“No Results Found”: Addressing the Site Search Dead End Dilemma

Consumers are turning to ecommerce now more than ever. For example, online browsing for apparel increased by more than 200% during March 2020. To ensure customer satisfaction, it’s essential to make sure your site search enables them to quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.

Imagine an eager shopper comes to your website with a product in mind and a high intent to purchase. They go straight to your search bar, type in the item they’re looking for and instantly land on a “no results found” page. At best, they might attempt a couple of variations of their search term before ultimately giving up and heading to a competitor.

Shoppers who used site search exhibited a 216% increase in conversion rate, according to a WebLinc report. Any instance of “no results found” is a lost sales opportunity. With an abundance of creative ways to prevent customers from hitting this dead end, there’s no excuse for a dull, conversion-killing “no results found” page. Usability testing from Baymard Institute found that 68% of ecommerce sites have a “no results page” implementation that is essentially a dead end for users, offering no more than a generic set of search tips.

The Root of the “No Results Found” Problem

There are one of two reasons why a visitor would hit this site search dead end on your pages. The first is that you have a relevant product to offer, but your search experience is poorly configured. Luckily, this is easy to rectify with today’s search technology, with solutions focused on utilizing product data that learn from past search behavior. Once implemented, you can stay on top of your “no results” reporting, clean up product data, set up search redirects for common keywords and implement “did you mean” suggestions for common misspellings, which can help ensure this never happens again.

The second reason is you don’t carry the product in question. It happens. But that doesn’t mean the shopping experience has to end there. When you don’t have relevant results to display, there are a number of approaches to keep the shopper engaged and browsing, such as promoting bestsellers.

Promoting Bestsellers, Hot Categories Boosts Conversion

Use your “no results found” page to display what you do have in stock. Whether it’s bestsellers or most popular categories, highlight what customers search for and buy most often. Many sites are guilty of using highly technical or jargon-filled product names that require the shopper to have extensive industry knowledge. For brands with a catalog that has a wide range of similar products, the shopper may not be familiar with the specific terminology needed for a successful search. In order to drive conversion, ensure the no results page is user-centric.

For example, providing a product finder feature on the “no results” page can help point shoppers in the right direction. In the context of a furniture site, the first step might be to allow users to filter by a particular room they’re shopping for. From there, help them find what they desire by refining results further by category, product type and other details.

The end result is a carefully refined and curated list of results highly specific to the shopper’s preferences. Alternatively, providing other recommendations based on consumer habits can be beneficial. Perhaps you see regular searches for a specific brand that you don’t carry. Consider whether any of the other products you do stock might be of interest to a shopper searching for that brand, and create landing pages with “you might also like” suggestions for these searches.

Offer More Than Content Search

Search isn’t just for products. Sometimes a shopper might use the search bar when looking into your refund policy or shipping costs. Without content search, they could easily land on your “no results found” page because they aren’t looking for a product. Avoid this by redirecting them straight to the relevant page.

Patagonia is a great example of a brand that gets this right. The retailer offers shoppers the option to filter search results by products or articles. For example, they can choose to see sleeping bags, or read an in-depth blog on product features and factors to consider, educating shoppers in the research stage. Once ready, they can quickly filter back to products and complete a purchase.

Include Multiple Contact Options

Not everyone is “search literate” and people will always use unexpected or unusual search terms that you couldn’t have predicted. This doesn’t mean you can’t help that shopper out with some human contact and direction. Make sure you offer a number of different ways to contact your customer service team on a “no results” page, including a live chat option if you have it. It may seem obvious, but letting shoppers know they’re welcome to reach out is far more personal than a customer support number.

Drive the Shopping Journey Today and Beyond

Whatever you do, don’t send shoppers to a “no results” dead end. Acknowledge that the specific product they are searching for might not be available, but suggest alternatives, guide them to relevant categories, present your content, and offer further assistance to drive down that search to exit rate.

Whatever the reason may be for “no results found,” there is always a way to continue the shopping journey by improving the site search experience. When you do, you’ll be able to increase customer satisfaction, ensure return users and convert visitors more quickly.

Dori Salisbury is VP of Customer Success and Strategy for Searchspring

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