I always thought it was just me (maybe a few others) who would directly head for the small magnifying glass or the search menu on top, to type in my queries whenever I visit an ecommerce store. But it is just not me! A recent study saw that more than 70% of the shoppers want a website that allows them to find what they want, easily.
So it is obvious that customers prefer searching for their products on an online store, and they want this search to be quick and effective. As an ecommerce business owner, it is your responsibility to provide them with such an option, keeping in mind that your responsive web design doesn't fall short of your customer's expectations.
The ideal goal would be to let your customers find the products they are looking for without having to flip through a number of pages of infinite products. In short, the experience should be simple and seamless. Is it achievable? Is it easy to make the entire experience so simple? Let us have a look.
The Basic Plan
A standard practice for any ecommerce business would be to have a prominent search bar which can influence the users to make use of it to find products. But it is at this stage that many companies are quite far from the best practice. In an attempt to stick on to their "classic design", companies tend to make their search boxes hard to find. Is it too hard to understand that if site search is important, it is equally important for the visibility of the search field to reflect this? Whatever happened to all the "best practices" lessons? Are they limited to the ecommerce giants? What are the visitors to small business websites supposed to do? Carry a spade to dig around for products they want to buy?
Luckily enough, this is not true and a lot of ecommerce builders are taking the ecommerce site search quite seriously now.
You need to be fast, especially when your users are using mobiles to browse through your ecommerce website. The auto-complete feature for your ecommerce site search can help your customers find what they are looking for, thus making the product search more comprehensible. This will let your users to complete searches faster and avoid any search related problems. You can also take it up a notch by providing actual suggested products to the search results which will make your conversions faster and more effective.
Avoid the “boring search”
Most ecommerce sites have a similar search results page which display the products or related products based on what the customers are looking for. But there are sites which do not stick to this and try to add different features of their own to the search results to make it more effective in nature. Like for example urDOORSTEP - India’s first online hypermarket displays the image and the price of its products in the drop-down itself. This saves so much time to a user who is looking for products in a certain price range.
Similarly, you can add your own features such as voice search. This feature allows the user to search for a product in a store with his voice. All he needs to do is mention the name of the product & the rest can be taken care by your search function. Also, you can have an option to add the products to the cart from the search results shown in the search bar itself! Imagine how easy will the entire process be for the user when you include such improvements.
Product Names & SKU
It is rather surprising to see that more than 60% of the ecommerce sites require shoppers to search products by the exact same name and the type of language the site uses. Most of them do not provide useful results when a user types just a single character wrong in the product name, failing to return relevant products if a customer uses "&" instead of "and" or uses the term "hair dryer" instead of "blow dryer". Never do this to your customers.
To save their time and to make the customer search simple, mention that they can also search by product number, name or SKU. Also make sure that if they make errors such as a wrong spelling or an extra character in the search box, do not return them an empty page. Instead, based on what they have typed, show them the relevant products.
Be a Little Careful Though
More than 90% of the online stores have categories for the products. With categories in mind, businesses allow scoped search which lets the customers to search within the specific category via a different menu. Something similar to browsing through different sections in a retail supermarket. Though this helps the customers in a certain way (especially if they are just browsing) it may also end up being the reason why they could not find what they came for. The products might actually be hard to find.
So instead of introducing the customers to scoped search right away, provide them with an option to filter the searches on the result page itself. Something like how Zara does it on its menu.
The Search Engine
While an effective search feature for an ecommerce business has its own benefits like we discussed, it is not so easy to meet the expectations of your customers with the feature. They are accustomed to search engines which give them accurate and quick results. Thus they expect the same experience on an ecommerce site search. Therefore, your ecommerce website requires a fast search engine which can stand up to customer expectations and have capabilities to increase the online sales. Apache Solr is the search engine for an ecommerce platform which can deliver enterprise level, high performing search functionality.
With an ability to power search functions in any data driven website and features like full-text search capabilities, spatial search and distributed search, it might surprise you that its APIs are simple enough to be used from any programming language.
Apache Solr is a highly preferred search engine in terms of reliability, scalability and speed which are of prime importance to the ecommerce store. With a number of capabilities such as spell-correction, synonym search, multilingual analysis etc., Apache Solr enables the customers to search & find products of their interest far more easily than ever.