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Why Site Search Should be the Top Priority for Online Beauty Retailers


Although, the beauty and personal care ecommerce segment constitutes about 4.5% of the total category, the recent growth in online shopping for this vertical and the presence of subscription based services like Birchbox, signals a shift in the buying behavior from offline stores to online portals.

Online merchandizers have traditionally been led to believe that the key to providing a superior shopping experience on beauty and personal care sites is to replicate the experience shoppers have in the offline world.

To be fair, that isn’t bad advice. It’s what we’ve been hearing for years. People are used to a certain way of shopping and giving them a familiar experience online makes them comfortable and more likely to convert.

However, research by A.T. Kearney now suggests that consumers buying beauty & personal care products online are less concerned about social factors like peer reviews, shopping guides and free samples and place higher merit on attributes like findability and free shipping.

Why Site Search Should be the Top Priority for Online Beauty Retailers

Site Search & Merchandizing should be the top priority for Beauty & Personal Care Ecommerce:

With findability being the top attribute consumers care about, what are you doing on your site to make sure your visitors can find the products they’re looking for?

In this post, I’ll take you through 5 actionable tips to customize your site search and merchandizing efforts for the beauty & personal care segment.

Show the *most relevant* results:

According to the Google/Millward Brown Digital Beauty Study, “43% of online shoppers go to five or more beauty websites before making a decision, and ultimately, one in four beauty shoppers make purchases online.”

To put  it simply, if your customers can’t find the products they’re looking for, they’re likely to exit and resume their purchase journey on a competing site. This makes relevancy a key priority for merchandisers.

Use Context-Aware Search:

Showing relevant results to customers consists of a multitude of factors. Your site search should be intelligent enough to understand user intent. For example, when your customers are searching for a coral nail shade, showing coral lipsticks or eye shadows can be severely detrimental to the visitor’s search experience. Your site needs semantic search and not text based search to accurately show results.

Identify the language your customers use:

As merchandizers, it pays (literally) to know who your customers and how they buy online. For instance, customers on your site may be searching for a red lipstick but they’ll search with the terms they use in everyday life – Crimson, scarlet, ruby. Do you know the language your customers use?

Quick tip: Use your site search data to find what visitors search for and add these words as synonyms in your site search engine. Don’t penalise your customers for searching they way they’re used to.

Display Colors in search results:

Color is an important attribute for your customers. While you may have multiple variants listed on your product pages, its imperative to show these variants on your search results pages as well and let your visitors immediately find what they’re looking for.

Display Visual Auto Suggestions:

With site search being the number one way your customers find products, make their experience less tedious by adding an autocomplete to your search box. But don’t stop there.

Use visual autocomplete to show your customers top products with image thumbnails and prices. Save them a step and let them find products in just 2 clicks.

Create Themed Landing Pages:

Group your products for easy findability by creating themed landing pages. Themed landing pages like, ‘Christmas Makeup Essentials’, ‘Organic Hair Care’ can immediately put your customers on the right path in their customer journey.

These landing pages should be curated to show the most relevant products and appropriate product recommendations. Showing Top Sellers or Personalized Recommendations here will increase clickthroughs and allow you to show more products.

Easy Filtering Options:

Most beauty and personal care sites have large catalogs and hundreds of products within each category. Make it effortless for customers to narrow down on the right product by offering the right filtering options.

Color, Price, Occasion, Trend (Fall, Spring-Summer) and other beauty specific filters should be offered on both search results & category pages.

An emphasis on User Behavior:

A.T. Kearney’s study also suggests that 56% of customers in the beauty and personal care segment are ‘Creatures of habit’ i.e. they know what they want and order it regularly.

This makes a strong case to include user behavior analysis while showing search results on your site. User behavior driven search places greater significance on products that a particular visitor has seen, searched for, or bought – Think about it as personalization for site search.

Even showing popular or best-selling products higher in search results can drive greater conversions. Your site search should constantly evolve based on what customers click, view and buy.

So there you have it. Relevant site search and clever merchandizing hold the key for an enhanced shopping experience for beauty and personal care ecommerce sites.

Do you have any tips to increase findability in this ecommerce vertical. I’d love to hear some more tips  so do comment below.

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