An e-commerce site can be a wonderful way to market goods and a highly profitable enterprise. It can also be a frustrating experience when you invest your time and efforts only to have your sales come up short of what you need to make a profit. What’s more, your site can be experiencing phenomenal traffic and still leave you without the sales you need. The real key to success is conversion (https://www.marketingterms.com/dictionary/conversion_rate/) – turning your views into sales.
Ask the experts and you’ll find dozens of different answers to the question of how to boost the rate of conversion on your site. Many of those answers are simple and some, not so much, but most of them are legitimate methods. Personally, I like methods that don’t require a lot of work on your part and once implemented, make it easy for you to keep increasing the odds of visitors becoming buyers. The right kind of custom site search can do just that.
I’m sure that sounds to many readers like a pretty big claim. After all, pretty much everyone’s got a search on their e-commerce site, right? Maybe, but the difference is whether the full potential of that tool is being realized. Let’s take a closer look at that idea, shall we?
Searching vs. Finding
Okay, this part isn’t rocket science. Just because you have a search doesn’t mean that your visitors are going to find what they’re looking for. Even the best search algorithm can’t show your customers what you don’t have in your store.
So, how does your site search make a difference? If your search application isn’t collecting data for you, you’re wasting an awful lot of good information. Each time the search is activated, you have an opportunity to find out what brought a person to your site and more importantly, whether they found what they were looking for.
The best site search engines include data retrieval and a back end that allows you to analyze that data. With that power in your hands, it’s much easier to determine which of you products are among the “hot” items for online shoppers. What’s more you can use the failed searches to determine what products you should be stocking, but aren’t – or maybe you have the products but they’re not listed with the keywords people are searching for.
The example above only scratches the surface of what you can do with a good analytics program connected to the data from your visitors’ searches. The difference in success of failure comes down to how much you know about the customer experience on your site.
It’s one thing to know what’s selling and what’s not. Why not also use all that information to improve the customer experience, direct your merchandising and actually calculate and track your conversion rate? A complete site search application should include a complete set of analytics tools.
What better way to provide a satisfying customer experience than to allow each visitor to tweak it to suit his/her preferences? Presenting visitors with search result filters they can customize isn’t just user-friendly, it’s efficient. Getting your visitors to what they want, quickly and easily is the best insurance that they’ll buy from you instead of one of your competitors.
Suggestions and Synonyms
An important feature in any modern site search is the ability to offer suggestions. Your visitors should see a list within the first few keystrokes, based on the most popular searches by previous customers. You should also have some control over which of your products appear most prominently in that list.
Speaking of appearing, keep in mind that online shoppers follow visual references much faster than they read. That being the case, it makes sense to show more than just a product title in your suggestions. Instead, give the potential customer a chance to see an image and say, “That’s exactly what I’m looking for!” The difference in response rate will impress you.
Remember that many shoppers may not know exactly what to call the product they’re searching for. Your site search engine should learn to recognize common terms and the synonyms that apply to them. If that sounds like more than you’d expect from the average search app, that’s because it is.
Speed is Everything
Nothing will drive away visitors faster than “click and wait”. That means that everything your site search does, it needs to do quickly. When you stack up the list of features and functions we’ve been talking about, that becomes an interesting concept. Functionality equals server load, which equals lag.
So, how do you avoid overtaxing your server and consequently losing business? Hand those functions off to other computers! Cloud-based functionality is a life saver for online stores, particularly on the front end, where shoppers are expecting instant gratification. With complex functions like suggestions and thumbnail displays, it’s imperative.
All Platforms are Not Alike
Last, but not least, your site search needs to be customized to work with the platform you’re using, especially if it’s not one of the popular ones. Magento. Wix, WooCommerce and other well-known platforms all offer their own built-in searches, but to get all the functionality we’ve discussed, you’re probably going to need to find a better solution. Remember, however, even if you’re using your own, custom-developed e-commerce site, a full-featured site search should integrate with it seamlessly.
Nothing is more important to the success of your e-commerce site than converting shoppers to buyers. A customized, full-featured website search engine is one of the most efficient ways to boost your conversion rate.