and how to make sure your customers don’t run away screaming
When eCommerce site search is working well, it is a dream for your customers: they can find what they’re looking for, the first time. No need to endlessly click through your site’s categories and attributes. Unfortunately, eCommerce search is too often scaring customers away. We’ll look at six scary statistics and the ways that you can ensure your site search is not one of the frightening ones…
Scary Statistic #1
70% of eCommerce search implementations are unable to return relevant results,
requiring users to search using the exact same jargon as the site
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.
To ensure that your customers can find what they’re looking for, you need a Natural Language search solution. Natural Language search solutions find different versions of the same terms, so that pluralities and tenses can be managed. For example, it wouldn’t make any difference if a customer used the term “mens”, “man”, “men” or “womens”, “women”, “ladies”. An intelligent Natural Language search system will understand this automatically, without any input.
Scary Statistic #2
34% of eCommerce site searches don’t return useful results when users search for
a model number or misspell just a single character in the product title
This scary statistic raises 2 important issues:
A good spell correction system is not just about correcting, but about finding words that occur in the product data which most closely match what the user described.
With EasyAsk’s intuitive search system, your product data becomes the look-up dictionary, meaning that your customers don’t have to match the spelling of your products exactly.
- Complex Product Numbers
While most good search systems will find common misspellings, they lack the ability to deal effectively with part or model numbers. Consumers who are taking the time to type in a part number are undoubtedly more ready to buy, so it is even more important that they are able to find what they are looking for.
EasyAsk has the ability to index part and model numbers comprehensively, indexing all variations to ensure that users can find the product, even if they forget or mistype part of the number.
EasyAsk’s ‘Part Number Expander’
A ‘Part Number Expander’ is especially useful for complex part numbers that include a combination of letters, numbers and other characters. A user might forget whether characters were separated by a hyphen or a slash, or might omit letters on the end.
The Part Number Expander takes each part number and creates all the different versions of terms and inserts them into the searchable index so that if any of them are searched for, they will match to the product. The code is broken up into parts and the separators are substituted in all combinations.
For example, if the part number is
the Part Number Expander would index:
123 HC 1345AB 1345
…among many other combinations.
If a customer types a part/model number that is slightly different (for example, using spaces instead of hyphens) the correct product will still be found.
Ecklerscorvette.com demonstrates how the Part Number Expander can avoid no results for customers:
The part number for this disc brake set is 25-261256-1. If a customer replaces the hyphens with spaces, the exact product is still returned.
Scary Statistic #3
If people have a negative experience on mobile, they’re 62% less likely to purchase from you in the future
A negative experience will stay with prospects longer than a positive one, so if you want your mobile customers to become regular, you’ll need to make sure you’re not putting them off with a poor user experience compared to your desktop site.
Does your site have a mobile responsive design, so that the text, images, and menus change according to the screen size? Furthermore, as your site adapts to a mobile size, do you show relevant categories and attributes, as opposed to just the first ones from the desktop site.
Customers using a mobile eCommerce site are more likely to use voice input, and therefore different word choices and sentence structures when speaking. Your search system needs to be able to cope with voice input and the long-tail queries that are more likely on mobile.
Scary Statistic #4
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
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?
There are better ways to use a ‘No Results’ page, but what if it was possible to avoid searches returning no results in the first place?
It may be that a simple spell correction rectifies a ‘No Results’ search, but it is also important to monitor what EasyAsk calls ‘relaxed’ searches. A relaxed search is one where the search system has modified the search by intelligently dropping (or ‘relaxing’) a term or terms.
For example, if a customer searched for a ‘Men’s black lace jacket’ and there are no products that match this description, we would want the results to show ‘Men’s black jackets’, rather than ‘Men’s lace jackets’ or ‘black lace jackets’, having relaxed the term ‘lace’. Some searches will inevitably need to be modified and in this example, we want our search system to recognize that the gender stated in the search query is more important than the fabric.
If a user’s search has been modified (such as by spell correcting or relaxation) it is important to display a message explaining the changes to the original search. For example, a user may search for “purple leather couches” and see the following message:
This user could have searched for leather couches in the first instance and spent a long time scrolling through the pages of results looking for any in purple. But by using messaging in this way, the user is informed immediately and is more likely to use the search system again.
So-called intelligent ‘No Results’ pages will suggest searches based on what a user asked for, but truly intelligent search systems will change the search to find relevant products based on what the user asked for, even though there may not be an exact match.
Scary Statistic #5
It’s 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one
A worrying number of businesses still don’t use merchandising tools such as cross-sells and up-sells effectively on their eCommerce sites. These businesses are leaving money on the table.
EasyAsk’s search solution includes a comprehensive set of merchandising controls. With 9 predefined promotion types, banners and business rules, amongst other functions, the business user is in control of the products that are presented to the customer.
Scary Statistic #6
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.
As a user types into a search box supported by EasyAsk, however, search suggestions and category suggestions will be displayed as well as the products themselves.
EasyAsk offers ‘Search as you Type’, or SAYT, because it means a whole lot more than just a list of suggested searches. It means many possibilities for getting the right products in front of your customers.
SAYT progressively searches for and filters through text. As a user types a query, suggestions, products, categories, and attributes are found and presented with each keystroke. This allows a user to stop short of typing the entire word or phrase and find what they were looking for quicker.
Search suggestions as well as relevant and popular products, attributes, and categories can all be displayed in an easy to use interface.
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. Alongside the search suggestions in the right-hand column, a popular category to browse and 7 products are displayed, based on the first search prediction, ‘wedding’. Scrolling through the search suggestions using the down and up arrows updates the real-time search and therefore the categories and products displayed. Personalization Mall could have also configured their search so that it updates just by a mouse hover for a certain amount of time.
Typed characters are shown in bold in the list of suggestions, with the rest of the suggestion in normal type. Often, autocomplete systems only show suggestions that begin with the typed characters, but we can see here that the suggestions can contain ‘wedd’ anywhere.
Presenting customers with the most relevant search, product and category suggestions is essential.
When your site search is performing well, customers won’t be scared off, and your business won’t become one of the statistics above.
Getting the right products in front of the customer as quickly as possible shortens the path to conversion, keeping your customers and your bank balance happy.
Follow the tips and best practices in EasyAsk’s recently released eGuide: “Preparing for the Holiday Season: A Guide for your eCommerce Site” to ensure your customers find the right products the first time.