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8 Crucial things you need to consider when looking at product search software

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When it comes to eCommerce, the product search is one of the most important aspects of the website. It's now widely accepted that over 50% of users navigate directly to search when landing on a website, and users who discover a product using search are twice as likely to complete the purchase. With behaviours like that, it's no wonder making sure your product search software is functioning properly and providing accurate results is becoming one of the top priorities for most retailers. In this post, we'll discuss the importance of a good product search and how you can make sure your product search software is working for you.

The Importance of Good Product Search Software

Users are becoming accustomed to finding what they want with just a few clicks - in reality, the less clicks the better. The world expects speed and simplicity from their online experience and this extends to online retail as well. If a user lands on your website and can't see what they're looking for right away, with the abundance of choice available at their fingertips they're likely to just give up and go somewhere else. It's no longer enough to have the right products as customers are increasingly less likely to search through categories and sub categories, that's why it's so important that your product search is accurate and easy to use. The end goal is for the customer to buy from you, product search software can make it easy for them to find the products they want to buy.

1. Make It Visible

There are a few things you can do to make sure your product search software is working for you. First, make sure the search bar is prominently displayed on your website - most of the time this is right at the top of the page, preferably in the header bar. Having the search bar in the header means it is visible and on every page, ensuring that at any point a customer can easily search more specifically for what they're looking for but also, if they do not land directly on your home page (and go to a landing page for example) they will still be able to see the search bar. Many people will go straight to the search bar instead of browsing through categories, so it's important that it's easy to find.

2. Make it Easy

Second, make sure your search results are relevant and accurate - this is crucial to ensuring that you do not lose visitors from your site prematurely. If people are constantly getting "no results found" messages, they're going to lose faith in your product search and give up pretty quickly. But why could someone get a "no results found". Well, one of the main reasons is due to a spelling error. I don't know about you but I type pretty quickly and then spend more time going over what I've written to ensure there are no typos and errors because I usually get a lot. Your customers are no different, typos or spelling mistakes are one of the leading causes of no result found results. So what can you do about it? Type Ahead Search - as soon as a customer starts typing what they're looking for, start to populate potential product answers along with pictures, vastly reducing the chances of a typo forcing a 'no results found' message, and making it quicker and easier for the customer to navigate to the product they're looking for. In turn, this can make the whole product discovery process a lot simpler for the customer, and easy and simple processes on your website are what will drive higher conversions, Average Order Values and ensure repeat business from customers.

3. Control the results

Customers attention spans are reducing, which means the decisions we take about which products to show first are incredibly important. Being able to control the product display sequencing of your search results is a must.

If we use the example of a physical store - a customer comes in looking for a white shirt. You wouldn't just take them to your cheapest white shirt, then the next cheapest and so on until you've shown the customer every single shirt available in white (or the reverse sort order of price high to low). You'd take them to the most popular white shirt, or the newest white shirt, or the white shirt with lots of stock that needs shifting, or the one in the sale - the point being, you can show relevant results based on your business objective at that moment. Having further control over what products you show customers within their search parameters is easy in a brick and mortar store with 'people' responding to the search query, doing it online should be as well if you have the right product search software.

4. Synonyms

There is a huge debate about what different people call "Bread Buns" - (that's what I call them anyway) but depending on your location they may be called something by a different name, "Bread cakes", "Cobs", "Bread Rolls", are all popular variations that come naturally to some. Just like the debate over bread, people use different words for lots of different items. What happens if you sell trainers and someone searches for pumps, or sneakers, or running shoes? Do they get "no results found" because your product search has scanned your catalogue for "sneakers" but only found "trainers"? We know they're potentially the same thing. Having a search function with a synonym library that is able to match these phrases and determine what a customer is looking for regardless of what they call different products is key to ensuring that those annoying "no results found' pages are a thing of the past.
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5. Recognising intent and semantic search

I don't know about you, but when I'm looking for items I don't just search generice phrases like "dress" or "shoes" - our experiences with the explosion of content at our fingertips means I know my searches have to be a lot more specific nowadays to quickly find exactly what I want without sifting through endless pages of non relevant results. Product search should be the same as the more detailed the search query, the more accurate the results will be, and the more intent there is behind the search. Recognising intent, or semantic search, involves recognising attributes and using them as filter on the results.

Let's look at the example of a "size 12 red dress for less than £30" - now if someone walked into a physical stored and made this query, it's relatively easy for the shop assistant to interpret and recognise the size filter, colour filter and price filter and apply them to the dress category to show the customer exactly what they're looking for. However, most product search software would take this query and perform a literal function looking for a product called "size 12 red dress for less than £30", most likely returning a 'no results found'.

Product search software like GrapheneHC uses natural language processing and recognises attributes and filters, allowing your customers to search with greater accuracy such as "size 12 red dress for less than £30", and this intelligent search means that the most relevant products for each customers search will always be returned.

**Top tip - you can encourage 'long' accurate search phrases by using one as placeholder in your search box.

6. Non product searches

When a customer visits your website, they may not just use the search bar to search for products. They may use to it search for your delivery times, return policy or contact details. Now we know that if someone searched for "returns" and your product search software only looked through your products, nothing's going to show up, but being able to quickly access non product related content is just important to the user experience and so it's an important factor when assessing your product search functionality - can it return non product searches?

The beauty of being able to do so is, if someone is searching for something that doesn't appear in your product search, for example you don't sell that product, it won't just return a "no products found" you can return other content like blog articles that are related to that search - this means, even if they don't find the product they're looking for, you can still be relevant and add value, and if used well can ensure that you never return 'no results found' again.

7. Track product search software performance

In an effort to make sure you never return 'no results found' it's imperative we actually track product search software's performance and be able to see where no results, or low results have been returned. Once you can see the search queries leading to no or low results found, you can take action, whether that be adding synonyms and spelling variations to your synonym library, returning non product content that is still relevant or even redirecting. But if you're product search software is not tracking searches - how would you know where to take action?

8. Response speed

Websites these days are becoming more and more complex. Despite this, the internet and web pages are becoming faster. People expect instant responses and get very frustrated by slow page loads - this is very well documented and it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear your product search also needs to perform and return results quickly - if your product search software fails to return search results quickly your customers will lose interest and navigate away. With such high expectation on page speed, and the demand for instant results, ensuring that you choose product search software that interacts with your website super fast and maintains the user experience is crucial when it comes to keeping your customer base happy.

Try our product search software today

I've spoken a lot about a few ways to ensure that no results are not returned and why it's so important to ensure that your product search software is up to scratch. How recently did you last try to search for something on your website? It may be worth spending some time being a "customer" on your own website to see if every search you try yields results. It's also worth trying this on your competitors site to see how their search works too. The last thing you want is a competitors search being a little better and them winning that sale when you know you have the perfect product for that customer.

Here at Advanced Commerce we're specialists in ensuring that the right products are shown to the right customers, in the right order. It's what we do. In turn this means that you can be sure that you are intelligently showing customers more relevant products and significantly increasing the chance of that customer buying from you.



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