At its best, your transactional/eCommerce site’s SEARCH function helps increase conversion rates, create merchandizing opportunities and makes the visitor’s journey that much more productive.
At its worst, a poorly configured or poorly performing search function can have a negative effect on the company’s bottom line.
Obviously, it pays to deliver a good eCommerce search experience, but what are the specific, must-have features that have helped so many brands achieve eCommerce success?
Here are some of the most important features that an eCommerce site’s SEARCH function must deliver:
- Availability/Accessibility: The search box must be obvious, easy to find and available on every page. If the product catalog is deep enough to justify it, adding a “category search” may be very productive.
- Relevance of results: the visitor hasn’t come here to search, he came here to find. Every search tool’s priority is to serve up good, relevant results. Relevancy is achieved by a well thought out product modelling and by multiple attributes whenever possible. This also relies on having a good search engine.
- Autocomplete: virtually everyone enjoys a good autocomplete “helping hand” when entering terms into a search bar. Easily implemented, this feature definitely improves the user experience.
- Product IN Search: why limit yourself to a basic list of search results when you can serve up product results as well – including pricing, images and even current promotions. Not only is this feature popular and appreciated, it is also profitable. Take a look at how Sportium and Sail make good use of this.
- Facets and Filters: once users get their search results, providing him or her with the possibility to filter their results or to activate facets will help them fine-tune their search and get them closer to conversion.
- Display Results Volume: showing the visitor how many results there are for her query lets her know whether or not she needs to be more specific. The goal here is to ensure the user is satisfied with the result, bringing her one step closer to conversion. La Vie en Rose is a good example of how to do this tastefully.
- Optimize the “No Results” Results: Ideally, your customers should never see a “no results found” result. By analyzing frequent “fruitless” searches and understanding intent, you can suggest related products or direct the visitor to the parent section/category of what they are searching for – or even bring her to other relevant sections based on her initial search. Help her find.
- Don’t Just Include Product Results: relevance doesn’t just apply to products. If a visitor searches for “returns” or “contact”, for example, your results should include content pages – notably those for customer service, in this case. If you have a blog or produce your own content, search results would benefit from including these content-rich pages. Avril, for example, serves up a product tab and a content tab (we searched for “kale”).
The Magento conundrum: of all the things Magento does well, the native search function isn’t one of them (unfortunately). To provide an optimal search experience, Magento merchants can seek out external modules and solutions taht will allow them to meet most if not all of the criteria we just discussed.
- Integrate specialized search modules with proven track records, like Ahead Works’ Advanced Search, built around Sphinx Search;
- Use a third-party solution that enables optimized search, such as Attraqt, Nextopia or SLI Systems;
- Optimize search by leveraging ElasticSearch’s Lucene/SOLR, available for Magento Enterprise.
An eCommerce site’s internal search function can have a huge impact on the bottom line and a brand’s growth. Get it right and you have one more tool to help you increase market share!