Providing the customer with an excellent search experience is one of the most overlooked aspects of successful eCommerce websites. According to Forrester Research, 43% of website visitors go directly to the search bar when they open a website for the first time. This means that, for nearly half of your user base, the search functionality of your website will be their first impression, so it had better be good! ECommerce giants like Amazon fully understand this, so they have spent significant resources on ensuring that the search experience of their website is user-friendly and effective. Considering how universal Amazon is today, they have essentially set the bar for advanced search experiences, and as such, your average user will expect high-quality search by default.
This poses a significant challenge to the average eCommerce website. Very few eCommerce websites have the resources that Amazon has to engineer this kind of experience from the ground up. After all, an online merchant is not a search engine company – they should be able to focus their time and resources on other aspects of the website. Nonetheless, users will be expecting a search experience that rivals that of Amazon’s. So how can the average online merchant deliver advanced search features their users expect without exhausting their resources?
One great option is to utilize a tool like Algolia! Algolia is “a hosted search engine, offering full-text, numerical, and faceted search, capable of delivering real-time results from the first keystroke.” By using Algolia to implement a search solution, eCommerce sites can rest easy knowing that their search functionality is solid while freeing up resources to focus on other aspects of the platform. Let’s take a look at some of the advanced search features that are made easy by Algolia, and how it can help you drive sales and deliver the search experience that your customers expect.
A relatively simple but overlooked feature is what’s known as guided search. The screenshot above depicts the guided search feature on Coursera.com, whose search is powered by Algolia. As you can see, as the user types, they are recommended popular search terms. This helps to make the user’s experience more streamlined, so they can get to the product they’re looking for faster, or be inspired by some of the other popular search terms and decide to buy something else.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find content other than merchandise on an eCommerce site, such as blog posts, corporate news, FAQS, etc. Using federated search technology, search queries can be done on multiple content sources simultaneously. This means that when a user searches for a product, the results could also include, for example, any relevant blogs posts about the same or similar products. This increases visibility to non-merchandise content on your website and could potentially motivate users to spend more time on your website, which is always a good thing.
A great search experience will not be the same for every user. Using personalized search features, search results on the same exact query can vary from user to user, based on a variety of factors. For example, a user that is located somewhere with a hot climate might have more warm-weather clothing in their results. The displayed results can also take a user’s past shopping habits into consideration, prioritizing brands that the user has purchased before. This helps to make the user’s shopping experience more relevant to them, increasing sales and customer satisfaction.
On top of all the great search features that Algolia provides for your customers, they provide valuable analytics into what your users are searching for and buying, all displayed in a convenient dashboard. At a glance, this allows you to see trending search terms, which search terms lead to the most conversions, which search terms are returning no results, and more. Even if Algolia did not provide any added search functionality to your website, these search metrics would be extremely valuable. These insights into what people are looking for and buying allows online merchants to rapidly respond to its customers’ shopping habits and take steps to increase sales.
These are just some of the advanced search features that Algolia can add to your eCommerce website, for a fraction of the cost of building them in-house. You can check out the documentation yourself at https://www.algolia.com/doc/ for a deep dive into the additional features they offer. Using the robust features of Algolia, one of our team members here at Bytelion helped improve the search experience on Under Armour’s website, resulting in 35% increased conversions from search. If you are interested in seeing similar improvements on your eCommerce site, please contact us. We can conduct a free eCommerce audit on your tool to give you actionable insights.