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The 4 Different Types Of Ecommerce Product Search


For online shoppers, there’s nothing more frustrating than an ecommerce product search that leads to irrelevant results. Especially when the site carries the product in question but just can’t accommodate the search query. 

As an online retailer, it’s important to understand the different types of ecommerce product searches that customers may be conducting on your site so you’re prepared for all search-related scenarios. 

Having a search bar that can interpret the intent behind various search types is key to delivering relevant results within each context. That way, even if you don’t offer the specific products they’re searching for, you’re not leaving your site visitors with zero results pages and subpar user experiences. 

Ecommerce product search type #1: general searches 

When you walk into BestBuy, everything is organized so that you can immediately locate the department you need. Looking for laptops? Great, head over to the laptop section and start browsing the models that suit your requirements. 

Likewise, when someone visits an online store, they may want to bypass your homepage and navigation and head straight to the products they’re looking for. This is when they might turn to your search bar and type something like “Acer laptop” to start browsing results.  

This customer has an idea of what they’re looking for; they know they want to buy a laptop and Acer is the brand that interests them the most. The intent to purchase is there, but they are possibly still in the research phase and a little further off converting than a shopper who inputs a more specific search. 

Providing filtering options within search results can help these shoppers narrow down all of the available options to find the products that best meet their needs. By encouraging them to select their preferred screen size, price range, and various other features, you’re gently guiding them along the path to purchase. Making relevant suggestions within your search autocomplete is another smart way to prompt shoppers to view more specific results.

ecommerce product search with autocompleteBonus tip: include inline banners in the product results to link to any buying guides you offer. This gives overwhelmed or undecided shoppers an alternative way to continue their research – while still keeping them on your site. 

Ecommerce product search type #2: use case and/or symptom searches 

This type of product search is quite common: the shopper doesn’t know the precise product they need, but they do know the problem they’re trying to solve. 

In a mall, this customer might walk into Sephora and ask for recommendations based on their skin type or concerns. The sales assistant will make some suggestions, and help the shopper to find the best product for their needs. 

Similarly, when this shopper visits an online store, they might type “dry skin” into the search bar as the first step in finding the perfect moisturizer. However, if the store doesn’t have skin type set up as a searchable data field in this instance, the shopper may end up landing on “no results found,” despite the fact there are many suitable products available. 

To avoid scenarios like this one, online retailers should regularly analyze and review search behavior data to gain an understanding of how customers search, and which attributes matter most to them. There is no one-size-fits all rule for which data fields should be searchable on your store, your approach should always be tailored to your specific audience. 

Search reports will also highlight opportunities for synonyms and redirects to accommodate this type of product search. If, for example, you see a spike in searches for “hay fever” every spring, you could set up a dedicated landing page featuring antihistamine and other allergy-relief products, and redirect hay fever-related searches straight to these results.  

By getting this right, you’re essentially setting your search bar up to understand the intent behind non-product search queries, ensuring shoppers have a seamless experience. 

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