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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : May 12, 2017

Top tips to better use site search

Site search is grossly underutilized by eCommerce shoppers. For nearly two decades, it has lacked any real innovation or evolution, causing almost 50% of all eCommerce site searches to end in failure, according to one expert. Read on for tips on how to optimize on-site search.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: How should site search function on a website - and what expectations do consumers have of it?

Kurt Heinemann, CMO, Reflektion: Site search exists so customers can signal to brands exactly what they want. Unfortunately, most solutions simply show the most popular results for the term, and limit the potential for success for each individual shopper. If brands truly want to transform site search into a primary engagement point for shoppers, they need to be able to meet shoppers' rising expectations - that means expanding and streamlining the ways in which shoppers engage with search and improving the relevance and variety of results. Furthermore, they must be able to combine individual customer preferences with product data to improve the relevance and engagement potential of each search result.

Kristina: What's the deal with photo search? Will it really take off?
Kurt: Today's digital consumers have fully embraced images and photos. Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat are only a few examples of just how many photos and images consumers take in each day. On the road to creating more engaging mobile experiences, brands must consider expanding their definition of search to include photo search. For example, with Reflektion's photo search functionality, if a shopper sees a pair of high heels she loves while out with friends she can snap a quick picture, and quickly attach that photo to a search query and see if her favorite brand offers anything similar. Trying to describe a picture of a pair of shoes via text and scour through results is a time consuming endeavor that no customer wants to deal with.

Kristina: When it comes to voice search, what should retailers be doing differently?

Kurt: As consumer adoption and usage of every existing voice solution increases, it raises the bar for consumer expectations, regardless of what your brand delivers. Launching a voice search solution that isn't on par with Siri or Alexa will only frustrate customers and make them think less of your brand. Whenever you engage with one of these voice solutions the results must have individual context and relevance. For example, when I say "re-order razor blades" it's recognizing me as an individual and considering my past experiences and purchases before placing that order.

For retailers, the real challenge is not deciding whether they need a voice search strategy (they do), but realizing that integrating voice search is not as simple as cutting and pasting a voice-enabled front end to their existing site search function. To make it an effective and relevant engagement point, retailers must understand customer expectations and how best to deliver a successful voice-enabled search experience.

Kristina: Why should retailers graduate from simple personalization?

Kurt: Too many retailers rely on basic strategies that broadly target a customer based on census data and call it personalization, like making educated guesses as to what a 25-year-old female city dweller would buy as opposed to a 67-year-old male suburbanite. Yet in today's retail landscape, individual shopping behavior--not demographic makeup, or "segment"--should dictate how products with the best-matched characteristics are served up to online shoppers. Consumers want retailers to customize their digital store experience. They respond by opening their wallets when businesses do. But merchants aren't doing enough of it.

Tags: ecommerce, ecommerce site search trends, on-site search, Reflektion, search marketing

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