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How To Optimize Your Search And Discovery Experience On Shopify


Shoppers are looking for what you’re selling at this very moment. According to Statista, ecommerce websites receive an average of 2 billion visits every month. Most visitors either use your store’s search to look for what they need, or find what interests them through recommendations from your website. Those who use the search bar are 2 to 3 times more likely to convert than those who don’t, according to a Forrester Report.

At Shopify, we know that efficient, effective search and discovery makes all the difference for success. That’s why we’re not only improving the search and discovery capabilities we already provide to Shopify merchants.  Now, our new Search & Discover app supports a better online experience—helping business owners create an online experience that can boost sales and build customer loyalty.

Why does search and discovery matter?  

Shoppers don’t have time to waste. When they struggle to find what they want or don’t see something that piques their interest, they click away. After a poor search experience on a website, 85% of shoppers said they changed their perception of that brand.

Enhancing and optimizing your site’s search and discovery features can give you an edge over competitors by enabling you to:

  • Influence which products shoppers see first. You know your customers best, and are best positioned to know which items in your inventory will appeal to them.
  • Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Giving shoppers what they want, when they want it saves them time. And helping them discover other items they may need increases the likelihood they’ll return.
  • Convert more leads into customers. Using search increases the odds high-intent shoppers (2 to 3 times more likely) will turn into customers and make a purchase.
  • Increase your sales. High-intent shoppers know what they want when they land on your website and are not only more likely to buy, they also tend to spend more. They will spend, on average, 2.6 times more than those who visit a website to browse. (Think about the customer who walks into a shop and asks for something specific versus the one who is “just looking.”) Finding what they want quickly and easily may leave shoppers more open to discovering other items.

Search versus discovery—which is more important?

“Search” and “discovery” might seem redundant, but in fact each of these words describes a different action. When we search for something, we usually know what we’re looking for. Maybe we want a wide red belt to cinch a white summer dress, so we go to our favorite online store and head for the search bar. If we find what we’re looking for without a lot of trouble, that’s a successful search. If we also see a recommendation on the belt’s product page showing a matching bag or shoes that complete the look, that’s a discovery.

For ecommerce sites, a simple, speedy search experience is essential to making sales and earning customer loyalty. Good discovery features that offer shoppers relevant items—showing the right products to the right customers at the right time—can boost your current and future sales even more. Our native search and discovery features, and the built by Shopify app gives you the flexibility to customize both. 

3 Tips for optimizing your site’s search, product recommendation, and filtering settings

Giving your customers the very best search and discovery experience can pay off in conversions, sales, customer loyalty, and even customer evangelism. Here’s how you optimize search for your customers:

Tip #1: Keep results relevant

When customers come to your site looking for pants, do you know which search terms they’ll use? The words customers use for the same item can vary even if they’re all speaking the same language. Among English-language speakers, for instance, a pair of pants can be “trousers,” “pants,” “slacks,” “jeans,” or “leggings.“ In fact, Merriam-Webster lists 40 pants-related synonyms.

That’s why it’s best to include as many synonyms and variations on a term as possible in your site content, inventory listings, and especially product search tags lest you miss serving up the right options to a shopper seeking yellow corduroy pants (“cords,” perhaps?) or paisley jumpsuit (“pantsuit”? “onesie”?).

Colors can be especially tricky to get right. The spectrum is vast; there’s a reason why the big box of crayons comes in 64 hues. “Yellow” is yellow, but what about “lemon,” “chartreuse,” “butter,” “amber,” “gold,” or “honey”? And then there’s “yellow-orange,” “orange-yellow,” “light yellow,” “yellowish-green”, etc.

Tip #2: Let searchers customize asks

Adding filters to your search engine lets shoppers get specific about what they’re looking for and saves them time. Are they looking for a particular size? Color? Fabric? If they want those mustard cords in size XL, but all you have are small sizes, don’t waste their time. However, you might recommend a pair of XL violet jeans—perhaps at a discount.

Tip #3: Delight them with discoveries 

There’s a reason why fast-food workers invariably ask, “Would you like fries with that?” Suggestive selling works. 

Suggesting additional items to customers—known in the ecommerce world as “cross-sells”—can increase your sales and customer satisfaction if done right.

You see what they’re seeking or ordering, and you can enhance their purchase with something extra: matching lipstick with their blush purchase; an umbrella with the raincoat they’re buying; extra brush heads for their electric toothbrush. And if they’re having trouble deciding, cross-selling can present them with possible alternatives.

Improving search and discovery on Shopify

As a business owner, you can already add search and discovery tools such as product recommendations through your Shopify theme settings. If you’re using theme settings, you may have noticed it already recommends alternative choices and presents items frequently purchased with the products customers are browsing.

The Shopify Search & Discovery app is now available in the App Store. You already know your customers best: now, you’ll have what you need to influence their search and discovery experiences.

Search & Discovery app FAQ

This app:

  • Empowers customers to filter their searches and category results. Customers can now quickly find what they want, improving their experience with your website and your brand.
  • Increases your top-selling products’ visibility by recommending them to shoppers through product boosts.
  • Customizes how you cross-sell items relevant to the shopper’s selections on your website, possibly boosting sales.

Add the app

Your customers’ search and discovery experiences may influence whether they do business with you or not. We’re committed to our merchants’ success by providing you with the very best technologies to serve, delight, and retain customers.

This originally appeared on Shopify and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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