Why your eCommerce platform’s default Search could be costing you business

An effective on site search is an essential component for a successful ecommerce store. If the default search for your eCommerce (Magento, WooCommerce, Prestashop or any other platform) is not functioning well, it could be costing you business.

Why is on-site search important?

Visitors that use your search functionality have a higher chance of making a purchase. This is because they are looking for specific products rather than just browsing. The fact that they are further down the conversion funnel means that if you give them what they are looking for, they are more likely to buy. They may be searching in a wide range of ways from using the brand’s description, product code or based on specific attributes such as colour and size.

A recent Forrester report references the concept of “spear fishers”, which are the group of customers that know exactly what they are looking for and must be supported in this journey. The quality of your on-site search can therefore have a positive or negative effect on your conversion rate. Further to this, if you make it much easier for your visitors to find what they are looking for, the are more likely to make a return visit and recommend you to their friends.

What percentage of visitors use the on-site search?

On average, at least 30% of visitors will use the on-site search. This is not an insignificant number and is further support for the importance of ensuring that your search is accurate.

What are the dangers of poor quality search functionality?

The main risk for having poor quality search is lost revenue. If visitors are unable to receive an accurate result for their search, they will abandon the site. Most of the major online retailers have a very strong search functionality and, as such, have set a higher expectation in the minds of online shoppers as to how all on-site search should function.

Further to this, frustrated shoppers will not return and will not recommend your site to their friends. They may even be compelled to leave a negative review or share their bad experiences in other ways.

How does your search perform?

Many open source ecommerce solutions have a poor quality search “out of the box”. For example, Magento and WooCommerce both suffer from substandard search as default and review some extra support in order to enhance the accuracy and performance. Whatever platform you are on, you should review how the search is currently functioning, is it delivering accurate results to a range of searches in a timely manner? How does it compare to the leaders in your industry?

What are the most important elements of good on-site search?

Prominent search box

The first thing to review is how easy is it for your visitors to find the search box. The search box should be on the header of the page. The exact location depends on the size of the box, if it is smaller, it should be from the centre to the right, however, if it is a larger box similar to Amazon or John Lewis, it could afford to start further to the left.

The search box should also have a clear outline or underline and a clear icon or search button. If possible, use a secondary call to action colour so that it stands out from the rest of the site.

Clear text label

It has been found that incorporating predefined text, also known as “microcopy” into the search box can encourage searches. It is recommended that you incorporate text from your most popular searches as found in Google Analytics into the search box as this could promote its use.

Accurate autocomplete

Most easy to use search functions, will start to offer suggestions as the user types their query. This normally occurs after entering two or three letters. If this accurate, it will make it even easier for the user as they are not required to type in their full search query and will display a drop down of potential search results as they type.

Strong filtering

Most modern search tools will provide a drop down list of options the user is typing (see below), this is made even more user friendly with the addition of filtering options. This will enable the user to filter down to exactly what they are looking for without actually leaving search box.

As we have seen, on-site search is an extremely important piece in the conversion puzzle. If you find that your search is not performing as it should be, you should compare your site against the above points and implement an updated design if the search box is not as clear as it could be, it would also be worth investigating the option of using a third party plugin such as Doofinder.

About the author

David Wain-Heapy

David is a Director at Best Response Media. They provide innovative Magento ecommerce and digital marketing solutions from their offices in Central London.