June 9th, 2011

Benefits of on-site search

On-site search. It’s a feature found on almost every e-commerce website, and yet for years retailers have largely completely ignored its benefits.

Traditionally returning irrelevant results, for most e-commerce departments this function has not been a priority. Instead they have focused on actions such as SEO and web page conversion optimisation. Recent data, however, suggests that this is likely to change over the coming months.

NMA recently published an article to this effect, saying that “research shows that at least 50% of visitors want to use the search function”. “Last October, FACT – Finder conducted research using eye-tracker technology to take a closer look at on-site user behaviour, and 80% of the British people surveyed went as far as saying search boxes should be more prominent on the page”. With such a large percentage of people actively seeking an on-site search box, improving this feature is bound to move up the priority list for e-commerce managers.

Getting the placement of the on-site search functionality right, and making sure that it returns relevant results, will certainty help to improve on-site conversion. However, there is another aspect of this feature that should also be looked at.

In most cases data on what is being searched for is readily available via a sites CMS. Analysing and using this data properly is another way for e-commerce teams to improve on-site conversion. Looking at what keywords are currently being searched for can not only help websites to better place their products on site, but can also help to inform what is being looked for by the consumer. If there are a high number of searches for a certain type of product but the sales are generally quite low, then there should be an immediate red flag that something is not working. Is there enough stock for this product? Is the style, colour and sizing all that it could be? Analysing this can help improve the site owner’s placement of products as well as help to inform future stock orders.

So, with demand for a quality search function growing, and with the clear benefits that can be gained from analysing the data this feature produces, surely this will become a priority for all ecommerce websites?

Blog post by Mike Jennings Director at Reform