Search is one of the most important, yet overlooked aspects of the eCommerce experience.

Shoppers use search to find products more than any other method of browsing, with 83 percent considering it “important” or “extremely important” and 76 percent “always” or “often” using it when they shop online, according to a study by RichRelevance.

Despite the search tool’s popularity, the experience is leaving a lot of shoppers feeling lost or frustrated. The problem is especially acute on mobile, where 35 percent are dissatisfied with the search results they receive.

For retailers that haven’t invested time in making their search effective, there is a high likelihood of your shoppers giving up from a poor experience, resulting in lost sales that could have easily been avoided.

To get you started, we have outlined two basic, easy-to-implement search principles that can make a substantial difference in the success of your digital customer experience:

1. Intelligent Auto-Complete

As soon as your shoppers start typing into the search box, they should see a list of suggested terms they are most likely looking for, with the ability to click on one of those terms instead of having to type out their full search query. This will make the search process faster and easier for your shoppers, and prevent any simple spelling errors that could easily affect the quality of the results.

To optimize the search experience even more, you should personalize Auto-Complete suggestions. Keep track of the search terms that each shopper enters over time, and then prioritize those same terms on future searches in order to make the experience more relevant. For example, if the shopper has typed “Br” into the search box, it will be more relevant to suggest “Broccoli” for one shopper, but “Bread” for another.

2. Automatic Typo Detection

Since spelling mistakes are common and often result in the shopper not finding what they are looking for, you want to do everything you can to catch these errors and still present the right results. Automated Typo Detection can be used to catch simple spelling mistakes, and it works through technology that recognizes when a search term will yield no results but is similar to another common search term. For example, if a shopper types “bananan”, Automatic Typo Detection will return results for “banana”.

To recap, three out of four of your shoppers will use search when they shop on your site, and a sub-par experience can easily push them into the arms of a competing retailer. Make sure not to overlook the importance of getting search “right”; your current and future shoppers will thank you for it!

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