Product search in an eCommerce site using images
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Ecommerce site search best practices in 2022 [with examples]

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Published on

March 4, 2022

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Did you know? 43% of visitors go directly to the search bar when they first land on a website. 


Ecommerce site search is becoming a critical factor in the success of fashion marketplaces and online retail stores.


Companies have started to notice that user behavior is all about being more efficient—they want to get things fast. This means that any tool that can shorten the customer journey will provide additional value.


Taking all that in consideration, t’s no wonder the investment in ecommerce search is increasing. Advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, Deep Learning can bring many benefits to a retailer’s performance.


The search term a customer uses could provide a company with important data about their behavior. When used correctly, this data may boost conversions and improve customer retention.


In this article, we’re listing seven ecommerce site search best practices. We'll start by discussing what retail search is and why you need to optimize it, before moving on to how you can take advantage of it.

Why do you need to optimize your ecommerce site search?


Having an ecommerce site search means that your website has its own search engine. The goal is to allow users to find what they’re looking for faster, without having to go through multiple categories in the menu. 


Typically, a retail site has a search bar where users can type in a keyword. Once they enter the keyword, they get a list of related products to choose from. 


However, its function goes way beyond just a retail site search bar. Users can use search engines to access your database and get answers to questions they have about your products.


The better the design of your site search engine, the simpler it is for visitors to get the information they're looking for. This results in a better customer experience, higher conversion rates, and improved customer retention. 


In fact, research by Screen Pages discovered that higher conversion rates are directly associated with user-friendly site search experiences. When site search was integrated, the conversion rate jumped from 2.77% to 4.63% on average. 


That’s an increase of 80%.


If your e-commerce search bar doesn’t return relevant information, the visitor will have an unpleasant experience and leave your site. 

What can good retail site search do for your business? 

Having a well-designed retail search engine comes with many benefits


  • Helps customers to find what they’re looking for quickly
  • Returns accurate results that improve brand image and confidence
  • Creates a customized buying experience adjusted to customers’ needs
  • Engages customers who know what they want to buy
  • Provides a lot of valuable information about customer preferences


If a website visitor has decided to use the search bar, they are most likely looking for something specific. Their process of researching and collecting information has ended, they’ve decided to buy and now the purchase is imminent. If your search engine gives high-intent customers what they want, the customer journey will most likely end with a purchase. 

Types of ecommerce site search queries 

According to Baymard Institute, these are the most common on-site query types: 


  • Exact searches—the user knows the exact product they’re looking for, like “adidas Originals Stan Smith trainers
  • Product type searches—the user searches for a broad category of products, like “white trainers” 
  • Symptom searches—the user has a condition or a problem they need to solve, like “back pain
  • Non-product searches—the user searches for non-product content, like “shipping time


Improve product discoverability with visual search

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Improve product discoverability with visual search

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Improve product discoverability with visual search

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Improve product discoverability with visual search

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Improve product discoverability with visual search

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Improve product discoverability with visual search

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Improve product discoverability with visual search

Harness the power of Visual AI

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Improve product discoverability with visual search

Harness the power of Visual AI

Try Demo Here

Improve product discoverability with visual search

Harness the power of Visual AI

Try Demo Here

Ecommerce site search best practices you need to adopt in 2022

Now, let’s see what you need to do to make your retail site search more effective. 

Make your search bar visible 

Your search bar should stand out so visitors can see it right away. It’s best practice to place it on top of the site, near the navigation bar where your categories are. 


Don’t hide it or make it smaller to make room for banners or other advertisements. 


Amazon does a pretty good job by placing a white search bar on a dark background: 


Amazon - white search bar on a dark background


Pay attention to autocomplete and errors. 

Your users might use slang to search for some products. Or, they simply might not know the correct name of the product. 


This is what we call “vocabulary gap”.


While the visitor is still typing, your site's search tool should be clever enough to predict where the search is going and begin offering options.


This is an example from Asos: 


Asos site search tool, predicting where the search is going

Add visual search for a seamless search experience

Sometimes, even autocomplete is not enough. There are situations where words can fail to describe what the visitor is thinking. 


In these cases, there’s only one solution—an image. 


If you allow the user to add an image of a product they like instead of typing keywords and search by image, you will make product search a lot more effortless. 


See how IKEA does it: 


IKEA’s search by image bar

Never show zero results

When customers come to your site intending to buy, they’ll be really disappointed if you show them zero results. You need to make sure that each search query shows a result. 


To prevent empty result pages coming up in search, set up a product recommendation engine to return a list of products the user might like, based on what they initially searched for. 


See this example from Foot Locker: 


Product recommendation engine on Foot Locker’s website

Offer rich filters for more options

Make sure you provide all possible filter options. This way, users will be able to filter out unwanted results and save time. 


Here’s another example from Asos: 

Filter out unwanted results, an example on Asos site


Prepare your product catalog with rich metadata

You can’t provide relevant search results if your product catalog lacks rich metadata. This means that each product needs to contain tags, titles, and product descriptions. 


Your tags must include all the keywords your visitors might use to search for a product.


About You has a great structure of its product catalog: 


About You’s structure of its product catalog


Don’t overlook mobile search 

Users who use their smartphones to search for products are most frequently just browsing. However, a good search engine can turn them into buyers. 


As mobile users have limited visibility, your website should have a version of your site optimized for mobile. 


The mobile version should mainly focus on accuracy, as the mobile screen can fit only 2-3 products. That’s why they need to be as relevant as possible


The mobile website of About You shows three relevant results: 

Optimized mobile website of About You showing three relevant results



Conclusion 

Having an e-commerce site search function can bring your store many benefits. 


Your shoppers will be able to find the products they want quickly.

At the same time, you’ll get a lot of valuable information about shoppers’ intent that will help you make more personalized offers. 


To optimize your site search, there are a few things you can do.

You can make your search bar visible, allow visitors to search by image, and suggest related or alternative items when what the user is searching for doesn’t exist of is out of stock. 


But true optimization happens in the back end - you can’t show relevant results and the right categories if your catalog is not properly tagged.


At Pixyle, we help you add rich metadata to your products, so your commercial team can benefit from richer categories and more accurate site search.

Try a demo of our catalog enrichment suite demo and see for yourself how Pixyle can help you improve site search leading to better product discoverability.


Improve product discoverability with visual search

See it for yourself

Try Demo

Improve product discoverability with visual search

See it for yourself

Try Live Demo

Improve product discoverability with visual search

See how it works

Try Live Demo
Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

Work Smart

Harness the power of AI. Transform the way you work.

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