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Optimizing your eCommerce site for the Holiday Season 2: Reducing “No Results”

Our last blog provided useful tips for using your site’s Search Analytics to improve your bottom line during the Holiday Season. Creating an optimized shopping experience for your customers will be a gift to your business accounts as well as your customers. This blog post is the second in the series of posts that will lay out best practices and tips as you prepare your eCommerce site for the biggest commercial period of the year.

No Results

According to a WebLink study, shoppers using internal site search deliver a 216% higher conversion rate compared to customers that simply browse. With search playing such a crucial role, generating a generic ‘Sorry, no results matched your search’ message could be disastrous. How many shoppers would stay on your site and how many would go straight to your competitor?

Check out these common causes for ‘No Results’ pages and how to avoid them:

Spelling Errors

A large number of ‘No Results’ searches can be put down to poor spell correction. An effective Search Engine must have sensible spell corrections and synonyms, including the ability to understand plurals. For example, the adjectives ‘smoked’ and ‘smoky’ should be understood by the Search Engine as synonymous.

Most Search Engines provide a reasonably good service when it comes to spell corrections or synonyms, but can yours manage word inflection, such as changes in tense or verb conjugation? For example, will your search system recognize that ‘mattresses’ is the plural form of ‘mattress’ because it has the suffix ‘es’ rather than just ‘s’? If your business operates across different countries, and therefore languages, this becomes an even bigger challenge. Do you have a Natural Language engine that understands these complexities across multiple languages?

Specific Language

Another cause of ‘No Results’ searches is shoppers’ use of language. It could be that a search is too specific, and that by ‘relaxing’ one or more words, a relevant set of results can still be shown. A good Natural Language tool will be capable of understanding that words such as ‘over’ and ‘under’ relate to a price indication. As people become increasingly used to using voice searches, they may include phrases like ‘show me’ or ‘I’m looking for’. Although typically searches would fail with the addition of these phrases, a Search Engine that can understand Natural Language will still make sense of the query.

You don’t sell particular products

When a shopper searches for something that is not stocked by an eRetailer, it may seem that a ‘No Results’ message would be inevitable. But a successful Search System will show results for alternative searches when a company doesn’t have what users ask for. The system should allow the business to set up redirects based on likely search queries (see our first blog post in this series to find out how to best use Search Analytics in this way). For example, if a company doesn’t stock Nike products, a redirect could be set up to show Adidas products (that they do stock) instead. Redirects allow businesses to redefine the terms a customer uses in order to point to different terms and therefore different products.

Products are Out of Stock

If a popular product has gone out of stock, most Search Systems will display a ‘No Results’ message. This is no longer a reason for a wasted opportunity with EasyAsk’s unique tool, ‘Conditional Redirects’. The tool enables businesses to set up a redirection to a separate set of products when their customers search for a popular product that is out of stock. For example, if a company usually sells Gracey Recliners, they may find that they sometimes have an issue with the supply, due to the product’s popularity. The merchandiser could set up a conditional redirect rule using EasyAsk software, so that when Gracey recliners are unavailable, a message displays explaining this, along with a redirected search for ‘leather recliners’. When the Gracey recliners are back in stock, they will once again be shown in the search results. It is not necessary for a merchandizer to remove the rule; the Search System will automatically show the product again.

No Results? No way!

Avoiding ‘No Results’ searches is a simple yet valuable way to ensure your customers find, and buy, what they are looking for. It is essential to use a Search Engine that is flexible and can understand the multitude of ways that a user might phrase a query. Quite simply, you won’t resolve the underlying causes of ‘No results’ without an intuitive Natural Language engine. With flexible merchandising and search tuning, you can make sure that you’re not hard-wiring the way that search works.

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