E-commerce Link: Enhance Your On-site Search
For a more efficient approach to Internet sales, consider advanced search technology
Imagine you run an online store selling home furnishings. A customer comes looking for a couch and is disgusted to find that a search for “sofa” dead-ends with “no results found.” With a few clicks, he zooms over to your competition and does his shopping there. The problem, of course, is that he accidentally typed “soda” in the search query. Not your fault, but definitely your problem.
Enhanced on-site search technology can nullify this kind of random yet disastrous error, making your on-site search feature work the way your customers expect it to, thereby increasing customer satisfaction, conversion and overall sales.
The importance of providing accurate search results is clear when you look at the heavy use customers make of this tool. According to Jupiter Research Inc.’s November 2002 Jupiter Consumer Survey, 82 percent of visitors to retail Web sites use the on-site search function. Thirty-four percent of visitors head straight to the search box immediately on entering the site.
This same survey also revealed that 85 percent of the visitors who used the search tool were unhappy with the results. A report by Nielsen Norman Group (E-Commerce User Experience: Search, 2000) revealed that within a group of average Web users, only 51 percent had a successful first search attempt, with a full 20 percent giving up after a single failed attempt. That’s too many buyers encouraged to buy elsewhere.
Unsuccessful searches mean large amounts of lost revenue. Any single sale is jeopardized by bad results, and damaged customer satisfaction and decreased customer loyalty can have a very negative long-term impact.
Overcome the Failed Search
The immediate cause of a failed search and a lost sale often appears to be unfixable. After all, can you help it if the customer can’t spell? And how do you convince an ordinary keyword search application to put results in a context that is easy for customers to understand and use? These problems can be solved by getting away from outdated basic keyword-search technology.