Natural language is a term that is used in many different ways depending on the software sector or industry. In the e-commerce search world, there is only one true meaning to natural language:
Allowing a visitor to perform a search like they are communicating with another human being and getting precise and accurate results.
By way of example, it allows a visitor to ask in detail for what they want and they get back exactly those products. If someone asks for “men’s polo shirts in size medium under $100”, then a true natural language will return EXACTLY that set of products.
It takes an extremely intelligence site search engine to have this type of “conversation” with a visitor. While some e-commerce search vendors say the have “smarter search”, if they cannot support natural language, then how smart are they really?
Most e-commerce search engines are still keyword based. Those engines would not understand the price constraint or the size specification and would return a very large set of products that are not related to what the visitor was looking for (in fact, if the site carried Polo cologne, they might also see that!).
Supporting natural language search requires a sophisticated engine. It has to do two things: (a) properly interpret the search phrase (visitor intent), and (b) have a deep understanding of the product catalog (site content).
To explain this, we created a new video, natural language search explained, which shows you how a natural language e-commerce search engine works and what makes it different.
With search accounting for anywhere from 40 to 80% of your sales, a natural language search engine can have a huge impact on your online revenue. Knowing how natural language works and how it makes a difference can make you the e-commerce hero at your company.