3 Ways to Merchandise via Site Search

Dec 04, 2012 8:22 PM  By

Marketing during the holidays means competing with lots of noise. From TV commercials and printed flyers and catalogs, to online banners and marketing emails, consumers get bombarded with “buy this gift” messages between now and December.

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Once shoppers arrive at your site via an Internet search engine or search for products on your site, they’ve pretty precisely indicated that they’re interested in a given product. You can help clinch the deal by focusing on marketing your products using your search results data to merchandise your best products during the holiday season. Below are a few examples of how you can go about this.

Merchandise search results – but do it carefully. Your search solution should allow you to override default search results in order to put relevant items at the top of the list based on stock availability, new products, holiday-related products or popular gifts. Also consider offering a gift finder. Online shoppers are more likely to consider items in the first several results that they see on the page.

However, you need to exercise caution when overriding search results. Consider allowing your shoppers to select which items they want to see on the top of the search results. This will increase your conversion rates, and in turn, give you more insight into which merchandising strategies work best.

Use keyword-driven banners to highlight promotions and sales
By displaying banners that relate to search terms, you have the opportunity to promote related cross-sell or up-sell products that are relevant to the search results. When customers search for a brand name or product that is on sale, you can include a keyword-driven banner at the top of the search results page to showcase that promotion.

You can also use banners to promote free shipping or discounts, which can help tilt a purchase in your favor at holiday time. Once people have searched for appropriate holiday gifts, their next step is deciding whether to complete the purchase. By placing shipping offers or discount prices on your search results pages, you provide an incentive for shoppers to buy the gift they’re interested in.

Show search results on product pages: When a consumer conducts a web search and clicks on an organic listing that delivers them to one of your product pages, you can increase the conversion rates of those visits by including search results for the keywords they used on the web.

The search results can then be shown in a banner on your product page. You can see how this works in this link below from Motorcycle Superstore: the shopper searched on Google for ‘O’Neal Racing Element Villain Jersey’ and is shown a banner containing other products that relate to the search term. This a helpful tool for holiday gift buyers, since they may be searching for a broad category of items and don’t know exactly what they want to buy.

Create brand landing pages
For popular holiday brands, you can show shoppers a dedicated landing page associated with their search, rather than just search results pages. For example, if a shopper types in a brand name, you can send them to a special brand page that you’ve created. As we show below, sports retailer SportsUnlimited offers landing pages for their brands, including Under Armour when a user searches for that particular brand.

Use quick view windows: Harried holiday shoppers need as much information as possible when considering which gifts to buy – so the more product information you can add to search results, the better. One way to display more product information is with a quick view button that opens a product detail window. This saves time for holiday shoppers since they don’t have to click on product pages and go back to results pages repeatedly.

Along the same lines, consider showing larger images when shoppers mouse over a thumbnail image in the search results. Product pages usually contain larger images that allow people to see the product detail closely – but search results pages display smaller thumbnail images that make it hard to see the full product. A large pop-up image lets shoppers easily examine products right from the results page without having to click into the product page.

Highlight sale items in search
Holiday shopping season is when consumers start counting their pennies to make sure they can afford all the gifts on their list, so sales will attract their attention. Add a special “on sale” logo or banner to the relevant search results, place sale items at the top of results, or add the ability to refine results to see what’s on sale.

Also, show both the full price and the sale price in the search results for on-sale products. If you show shoppers the savings they’re receiving by contrasting regular and sale prices, you give them even more motivation to make a purchase.

Shoppers who are short on time will rely on your site search to help them find the holiday gifts they need. Use the opportunity presented by their time spent on search to reinforce your marketing messages and promote your holiday offerings.

Terry Costa is vice president of marketing at SLI Systems.

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