E-Commerce Pros Are Failing to Optimize Site Search

March 15, 2023

Site search has long been important to e-commerce shoppers. In fact, a recent study [download page] from Nosto indicates that almost 7 in 10 go directly to the search bar when they visit an online store, with this more common among younger than older consumers. And at a time when improving the digital customer experience is key, 3 in 4 (76%) consumers agree that a good, fast, and accurate site search makes online shopping easier.

Despite the importance of site search, brands are clearly failing to live up to expectations, as 8 in 10 consumes surveyed in North America and the UK have left a site due to poor-performing search. More than 1 in 3 have left because the search results haven’t shown any relevant results, while about one-quarter have left because the results showed products that were out of stock.

There are alternatives to simply showing zero search results: the majority (56%) of respondents are likely to continue shopping on an online store if alternative products are suggested.

More than 4 in 5 (83% of) consumers feel that there’s at least one area in which online stores can improve their site search functionality. The top frustration with site search is that too many irrelevant results are shown (41%), with this historically being a top complaint. Many also are frustrated by products being shown despite being out of stock (32%), and close to 7 in 10 agree that they want search results to only show products that are in stock. Not being able to narrow down search results with filters (30%) is also a common complaint, and one-third (34%) noted that online brands could improve their site search experience by offering such filters.

E-commerce professionals separately surveyed for the report acknowledge limitations with their search functionality. About three-quarters (76%) don’t have error tolerance in their search, while close to two-thirds don’t offer personalized results (66%), don’t recommend alternative products when search results bring back zero results (65%), and can’t merchandise their search results (64%). More than half (56%) don’t have facets and filters to narrow down results.

As a result, most see opportunities to upgrade. More than 4 in 5 say that improving search results’ load speed (83%), offering alternative products where no results are found (82%), providing more relevant results (82%) and providing content within the results (81%) would improve the experience.

As such, some 84% agree that they plan to invest on continually improving their site search. Those investments will presumably be made to address pain points that 95% are experiencing in some way. The biggest pain point with site search is having unstructured product data, meaning an inability to execute fully relevant results, as cited by 29% of respondents. Others include facing too much complexity when implementing a search solution (26%) and an inability to show non-product (blogs, content, user-generated content) in search results (24%).

Finally, there appears to be a need to better measure performance metrics from site search. More than 4 in 5 don’t measure the most popular search query term that led to zero results (81%) or the click-through rate for each query (also 81%). Likewise, similar portions don’t measure the top revenue query (79%), the percentage of site visitors using search (78%), or the most popular query term (78%), among others.

For more, download the study here.

About the Data: The results are based on surveys of 2,000 North American and UK consumers and 308 senior e-commerce professionals at retail brands.


Explore More Articles.

Marketing Charts Logo

Stay on the cutting edge of marketing.

Sign up for our free newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This