As eCommerce professionals, our goal is to turn shoppers into buyers. Shoppers should easily be able to find the products they are looking for, be exposed to products we think they might also be interested in, and easily check out. Search deficiencies commonly prevent shoppers from finding the products they are interested in. There are three types of search tuning techniques that can improve the shopping experience and then provides a road map for improving search at existing eCommerce sites.
Say, for example, that a site was selling women’s clothing. By visiting the site and searching for “blouse” we discovered whether the internal search solution could handle common misspellings. You can validate your own site’s performance by performing a similar search. On your site locate your search page and purposefully misspell one of the products offered for sale. If the search returns no results or meaningless ones then your site’s search engine is seriously impaired. A properly tuned site will suggest proper spelling and return the results for it. Likewise, suppose you maintain a site for woodworkers and crafters. Suppose you search for “shoe.” Did you mean the shoe of a wood plane, a paintable sneaker, a shoe-shaped cutout, a shoetree, a pattern for a shoeshine kit? How will your site help a potential buyer sort out potentially messy search results?
In conversation with your product placement staff, determine the name of a product that is ambiguous. Enter this term and if the results are meaningless or inconsistent with your expectation then the site engine is not properly tuned. In each of these scenarios, the unsatisfied shopper may likely move on to the next online store. Each customer’s business was lost because the online store was using basic search. Leaving customers with basic search is like opening a store with no employees. The average customer feels abandoned after a failed search.
Operators of eCommerce sites that help their customers find products by upgrading site search capability can expect a high return on investment
Retailers can optimize user experience in three ways:
1. Content-based Tuning makes sure that the right products are in the result set for given searches. While most search engines will return products based on text found in a product’s description, it is also important to consider alternate spellings, synonyms, and related concepts. We ask our customers if their search platform can differentiate between a search for a given product and accessories for that product. For example, can their search platform differentiate between bikes and bike helmets when a user enters “bikes” as the search term?
2. Marketing-based Tuning focuses on product placement within a result set; a very useful tool for Marketing Departments. This type of tuning identifies which products should appear at the top of a result set based on a company’s understanding of its customers’ needs and expectations. Moving winter-related products to the top of the search results page during the winter season sales cycle is an example of marketing-based tuning.
3. Customer Behavior-based Tuning uses the knowledge of which products are most popular and to make sure they appear closer to the top of a search results list. This powerful tool is especially important for managing product placement.
Roadmap to Search Success consists of three stages:
II. Development of a search implementation plan
III. Execution of this plan to achieve search integration, optimization, and tuning
The first step in the road map is to assess how a site’s search and discovery experience measures up in the marketplace. Knowing where a site’s search capabilities stand in relation to others in the market is a strong indicator of its competitive position. Since search can be used to position products, drive navigation, and present shoppers with meaningful choices, this evaluation is mandatory and of strategic importance. The outcome of the assessment provides the basis for the search implementation plan. This plan delivers a strategic initiative to satisfy clients concerns with:
• Security and Confidentiality
• Straight-forward implementation
The execution of the search implementation plan is designed to meet the needs of shoppers and the goals of the retailer to deliver a competitive and successful online retail site.
Operators of eCommerce sites that help their customers find products by upgrading site search capability can expect a high return on investment. While most sites will benefit by continuously tuning their site search, those with no advanced search capability have the most to gain