Imagine walking into an unfamiliar store looking for something you need to find quickly and there’s no salesperson to help you find it.
Or worse, there is a salesperson, but they can’t — or won’t — help you find what you need. This is the feeling your shoppers get when the search function on your ecommerce site fails or doesn’t exist. And, it’s why search is crucial for ecommerce stores.
Searchers Tend to Be Buyers
Casual shoppers tend to scroll around like brick and mortar “window shoppers”. They’re looking to see if anything catches their eye as they while away a bit of idle time. Meanwhile, people who come to your site looking for a specific item are well motivated to make a purchase. They’ve usually done their research and are ready to “pull the trigger”. At this point, they’re looking for the best price, ready availability and favorable delivery terms. They want to get to the product as quickly as possible. This is where your efficient search function will serve you well.
Make the Search Easy to Find
Best practices dictate making search available on every page of your ecommerce site. Over the years, web users have been trained to look for it at the top of the page. Knowing this, it only makes sense to provide the option where people expect it to be. Similarly, the magnifying glass is the universally recognized search symbol, so placing it next to your search window, or using it to open your search window, is another good practice.
Hints Help the Hunt
Providing brief hints can make searches easier for your shoppers to accomplish. Let’s say you’re considering how to sell ebooks on your own website. If a searcher starts typing “m-y-s…” have your search function auto complete “mysteries” and show a list of the bestselling mystery authors. At that point, the user can just scroll down to find the authors for whom they’re looking. If they already know what they’re looking for, they can just keep typing their specific interest. Either way, the shopper comes out ahead. It’s faster, reduces the potential for errors and could inspire an impulse buy if the customer sees something else they like.
Eliminate No Results Pages
A basic rule of sales is to always find a way to say yes to whatever question the customer asks. If they search for something you do not have, rather than giving them a “No Results to Display” message, show them something along the lines of: “Sorry, that isn’t listed. Items related to your search include”. This gives you an opportunity to sell something else if you don’t have exactly what they’re looking for. Or if they misspelled the item, it might show up in the list. Additionally, the shopper could be open to a reasonable substitute—if they know it exists.
While the magnifying glass alone might serve adequately to identify your search function in a desktop environment, always provide a full search window in mobile. The icon might be overlooked on a smaller screen. Make a search window prominent at the top of the scroll and include another at the bottom to help users get to it more quickly if they’re nearer the end than the beginning.
Search is crucial for ecommerce stores for many reasons. But the biggest reason of all is it will help drive conversions. The last thing you want is a customer wandering aimlessly around your store, wondering where all the “salespeople” are. Give shoppers a useful search function, make it easy to find and provide hints to help them along. They’ll thank you for it by purchasing your products.