How To Transform Your Site Search From Zero To Hero

You’re a savvy web entrepreneur with a high-end, custom-developed online store. You’ve got a handle on SEO, your website traffic is high and you’ve got everything in place for potential buyers, including an on site search. Despite all of the above, your conversion rate is best represented by a big, fat goose egg.

Sound familiar? The scenario isn’t as unusual as you might think. These days, everyone knows how important a site search is to the success of a web-based shop, but not all searches are alike. Not only that, but there’s a lot more to an effective website search package than meets the eye. Never fear, though; I’m here to tell you what’s missing and how to give your online store super powers.

Pump Up your Customer Experience

If you keep up with statistics – and any online entrepreneur should – you know that you have a very limited amount of time to get a potential buyer to what he or she is looking for. 80% of online shoppers have already done the research and know exactly which product they want before they head to your shop. There’s a limit to how much trouble a visitor will go to, to buy from you. Internet shopping is all about “fast and easy”.

That means that your visitors expect to open your search and see suggestions when they start to type, and those suggestions need to have images of the products as well as prices, so that a quick glance tells them what they need to know. If the results include that “hot” item they came to buy, you’re halfway there!

“Halfway?” Yes, that’s right. Remember, this smart shopper has already done his/her homework. Going to a product page to rummage through details isn’t the next step. Not for these super-shoppers. If there’s any doubt that they’re looking at the right item, they want a quick popup to verify it, and then it’s time to buy! (Insert heroic fanfare here.)

Alright, so to morph your site search engine into the kind of experience these visitors want, it should also provide a popup option for an enlarged view with a few details, and that page should include an option for them to add it to their shopping carts right then and there.

Pull out the Stops

There are a couple of other features your website search needs to have in today’s online market. Both of them are related to limits placed on your site by its platform, design or host. If it’s going to achieve hero status, you’re going to have to take out those limitations.

Let’s start with speed, since we’re looking for “fast and easy”. The search routine described in the previous section is actually going to require a fairly complex algorithm and the programming to apply it. In order for it to run fast, it’s going to need resources (processor time and memory). If you want to avoid problems with your hosting server, the best way to provide those resources is via your trusty super-sidekick, The Cloud.

The second way to limit your client base is with a site search that isn’t responsive. It should come as no surprise that more than half of the visitors to your site are viewing it on their laptops, tablets or smartphones. If it doesn’t function well on their current device of choice, they’re going to disappear in a flash.

So, to serve today’s “hypershoppers”, you need site search tools that use cloud based services and responsive layouts. Furthermore, you need to be sure that they’re implemented in a way that’s compatible with your e-commerce platform and hosting service.

Are we there Yet?

Well, almost. Don’t put on your mask and cape yet. There are still a couple of little things missing.

To begin with, in order for those suggestions to work as described above, your site search is going to have to collect and analyze the data from previous searches. That means you’ll need to have a database and run the cumulative data through your search algorithm in real time. That’s how your program prioritizes the results.

Then again, if you’re going to go to all this trouble for your visitors, why not add a little something for yourself, like analytics. You should have access to all that search data to find out things like:

  • What items are visitors NOT finding on your site?
  • Which of your products are selling best and worst?
  • How relevant are the search results?
  • What items could use some promotion?
  • How are your current promotions doing?
  • What’s the conversion rate for today?

These are just a few of the questions you can answer with the records from your on-site search.

The point is that improving the search is only half the battle. To get the most out of it, you need to be able to work with the data in your merchandising. That information can help you determine what to add to your inventory, product placement, promotion strategies and lots of other things that will help you boost your sales. The process is called analytics and it’s essential to your success in today’s market.

Get Ready to Fly!

If you can meet all the requirements above, you can bet that your sales will increase if you’re getting qualified traffic. Who’d have thought that something like a mild-mannered site search engine could turn out to be a superhero in disguise?

Putting all the puns aside for a minute, let me reiterate that a website search is already a well-proven tool for boosting conversions. Getting the most out of it means utilizing it as outlined above. It’s actually much easier than it sounds, too.

If you’re using a platform like Magento or WooCommerce, you may already have extensions/plugins in place for a responsive, intuitive site search. These can be combined with Google Analytics or something simpler to hep with the merchandising tasks.

If you’d like something more platform-independent, I recommend taking a look at Instant Search+. It’s a complete package that’s available in a custom-developed version as well as as an add-on for those popular e-commerce platforms. Pay them a visit today. You can design your superhero costume later.