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What is Site Search and What’s Its Role in eCommerce?

eCommerce managers know that there are a variety of tricks out there for drawing people deeper and deeper into their online stores. From splash pages and banners, to recommendation features and popups, it’s easy enough to grab people’s attention when they’re on your site and show them things they might like.

But what about when it comes to showing them what they need?

tablet site search

You can give someone hundreds of suggestions, but if you’re unable to give them what they need — the product that brought them to your website or online store — the sale is almost always going to be lost. Therefore, on-site search is tremendously important: it’s your website’s ability to respond directly to your customers’ needs.

Understanding site search and its role

The on-site search function of your eCommerce website is the best salesman you have. Consider it in simplest terms; just like a shopper might ask for help finding something in a brick and mortar store, they’re going to ask your site search if something is available on your website. Just as a salesman would take a customer to a product, your site search is going to respond in kind, offering up these same results.

Likewise, having a site search function that doesn’t work appropriately or effectively is like having an unmotivated or unhelpful employee. As an employee might give a vague answer or not pay attention to what the customer is asking, a lackluster site search is going to return results that only serve to frustrate a shopper.

The moral of the story is this: just as you might evaluate an employee’s performance after hiring them, it’s important to evaluate your eCommerce site search to make sure your customers are getting the help they need and creating the sales you rely on to stay in business.

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Interpreting customer needs

The biggest criticism of eCommerce retailers versus their brick and mortar counterparts is the lack of face-to-face interaction. How are you supposed to get the help you need without a person there to deliver it? What happens if I can’t find a specific product and need to describe it to a salesperson?

Once, these criticisms were legitimate — antiquated text and keyword search algorithms didn’t always do the best job of helping customers find what they were looking for. Today, however, they remain largely unfounded thanks to the innovations set forth by Natural Language Processing (semantic). Through NLP, on-site searches can decipher customer needs beyond just keywords or attribute matching — they’re able to function like a serviceable employee, to return search results that are indicative of a customer’s true needs.

With semantic technology at the helm of your eCommerce site search it’s possible to not only understand customers’ needs, but to deliver them. This, at its core, is the most valuable trait of any successful eCommerce website.

Offering customers a robust way to buy

Is your on-site search making it simple for customers to find exactly what they’re looking for? Your search results data will absolutely tell you. If you’re losing visitors after a search or two, there’s a good chance your search function isn’t living up to your expectations - you’ve got yourself an employee that needs to be thoroughly evaluated based on performance.

Natural language processing is your new candidate for employee of the month - you just have to give it the opportunity to show you its potential.


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