E-commerce site search is one of the most powerful tools to generate profit, yet somehow it is one of the most overlooked ones. If your customers, both existing or future, use the search bar, they either know exactly what they are looking for or browse for some ideas. In any case, they expect efficient service and accurate results.
In this article, we focus on the upcoming E-commerce site search practices you can implement in 2022 to empower your E-commerce platform’s user experience. Let’s discuss what drives these tendencies and how you can meet and exceed your customers’ expectations for better conversion rates.
New type of customers
The coronavirus pandemic has altered consumer behavior patterns, and these changes are here to stay. Recent events have accelerated and diverted the existing trends as well as created brand new habits and preferences.
A new image of a prospective customer in 2022 includes the smart and conscious user who is fully aware of the options range and, therefore, can be attracted only by fast, relevant, and personalized experience. Let’s dive into the specifics.
We continue leading hectic lifestyles
Covid-19 didn’t slow us down. Speed is the real deal-breaker these days. Response time matters even more than ever. Every immediate successful experience transforms into a loyal customer, hopefully, a returning customer, and some referrals. After all, the formula is rather transparent. “Consumers are going with brands that are convenient, reliable and have the products and services they are seeking,” says the The Quickening McKinsey report.
Customers set industry trends
In 2022 a brand is no longer the setter of a certain kind of behavior. This time, the brand follows or tries to predict the consumers’ needs, tastes, moods, desires, and whims. Buyers have all the power with thousands of options just a click away. Thus, a new definition of customers’ loyalty deals with branded experience, not the brand itself.
High expectations keep growing
E-commerce can boast of having the pickiest customers with enormous requirements. Permanently. And especially after the introduction of unlimited shopping options available online and multiple channels to attract – or rather, distract – their attention. So, no wonder they became so demanding and hard to please.
The Forrester report shows that 8 out of 10 users leave the online store if it lacks convenient navigation, relevant results, or accurate information. And it’s quite probable they will never come back. One out of three customers decides on leaving the brand after a single bad experience, as the PwC report states. People are looking for more and more from online stores as they advance in their user experience.
Personalization in today's interpretation goes far beyond mentioning the customer’s first name in a chatbot or sending a birthday discount via email. It’s about using the right channel to deliver the right message to the right recipient at the right time. This involves developing complex custom E-commerce solutions to tailor your platform to the customer’s needs.
Talking numbers, 63% of consumers are ready to stop buying from the brand with poor personalization tactics, while 49 % of shoppers make impulse purchases after receiving a personalized recommendation. This attitude pays off when it comes to collecting valuable customer details. Once they are offered exclusive treatment, 22% of consumers are willing to share their data. And the latter is priceless to enhance personalization itself.
Only-for-you personalization shapes specific, adapted, and customized experiences that make businesses stand out. Yet, using this data is also a matter of great responsibility. Personal data control and privacy are the real minefields. The price of the customers’ trust in sharing their information (actually, used to help you help them) is delivering the highest level of security and zero occurrences of data misuse.
Companies are to make an impact
As traditional selling techniques start to irritate the audience, companies turn to an educational approach to sales, rather than continue selling directly. Customers expect to receive information on how a particular product or service can be helpful. Moreover, they like to receive constant support in learning how to use the purchased item and even to be encouraged to grow their knowledge further and inspire others.
Kantar’s recent study showed that 77% of customers expect companies to be impactful. In a world where everything has gone unstable, sincere care is a real must-have for companies. Relationships matter. Useful, mutual, and ongoing collaboration between a client and a company is what we are striving for these days.
Supportive consumption is on the rise
Buyers tend to spend their money where their values are. Search interest in “ethical shopping” grew by 600% over one year in 2020. The key issues are supporting local businesses, sustainability, and equality. Shop Local, started as a simple slogan, has become a symbol of care and support for small local businesses during the pandemic.
At present, the growing trend of localism іs changing company-client interaction towards consumer preference for brands located nearby. Specific culture and behavior gain much more attention. The reason behind this choice is not only the desire to support businesses during the crisis but also the tendency towards mindful consumption. Commitment to the local communities is immense even during pandemic recessions, so global brands already engage localized approaches and community relations.
E-commerce site search best practices for 2022
Hence, in 2022, E-commerce customers will expect a lot from brands and businesses. They want results and efficient service immediately (if not sooner), and they need to be in control of the purchasing process. They also long for a specific approach to feel they are taken care of during this turbulent period. We can wrap it up with one word – convenience. To provide your E-commerce customers with this convenience, start with a site search experience.
Why site search? More than 40% of website visitors use the search box immediately, as the Forrester report states. Such customers probably have a very definite intent in mind since the conversion rate is 5-6 times higher, according to the research conducted by Econsultancy. Yet, the average satisfaction rate for search functionality is only 3.1 out of 5 possible scores, as the SearchNode report for E-commerce trends in 2021. So, there’s a great deal of scope for improvement.
To understand which site search practices are worth the effort and investment, please, check our top 6 features that correlate with consumer behavior trends in 2022 and have a great potential of driving conversions for your E-commerce business.
1. Speedy search
One of the key factors in site search success is satisfying the customers who are making decisions on the go. The delivery of the results they are interested in should happen in a flash. Your users in 2022 have neither time nor desire to wait for your marketplace AI to adjust the search results. Every millisecond matters. Aberdeen Strategy & Research discovered in one of its recent studies that even if the results turn out to be relevant, a one-second waiting time for the page response results in:
- 7% decrease in conversions
- 11% decrease in page views
- 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
So, analyze your search for the speed and plan search performance tuning either with your in-house team or your outsourcing tech partner.
2. Precise filtering criteria
Customers who are now fully in control of their buyer experience and set the trends themselves have multiple criteria for their purchases and again want to find them faster. Use faceted search to help your users apply multiple parameters and filters to get more relevant and more accurate search results.
Such specifications as the brand, color, size, price, and more are already a must in your E-commerce search. Also, facets make the users feel confident even if the search space is still unfamiliar to them and give a perspective of what they can expect to find on a certain platform. Such search experience provides your customers with flexibility and a sense of control they long for as well as increases the conversion rate.
3. Search monitoring and data-based decisions
Your users are getting pickier and their expectations are growing every day. So should be the knowledge of your customers. Only 7% of companies state they are learning from site search data or using it for other business needs efficiently. That means there’s a lot of work to invest in gaining potential revenue, building brand loyalty, or improving customer retention. Analyze the site search data to get insights into the user behavior, customer intents, and priorities as well as lets you evaluate the quality of your enterprise search.
Another valuable takeaway is that the data your search analytics generates daily helps you identify popular products or trends, fill in the existing gaps in the customer journey you are missing, and adjust your search consistently. Base your business decisions concerning sales strategy or marketing on relevant data and actual numbers of your specific platform rather than general statistics and assumptions. The key factor at this point is to remember search monitoring is a constant process in dynamics that you should adjust and adapt based on your results, customers’ needs, and the company’s strategy.
4. Personalized shopping experience
Better customer experience in 2022 includes a well-tailored site search providing personally relevant search results to every user persona of your platform. Use log analytics and big data to deliver the information customers need even if they don’t know or don’t ask for it directly. It’s like having an invisible digital personal shopper who is fully aware of your likes and habits. Here are some handy practices you can adopt.
Use specific parameters such as demographics, device types, or any other data that matters to your product and your customers to define the rules that will run the search personalization. Each segment of the audience will therefore get a distinct search experience based on such rules.
Achieve a new level of more advanced personalization with your site search capabilities to learn from the customers’ behavior. Their previous activities and experience help you merchandise search results in a way that would enhance conversion rates.
Did you mean feature
When search errors occur (and they do occur, either due to typos or misspelling), this option suggests the most probable or relevant alternatives and makes sure your customers get the results no matter what.
You might also like suggestions
When users want to be more autonomous in their search, engaging them and lengthening their time on your marketplace is another goal. This option enables you to recommend content to certain user profiles based on the purchase tendencies or similar user personas’ experiences.
5. Location-based offers
Businesses spanning across multiple locations would benefit from embracing the “localism” trend. The location-based search helps customers who care for geographically-related consumption get the results relevant to each specific region. When people try to find local companies, it means they need instant solutions and they are very much inclined to buy the item or order the service. After all, most search engines are already tailored to display the results based on geographically specific users’ queries.
Make personalized offers to users in different locations to show your company values customers. This also involves better brand awareness tied to a certain place. Location-specific search results help customers understand your company and its standards. It fosters your long-term relationship with certain communities and builds trust while generating revenue.
6. Concern for your customers
Online customers are not capable of providing the right search criteria even if they know precisely what they need. Thus, a refined site search should guide them in a way they find both useful and considerate. Help platform users understand that your care for them comes first and, as a result, form a meaningful connection that drives engagement and sales. Have a look at our list of practices worth implementing:
This feature guides customers to specific products and answers while they are still typing to help them define their search and avoid misspelling.
This option is a real saver when it comes to avoiding a zero search results page. It makes sure plurals, cases or typos don’t get in the way of identifying similar queries across the catalog of an existing index.
Sound-like and synonym search This feature increases the recall of the search system by mapping words with similar pronunciation via a phonetic analyzer or even creating a custom thesaurus for your internal search.
The worst UX scenario is when the site search delivers zero results. All the practices listed above are aimed to help you avoid it at all costs. Yet, sometimes even building a thorough internal library, defining user profiles, and indexing your content, pages and products may still be not enough. Instead of directing to an empty screen, display related (though relevant) products to help your users convert even if the desired item is currently not available. This way, a zero result search can still be the source of revenue. Analyze it to understand what your users are looking for and either enhance your synonym search or fill the gaps you may be missing.
To sum up, the E-commerce search practices we described reflect the leading consumer behavior tendencies in 2022. To implement them, you need to understand what, how, when, and where customers expect to find necessary products and how you can be helpful, though not intrusive. Surely, it’s more convenient to apply when you opt for custom E-commerce development. Yet, each of these strategies will work to your advantage once tailored to your specific audience and your platform’s features.
Technology to rethink the search experience
There are multiple ways to implement internal search to the E-commerce platform. These can be in-built solutions for the shopping cards, custom-built solutions, third-party hosted search engine services, and more. From our experience dealing with the search integration for enterprise companies, Elasticsearch technology is the most efficient in terms of flexibility, feature set, quick data processing, regardless of its type and format. In almost all cases, we use it for complex E-commerce projects.
At Wise Engineering we appreciate its speed, customizability, refined relevancy, and advanced analytics that are highly scalable. Opposite to traditional text search structure, Elasticsearch goes further to enable searches by using query DSLs and APIs. Besides, the capacity it provides is ensured by its robust architecture.
The process of your E-commerce site search development can be illustrated with the scheme below. With the Elasticsearch technology and the right engineering team, the capabilities are really unlimited.
Benefits of Elasticsearch
Elasticsearch is a high-speed, scalable, intuitive, and dependable tool that you can implement to bring the search experience of your E-commerce platform to a new level.
With the optimized relevance models, Elasticsearch technology allows you to set up embracing, precise, and, most importantly, rapid internal search. Your visitors will find the items they are looking for faster, and thus, will convert into customers more often.
This technology is perfect for businesses that know exactly what KPIs they want to achieve and user experience issues they want to optimize. With the right tech team, you can quickly set up the right functionality set to solve different tasks and meet the needs of your specific audience.
Elasticsearch allows you to analyze search results quality, enhance your knowledge of the customer behavior and, thus, improve the overall search experience. Every query, like adding to a cart or comparing products, makes you understand your customer more and, thus, helps to provide better results and minimize the interaction cost.
Elasticsearch is fault-tolerant technology. This means when hardware or networks fail to be 100% secure and stable, or any other problem occurs, Elasticsearch keeps your clusters and valuable data safe and available through cross-cluster replication and reliable backup.
You can always make the search faster to meet the new SLO/SLA requirements. Start with the functionality that is required at your current business development step and scale the search when your business expands.
Elasticsearch integration challenges
The efficiency of the Elasticsearch configuration fully depends on the efficiency of the tech audit provided prior to any development. This audit should include:
- Query audit that allows to specify the most popular queries, search relevance threshold, mapping verification, and more.
- Hardware compatibility analysis for computing, memory, storage, network utilization to define issues that might influence the search performance.
- Traffic analysis to identify search queries quantitative characteristics and Elasticsearch use within different periods. For example, its use during a day, week, and month.
Due to its intricate organization, Elasticsearch takes a lot of time, knowledge, and resources to maintain, e.g. take care of the hierarchy of indexes, keep your nodes “green”, manage clusters on a large scale (which is no longer possible to perform manually), upgrade the clusters and nodes simultaneously and keep data replication in mind not to lose some important data. That is why it is always a good idea to start search integration or optimization of your current solution with an experienced tech team.
Improve search experience for your customers
Customer behavior has changed extensively during the pandemics and, at present, it is the driving force of all new tendencies. There are lots of ways to improve the customer experience of your E-commerce platform and site search is a great aspect to start the optimization.
To make your E-commerce platform client-tailored and boost its user experience, we recommend integration or optimization of the Elasticsearch technology. Our team provides Elasticsearch consulting services and will gladly share details on the enterprise search configuration specifics.