Did you know that 10 to 30 percent of the visitors to consumer webshops use the search function? On B2B webshops this is even 50 to 70 percent. These visitors are up to six times more likely to convert than visitors who do not use the search function. The optimization of the search function on a webshop – also called site search – has a major impact on the conversion rate and therefore also on the turnover of a webshop.
Webshop visitors only want one thing and that is to quickly find the right product. Therefore you want the search function to be accurate and fast. The ability to handle spelling mistakes and synonyms is the basis of this functionality. With words like “lettuce” and “salad,” “jacket” and “coat”, or “pants” and “jeans,” we mean the same thing, right? By taking a good look at your performance and using features such as typo tolerance, suggestions and synonyms, you will soon notice a big difference in the number of buying customers.
At this moment the business – and with the business I mean for example webshop owners, e-commerce managers, marketers and cro-specialists – still often leans on the development department, even when it comes to the search function. The strong growth in e-commerce combined with scarcity in qualified personnel contributes to an ever-increasing dependency. The business generally has many optimization requirements for development and preferably with a short time-to-market. But there is also a full backlog full of priorities that the development team must manage. That’s why, according to the Gartner institute, more and more companies are choosing to tackle site search challenges with SaaS solutions.
While the e-commerce sector is often ahead of the game when it comes to responding to trends and developments, webshops can still learn a lot from physical stores when it comes to merchandising. Take a supermarket, for example. The positioning of products in the store and on the shelves is carefully thought out, down to the last inch. Have you ever noticed that private label products are often on the bottom shelves, while A-brands get a more dominant position? In addition, special offers are given a separate display to draw attention and a clever route has been devised so that customers pass all types of products. Category management or merchandising is also becoming increasingly important in e-commerce, but has so far remained underexposed at many online stores. The possibilities and the impact of merchandising are many times greater than in the physical world.
As a webshop grows, a fast search functionality that can handle spelling errors and synonyms, for example, is no longer sufficient. The increase in the number of products in a shop, for example, as well as the interests of various stakeholders mean that the merchandising strategy will have to be reviewed. In addition to the operation of a webshop and the customers, the market, suppliers and prospects also influence the results of the search functionality. For example, if suppliers are unable to deliver certain products on time, this will have consequences for a webshop. This group of ‘search influencers’ creates a complexity that you need to manage as efficiently as possible, preferably in a transparently set up system.
The fact that e-commerce will become increasingly complex is also demonstrated by the fact that more and more webshops are offering the possibility of being an online marketplace for suppliers. This will only make the game of influencing even more dynamic. The interests of all search influencers must from now on be included in the merchandising strategy. If only to have a healthy business model and to be able to prioritize sorting the most relevant products.
To move from search to searchandising, data paramount. The first step is to take stock of the current data sources or data sources that can easily be made available. Often, there is already a lot of knowledge and information available in Google Analytics that can be used to make the search functionality ‘smart’ for groups of people, the so-called ‘wisdom of the crowd’. Use those insights to make improvements, for example by adjusting so-called business-rules in certain categories. SaaS solutions often work with self-learning principles (Artificial Intelligence), which is often accurate and also saves time, but it is important that insights can be transparently monitored and influenced.
But what may be relevant to a group may be less relevant to you as a person. Think here about working towards personal search. This goes beyond the wisdom of the crowd principle. Even without customers logging in, you want to know which visitor you are dealing with, taking into account privacy regulations. When customer X searches for “blue jeans”, subconsciously they will be looking for blue pants with a slim fit between 100 and 150 euros. While customer Y with the same search query might be looking for a pair of pants of up to 80 euros. By monitoring behavior and linking it to self-learning systems and algorithms, you will soon be able to know, based on data from the webshop visitor, what method will yield the best conversion.
You can only be relevant if you have thought about the merchandising strategy that feeds into your search function. The fact that this merchandising strategy is also important when you are browsing or visiting specific product pages is just as true.
Having an impact with your merchandising strategy is only possible if you meet the following conditions: if you have the right search foundation, if the business is in control and can push the buttons and if you see merchandising as a continuous process in which learning and testing are of great importance.
Are you missing any insights into a successful merchandising strategy or specifically the topic of this blog: Searchandising? Do you need help with the process of getting from your search to searchandising? Then I’d be happy to get in touch with you to help you along. Tweakwise has extensive experience in this area, and may be the ideal SaaS solution for your shop.