Take the Pain Out of Holiday Shopping with Better eCommerce Search Usability

Take the Pain Out of Holiday Shopping with Better eCommerce Search Usability

15th December 2016

This is Part 4 of the holiday blog series we kicked off a month ago by discussing the cart abandonment issues that plague eCommerce businesses of all sizes this time of year. While cart abandonment is often the result of poor customer experience, it’s important to understand the various points of friction that diminish the customer experience. This fourth post will focus on the importance of on-site search usability. See Part 2 on Online Fraud here, or Part 3 on Form Fields here.

Remember when Google didn’t exist and we didn’t have the full breadth of the internet at our fingertips? It’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t too long ago that the internet wasn’t even a factor in our holiday shopping. Now, we take Google for granted and instant internet search is just a fact of life.

But this might be a problem for eCommerce companies. Customers are so used to Google functionality that they expect the same level of usability within your website. Unfortunately, so many eCommerce companies are failing to meet the call for powerful on-site search.

If you want to take the pain out of holiday shopping for your customers (and increase revenue in the process), it’s time to start improving the on-site search experience.

Why Hasn’t On-Site eCommerce Search Been)a Priority for Companies?

As an eCommerce company, you’re in the business of selling product. So it’s no surprise that you might think of search in terms of your own gains. The more you can optimize your search ranking, the more you can capitalize on valuable search-based intent data.

You know that customer experience is critical to improving conversion rates and selling more product—especially during the holiday shopping season. That being said, you need to look at eCommerce search functionality from your customer’s perspective in addition to your own SEO view.

According to Will Cook, former VP of Multichannel Marketing Optimization at HP, “Site search remains a neglected part of the customer journey. Yet search provides an easy way to connect the user’s intent with the right content…search queries and results clicks provide user feedback, which can be used to drive a more personalized experience in the future.”

In many cases, on-site search usability is low-hanging fruit for improving the customer experience. You just have to know what customers are looking for.

5 Tips for Improving Search Usability and the Customer Experience

It’s easy to say that your on-site eCommerce search functionality should be as seamless as Google. But it’s quite another thing to deliver such a great customer experience.

Keep these 5 tips in mind when evaluating if your own on-site search could be a bit more user friendly:

  1. Don’t Hide the Search Bar: Visitors will scan your home page for open areas and a clear, prominent search bar. Don’t cram the search functionality in a crowded navigation menu—give it its own space that people can easily identify. Best practices would say to place it in the top right or middle of the home screen.
  2. Include Post-Search Filtering: Some sites will let customers include endless parameters for their initial searches. This might seem like a good idea, but letting customers narrow down their searches so much might actually prevent them from finding what they want. Instead, let customers search initially and then filter various categories and subcategories from the results page.
  3. Autocomplete Is a Must: Search functionality and autocomplete are almost universally tied together today. People are used to this search box simplification. It may seem basic, but it can make an important difference for some customers.
  4. Give Leeway for Search Matches: Not everyone will search with words that are exact matches for your products. Maybe you call your men’s pants “slacks” and someone is using the term “khakis” in their search. Make your on-site search engine intelligent enough to identify synonyms to make sure customers are finding what they’re looking for.
  5. Offer Options for Search Results Views: List views on search engine results pages are fairly standard. We’re used to seeing results in this way on Google. But some customers might benefit from a grid view on your eCommerce site. It doesn’t take much to give customers multiple view options and it can make a big difference in the customer experience.

These are just a few things you can do to make sure you’re keeping busy holiday shoppers happy while they’re on your website. But it’s possible that you’re following all the best practices but your unique customers are still experiencing friction somewhere in the on-site search process.

The key to optimizing customer experience during the holiday season is the ability to identify points of friction in real time and prioritize which ones have the greatest potential to increase revenue when fixed. This is where a customer experience analytics solution like UserReplay steps in.

If you want to learn more about the customer experience issues you might face this holiday season and how a customer experience analytics solution can help, download this free ebook, Optimize the Customer Journey During the Holiday Season and Throughout the Year.

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