Why we worry about your eCommerce Site Search
eCommerce professionals lay in bed at night and wonder what they can do to increase conversions and boost revenue. After all, that is what they are chartered to do. But when they put on their work hat and go into the office in the morning, they also put on blinders. You see, many of these professionals forget that they are also shoppers. As they design their sites, they ignore their own experiences as online shoppers. Creating an experience that meets corporate objectives may be in direct conflict with their customers needs. Simply put – shoppers want to find and purchase what they want. A recent survey conducted by the Gartner Group showed that 72% of online shoppers prefer an experience that makes it easy to find what they want.*
What do online shoppers want?
This is the first question eCommerce professionals should ask themselves. “What do our customers want and how can we help them get it quickly and easily?” Regardless of what other business objectives your organization has carved out, getting both returning and new customers the products they want, is critical to success. The key therefore, is search and navigation. The more easily searchable your site is, the more likely your customer is to make their purchase.
Sounds simple, but it’s not (a personal story)
Recently I was on a furniture site, looking for a new sofa. I had two objectives while searching the site. The first was to find out some information regarding Sunbrella fabric and the second was to look at sofas, starting with the least expensive. Three minutes on the site – using the search term Sunbrella – I came up with a myriad of products that could be customized with the fabric, but nothing about the properties of the fabric itself. Strike 1.
I broadened the search term to “tell me about Sunbrella fabric” and got the same results. Ultimately, I left the site to find the information elsewhere. I gave the site another chance to search for the sofa itself. I navigated the menus so that only sofas were selected and used the drop down to sort them by price – low to high. There were 146 products that matched my criteria. I thought, now I’m getting somewhere. Except, I was wrong. First I got ottomans. Then I got a mix of chairs and sofas, my sort criteria was ignored completely. There were $800 chairs mixed in with $1,600 sofas. Strike Two.
Frustrated, I left the site, this time without returning. (No three strikes rule for this gal)
So, what was wrong? Well, the KEYWORD search engine certainly wasn’t intelligent enough to understand my questions, A natural language search engine should have/would have returned a blog entry or article about the fabric, which would have been helpful. Simply asking for ‘Sunbrella sofas under $1,500’, would return exactly what I was looking for.
Be the eCommerce Professional Hero
What does this all mean? Well, I’m sure the eCommerce professionals who designed the site, are also eCommerce shoppers. If they took a step back and looked at their site through the eyes of a consumer, they would recognize the inherent flaws that are keeping them from recognizing higher revenues. They need tools that will quickly and accurately query their data for products and information that is useful to the consumer. After all, 72% claim that what they want is the key to a good shopping experience.
Tactics such as personalization, product recommendations, ratings and reviews are all desirable to incorporate into your digital strategy, but they can’t do the job alone. The first priority was, is and will always be site search. As you never know HOW a shopper may choose to search for products, a smarter eCommerce site search solution will always be a cornerstone to success.
*J. Melton, Gartner Group, “Helping Website Newcomers Find Their Way Around Can Boost Sales,” Digital Commerce 360, 8 December 2016.