functions through programming languages simply isn’t enough. Instead, site owners can try their luck with plugins or external software solutions, and onsites searches are no different.
There is no shortage of in-depth and advanced search clients for commercial web pages, especially for WordPress users as that is the go-to platform for the bulk of online corporate sites. However, the best ones prioritize UX and UI as integral parts of web design, and so offer capabilities like
- Seamless integration
- Deep learning
- Customizable searches
- Fast Operation
- Filters and categorization
- Predictive capabilities
- Spellcheck and synonymous searches
- Exact, relevant, and compatible search results
- Data collection through queries
Based on which of these features are available or work best for your clients, there are a number of options worth considering.
This is one of the most popular software solutions for site search functions. Great for big and small online stores, AddSearch is easy to integrate and offers users quick-acting searches with a significant window for customizability.
It is easy to implement, and is currently used by more than 1800 individual businesses as a search tool for their online pages.
- Search API
- Optimized for loose searches
- Faceted searching
- Deep learning
This AI-powered search client serves over 1000 e-stores to whom it offers a wide range of benefits. Through deep learning, users are able to perform detailed search queries and can even receive recommendations based on informed analysis of queries.
Through analytics, store owners can assess customers trends and modify their UI and layout according to top queries.
- Predictive searching
- Advanced search filters and result management
Elastic.co is a company that offers cloud-based search hosting solutions to online retailers and service providers. What they get is a robust search mechanism that offers relevant and flexible search capabilities and analytics for business-end management.
With its immense personalizability and detailed search mechanism, Elastic Enterprise provides an adaptable site search function which can work equally well in any web design ecosystem and provide the best results.
- Cloud-based service
- Multilingual capabilities
- Faceted Searching
- Typo correction
Doofinder utilized AI learning to streamline hosted searching for sites in order to grant maximum gains in UX. It is extremely easy to integrate into your website and is guaranteed to impress site visitors and increase traffic and conversions.
With a staggering 7000 enterprises already using it, Doofinder relies on little to no coding, is mobile oriented, and provides a quick, dynamic, and solution-oriented service for users.
- Amazing Speed
- Optimized with AI and Natural Language Programming (NLP) technology
- Voice-activated searching
- Predictive searching and product recommendations
This is yet another AI-powered search tool which doesn’t just specialize in speed, but aims to understand users by providing results that are meaningful and prioritize compatibility and smart solutions.
Used by over 1300 businesses, both store owners and visitors get a vantage point from which they are offered efficient navigation and user-oriented handling of search results.
- In-depth learning
- Product discovery
- Search-based merchandising
- Search categorization
- Predictive search and recommendations
In e-commerce, the most straightforward and uncomplicated solutions offer the best results. On that note, having a robust and customer-oriented site search function is one of the most important considerations for online stores that want to provide impactful service and user expediency.