5 ways to make commerce search work for your site

In the mid 2000s, the user interface (UI) consultant Jared Spool decided to do a usability test on the checkout process for one of his clients. He gave real customers with real shopping lists real money and told them to go online and buy what they needed. 

When the customers filled up their basket and went to checkout, they were brought to another page that asked them for their email address, password and then gave them three buttons they could click: log in, register or forgot password. The idea was that this form would help save customers time in their future visits as their delivery details would be pre-loaded. The customers hated it

The usability tests showed that first-time customers who didn’t want to register just went somewhere else. And a lot of the repeat customers for who this form was supposed to help couldn’t remember their passwords. Spool sat down with the design team and worked on a solution that would generate $15 million in revenue for the company in the first month alone. What did they do? They replaced the register button with a continue button. 

5 ways to make commerce search work for your site

Changing the button gave customers who didn’t want to share their personal information piece of mind, and it generated the company $300 million in extra revenue over the following year. But for anyone trying to sell things online today, stories like this are both inspirational and extremely stress inducing. They make us question ourselves. Are we overlooking some tiny detail of our site that could make a massive difference? 

For a lot of small to medium sized eCommerce sites, that tiny detail is quite possibly their search function. We’ve drawn up a list of some of the key things you can do  to maximise revenue and improve your customers’ shopping experience through search. 

1) Provide an authentic shopping experience

Think of the traditional shopping experience and what it is that you like about it. For a lot of people, it’s the shop assistant who greets you or shows you where that thing you’re looking for is. Your search tool should be like the shop assistant, ready to point people in the right direction, offering ideas. In your eCommerce store, search is the conversation your customer has with your shop, and it’s many people’s first interaction with your site. It’s the shop assistant that greets people at the door. 

2) Respect your customers’ privacy 

What we love about the shop assistant is that they can navigate us around the shop. But have you ever felt like the shop assistant is following you, constantly asking if you need anything and pressuring you into buying something. A lot of the time you feel uncomfortable, suspicious and end up leaving. 

Your online store shouldn’t feel like this, and your shop doesn’t need to follow people around with cookies or tracking to provide a great service. By respecting customers’ privacy with a search that doesn’t use any spying or tracking techniques, they’ll trust in your shop more and will be more likely to become loyal. More trust = repeat custom and increased sales

3) Continuously improve your shop using search analytics 

A good search tool should be easy to use for the shopper, but also provide the shop owner with information that helps them understand their clients and what they’re looking for. Tools that allow you to see searches with results and searches without results help you fine tune the categorization of products and even learn about things your customers are looking for that you don’t stock. Good analytics can help you improve the findability of the products you stock and uncover opportunities for new products. 

4) Have a spell check and synonym function 

Misspelt words shouldn’t be missed sales and your search engine should be intelligent enough to know what your customer is looking for. But misspelt words are only one side of the coin. Sometimes a product is known by two names. A vacuum cleaner is also known as a hoover for example. If you ask a shop assistant for a hoover they’ll send you to the vacuum cleaners. Your search tool needs to be able to do this too, so synonyms are really important if you don’t want to miss out on sales. 

5) Make sure the design looks good and is on-brand

To compete with the big boys, you need your customers to feel like they can trust you from the get go. That means search with a nice design, intuitive interface and your own colours and branding. Good design through things like dynamic filters helps your customers find what they need, but good design can also help them discover things they might not have known you stock. So your customers find things they didn’t even know they wanted. They might even pick up something else on their way to the checkout – a little like the chocolate bar you pick up at the cash register when buying the bread. 

How can you easily implement each of these 5 keys? 

Trying to tick all these boxes can be time consuming. Motive Commerce Search can help. Motive.co is an easy to install plug-and-play search tool that’s built on privacy and trust. It includes features like synonyms, spell check, dynamic filters, search analytics and more, while letting you maintain your brand identity and your customers’ privacy. 

Motive.co allows your customers to shop without having their data collected and used by third parties. That means no need to navigate any annoying cookie banners. If you’re looking for a beautifully designed, reliable and privacy focused search for your online store, you can check out Motive Commerce Search in the PrestaShop Addons Marketplace, or contact the Motive team directly to learn more. 

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