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11 Ecommerce Search Bar Tips To Drive More Sales


Jessica Farelly

By Jessica Farrelly

The small-but-mighty ecommerce search bar is a critical tool in helping shoppers find the products they’re looking for, quickly. Although search boxes are significant drivers of revenue, retailers often pay little attention to their design, placement, and features. Unfortunately, this oversight can lead to significant missed sales opportunities.

The good news is, it’s never too late to optimize your search bar. Implement these ecommerce search box tips, sit back, and watch the sales come in.

1. Embrace top, front, and center placement 

One of the central tenets of good website design is simplicity. Your shoppers shouldn’t have to think about where to find the search bar – its location should be intuitive. 

Put your ecommerce search bar in the most obvious spot: at the top, front, and center of your website. This placement typically sees higher engagement from customers compared to top right or left placement.

2. Make your ecommerce search bar stand out

Don’t go crazy by experimenting with funky color combinations, use a white background inside the search bar to make it stand out on the page. 

And if your website’s background is white, make the search bar pop by outlining it in a contrasting color. 

3. Display your search bar loud and proud

If you don’t want to make money, the best thing you can do is obscure your ecommerce search bar. Search bars that are hidden or displayed on flyout menus see much lower engagement from customers.

If you want your shoppers to find the products they love, add them to their carts, and place orders, you have to make the search bar a key element of your website design. 

Prairie Moon Nursery does this masterfully by incorporating our first three best practices into its search box. It’s located at the top, front, and center of the website, it stands out thanks to a white background and a contrasting purple outline, and it isn’t hidden.

ecommerce search bar best practices

5. Add a search button

While the magnifying glass icon is an almost universally recognized symbol for search, some shoppers may still seek out a “search” button they can click after inputting their query, rather than hitting the enter key. Depending on your audience, this button and call to action (CTA) combination could increase your search usage. 

The secret to high-converting product displays

ecommerce merchandising high converting product displays

6. Embrace whitespace

Give your search box breathing room. Ecommerce retailers that liberally use whitespace typically see better engagement than stores that clutter their search bar.

Whitespace refers to blank space between page elements. As you can see on Beer Cartel’s website below, whitespace doesn’t have to be white. They embrace the black background of their website’s header and use it to draw attention to their contrasting white search bar.

ecommerce search box

7. Use helpful placeholder text

Having placeholder text in your search bar can serve as a call to action and help inspire shoppers to begin typing.

There are a variety of approaches you can take when it comes to placeholder text. Beer Cartel uses a simple CTA of “search Beer Cartel” to prompt shoppers.

placeholder text

Prairie Moon Nursery, which specializes in selling plants that are native to the United States, uses placeholder text to prompt shoppers to browse their wide selection.

online shopping experience

Outdoor furniture company AuthenTEAK takes a different approach by posing a question to engage shoppers.

ecommerce search box

8. Ensure your ecommerce search box is mobile-friendly

A search bar that is too large for mobile screens can cause major usability issues and lead shoppers to abandon your website. If your code isn’t mobile-friendly, ask your developer to fix that problem ASAP!

9. Make your search bar accessible

Fifteen percent of people worldwide and 19% of the U.S. population have a disability. If your search bar isn’t accessible to users with all kinds of abilities, you could miss out on reaching a significant segment of the market.

10. Offer persisting search 

It’s important to configure your site search so that customers’ queries don’t disappear from the bar after they’ve conducted a search. Why? Shoppers typically search three to five variations of queries before they leave a website if they can’t find what they’re looking for. 

If a customer’s last search query is still in the search bar, they can easily add a word to conduct a new search that could prove fruitful. Having to retype the original query adds friction and can lead shoppers to give up in one or two searches, rather than three, four, or five. 

Plus, retyping searches is especially annoying on small smartphone screens!

11. Implement predictive search results 

Assist customers in their hunt for the perfect item with predictive search results. You can configure your search bar to preview results, autocomplete queries, suggest products, let shoppers filter through results, and more. 

Predictive search results can help shoppers find what they want faster, and can even guide them to products they didn’t know they needed, boosting your average order value.

ecommerce predictive search

Cleaning supply company Zogics incorporates all of these predictive search features in their ecommerce search bar. A search for “trash” shows autocomplete suggestions like “trash can” and “trash bags.” It also displays product images, names, and prices to inform and entice shoppers. Customers can also easily narrow down products with facets like category, type, and style. 

Optimize your ecommerce search bar to boost sales

Making small changes to your ecommerce search box can have a significant impact on your store’s revenue. Experiment by implementing a combination of these best practices to help shoppers find what they’re looking for with minimal effort. Fortunately, you don’t have to make these changes on your own. Find out more about Searchspring’s site search solution, or get up to speed on more search best practices here.

Jessica Farelly

Jessica FarrellyContent Marketing Manager, Searchspring

Jessica has worked as a content writer for B2B and B2C businesses in a variety of industries. An avid online shopper, she has become immersed in everything that goes on behind the scenes of ecommerce since joining the Searchspring team, and loves writing about the latest trends and happenings in the industry.

Special thanks to our friends at Searchspring for their insights on this topic.
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