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Customers everywhere love choice. And when you sell online, giving shoppers choice means making sure they can find what you have to sell, and making it easy for them to compare and contrast different product or service options. 

Site search can be one of the most useful tools in your ecommerce toolbox for helping website visitors browse products and information quickly and easily, and view search results in ways that best fit their needs.

With a user-friendly site search experience, visitors are more likely to convert, and more likely to return to your site for more purchases.

Here are some ideas, taken from our Big Book of Site Search Tips, to help you create an engaging and user-friendly site search experience that can more easily attract visitors to the products they want to buy.

Make content easy to access

Retailers creating compelling content like videos and blog posts, who are also building a presence on social networks, need to display this content so that visitors can easily find it within search results.

For example, by adding tabs to search results or showing different types of content on different parts of the screen, this non-product content is highly visible to visitors. 

Show search suggestions

It’s a good idea to display search suggestions on the search results page. Search suggestions are terms related to the term typed in the search box, and can give visitors more ideas for what to search for.

Show these suggestions at the top of the page and at the bottom of the page below the search results. Adding these suggestions can encourage visitors to view more product: according to our research, about 25% of site visitors will click on a search suggestion.

Let visitors view grid or list results

Grid views are useful for product searches that generate many results. Depending on the size of product images, you can display three, four, or five images across the page, which means you can show many more products above the fold.

On the other hand, using a list view, you can provide more in-depth descriptions of products, along with shipping costs and product ratings. If you allow visitors to choose which format they prefer, they will enjoy having the flexibility in how results are displayed.

Provide search result sorting options

Many advanced search engines can sort results by multiple criteria. For instance, visitors may wish to sort results by price, most recent, brand, star rating, alphabetical order, or other criteria.

In addition, your social network-savvy visitors may want to see items with the highest number of Facebook likes or Pinterest pins first. 

Add Quick View windows

Visitors gain the ability to see more product information without leaving the search page if you add a Quick View button that opens a product detail window.

These windows remove the need for visitors to load the entire product page, and help them narrow down their product choices faster.

Quick View buttons can appear when shoppers hover over product images on search pages, or you can place them below product images so they are always visible. 

Display inventory status

Shoppers want to know if a product is available before they go through checkout, so adding stock or inventory information to search results is a big help.

Include an icon that says something like “In Stock” or “Out of Stock” in search results next to each item. Shoppers can then easily find other items to purchase if their first choice is out of stock, and they’ll be less frustrated and more likely to remain on your site.

Your search engine can also display only items that are in stock, or give a higher rank to those that are in stock.

When you offer these user-friendly features within site search, you can help customers find items they’re looking for in a more streamlined way – but you also place visitors in control of their own shopping experience, which always helps increase customer loyalty.

Vishal Srivastava

Published 28 March, 2013 by Vishal Srivastava

Vishal Srivastava is Team Lead - European Sales at SLI Systems Ltd and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

5 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Becky - Cralwer Carriers

Having multiple viewing features like grid and list are wonderful but for some companies, those features are expensive to install. Is that a price you pay and enjoy the fruits of the better user experiences or is that a cost that should be passed on thru the price our your products? My angle is this, if it improves your customers' experience, it's worth it but don't make them pay for it. They didn't ask for it but are going to be glad you have it.

about 3 years ago

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Deborah Anderson

Wow. That is taking "search" to a whole new level. Very creative approaches - thanks for sharing your ideas!

about 3 years ago

Vishal Srivastava

Vishal Srivastava, Team Lead - European Sales at SLI Systems

Thanks for your comments! If you have any questions, please forward it to me via email. vish@sli-systems.com

about 3 years ago

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