3 Ways Your eCommerce Search Solution Can Improve Website Navigation

Product search and findability can make or break eCommerce shopping experiences. When customers can’t find your products, not only will they be unable to purchase, but they’ll also get a negative (often lasting) impression of your brand.

Almost all shoppers (97%) go online to research and find products. Customers search 3-4x per day. With high buying intent, those who use on-site search typically spend 3-4x more than shoppers who go through categories or browse casually.

(Un)fortunately, 68% of eCommerce websites are failing when it comes to their on-site search experience. So, there’s certainly room for improvement to standout. Discover three website navigation best practices rooted in an effective eCommerce search solution.

website navigation should be as clear as in-store navigation

1. Revealing the Most Relevant Products to Activate Frictionless Website Navigation and CX

Nearly a third of online shoppers (28%) consider irrelevant product results as the biggest frustration they have when using on-site search. From the wrong gender to totally different styles, customers will leave right off the bat when you’re not able to match their expectations.

One of the downsides of eCommerce, which has intensified due to the pandemic, is that customers can and will jump from one website to another when they are met with a negative experience from a brand. In a market where 73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties, not being able to find the product that they are looking for is a serious problem.

What can turn this around is a search solution that triggers seamless eCommerce website navigation and customer experience. Imagine having the ability to surface the most relevant and accurate products. You’ll motivate shoppers to make a purchase or, if not, continue exploring until they find the exact item they have in mind.

Tips to deliver seamless website navigation and customer experience

There are many tactics for activating frictionless website navigation. Here are a few that you can implement in your search solution and beyond:

  • Auto-complete and auto-suggest: On-site search helps shoppers, specifically those who don’t have time and already have a purchase idea, bypass the multiple steps of going through the menu and categories. Auto-complete and auto-suggest streamline that process even further by offering relevant options even before the shopper has managed to type out a full query. Add product images to auto-suggestions to make the experience even smoother.
  • Value-driven search bar: Another simple upgrade to improve your search bar is adding a textbox watermark, encouraging people to use it to get certain benefits. For instance, depending on your products or the pages your shoppers are discovering, you can add ‘find the perfect dress’ or ‘search top-rated products’ providing them with new ways to search. 
  • Dynamic wish lists: Offer shoppers the ability to save search results as wish lists, so if they’re not ready to buy just yet, they can come back and see all the relevant products at any time.
  • Better blank pages. No results pages are inevitable because your website doesn’t necessarily sell all products your customers can think of. However, totally blank pages can be a negative experience, as well as wasted real estate. Use the space to recommend related products or best sellers and keep the shopping journey going.
website navigation

2. Consistent, Accurate, and Updated Product Tags

For 94% of users, fast and easy navigation is the most useful website feature. In eCommerce, this is definitely the case. Finding products in seconds not minutes, and on a single results page, not multiple, is the focus of better navigation. eCommerce search must be connected to the overall website navigation experience—both front and backend.

An ideal infrastructure that powers on-site search and navigation sits on a foundation of robust product tags. This means product tags should not only be structured and accurately represent items in your catalog, but also reflective of the way shoppers search for products on your website.

Most consumers today use multiple words and attributes when they search. For instance, “navy dress button down cinch waist” or “abstract carpet pastel colors.”  Most on-site search engines today can’t comprehend this type of search query, make sense of the relationship between the keywords, or detect synonyms.

With visual AI, product tags are automatically enhanced with comprehensive vertical-specific attributes, down to the most granular details. When combined with natural language processing (NLP), you get an augmented search engine that can decipher human context and intent, enabling you to deliver hyper-relevant results instantly.

Tips to enhance search results and navigation with product tags

There are a couple of ways you can level up shopping journeys on your website with detailed, robust, and organized product tags.

  • Filtering and faceted search: When shoppers are in browsing mode or when they want to dig deeper into your catalog, faceted search and in-depth filtering on the results page can help improve product discovery. Allowing shoppers to narrow down results based on product tags like color, size, price, occasion, and more makes it easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Smart breadcrumbs: A related website navigation feature that rests on uniform, consistent, and accurate product data is breadcrumbs. Ordered from left to right, breadcrumbs position and share details about your products in terms of the most general (leftmost) to the specific (rightmost) information. Moreover, your customers can track not only their search history but also explore products by selecting or removing conditions separated by (>).
  • Smart merchandising: Use dynamic product tag groups to create merchandising rules that optimize search results. You can set up groups based on best-sellers, seasonal collections, or even inventory limitations. With smart merchandising, you can surface products your customers might not have come across otherwise.
eCommerce navigation

3. Personalizing Search & the Overall Experience

Shoppers of all generations appreciate when brands understand and meet their wants and needs. In fact, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase because of personalized experiences. They are also likely to pay a 16% price premium for quality customer experiences.

One-to-one search and shopping journeys can keep customers coming back to your website because you’re helping them discover products that truly match their unique tastes and preferences.

Product data and tags, combined with a visual AI engine, enable you to truly understand your shoppers and provide exactly what they expect from your brand. Because visual AI dynamically learns from the image and product data your customers are interacting with, it can refine the search results and choose products with the best match. You can then go a step further and personalize results by demographic and behavioral data.

Tips to deliver personalized search and navigation experiences

With a highly robust and dynamic site search solution, make these eCommerce website navigation best practices the core of personalized experiences your brand offer.

  • Intent and context: Gone are the days when search solutions don’t recognize long-tail semantic searches. The products shoppers are looking for usually start with an idea (“gifts for dads”) or are very specific (“black dress 70s’ party look size M”). Your on-site search and website navigation must be able to pick up on these nuances to deliver the results that each specific shopper has in mind.
  • Data and analytics: By combining data from product searches and interactions with website, you can personalize everything from your homepage layout to product recommendation carousels and search results to showcase only the most relevant items. Moreover, search data can help you understand your customers’ wants and needs, so you can adjust your inventory to reflect your shopper base.

The competition for limited consumer attention online is fiercer than ever. When you can connect shoppers with products they’re looking for in a convenient, accurate, and relevant way, you’re creating an exceptional buying experience that they will love you for.

The fewer steps it takes for customers to find products on your website, the fewer frustrations they encounter, the more delighted they are about the overall shopping journey. In return, you’ll be rewarded with higher conversion, larger basket sizes, and consistent sales from loyal customers.