Ask most regular users of the internet about how they find things and they’ll likely start with Google. The search giant is the most frequently used entry point for the web, with an estimated nine billion searches happening per day.
Want an example of the power of on-site search? Typical ecommerce conversion rates are about 3%. These best online retailers far exceed that. Amazon is at 10-15%, and a big reason for that is the amount of resources they put into their own search functionality.
This should be a lesson for enterprise ecommerce websites. Don’t rely on external search engines to attract customers. Invest in and optimize your own enterprise search engine that is customized to index your site to not just attract customers, but also connect them directly with products as well.
What Makes Enterprise Ecommerce Search Special
Search on ecommerce platforms is more specialized than other search functionality. Especially at the enterprise level, the search has to handle passive product catalogs and — potentially — millions of items.
It has to deliver highly relevant results and understand how to personalize them based on past activity. It can even help with pricing.
Lastly, the site search should also move beyond basic keywords to include advanced features such as auto-suggestions.
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Why Enterprise Businesses Need in a Search Engine
A search engine brings order to chaos. Enterprise sites are going to have a large amount of products and can be overwhelming for the customer.
A good search engine with these key functions provides a quality user experience and helps buyers find what they want.
Help customers by predicting what they’re searching for before they finish typing it out. Suggest keywords and products that are relevant to their query to help guide them where they want to go and provide a better search experience.
Natural Language Processing (NLP).
NLP uses AI and machine learning to better understand queries. It improves the search function to deliver more relevant results and understand complex language like synonyms. It can also improve search results for users that don’t necessarily speak the site’s language.
Scalable and reliable.
Your search function should be able to grow with your site. That’s the thing about successful enterprise ecommerce stores: they get bigger. Your search should be capable of handling more queries and serving more products quickly and seamlessly.
Tolerant of typos.
Typos are a normal part of the modern internet experience. Especially with mobile devices becoming the dominant way we engage with digital services, typos have become accepted.
A good search engine will recognize this and deliver results for misspelled words instead of showing none. It will understand search term intent.
Like everything on the internet, ecommerce business search should be optimized for the mobile experience. It should deliver the same quality of experience as the desktop version.
Ability to customize.
Don’t settle for a standard out-of-the box experience. Your solution should be flexible enough to meet your specific needs and provide a unique customer journey.
Providing a personalized search experience that takes in account past behavior will increase conversion rates and online shopping revenue. Showing them previously viewed products and matching search to past purchases are good ways to spur new buys.
Machine Learning/AI Capabilities.
A good search is always evolving, even in real time. AI and machine learning help your search grow as your customers change. Tastes and trends will come and go and new products will be introduced. AI and ML help search keep up with the times.
Don’t produce a basic results page. Include faceted search filtering to help customers better pinpoint exactly what they’re looking for. The search engine can analyze the attributes of results to enable the customer to identify the ideal product.
Data is currency and one of an ecommerce company’s biggest assets. A healthy analytics function tells you more about your customers such as how they’re using your site or why — or why not — they made a purchase.
Search analytics show how easy it is for customers to find products
Your search function can actually be a sales channel. Including listings related to a product search or banner ads are easy ways to promote products on one of your site’s most trafficked pages.
Ecommerce Search Software Deployment Options
You have options for how to implement your search function. Some options may be better, depending on where your company is. There’s not a right or wrong, just the best answer for your specific requirements for an ecommerce site search.
Included with your ecommerce software.
An all-in-one solution may be best for early and growth companies who don’t have a ton of resources to use for an ecommerce search engine. It’s convenient and usually cost-effective, although they’re typically not particularly flexible.
SaaS-based search solutions.
SaaS providers (think Klevu, Elasticsearch, Semantic or Algolia) can be customized and maintenance of these APIs is typically low. Integrations of these site search solutions may or may not be easy, but once completed, customers should have an excellent experience.
Open-source search software.
Open-source solutions are highly customizable and can usually deliver whatever you need. However, they can also be resource hogs, both in time and talent, and maintenance may be burdensome.
How to Best Integrate Search Software on an Enterprise Website
Search should enhance your site’s UI, not overwhelm it. By subtly including it in the site design, you’re making it easily accessible and encouraging use. This includes having a clean search results page.
Include it on every page.
It’s standard practice to include the search bar in the site header so that it’s readily available, on every page. Don’t make customers, well, search for the search. Deliver user-friendly search capabilities to them.
Make the search box long enough.
The box should be long enough for complex search queries. Research suggests that 27 characters is an ideal length to meet search relevance needs.
Don’t forget about placeholder text.
Placeholder text helps signal that the search box is active. You can use this space as a call to action to encourage its use.
Replatforming Guide: A Roadmap for Migrating Your Ecommerce Store
Make your ecommerce replatforming project a success with our step-by-step guide filled with best practices from enterprise migration experts.
The Final Word
Large enterprise companies should not rely on Google to be the search tool that connects customers to products. A robust, site-specific search function is key to helping buyers find relevant products, or even discover a product they didn’t know they needed.
Integrating a best-in-class solution that delivers relevant search results is a fairly simple way to make your site easier to navigate, have better conversion rates and increase revenue.