40% of online visitors to a site use search functionality. But onsite search is still a very poor way of getting to results. Retailers can do a few things to improve this:
– Store all searches that led to no results
I believe most retailers are already doing this to iteratively improve results. The objective here is to isolate the biggest lost opportunities. Once identified, these queries can be directed to closest matches.
– Store all search queries that led to one category and sale in another category
Very often after a search the browser clicks on the first link, and then, through some sequence of clicks ultimately discovers what they were looking for. This purchase might highlight some correlation between the search term and the product bought. Investigating these instances could improve result relevance.
– Store all search queries that led to abandonment of site
When a browser searches and then closes the window this signals high degree of frustration. This could also signal lost future sales because the customer no longer has faith in the web site’s ability to find products. These cases need to be paid special attention to because not only do they highlight opportunities they also help identify customers that are at the last stages of patience.
– Store and call/email registered users
If a registered user is having a hard time finding something I would simply call him/her and ask what they were looking for. And slap on a discount.
– Brick store search online
People search like they think. At the store a sales associate can easily unearth the true intent of a question, a software tool can only dream. So one thing retailers could do is bring a search library from their store online. This is how it works; after a customer is satisfactorily directed to a store section the sales associate notes down his opening query (“ah, I’m looking for an air filled bed”). This index is then referenced online and linked to the product the sales associate pointed to. This is how it would work online:
Search: air filled bed
Result: customers who asked this to our sales associates found this product at our “air mattress” section, should I take you there?
Another aspect of this discussion can be seen in the screencast below (from grokdotcom.com):