We hope that you have been following our Holiday blog series and making changes to impact your bottom line. 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 fifth in the series that lays out best practices and tips as you prepare your eCommerce site for the biggest commercial period of the year.
If you’ve been following our Holiday blog series, you’ll be getting the idea by now; small changes can make a big difference to your bottom line. 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 fourth in the series that will lay out best practices and tips as you prepare your eCommerce site for the biggest commercial period of the year.
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.
1: Interpreting Search Analytics
We know your mind is still on camping trips and barbeques, but now is the time to act in order to maximize revenue this 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 first in a 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.
Chatbots are big business right now. They are appearing on sites and apps across the world, from ordering take out to organizing your life. There’s even a Chatbot Annual Conference.
What is a Chatbot?
Users interact with a Chatbot via a chat or messaging interface, imitating a conversation. After a series of questions and responses, users should arrive at an answer or product. Chatbots have moved on from their beginnings as a text-based response tree to now include elements of Artificial Intelligence such as Natural Language Processing. The most common use for Chatbots is for customer service. The Chatbot can answer the simpler customer queries, leaving the complex answers to the ‘living’ employees. Read More
There is no denying Amazon’s domination in the eCommerce industry. Selling nearly anything you could imagine, Amazon’s sales account for 43% of all online sales. Amazon’s Prime Day official sale results marked the biggest-selling event in its history.
Being the force of nature that is Amazon has its advantages, but there are ways in which eRetail businesses smaller than Amazon can have the upper hand in the mobile arena.
Sixty-five percent of consumers say Amazon makes it easier to find what they are looking for. Good UX for mobile shopping is being able to say what you’re looking for and see exactly that. But does Amazon really do that? Is it really that difficult to compete with Amazon? Can smaller eRetailers make it even easier for customers to find what they’re looking for?
What’s that you say?
In a mobile shopping environment, particularly with the proliferation of voice search, we have no idea how a shopper is going to search. There is the unknown factor of how a shopper may choose to speak their request. When using voice search, people are more verbose; they don’t think as carefully about the words they will use, and they throw in unexpected words. Many eRetailers are trying to dictate how a shopper may search, but there is truly no way to know. Therefore, it is imperative that the engine processing the request is incredibly intuitive and flexible. This way, no matter how a shopper asks, they can find what they asked for.
Let’s play off the results from different voice searches on Amazon against search results from The North Face, a store that uses EasyAsk search.
Using voice input, we made the following search: “Show me red jackets for my wife under 200 dollars”
Here are the results pages for Amazon:
And here they are from The North Face:
The Amazon site displays a no results message then searches for different combinations of the words from the original query. Unfortunately, instead of throwing out the conversational words, Amazon uses these words to search, and consequently shows many irrelevant results.
EasyAsk has intuitively ignored the extra words used in voice search on the North Face site and has found 34 relevant results that match what was being asked for. EasyAsk recognized the term, ‘wife’ to be synonymous with ‘women’s’ and therefore the results show only women’s jackets.
We thought we needed to give Amazon another chance with different language and by being more specific. We next made the following search using voice input: “I’m looking for a ladies waterproof red jacket for less than 200 dollars”
Here are the Amazon results:
And again from The North Face:
Once again, Amazon displays a “No Results” message and a selection of results using various combinations of the query words. The results shown include a fitness tracker, cleansing wipes, and hiking boots, but absolutely no jackets.
Conversely, the North Face site displays 11 red ladies’ waterproof jackets that are all less than $200. Exactly as requested.
So, Amazon hadn’t made it easier to find what we’re looking for when we used long-tail conversational queries. But surely, they would have the victory when it came to a more keyword-based search?
We tried the following search: “men’s blue ski jackets”
Here are the Amazon results:
Amazon was able to process this request and has returned over 1000 results. Although the first result is a men’s blue ski jacket, the second result is blue pants and the third, a water-ski vest. The sheer number of results returned means that the relevant results are buried.
In the North Face results, we have the perfect outcome; 6 or 7 results that match the query exactly.
Three strikes and you’re out Amazon!
One minute, Amazon has no results, and the next it has thousands. Neither option equates to a good mobile shopping experience. If a customer has to scroll through 600 products, they are not likely to buy anything.
So how do you compete against Amazon and win? By showing customers fewer products, not more. But those products need to match the requests made by the customers. An excellent shopping experience is when a search brings back 6 results that fit.
Once eRetailers recognize the forecasts that mobile is the right user experience, they must take advantage of smarter search and start competing. Amazon has thousands of products. So even if they get the search right, there are too many results. EasyAsk is the world’s smartest eCommerce search engine. If you’ve got EasyAsk, you’ve got the advantage – you can compete with Amazon. You’re competing because you’re making the UX better than Amazon. You can provide concise, meaningful search results and experiences that result in transactions.
That’s how you win!
|Search||# of Amazon Results||# of The North Face Results|
|Show me Red Jackets for my wife under $200||0||34|
|I’m looking for ladies red jackets under $200||over 10,000||34|
|Show me ladies waterproof jackets in red||0||18|
|I’m looking for waterproof red jackets for my wife for under $200||0||11|
|I’m looking for a ladies waterproof red jacket for less than $200||0||11|
|I’m looking for a warm red coat for my wife||0||33|
|I’m looking for warm red ladies coats||over 2,000||33|
The Dreaded Message?
“We’re sorry, your search returned no results”
It’s the page many Search and Merchandizing teams hope will never appear to their customers. And of course, good search should avoid the “No Results” page showing unnecessarily – for example, if a spelling mistake has been made. However, customers may be searching for products that are simply not available in the product catalog and therefore “No Results” pages are sometimes inevitable. But they don’t have to be a dead-end for potential customers; they can be an opportunity to engage with your users. Read More
What’s behind your eCommerce search box? You’re not going to like the answer
As an eRetailer, one of the most critical functions on your website is your search box. This is where your shoppers go to find things they want to buy. The truth is that, deep down; you know it just doesn’t work very well. Most eRetailers think that “search” is just “search” and that all search tools are just about the same. They expect that their search has some navigation, basic spell correction, and maybe type-ahead. If that’s all search offers, then what’s the difference, really? Read More
The last thing any visitor wants to see when they perform a search on an eCommerce Site is a page that says “No Results”. As we indicated in our recent whitepaper, Increase Customer Conversion by Boosting Product Findability, misspellings and using different tenses is a very common occurrence by eCommerce shoppers.
To make your site tolerant of misspellings and the like, you have two options: Either manually enter all the various misspellings and whatnot into your search engine, which will take you God-knows-how-long… Or, the better approach, use an eCommerce search engine that offers Automatic Spell Correction and stemming against terms in your product catalog.
This gives you out-of-the-box tolerance of these visitor errors, enabling them to find the right products and keeping them on your site as opposed to going to your competitors.
Watch this one-minute video and see how Coldwater Creek uses EasyAsk’s automatic spell correction to convert more visitors into customers.
BY EasyAsk CEO Craig Bassin
Google has recently announced that it is adding more “semantic search” techniques into its otherwise largely keyword search. This means matching on the meaning of words, rather than just the occurrence of words. Since nearly all of your customers also use Google, their expectations for search are conditioned by Google. Over time, there is a trickle-down in the expectation that shoppers have of search, based largely on their experience on Google.
Therefore, it’s a reasonable question to ask: “What changes should I make in search at my commerce site to keep pace with customer expectations?” Beyond keeping pace with expectations, there is another even more important reason to invest in semantic search on your site — increased conversion rate. Analysis of Neilsen netRatings conversion rate studies across similar e-commerce sites has not only confirmed the impact of natural language semantic search, it has actually measured it!
What is Semantic Search?
The literal definition of semantic search is searching on meaning rather than searching on words. Google is now knocking at the door of semantic search by associating word groups as concepts. If some people search on “beach sandals” and other people search on “beach flip-flops”, while both groups click to show interest in the same item set, then the concept “sandal” and “flip-flop” may be related. The distillation of words into concepts is one part of the greater field of Natural Language Processing (NLP). Searching on concepts in their various forms delivers more complete results and is more tolerant of user search variations. As you have seen, semantic search is quite valuable – but there is more power available when you go deeper using more NLP techniques.
A semantic search with deeper NLP (let’s call this Natural Language Search, or NLS) support brings even more converting power to a commerce site. Lets look at these two commerce searches, “return policy” and “sweaters under $100”. Searching all your product descriptions for the words “return” and “policy” will clearly lead to ridiculous results. Clearly, the intent of this search is to display your policy on returns – treating this as a phrase and recognizing its special nature are important to the shopper, and easy with NLS.
Similarly, treating “under $100” as a keyword search will yield undesirable results. The intent of the user is to restrict the products based on price. Recognizing that “$100” is not a word, but rather a price requires something smarter than a keyword search. This occurs in other forms when the user wants to express a range restriction, not just on price, but any other numerical product attribute such as length, weight or wattage.
Units of measure commonly stump keyword search engines. For example, keyword searching for “12 volt 24 amp motor” will unfortunately return all motors with 12 or a 24 anywhere in the description. Thus, both 24 volt 12 amp motors as well as 24 watt .5 amp motors with a 12″ shaft will be shown! If your site gets lots of dimensional/size searches, the capabilities of NLS is absolutely critical. A semantic search with NLP is aware of units of measure, such as “volt”, “v” or “amp”, “A”. This unit of measure awareness automatically creates a phrase around “12 volt”, and to include searches on variations like “12V” or “12 V”. When a shopper searches for “Nike size 10”, NLS will recognize that “size” is an attribute with numeric values & therefore select the products with “size=10”. These capabilities impact countless unique searches that would otherwise stump almost all search engines.
These examples illustrate how easy it is for dumb keyword searches to yield embarrassing results. Have you ever searched a site only to see hundreds of irrelevant results? This not only reflects poorly on your brand, but can actually cause you to lose customers! Nearly all of us have had the experience of getting such poor results from a search on a commerce site. We get frustrated and leave the site altogether to buy from another site. This illustrates how improving search can improve conversion rate.
In order to measure the correlation between semantic search and conversion rate, we used Nielsen netRatings to compare the conversion rates of sites that were similar except for their use of semantic search. We compared sites for catalog companies and non-catalog companies separately. In both groups, the sites using semantic NLP search had about 20% higher conversion rate than the sites using keyword search. Of course, there are many other phenomena that impact conversion rate, but these would generally balance out across all the groups. Furthermore, the 20% improvement is consistent with the uplift we see when customers switch from keyword search to semantic search. Details of the Nielsen study are available on request.
Google is moving the world towards semantic search. Eventually user expectations will demand it from your commerce site as well. Switch sooner rather than later – you’re leaving money on the table every day until you make the switch!