Site Search: Leading the Customer to Purchase

Like it or not, when a visitor heads to your site they are most likely there to browse, which is why it’s important for retailers to give shoppers what they want, the quickest way possible. The best way to do that is through highly optimized search and navigation functions, according to a whitepaper from SLI Systems.

In the whitepaper, Gifts & Specialty Goods, SLI Systems lays out a few must have functions that your site needs in order to perfect and improve the customer experience.


According to the whitepaper, one of those recommendations is a gift finder tool. By incorporating one on your site, it helps “narrow down items by a series of questions or specifications, showing customers only the most appropriate items.” An example that SLI Systems used in the whitepaper was the gift finder tool used by Thompson & Morgan, an online gardening retailer. On the site, Thompson & Morgan offers a “Plant Finder” tab on their homepage which brings the shopper to a page where they can search for plants alphabetically, by type, longevity, flowering months, sowing months, and even harvest period.

According to the whitepaper, the gift finder tool helps customers narrow down the selection they want in order to find the perfect match that suits their needs.

One of the issues undecided shoppers face when visiting an ecommerce site is the vast inventory they run into when conducting a general search for a product. The whitepaper suggests refining product searches to the following:

Shop by occasion, event or color:  Since not all shoppers have a specific purchase in mind, let them browse through our site and be able to refine their searches. If a customer is looking for party favors for a baby shower, knowing the newborn will be a boy, give them the option to search by boy specific colors such as blue.

Shop by price range:  Shoppers, for the most part, always have a price range in mind when they are shopping for an item. The whitepaper recommends that retailers make their site search functions easier for the shopper by incorporating price sliders or easy-to-use facets in your page to allow for the shopper to customize their own shopping experience.

Shop by availability: There can be nothing more frustrating for a shopper searching around for the product they want only to find out it’s not available online. According to the whitepaper, “allowing visitors to refine a selection by product availability quickly shows them only the most applicable goods.” This will help save them time on searching but could also avoid the dreaded site exit.

images---sizes--product-reviews---600Think large photos and product descriptions: If you haven’t already, it’s time to start looking at your website as an extension of the store associates in your traditional bricks-and-mortar stores.  Shoppers, according to the whitepaper, want to know as much as they can about the products, they want to see exactly what the product looks like, and they want to know exactly what they are buying before they hit “Add to cart.”

It’s also important for retailers to accept the fact that not every visitor on your site is there because they are a loyal customer or that they are responding to a marketing blast via email, catalog, or SMS message. More likely than not, they are there because they were surfing the web. This is exactly why you need to make sure your site and your products are set for the best search engine optimization.

Site search tools are not just about getting the customer to the products they want, it’s also a way for retailers to see what your visitors are looking for, the exact site search words they are using (which can be used for SEO), and you can also see which searchable products are the most popular.

By analyzing your customer insights and by offering highly detailed and optimized site search, you will be able to offer the shopper the best products available and the best search experience which can boost customer satisfaction and possibly decrease your cart abandonment rate.

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