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COVID-19 eCom Blog Series: Why your Search Box is your best Salesperson

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 store has been directly impacted by the pandemic and stores are only now gradually starting to reopen.  These events have resulted in unprecedented changes to consumer behavior and most transactions now moving online.

Customers have been forced from their daily routines, which included visiting a brick-and-mortar store.  They have been buying what they need online.  Data from a new Capgemini Research Institute report shows that 59% of consumers worldwide had high levels of interaction with physical stores before COVID-19, but now only 24% expect to return to that level.  This is a tectonic shift in consumer shopping habits and is here to stay.  Shoppers will certainly return to brick-and-mortar stores over time, but the more intuitive and happy eCommerce shoppers are, the more likely they are to continue to use eCommerce channels.  Unless companies can quickly adapt to changing circumstances, Amazon will be the new habit for those who couldn’t buy elsewhere.  The next challenge for e-retailers is to provide a superior shopping experience, on par with Amazon.

Search on eCommerce sites has always been important.  After all, searching is shopping in an eCommerce context.  With so many more people currently using eCommerce, 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.  If a shopper uses your search box, they have an idea of what they’re looking for, so you need to make sure they find it, fast.  These shoppers don’t want to waste time repeating searches or navigating through your site.  Your search box is your best Salesperson, especially in this season.

In this blog series, we will be exploring how your business can move, grow, and thrive online.  If there were ever a time to make sure that your customers can buy from you wherever they are, using any device (phone, PC, or tablet), it is surely now.

We will be exploring in more detail the following elements of good search over the coming months:

 

AI Natural Language Search

70% of eCommerce search implementations are unable to return relevant results, requiring users to search using the exact same jargon as the site[1]

Yes, that’s right, nearly three-quarters of eCommerce site searches will only return the right products if the customers happen to use the right language.  That’s a lot of lost revenue when those customers become frustrated and abandon the site.

We will explore how an AI/Natural Language search solution will ensure that your customers can find what they’re looking for, utilizing intelligent linguistic algorithms, synonym recognition, part number expansion, and more.

 

Instant Search

Presenting customers with the most relevant search, product, and category suggestions is essential.  But it is easy to get 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[2]

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 Search-As-You-Type (SAYT) returns correct results as you’re typing in the search box, refining as you continue to enhance, à la Google.  We will explore how to maximize the SAYT experience for your users.

 

Business Rules

We will demonstrate how you, the business user, can be in control of the products that are presented to your customers.  For example, using simple natural language rules to promote your own brand, to promote another brand during a campaign, or to ‘bury’ products which are low inventory.

 

Mobile

In a mobile environment, particularly with the proliferation of voice search, we have no idea how a user is going to search.  People don’t speak in keywords, they speak in sentences.

If people have a negative experience on mobile,

they’re 62% less likely to purchase from you in the future[3]

We’ll show you how to make sure you’re not putting off your customers with a poor user experience compared to your desktop site.

 

Personalization

Personalization is a valuable and effective part of the shopping experience.  But personalization must always be just that – a part of the shopping experience, not the shopping experience.  Personalization is at its best when it is used in the context of the right set of products to choose from – the most relevant products.  We’ll explore how to make personalization more powerful through great search.

 

No Results Pages

46% of eCommerce sites have a ‘No Results Page’ implementation that is essentially a

dead-end for users, offering no more than a generic set of search tips[4]

Generating a generic ‘Sorry, no results matched your search’ message could be disastrous.  But what if you could define and control products, categories, and messaging to display and therefore retain otherwise lost customers?

 

Conversational Commerce

With the research showing the pattern for Artificial Intelligence to be the biggest influence on eCommerce over the coming years, it is time to make sure that your search system will be able to keep up.

Whether using text or voice input, your customers will be progressively accustomed to chat-based interactions and will expect this format when buying online.  We will be showing how by adopting an intuitive AI-based search system that can cope with the demands of Conversational Commerce, you will be able to fast-track your customers to the right products every time.

[1] https://baymard.com/blog/ecommerce-search-report-and-benchmark

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

[3] https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-gb/advertising-channels/mobile/few-tips-speed-your-mobile-site-and-tools-test-it/

[4]  https://baymard.com/ecommerce-search/benchmark/page-types/no-search-results-page

 

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