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Covid-19 eCom Blog Series: The Importance of Search for eCommerce

1.  AI-Instant Search

It’s a rapidly changing situation, but it’s safe to say that the global Coronavirus Pandemic has defined 2020.  Nobody could have foreseen the dramatic changes to their way of life people have experienced across the world.  Every non-essential merchant has been directly impacted by the pandemic and brick and mortar stores are only now gradually reopening.  These events have resulted in unprecedented changes to consumer behavior and most transactions now moving online.

The Search Box on eCommerce sites has always been important.  After all, searching is shopping in an eCommerce context.  With so many more people currently buying online, it is even more important than usual that if your business can provide what a shopper is looking for, you get it in front of them as soon as possible.

Presenting customers with the most relevant search, product, as well as category suggestions is essential.  But it is easy to get AI-Instant Search, or Autocomplete, so wrong that it actually has a negative impact on your shoppers.

36% of autocomplete implementations on eCommerce websites do more harm than good*

 

Although basic autocomplete suggestions can be found on 82% of eCommerce sites, most sites do not take the opportunity to capitalize on merchandising while users are searching.

Advanced AI-Instant Search returns correct results as a user types in the search box, refining with each keystroke, à la Google.  This allows a user to stop short of typing the entire word or phrase and find what they were looking for quicker.

With Instant Search saving users 2-5 seconds for every search, do they really expect to finish typing their search?  If this is the case, it’s essential that Instant Search works well.

Here’s how to make sure your Instant Search is effective:

1. Character Matching

Often, autocomplete systems only show suggestions that begin with the typed characters, but an effective AI-Instant Search will match on characters anywhere in the search query.

Here is an example from EasyAsk customer personalizationmall.com:

The user is looking for a wedding gift and the letters ‘wedd’ have been typed into the search box on the desktop site so far.  The above drop-down panel is displayed without needing to execute the search.  We can see here that the suggestions can contain ‘wedd’ anywhere.  Typed characters are shown in bold in the list of suggestions, with the rest of the suggestion in normal type.

 

2. Configure which searches are shown first

The most effective AI-Instant Search systems will show trending search suggestions as the user types.  But these suggestions can be supplemented with any other suggestions, as defined by the business user.  The data seeding the search can be configured to include anything.

It’s also a good idea to display the last searches that the user made, even before Instant Search kicks in.

 

3. Show top products and categories as well as search suggestions

Presenting customers with the most relevant search, product, and category suggestions is essential.

As a user types, not only can you show top search suggestions, but also the top products for that search.  The search is actually happening in the background and displayed in the pop-up box.  You could even show top brands or categories associated with that top search.

In the example above, the first three characters of the search for a sofa have been typed.  The top products related to ‘sofa’ are displayed, alongside the top searches and 2 possible categories.  The order that these suggestions are displayed is based on the frequency that they’ve been searched in the last period.

When customers are searching for products that don’t belong in an obvious category, displaying the categories in Instant Search is an effective way of getting the customer to the product quickly.

For certain businesses, the addition of suggested part numbers is also very useful.

 

4. Option for customers to add directly to cart

If a customer has a list and knows what they want to buy, it’s really important that the journey from search to purchase is as rapid as possible for them.  These customers should be able to type in a part number, see the product appear in the Instant Search pop-up, and add it straight to their cart.  They shouldn’t have to go through numerous search pages.

 

5. Code-free Layout

The most sophisticated AI-Instant Search systems use templates, making it very easy for the business user to change. EasyAsk provides multiple templates to choose from, or businesses can define their own.

Having a template-driven layout means that it’s easy for business users to decide how they want to lay out their Instant Search pop-up without the need for code.  The EasyAsk system is also optimized for mobile, making it responsive to all screen sizes.

 

Finding the right products, first time, every time.

EasyAsk’s AI-Instant Search is a very advanced system that is designed to put the right products in front of the user at the earliest opportunity.  Displaying product, search, and category suggestions to a user as soon as they start typing makes the most of a merchandising opportunity that is often missed.

Using AI-Instant Search to improve your eCommerce search is just one of the many features of EasyAsk’s intuitive search and merchandising solution.

Find out more here

[1] https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2014/08/the-current-state-of-e-commerce-search/

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