Mark Brixton, Country Manager for SLI Systems Australia, offers some simple tips in order to maximise the effectiveness of your site search function and assist conversion.
In a climate where more and more people are shopping online, comparing prices on their mobile phones and checking user reviews before a purchase, retailers are aware that they need to give site visitors what they’re searching for the minute they look for it.
Despite this, many online businesses don’t quite grasp the value of site search technology and how it can contribute dramatically to a business’ bottom line. While most retailers offer a search function on their website, it’s mostly by default without a lot of thought put into it. This is a shame, given that more than 43% of website visitors will head straight to that search tool to find what they’re looking for.
So, let’s look at some of the ways in which you can improve the value of your site search:
- Make it easy for the customer – First and foremost make your site search easy to find on your homepage. Many websites are crowded with messages and the site search gets lost in all the noise. Consider how many people use site search as the main method for finding products and make it a priority to put your site search in a prominent location.
- You say ‘tee shirt’, I say ‘t-shirt’ – Your site search needs to recognise the different ways potential customers spell product names. The word ‘t-shirt’ is a great example – if a customer searches for ‘tee shirts’ on your site, but your site only returns results when it’s spelt ‘tshirt’ then you’re going to frustrate your customer. If you’re lucky, the customer will make another search attempt. If not, they’ll just move on to another site that is easier to navigate. Anticipate all the different ways people search for items and more importantly, track how your site’s visitors are searching for products and update spelling and search terms accordingly.
- Offer refinement options – Improving your site search functionality shouldn’t end there. Retailers really need to offer customers the chance to refine a search – whether by ‘colour’, ‘brand’ or ‘size’. In offering simple refinement options people not only come to your site and conduct a search quickly and effectively, but they see you doing the work for them by offering different pathways to finding exactly what they want.
- Watch and mimic –You cannot underestimate the value of watching what your customers are searching for on your site and building your observations into relevant search results. Understanding how customers navigate around your site and how they use your search function is a sure-fire way to meet their needs and consequently boost your sales.
While these steps may seem pretty simple, they are extremely effective. Implement them and you’ll not only improve your chances of a sale, you’ll also strengthen relationships with your customers and improve brand loyalty.