Building eCommerce Search and Discovery Journeys for Goal-Oriented Shoppers

Learn how to craft eCommerce search and discovery journeys for shoppers who know exactly what they’re looking for.

search and discovery

In an ideal world, eCommerce search and discovery journeys would be straightforward. But the reality is that today’s shoppers have to jump through hoops before they’re able to connect with products they want to buy. This experience is especially frustrating for shoppers who arrive on your site with a clear idea of what they’re looking for in mind.

By making it fast and easy for shoppers to search, uncover, and buy the most relevant products on your site, you have the opportunity to stand out and transform your brand into a convenient and engaging shopping destination. Your shoppers will associate your site with positive and seamless experiences, encouraging them to come back for more. When looking to improve your eCommerce search and discovery journeys, a good place to start is by putting yourself in the shoes of your goal-oriented shoppers.

Who Are Goal-Oriented Shoppers?

Goal-oriented shoppers have a clear intention in mind, regardless of whether they are existing customers who are familiar with your website or new customers arriving for the first time from a variety of different channels.

While a browser will “window shop,” a goal-oriented shopper will set out on a deliberate eCommerce search and discovery journey with the aim of procuring a particular item. Their hunt may be as specific as “beige high-waisted trousers” or as general (but still mission-oriented) as “gift for Mother’s Day.”

These shoppers are likely to begin their search before even reaching your site. They may be directed to your business by Google or other search engines as 81% of customers are, or they may begin in major online marketplaces. Statistics show that 28% of shoppers discover a product through Amazon or eBay, though they may not necessarily purchase on those platforms. Social media and blogs are also common initial points of discovery.

Goal-oriented shoppers are likely to abandon their carts if the checkout process isn’t as smooth as they anticipated, and they will often leave your site even earlier if they’re overwhelmed with irrelevant choices they didn’t ask for. A targeted eCommerce search and discovery process aims to prevent these situations and to produce experiences that are simoultaenously efficient and delightful for shoppers.

eCommerce Search and Discovery Journeys for Goal-Oriented Shoppers

Goal-oriented shoppers are multi-dimensional. Even though they have the same general behavior patterns, it’s best to tailor eCommerce search and discovery experiences based on a few key profiles.

Search Engine and Online Marketplace Researchers

Goal-oriented shoppers coming from search engines and large marketplaces like Amazon are usually looking for a specific product, researching it, and seeking out the best place to buy it. When they arrive on your site, they’re most likely to land on a product detail page that ideally would be a perfect match for for what they have in mind. To delight these shoppers, keep the following in mind:

  • Information on the product detail page must be presented in an organized and engaging manner. Product photos should be top quality. Answers to common consumer questions should be readily available. This increases trust in your brand and benefits shoppers who want to make sure that what they’re viewing is indeed the product that they’re after.
  • Eliminate any dead ends on your website. You can do your best to ensure shoppers land on the right PDP when coming from search or other sources, but some things are out of your control. Have a contingency plan built in for when a size or color is out of stock, or in case a certain detail isn’t quite what they were looking for. For example, consider suggesting similar items above the fold on your PDPs, so these shoppers can turn their disappointment into a successful purchase.
  • Even goal-oriented shoppers may be open to buying additional items — but you must not overwhelm them before they’ve found “the one.” You can surface other relevant, complementary product recommendations after they’ve added the product they were searching for to their cart. This way, you can promote ongoing product discovery without being distracting.
eCommerce search and discovery journeys for social media users

Social Shoppers and Blog Enthusiasts

Mission-driven shoppers that fit this profile are most likely to arrive on your site from social media or blogs. These are image-centric channels that set customers’ expectations before they even reach your website. Social imagery is such a central part of the customer journey today that 89% of shoppers say they bought an item after first spotting it on Instagram. To delight inspiration-driven, social shoppers, here are a few key things to remember:

  • Pave the way for seamless shopping journeys by linking images to the right product detail page. This saves customers time from searching for the desired item on your site.
  • Be prepared for shoppers who arrive on your site with nothing but a screenshot in hand. You won’t always be able to control linking on blogs or influencer pages. If you have the right solutions in place on-site, you can make the customer experience smoother. For example, give shoppers the option to use visual search. Instead of trying to articulate the products they have in mind through your search bar, customers can simply upload saved images from their smartphones’ gallery and find the exact or similar items from your inventory.
  • Media-sharing sites often inspire consumers, particularly when it comes to home decor and fashion. You can give prospective buyers a chance to live their vision through interactive showrooms and inspiration galleries that provide context for your products, displaying them alongside complementary items. This continues the experience they have prior to reaching your site and provides an extra boost of confidence for them to go after the item they envisioned. They may even discover and buy additional relevant items thanks to a highly visual and inspiring search and discovery experience.

Brand Fans and Other Direct Site Visitors

Another set of goal-oriented shoppers are the ones who head straight for your site when they’re looking to purchase something new. These may be existing customers who see your brand as a go-to, or new curious shoppers who’ve been meaning to try out your products.

Regardless of whether they’re long-time loyalists or newbies to your brand, your mission should be to create friction-free search eCommerce search and discovery journeys that will guide them from your homepage to their desired item with ease. Here are a few important points to keep in mind when creating experiences for these goal-oriented shoppers:

  • More than anyone else, this cohort will be using your on-site search. Make sure that your search solution can detect context and intent to be able to accurately surface items that match what they’re interested in. Quickly returning highly relevant results that reflect individual user preferences can create an instant connection with your brand. It sends a signal that you understand exactly what these mission-driven shoppers are after.
  • Structured navigation makes it easy for goal-oriented shoppers to find their way around your website and look for products that are relevant to their search. You can improve on this and simplify product discovery with icon-based navigation that provides a quick preview of what’s behind a given category link.
  • Because goal-oriented shoppers know what they want to buy, more often than not, they have deep knowledge of the items that they’re searching for. To prevent frustration as they explore your extensive product selection, be sure to provide detailed filters and faceted search to help them narrow down their options by selecting the most relevant product attributes. This allows for a targeted discovery journey and gives users more control of their shopping experience.
  • Once again, your product tags will play a starring role in helping these direct site visitors find what they’re looking for. Having detailed, standardized, and up-to-date product tags not only improves the discoverability of your products but it also enables you to implement strategic smart merchandising campaigns that appeal to both your existing and new goal-oriented customers.

Top Tips for Creating Streamlined eCommerce Search and Discovery Journeys

Regardless of how a shopper lands on your site, thes tips will help build eCommerce search and discovery experiences that goal-oriented shoppers are after:

  • High intent shoppers often need things on a tighter timeline and may be less likely to put up with a long wait if they can help it. To cater to shoppers who want products and services on-demand, enable them to filter items by same-day delivery and pick-up options so they can easily make a decision to add to cart.
  • Goal-oriented shoppers tend to be well-informed and may have more detailed questions than what can be answered on a PDP, so great, accessible customer service is key. In fact, at least 64% of consumers believe that this is as important as competitive market prices.

Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes

To build effective and memorable eCommerce search and discovery journeys, brands must truly know and understand their customers. Look beyond checkout completion, and ensure that goal-oriented shoppers enjoy the whole shopping experience by keeping their context, intent, and needs in mind.

This customer-first approach will not only move the needle for your bottom line, but it will also impact how your brand is perceived and recommended to others.