Implementing an outstanding site search tool is one important step in increasing conversion rate. Sometimes it’s a neglected part of the conversion process even though online searching is the beginning of the customer journey. For the visitors that already know what they want to buy, the search bar is the easiest and fastest way to get the desired product and place the order.

Why should every ecommerce store have a visible and effective search bar?

One of the first things you need to know as a marketer or e-commerce business owner is how customers interact with your website: what they are looking for, what colours they like, what copy stimulates them to proceed to the next step or why did they visit your e-shop in the first place. Some visitors are prospecting the market, looking for the best price, some have in mind a certain product category, some are just surfing the web and some of them are searching for information about the industry or your business.

Also, the numbers speak for themselves: there’s a huge difference in conversion rate between websites who use site search and those who don’t have a site search. This chart shows the conversion rate value for three major e-commerce industries: fashion, electronics and home&garden:

site search

Websites using site search have a better conversion rate. For example, for the fashion industry it’s 6,1 times higher conversion rate, in electronics it’s 5,6 times higher and in the home&garden industry it’s even more impressive: a 12,8 times higher conversion rate:

site search

These results are based on an analysis of 5 ecommerce stores from each category.

So, would you rather lose money or boost your conversion rate and increase the revenue? It’s up to you!

Even though this research shows great conversion rate improvement, statistics prove that not all ecommerce website adopt site search technologies or advanced features when it comes to site search and navigation features.

A large-scale usability study, testing the e-commerce search experience of 19 major e-commerce websites with real-world end users reveals dramatic facts about site search:

  • 16% of e-commerce websites from the study do not have a search by product name or model number feature;
  • 18% of website do not show useful results when visitors type a character wrong in the product’s name;
  • 60% of websites do not support searches with abbreviations and symbols;

One good thing is that autocomplete suggestions are found on 82% of e-commerce websites. The downside is that while some implementations greatly enhance the search experience, 36% of implementations do more harm than good.

Make it easier for people to use your website by creating a search bar that stands out. Do some A/B Testing experiments to see which version works better. It’s useless to have a search bar, if it’s almost invisible, hardly noticeable with a tiny magnifying glass: no one will use it.

Also, it’s useless if it doesn’t work properly and takes way too much to load. Eventualy, the user will lose it’s patience and go somewhere else.

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Besides the visible position on page and colour that differentiate the search bar, it should provide important options in order to deliver a relevant experience for the customer that uses it. These options might be:

  • search as you type suggestions
  • advanced synonyms
  • redirects
  • relevant results
  • searches with abbreviations and symbols
  • search by keywords
  • search tips
  • common searches
  • results with product images
  • faceted search

Nowadays, online shoppers have great expectations from an e-commerce website. That is why you should recreate the whole real-life shopping experience in your virtual shop.

Imagine the following situation. It’s Saturday evening and you decide to go shopping with your best friend at the mall. You enter a real store, but you cannot find a red skirt to match your new and beautiful pair of high heals. What do you do? Find the sales assistant and ask him/her about it. Unfortunately, there is no one to ask. And, when this happens, you leave without buying anything and go to the next shop.

This is exactly how things work in an online store. If you cannot find a certain product and there’s no search field available (the sales guy), you leave the website and try somewhere else. It’s easy as ABC: to sell online products, shoppers have to find them. Also, remember that e-commerce success is knowing where/how/when to help customers.

In conclusion, think about the search bar as an accelerator for the purchase cycle. Study every shopper interaction and refine results based on product and search performance. Doing so, you will avoid the lack of flexibility and intelligence of the shopping cart functionality that is necessary to make users convert.

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