02 Jul 2015
The curious case of the 12 types of ecommerce site search query
Unbxd Marketing
Unbxd Marketing

Site Search is an integral part of the product discovery experience on eCommerce sites, and customers are starting to expect an accurate & user-friendly experience while shopping online. Site search queries are an easy and quick way for customers to discover products. However, most eCommerce sites still have a long way to go before providing a relevant & usable site search experience. But before we get into site search best practices, let's learn a little more about the customer mindset when they search.

Customers who search for products online can be bucketed into two categories:

  • Primary

These customers know precisely what they want, so they head straight for a search.

  • Alternative

These customers switch to site search after unsuccessful navigation attempts and use search as a fallback.

Regardless of the type of customer, they expect relevant search results. However, the first type may be more forgiving and try 4-5 times before abandoning the search, whereas the second type is more likely to quit if the search fails.

All this points to one thing: a robust site search, which returns relevant search results, is the need of the hour for eCommerce companies.

Ecommerce site search query classification

A customer searches for a 'brown leather jacket' on an ecommerce site. The search returns relevant results – a leather jacket made of brown leather. However, if the seller does not have that particular type of jacket, the search still shows jackets or different variants, for instance, in other fabrics or colors. How does this happen?

This answer lies in 'context awareness,' which forms the backbone of an intelligent site search that can understand user intent to show accurate results.

Before we look at some of these query types, let's look at each classification.

  • Query Spectrum- These types of queries are used to specify search ranges. Here, users are either looking for a product or a particular type of product, searching for a symptom/problem, or even a piece of non-product information.

  • Query Qualifiers- Users sometimes use certain qualifiers to specify conditions. For instance, they may look for specific features or themes, whether a product is compatible with other products, etc.

  • Query Structure- This means using the actual syntax of the query, i.e., how customers are searching and the language they are using.

Types of queries

There are 12 types of queries in site search, but even the top 50 retailers in the US only support some of them. Let's take a look at five types of queries.

  • Exact search- This search allows the user to find exactly what they are looking for. They may search using the exact product name or model number. The key here is to solve typos and misspellings without making users type the query again.

  • Product type search- Users here are not looking for a specific product but a type/category. They may also use various synonyms or different variations of it, for instance, sofa/couch, etc.

  • Feature Search- This is one of the most common query types users use while they search. Features may encompass color, price, performance specs, etc.

  • Thematic search- These search queries are often vague with fuzzy boundaries. For example, searches may include searches based on occasions, seasons, etc.

  • Slang, abbreviations, and symbol search- Users don't always search the way the site wants them to. More often than not, they use synonyms, abbreviations, or symbols. Such as the USD '$' symbol or search for a 'blow dryer' instead of a hairdryer.

The site must understand intent and return results that match the user's expectations.

Learn more about delivering stellar search results for your shoppers. Book a demo with Unbxd, and discover the intent behind every query.