How to Increase Online Sales with Better Search Usability

If you run an ecommerce store and want more of your visitors actually to buy your products…you’ve arrived at the right place. In this post you’ll discover how to increase online sales by improving your internal search functionality and learn UX best practices for internal site search.

I’ve also included a bonus area where you’ll discover how to collect and analyze internal search conversion data from Google Analytics.

First, let’s take a look at a couple of case studies and learn why you need to be optimizing your online store with better search usability.

Why You Should Optimize Your Internal Site Search

30% of visitors will use internal search and in this case study by econsultancy after investigating 21 ecommerce websites they found that the average revenue generated was highest from visitors who performed searches.

In my personal experience I have also seen search improve conversion rate.

Here you can see the conversion rate for visits without vs with search for ecommerce company Bfyne.

Wow! What a difference, right?!

So now you’ve seen the impact search can have on conversion rates and revenue, let’s discover what you’ll learn in this post:

User Experience Best Practice for Search

Now it’s not enough just to have search functionality, there are many usability best practices to consider when designing the search functionality for your website.

Search Placement and Design

Your search should be easy to find when a visitors lands on your website. Following design patterns is important when designing your shop layout, users expect to find the site search in the top right or top middle of the screen. Reebok gets this right.

Don’t hide the search in a search page or behind an icon. This may be challenging for less able users to find.

Make it obvious and visible to the visitor with a search input box and submit button. The button should say ‘Search’ or ‘Go’ and the input box should allow for at least 30 characters.

This is one of the few times in form UX design when you don’t need to label your input field, you can also consider using the placeholder as the label in this instance. Normally a very frowned upon practice.

Search Within Results

When your search returns the results, make sure you include the search input again so visitors can amend their search quickly and easily.

Search Navigation – Scope

Scoped search gives the visitor the ability to search within a specific section of your shop. It also however limits their search by reducing their chances of finding what they were originally looking for.

A better option is to offer users the option to filter searches on the results page than with a scoped search upfront.

These ‘links’ are the simplest form of filter selection. Visitors can drill down into any category or subcategory within your product hierarchy.

It’s a good idea to include the number of results in each level as seen in the Amazon screenshot above, this feeds back to visitors the amount of results each category will return.

Search Navigation – Grid vs. List View

Some stores such as Home Depot allow the user to view the products in a grid or list view, this is great for different types of users who like to search in different ways.

Autocomplete

The autocomplete or autosuggest search functionality is more appropriate than scoped search, which offers the visitor the option to search in only one category.

Autocorrect

Instead of showing your visitor the dreaded ‘no results found’ page if they misspell something, you can use autocorrect. This can instill confidence in the website as it appears to be smart to the user.

However, beware, this can often give wrong results too!

No Results Found

If you do have to serve a no results page, make sure you offer the user an alternative, in this example they show great design and user feedback to increase conversions.

Performance

For bigger stores it is important to not only think about usability but performance also.

Ask yourself or your tech team:

  • How many concurrent searches are supported?
  • What’s the highest number of sources possible?
  • What is the size of the data repository?

Saved Searches

Saved searches are great for complex sites, especially in niche B2B industries. This can compare to save to wishlist features for consumer facing stores.

Always Be Developing Your Understanding of Your Customer

Remember, conversion optimization is not about A/B testing or increasing what percentage of people click a button. It’s about improving profit company wide.

It is easy to increase conversion rates, just reduce all your prices to $1. Increasing profits is what you are really interested in when optimizing your shop’s conversion rates.

Make sure to collect data from sources such as internal search data and learn what people need and want and learn why, and always be striving to understand your customer and their motivations and desires.

Analytics can only take you so far, you will always need to know ‘why’ you need to get the conversion rate increase you want and need for explosive success.

You Can Improve Your Conversion Rate and Profits with Site Search…

…But you have to take action.

That’s why I put together a free ebook where you can learn how to analyse your Google Analytics data for search and customer insights.

Click here to access the ebook: Increase your Conversion Rate and Ecommerce Profits with Google Analytics Insights.

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Giles writes about Conversion Rate Optimization at Acquireconvert.com. He is also the co-founder of ux design and content marketing agency Whole Design Studios. Loves helping people improve their business or startup with marketing, design and strategy tips.

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