Searchandising is a unique eCommerce duo that combines search and merchandising. It is the art and science of curating search results in a way that boosts sales, drives KPIs and satisfies customer needs. Merchants criteria can be set and met though creating site search results relevant both to the shopper and store.
The importance of site search is no secret; a large percentage of eCommerce shoppers are high-intent buyers who head straight to the search bar, and these shoppers have a high conversion rate. For these people; searchandising is crucial.
Site search is something that needs maintenance, fine-tuning and A/B testing. It’s not a given. Searchandising augments established search techniques with behavioral data and automation to create personalized, unique and profitable search experiences.
How Does Searchandising Work?
Searchandising works by layering business specific rules over basic relevance rules. This means that the company can dynamically adapt to business objectives by changing, boosting or burying products within search according to current relevancy. An advanced level of searchandising leverages analytics data to refine search results further. These results can detect user intent and trends, and merchandise search queries and keywords to reflect these. They can also identify underperforming queries or trending topics, which can be incredibly helpful.
Rather than manually creating merchandising rules in search, searchandising incorporates machine learning algorithms to sort products. Removing the manual, labor intensive system in favor of a self-optimized solution generates great results.
Searchandising offers rankings according to a range of business intents such as:
- Relevant results
- Business rules and logic
- CRM data
- Behavioral data
- Synonyms and new language
- Product performance score
Why Should I Searchandise?
Site search must provide relevant results, but searchandising offers relevant results for both shopper and merchant at once. The goal isn’t to overload the customer with best offers, it’s to find the best offer for them personally, even if they may not know what that is. The outcome is creating grateful customers, who are more likely to return.
A good searchandising system reduces decision fatigue, and creates a smooth and seamless shopping journey with easy product discovery. It highlights the importance of product curation, as it creates personalized shopping experiences that focus more on the customer experience than the company brand.
Golden Rules For Searchandising
A few considerations to take before starting your searchandising journey are:
- Make sure you understand business priorities and goals; what are you trying to achieve through your searchandising strategy?
- Define ranking and merchandising factors: what metric or KPI will you use to measure the success of your strategy?
- Implement algorithms, and monitor performance: keep a close eye on how your strategy is doing.
As with any changes in eCommerce, when algorithms are implemented they need to be observed to watch for any possible improvements. There is always room for refinements according to analytics and business decisions, which should be regularly reviewed.
A strategy is necessary for successful searchandising. It defines which algorithms make the most sense for the business, incorporating seasonality, trends and objectives into site search. Here are some strategies you might find helpful:
1. Business Rules First
You may decide that your strategy should be based mainly on your business rules. This means manual input so the site search solution can understand all facets of your business. These rules can be related to variables that affect the search such as profit margin, availability, discounts, shipping options, release dates etc.
These rules can boost new products, brand products, or customer approved products. They could create customer collections or bundles specifically for relevant products at the time. They could boost higher product margins if increasing conversions is the goal, or include embedded product listings. The decision is up to you.
Putting business rules first as a strategy involves setting out a clear strategy with a goal to be achieved, and getting to work to achieve this.
2. Automated Promotions
Automated promotions are commonly put on landing pages, but these can also be placed in search pages. Site search content and search results can be dynamically altered in order to create hotter leads, depending on what’s being promoted.
Promotional banners can be placed near the search bar, and promotional badges regarding new arrivals, bundles and last chance products can be incorporated. Searchandising can ensure that promotions are viewed in the same place the shopper is engaging with.
Automated personalization creates optimized customer experiences. Through learning from past behavior data, or CRM profiles, products can be displayed in ways that are relevant to personal user preferences. This spikes their interest, and improves their shopping experience. If a shopper has shopped for a certain product, showing them more of the same shows that you care about their buying journey.
The powerful benefits of personalization are no secret, and searchandising is no exception to this rule.
4. NLP and AI Machine Learning
Shoppers need relevant results no matter the words they use in their search queries. AI and NLP help understand variances in search keywords, meaning that misspellings or alternative words discern the intent and still produce the correct results through synonyms and deep understanding. As long as shoppers are seeing relevant results, the merchant can focus on their rules to drive conversions and profits.
Searchandising means that no matter the language, relevant curated results are viewed by the shopper.
The analytics produced through a site search solution offers huge insight into customer intent and behavior. This shouldn’t be overlooked. The clickstream gives insight into a portrait of your customers, as well as their actions, which can be used to make smarter decisions about merchandising.
Analytics help companies identify trends that can be put to use by the merchant. The dashboard can suggest resolutions to common issues, and highlight the relationship between products and customers which influence the direction your business needs to take.
Once you understand why your customers behave a certain way, reasons behind high performance areas, purchase themes or exit rates become clear. This removes friction and creates better brand outcomes. Automated searchandising continues to self–optimize and automate over time. It can continue to scale and refine itself through machine learning, increasing the benefits for the merchant.
6. A/B Testing
As with anything else in eCommerce, once something is implemented, it should not be forgotten. Tests should be constantly conducted in order to stay on top of customer behavior. The results from A/B testing don’t always reflect expectations. The realities of customers may be different, even if it may seem illogical. Staying flexible and open to change is key in order for a successful searchandising strategy.
Searchandising should be part of an overall strategy, not just a standalone. When incorporated into the rest of business goals, searchandising can retain customers, grow profit margins and create experiences that keeps shoppers coming back.