Most companies spend a double-digit percentage of their total revenues on marketing activities, including search, to drive traffic to their sites. Still, research has shown that 61% of ecommerce sites perform below average for internal site search.
Most professionals know that at the heart of successful search are two things: good queries, with shoppers knowing what they want and using the right keywords, and good indexed data, i.e., making the correct data available for shoppers to find. But there are other ways merchants can optimize the search challenges they face in order to attract and keep shoppers and maximize revenue. After months of supply chain snafus and the constant demand for instant sales satisfaction, merchandisers are using technology to move products forward and create operational efficiency.
Here are four tips that give merchandisers an excellent opportunity to capitalize on internal search to drive higher conversion rates, average order volumes and brand satisfaction.
‘Searchandising’ — Merchandise for Search
The art of merchandising is radically evolving in the digital world. When shopping in person, it can be frustrating to navigate a disorganized and messy store. The same goes for ecommerce — disorganized categorization that’s hard to search through can elicit out-of-date styles and irrelevant items in a browser’s search. A great instrument to tackle this is “searchandising” — a way of curating online merchandise for search. With intentional searchandising, the merchant can prioritize the items that benefit them most, like new arrivals, at the top of the search results and avoid customer dissatisfaction.
Autocomplete and Synonym Matching
Shoppers don’t always know the right product name or the correct spelling. Properly optimized autocomplete can be an excellent tool for anticipating what shoppers are looking for and prioritizing the right products. By speaking the customers’ language, merchants can save time and show shoppers that they’re in the right place, since they are not the only ones searching for a particular term, phrase or item. This is even more critical on a mobile device since smartphone typing is error-prone and somewhat harder to execute.
Synonym matching is also a lifesaver for brands that are driven by unique terms. It helps shoppers find relevant products even when they might not search for an item using the exact spelling or term. Often products have multiple synonymous names. Merchants can define separate terms with the same meaning and build trust with consumers by helping them find what they want.
The Personal Touch
For ecommerce brands, the goal is to find a way to align data on what shoppers want to purchase and what the merchant is interested in selling. Just because an item may be on hand does not mean a merchant should promote it or present it aggressively. By correlating shopping history with personal preferences and product affinity, merchants can predict shoppers’ intended actions.
AI-driven technology is an excellent tool for personalization. It helps merchants analyze search history or past purchases and access previous social media interactions with products or brands. Initial search results should prioritize items available in all sizes, colors or other variations to maximize the chance of a match. If the data “knows” that a customer is searching for a white dress or black shoes, suggestions directly related to that search may encourage them to browse more and eventually purchase. The best merchandisers conceal goods that aren’t available and promote or push forward items to satisfy shoppers’ needs to reduce disappointment and build brand loyalty.
Images are one of the most inspiring engagement media to drive traffic to merchants’ items. With visual discovery, shoppers use images from smartphones, social media or store catalogs to easily find matching products. Visual discovery can also identify all the items in one image and offer “complete the look” functionality for fashion shoppers, increasing cart size. By mapping an image to a site’s collections, merchants are not simply augmenting their search capabilities, they are also going the extra mile for shoppers, which can help boost conversion.
Ecommerce search is most successful when shoppers know precisely what they want and use the right keywords, and the merchant’s data is indexed well. Like an in-store salesperson, merchandisers can combine experience and creativity with data to provide a direct line to the products that customers are seeking. While merchandisers cannot entirely control customers’ behavior, they can deploy the right tools to organize and optimize their data in order to create better shopping experiences and improve search results.
An experienced technology entrepreneur and executive, Zohar Gilad is the Co-founder and CEO of Fast Simon, which brings AI-powered shopping optimization to millions of ecommerce brands. Throughout his career, Gilad has been the driving force behind over 20 software products that have since been used by millions of users worldwide.