Give Me Relevant Results Now – or Never!

October 2, 2013 Dawn Mortensen

As consumers, it seems the more technology-savvy we become, the more impatient we also become. Once we catch a glimpse of what it’s like to have an amazing customer experience, we expect other sites to rapidly adopt the latest technology and best practices to meet the latest standard of excellence.

This is certainly the case in eCommerce. When searching for a particular product, I expect to see highly relevant results the first time I type in a search phrase. Whether I’m using my smartphone, tablet or laptop, if I ask for “women’s wool blazer,” then that’s exactly what I want to see – nothing more or less – especially if I’m on my iPhone and don’t have enough screen space to browse 50 items. I find that if a retailer gives me irrelevant results, I’ll just move on to another site that I’ve had a good experience with in the past.

I’m not alone in my impatience, said Harris Interactive in a 2013 study, which found that 30 percent of mobile shoppers who hit a snag will abandon their online cart and never return to that site again. (See Mobile Shoppers Rarely Give Second Chances). An SLI Survey showed that 73% of customers will leave a site in less than two minutes if they can’t find what they’re looking for. Personally, I think two minutes is generous – I can tell you I won’t give a site that long if I only have five minutes between appointments to get something ordered!

Boden_Mobile_WomensWoolBlazerBoden understands the importance of relevance in delivering a great customer experience. In my search for women’s wool blazer, they showed me the three wool blazers they have, and nothing else. Since their site is optimized for mobile use, I could easily view the images and product details on my iPhone and gather just enough information to quickly browse the items and make a decision. This is the kind of experience that will keep me coming back to shop on their site. And it’s probably why Boden has seen a 177% increase in average conversions since implementing advanced site search solutions.

Another site search feature that streamlines the user experience is Rich Auto Complete. I love sites where I can start typing the first few letters of a word and within seconds see the name, image and short description of the exact product I’m looking for. NaturalWellbeing.com uses this feature, and it makes it so easy to shop. Wanting to try melatonin for sleep, I start typing in mela- and before I finish the word or click the search button, I’m shown the two melatonin products they offer along with the price. They both look good, so I click one and it takes me straight to checkout – I’m done and on to other things.

NaturalWellBeing_RichAutoComplete4You can bet the next time I try shopping on a site that doesn’t have Rich Auto Complete, I’m going to experience some of that technology-induced impatience I mentioned earlier.

Usability experts such a Jakob Nielsen confirm that such impatience is common. “Today’s consumers aren’t satisfied with sites that simply make it possible to shop; the experience must also be pleasant,” he said. In his eCommerce Usability study, Nielsen found that users’ first in-site query is successful only 64% of the time. And if users don’t find what they are looking for on your site, they’ll often assume you don’t have the product and will leave, rather than changing their search query. Yep, I’ve done that.

To achieve the kind of relevancy that keeps impatient shoppers like me on your site, you should learn which products are most clicked on for each search term and all its variations, and then rearrange each associated results page accordingly. Doing this manually would be beyond tedious, so it’s important to use a site search engine that automatically learns and ranks the most relevant products in search results.

Search that Learns and Improves
Such a capability goes beyond the default search that comes with your platform. But SLI’s Learning Search is effective because it determines relevancy based on site search activity – then continues to learn and improve based on which products are most clicked on after a particular search query. This ensures that the best results are always shown first.

It’s important to remember that today’s tech-savvy eCommerce customers are also sophisticated searchers. We know the type of search experience we can get from a good search engine, and we’ll expect that experience on your eCommerce site as well. By ensuring the highest relevance, you’ll meet or even exceed our expectations for an easy shopping experience.

There are several ways you can start improving your site search relevance today. Download SLI’s Big Book of Site Search Tips to read dozens of best practices. Or sign up for a free site critique to receive personalized recommendations on how to improve your site search relevancy. You can also request a demo to learn how SLI Systems can help you turn more site visitors into buyers. Whichever you choose, you’ll find that improving your customer experience with your site search will inevitably improve your conversions and profitability as well.

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