Creating an effective eCommerce site search solution is a challenge that most deem to be impossible.
The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in determination. – Usain BoltLike star athletes, successful businesses focus on building convenient and consistent systems while creating value for their customers and merchants. Today’s global eCommerce retailers can literally sell anything you can need. Consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to products and the sheer convenience of buying a product they want when they want it. However, shoppers are now evolving into discerning connoisseurs of retail convenience. They are demanding more value for not just their money but their time and patronage to your brand. When businesses can’t, or worse, don’t want to adapt to the changing ecosystem, they perish—case in point, Toys R’ Us.
7 pillars of an effective eCommerce site search solutionMany businesses seem to forget that shoppers still make 85% of their purchases via a journey connected with an experience they’ve had. Here below are the 7 integral pillars of your eCommerce site search solution that I will explain in detail as we go further. They are as follows:
- Optimized for Conversions
- User Experience
InfrastructureLike physical stores, an eCommerce store should have a stable infrastructure, be secure, and remain accessible 24/7. You need a system that cares about your customers just as much as you do. The key infrastructures needed to support eCommerce applications are networks, Web servers, Web server support and software, electronic catalogs, web page design, and Internet access components. While it is right that you need to stay a step ahead of competitors, it is more important to keep your shoppers safe on your site by securing your website with an SSL certificate. If your eCommerce site doesn’t run as quickly and as reliably as shoppers expect, the only things your business will experience are high bounce rates, lower conversions, and more abandoned shopping carts. Having the right set of platforms to build on is very important to derive the maximum output out of an eCommerce site search solution.
RelevancyHistorically, businesses focused on selling products and sacrificed customer satisfaction in the process. Today’s shoppers look for meaningful retail journeys. They expect online stores to enhance if not augment a brick-and-mortar store. They also expect that experience to be consistent. Tracking your shopper’s preferences and getting them exactly what they want when they want it is relevant. But that’s not all. Showing the relevant results after a search on your eCommerce website is the fastest way of making a sale. Therefore, an eCommerce site search solution can aid you to show relevant results to your customer. Because consumers can buy products anywhere, so to grow, you need to create unique and personalized experiences. Else, you risk losing customers and business faster than you can say ‘Free Shipping.
InsightsIn a world of ‘Amazon’ and ‘Google,’ traditional merchandisers need to track and analyze actionable user events to drive personalized merchandising and marketing campaigns. As shoppers spend longer periods online, they generate massive troughs of raw data about what they do and how they behave. Retailers and merchandisers can use business intelligence solutions to turn unstructured customer data into powerful, actionable insights. Using a data-centric approach, you can understand and analyze shoppers’ purchase patterns to create and consistently deliver tailor-made retail experiences. As a merchandiser, you can understand which products are doing well and which aren’t. This insight allows you to manage your inventory optimally to achieve the maximum Return On Investment (ROI). Let’s consider the revenue statistics of two online stores that sell similar brands of fashion clothing. At first glance, it would appear that Store A is doing better than Store B. Surely Store A has 3x more transactions than B and has more sales. But if you’d look closer, you’ll realize Store B has better Conversion rates, Average Session times, and a higher Average Order Value than A. Asking the right questions can help you get more insight into what you can do to improve conversions.
- How is a shopper’s retail experience while searching, browsing, and completing an order?
- What’s encouraging shoppers at Store B to spend longer?
- Why are shoppers spending more while shopping in Store B?
- What is Store A doing that is attracting more shoppers to their store? Can Store B replicate this?
- How are the two stores’ site search solutions build?
Optimized for ConversionConversion. The one metric most entrepreneurs and merchandisers care the most about. In a previous post, we spoke about how conversion can help you build your business. But conversion isn’t going to happen automatically, and it surely won’t grow your revenue unless you optimize it. According to Forrester, 1/3rd of all retail sales in 2018 was done through mobile devices. In other words, If your store does not provide a great mobile experience, you are missing out on a third (or more) of all sales. Period. For shoppers, optimizing for conversion means they interact with an online store that ‘studies’ their behavior (using AI and ML), ‘understands’ the way they ‘speak’ (using Natural Language Processing), corrects incorrectly spelled queries (using built-in Autocorrect and Spellcheck), and suggests the right products on the fly (using Semantic Search Relevance engines). For you, optimizing for conversion means shortening the time and effort your shoppers take to search, browse, and buy a product from your store. To understand how you can optimize your conversion rates, think about what you’d like to experience when you’re shopping. Would you like to view high-resolution images and different angles of a particular product? Research reveals that having multiple hi-rez images allows a shopper to ‘touch and feel’ a product online and increase conversion by 3x and reduce product returns by half. Not sure if you’ll return to buy something online? How about if you get limited-time discount coupons that you can use when you return.
MerchandisingSimply put, merchandising is the art and science of displaying the right products and offers at the right place at the right time at the right price on a website to increase sales. There are a couple of ways successful retailers do this:
Home PageYou’ve got about 3 seconds to grab your shoppers’ attention. Choose the product images you want your shopper to view, the display offers that they can’t refuse, feature personalized products that are based on their shopping and browsing history, and you’ve set up the ideal ‘Home Page’ for your shopper. Personally, I love the way Amazon’s home page has evolved over the last 10 years. Today, as I log on to Amazon, it welcomes me with personalized shopping recommendations and promotions tailor-made for me. By the way, this is exactly what Unbxd can do for you as well. They even add free shipping to this mix, and I’m deliriously happy to stay and shop. So, adapt such tips and tricks to capture your shopper’s attention and make them stay!
Category PageOver the past 3 years, shoppers have moved from using Google to search for products to search for an Amazon product. Another brilliant example is Lowe. Their category pages aren’t exactly glamorous, but like a trusty steed, it does a pretty good job of guiding shoppers through multiple levels to the product they want. Or you could use filters to help shoppers cut through the levels and get to the product.
Product Display PageConventionally, shoppers use the Product Display Page (PDP) to read more about the product before adding it to their shopping cart. As a merchandiser, this is where you’ll have to convince your shopper to buy. Choose your CTA options with care, giving shoppers enough information about the product. Adding comprehensive product descriptions, user reviews, and product testimonials help shoppers make a well-informed decision before buying the product. Besides ensuring your shoppers know what they’re buying, a detailed product page with high-definition images will also reduce returns. Studies showed that when one store added customer photos to their PDP, their conversion rates rose by 24%!
Cart PageAs the shopper makes the home-run towards order completion, ensure you cut the clutter, make it easy for your shopper to know what comes ahead, and the process is safe. Simplify the checkout process. Tweak. Test. Repeat. Identify shoppers who’ve abandoned their cart midway and encourage them to complete the purchase.
IntegrationThe internet is chock-a-block with stores, and your competitor is just a 2 second Google search away. While shopaholics will trawl the internet for their next retail fix, they will visit and buy from more established brands because of their popularity, accessibility, security, choice of products, and familiarity. It is estimated that marketplaces cater to millions of visitors every day. Choosing between getting a fully functional site search proven to work or building one from the ground up can be a daunting task. Here’s a blog post on how you can make the right decision. Just as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, integrating a well-defined site search engine into your store helps you solve issues unique to your store. You could be an SME or a multi-billion dollar enterprise, and your site search needs are unique. What works for HSN won’t work for a store that’s selling car parts online. Is your site search learning from queries, or are they simply automating tasks? Is your search solution solving real issues that plague shoppers? Your site search solution should cater to use-cases specific to your business. Search engines work differently in fashion and stores selling groceries. This is why we at Unbxd work closely with you from the moment you sign on the dotted line until your store is ready to go live.
User ExperienceAccording to Adobe, 38% of shoppers will leave a website if they find it unattractive. Corporations worldwide are investing billions in understanding how they can create an interface that is clean, easy to navigate, and intuitive. eCommerce stores need to go a step forward and ensure their interfaces convert casual shoppers to confirmed buyers. Because there isn’t real-time human interaction with shoppers. As merchandisers, you need feedback, both positive and negative, to drive the overall user experience and ultimately enhance user perception. The days when all you needed was an aesthetic template to lure shoppers in are over. Research shows 76 out of 100 visitors end up abandoning their cart mid-checkout. While you know the reasons behind it, these are appalling statistics. As in brick and mortar stores, your online store should reflect your brand while also delivering the user experience your shoppers have come to expect. Word of mouth works the same way too. Case in point, Amazon. While they’ve always delivered great value, they have worked on feedback from millions of shoppers to chip away at what was a cluttered interface to make it what it is today. An interface that is personalized, polished, and human-like. Starting from the home page right up till your shopper has checked out, ensure interactions are both logical and real-world, transitions are simple and natural, feedback in real-time, and features add to their convenience.
The key is to set realistic customer expectations and then not to just meet them but to exceed them — preferably in unexpected and helpful ways. – Sir Richard BransonUnlike physical stores, customers won’t think twice before switching to a competitor, making them ‘feel’ better.