Using AI-based Natural Language to improve eCommerce

Search is the Gateway

Search is essential in eCommerce – it is the gateway. Search is how consumers express what they want and if they don’t find what they want, they can’t buy it. People who choose to search have a far better idea of what they are looking for than those who browse, and are therefore far more likely to make a purchase. This means that understanding the intent of the shopper, however it is worded, is essential to conversion in eCommerce.

This is increasingly important with the proliferation of voice and the adoption of Natural Language searching by the general public. Home Voice Assistants, such as Alexa and Google Home, which were initially used for music, have gone a lot further and are getting smarter. According to new data from Loup Ventures, all Voice Assistants tested had improved in terms of questions answered correctly, with Siri making the most improvement.

From Keywords to Natural Language

Do people generally use Natural Language Search? Most might say, ‘no, not really’. But the truth is that everyone uses AI/NL search everyday, provided you have a computer or Smartphone. Do you ever search on the Internet?   You’re using Google or Bing or maybe Yahoo. All are AI/NL search engines and are incredibly smart. In 2011, Google was hit by a torpedo with the words ‘SIRI’ on it. Google immediately acquired an AI/NL search company and threw out years of keyword search technology: instantly obsolete.

Now people are becoming used to using Natural Language to talk to their smart home devices, but how do they interact with onsite search?

It’s a huge shame, but unfortunately people have become accustomed to the fact that eCommerce Search Engines can’t usually handle queries with more than one or two words, as most of them use obsolete keyword search. Even when using voice search, they assume that they need to think carefully about what the Search Engine is likely to understand, search, then probably rephrase.

But thanks to Home Voice Assistants, when users pick up their phones to use voice search, they’re increasingly likely to speak using Natural Language as opposed to keywords. When people speak, they naturally throw in extra words so an intuitive Natural Language Engine is needed to understand these longer-tail queries.

The beauty of having a true Natural Language Engine is that the customer can be understood as if they were talking to a Sales Associate. By leveraging Natural Language processing, the burden is on the Search Engine, not on the person talking.

If a customer walked into a North Face store, they might say to a sales associate, “I’m looking for a new waterproof jacket for my wife please.” Using these same words in a voice search on brings back the following results:

The Search Engine has returned 18 highly relevant results.

Similarly, if a customer walked into a Timberland store, they might ask the Sales Associate, “Do you have any ladies field boots please?” In a voice search on, exactly the right product is returned immediately:

Both Timberland and The North Face use EasyAsk to power their search. Their online customers can use voice search to describe exactly what they’re looking for as if they were in a store. These major brands have experienced dramatic revenue boosts between 37-70%.

EasyAsk’s search engine understands these types of queries. Will your Search Engine fail as more people search in this way, or will you be ready for the future because your Search Engine understands how people speak? Using a Natural Language Search Engine allows even small businesses to compete with the search quality of Amazon. You don’t need repetitive shopping behavior data to deliver fantastic results. Natural Language levels the playing field.

Encouraging your users to use voice search (perhaps by adding a microphone icon in the search bar) will mean that they provide more information about what they’re looking for. This in turn will mean that your users will see exactly the right results on the first page. Less time spent finding what they’re looking for results in a higher chance of conversion and higher revenue for your business.

The norm for voice interactions is changing. The future starts now.

“EasyAsk understands exactly what your customers are looking for. Delivering the right results, the first time. Everytime.”

Craig Bassin, CEO EasyAsk


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