Ecommerce Onsite Search - is it important? 

The onsite search is often overlooked in ecommerce, and while it only takes up a small amount of retail space in the design, it can be an important part. Depending on the industry and the amount of products an ecommerce store has can make a difference to how integral the onsite search is. 

With the advancement of AI, NLP (natural language processing) and auto-filling suggestions, the internal site search is becoming a bigger conversion rate factor in ecommerce. In this article we’ll discuss why onsite search is important to merchants and how to optimise it to get the best out of it. We’ll also look at how onsite search can give you a better understanding of what your users want, and how to use it in an omnichannel strategy

Why is onsite search important? 

When implemented correctly, onsite search shortens the user journey and gets the right product in front of the user quicker. This helps push the user further down the sales funnel faster. In fact, sites with onsite search converted 1.8 times more than those without. This led to an average of 13.4% of total revenue being made up by onsite search. 

To some eCommerce stores, that can be attributed to a large amount of sales. There are some marketing channels that count for less revenue, so it’s clear that focus should be put onto the onsite search. In that same report, 20% of searchers refined their search and 21% left the site from search. 

Even when it’s attributed to a large number of conversions, there is still room for improvement and optimisation. 

How do you optimise the onsite search? 

While on the surface it may appear that you can’t do much with site search optimisation, there are some fundamentals that a lot of online stores miss out on. 

Placement

The obvious place for a search box is in the header of the website, that being said it should also have plenty of white space around it. White space around the search box makes the function more obvious. Without enough white space around it the user may get confused and simply avoid using it. The more time a user has to think about an action, the less likely they are to do it. 

The placement of the search box should be obvious too. Using an icon, such as a magnifying glass will encourage the user to use the search function. The width of the search box should be big enough so that when the user types in their query it’s not scrolling. An obvious way to deal with this is to create a full-width search bar or one that expands when it becomes active. 

Mobile

On mobile devices, navigation can become a troublesome UX design challenge. If you have lots of collections and lots of products, the user will likely opt to use the onsite search engine. 

Making the search on mobile an important part of your UX will increase the usability of the ecommerce site. Arguably, the search can be more important than the navigation on mobile. 

Use Intelligent Search

Using an intelligent search engine will help provide much better results. Using a platform that processes a user's search query with natural language will ensure that even when the query isn’t an exact match, the right product is still displayed. 

Even when there isn’t a perfect match to the product the user is looking for, if you’re using an intelligent search platform then relevant results will still show. You’ll also be able to utilise content based articles within the search. 

Merchandising

The onsite search can be a great place to push some of the best sellers and create an effective merchandising space. You should also customise the merchandising options based on query and search metrics.

Weighting certain products heavier than others, will move them higher up in the search results. Using a combination of adding weight to products and intelligent search will put specific products in front of the user at the right time. This makes for a better, streamlined search experience. 

Search Results Page

The search results page is one of the most important aspects of creating a better user experience. Ensuring that the right products appear for the search query is obviously important, but the design of the page should also be optimised. Running regular CRO design exercises on this page will help improve your conversion rate. 

Integrating mixed content into the search results page may also help with engagement rates. This will obviously need to be tested and measured depending on the brand and industry. It’s important to optimise the “no results found” page as well. This shouldn’t just be left blank. It can be used to upsell the latest collection or direct them to articles. 

A holistic and omnichannel approach to onsite search

Optimising your onsite search is a marketing strategy in its own right. And with any marketing strategy, approaching it with a holistic approach is likely to see better ROIs and performance. 

Content and Onsite Search

Understanding your customers needs is the essence of marketing. By analysing the site search data, it can give you an understanding of what they’re looking for. This can help lead to a new and improved content strategy that will further improve your offering. 

By including content in the searched term, you’ll enrich the search results. While this may increase the user journey, it improves brand trustworthiness and expertise. Showcasing your content shows that you’re more than an eCommerce store; you’re a brand that should be followed and trusted. 

Products and Onsite Search

After analysing search queries, you may want to rethink how your product content is written. By improving your product content with common search queries, you’re showing the user that the product is the right product for them. Perhaps there are localised words for your product that are returning zero results, adding those keywords into the product data will improve the visibility and user journey. 

Ads

Understanding the preferred keywords that your users are searching for will give you a new, creative way to look at keyword research. Keyword research tools will help you build the foundation of a good ad set. However, using common onsite searched keywords could give you an advantage over your competitors and help improve the ROI on advertising. 

We also know that users that are using onsite search are likely to be further down the sales funnel. By retargeting these users across social media ads, you’ll likely see an improved ROI for those users. 

Importance of Onsite Search

Onsite search is a key indicator of user intent, with this data you can optimise various different channels to improve your offering and ROI. Spending time to nurture the onsite experience can improve your conversions by a significant amount. When you couple that with a holistic approach to marketing, you’ll likely see a huge increase in revenue.