6 eCommerce Site Search Best Practices (+ Examples)

Empower your customers to navigate your eCommerce store seamlessly by implementing site search best practices.

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By Arjel Vajvoda
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Edited by Nelsy Mtsweni
Oli Kashti - Writer and Fact-Checker for Fast Simon
Fact-check by Oli Kashti

Published June 16, 2024.

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When customers land on your eCommerce site, they focus on finding what they need quickly and effortlessly. An effective site search strategy can make all the difference in delivering a stellar shopping experience while boosting your profit.

Your site search isn't just a feature; it's a powerful tool that directly impacts customer satisfaction and sales. Implementing these best practices will empower shoppers to seamlessly navigate your eCommerce universe, leaving them impressed and eager to return.

Meet the Expert

Arjel Vajvoda, Head of Product at Motomtech, leverages her extensive experience in customer support to craft user-focused SaaS products with innovative documentation solutions.

Fast Simon infographic showing the six eCommerce site search best practices

The search bar is your customer's gateway to your product catalog, and its visibility can make or break their shopping journey. When you prominently showcase the search bar, you encourage users to engage with your site's search function, leading to:

  • Increased engagement
  • Improved user experience
  • Potentially higher conversion rates
  • Reduced bounce rates

By implementing responsive web design and leveraging content management systems, you can ensure the search bar remains noticeable across all devices and screen sizes.

Don't let design limitations hold you back. Striking the right balance between aesthetics and functionality is crucial.

» Using Shopify? Make sure to check out our guide to the Shopify search bar

While the investment may involve web development or CMS platforms, the payoff is well worth it—a visible search bar is a scalable feature that will remain vital as user-centric design continues to shape eCommerce trends.

Example: Take inspiration from eCommerce giants like Amazon, whose highly visible search bar with contrasting colors (a white bar on a dark background) significantly enhances site usability and user satisfaction.

Screenshot of the Amazon homepage showing their prominent contrasting search bar

» Don't forget to optimize your B2C eCommerce site search

2. Harness Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Have you ever wished your site could understand conversational language the way humans do? Natural language processing (NLP) makes this a reality, improving the interpretation and processing of user queries for enhanced search relevance and customer experience.

By integrating NLP, you could enjoy the following benefits:

  • Better comprehension of user intent
  • Increased search accuracy
  • Personalized experiences
  • Efficient customer support through NLP-driven chatbots.

» Struggling with shopper intent? Don't forget semantic search

While accurately interpreting diverse linguistic expressions and integrating NLP with existing systems can be challenging, the rewards are well worth the investment. With NLP, you'll future-proof your site for more predictive, personalized search capabilities and potential integration with voice search technologies.

Example: Sephora's implementation of NLP-powered chatbots, for instance, significantly boosted orders by providing seamless customer assistance.

Screenshot of Sephora makeup page showing conversation with a chatbot providing makeup tips

3. Embrace the Power of Autocomplete

Have you ever encountered a customer hesitating to search or fumbling with product names? AI-based autocomplete is your secret weapon to combat these challenges. By offering query suggestions as users type, you could leverage the following benefits:

  • Faster search process
  • Reduced typing errors
  • User-friendly search experience
  • Improved conversion rates through higher user engagement

By leveraging natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning, autocomplete capabilities can continuously improve and adapt to changing user behaviors.

While integrating this feature with existing systems presents a challenge, the investment in AI and NLP technologies will future-proof your site, ensuring it stays ahead of the curve as autocomplete becomes more predictive and personalized.

» Learn more: Benefits of eCommerce site search autocomplete

Example: Take ASOS, for instance. Their search feature accurately predicts user queries, significantly enhancing the shopping experience and demonstrating a deep understanding of customer needs.

Screenshot of the ASOS homepage showing their search bar with autocomplete functionality

» Don't forget about Shopify predictive search

4. Optimize for Mobile Shoppers

In today's mobile-first world, optimizing your eCommerce site for mobile devices is a necessity. By addressing the challenges of smaller screens and different user behaviors, you'll enhance the shopping experience for your on-the-go customers, leading to:

  • Higher conversion rates
  • Lower bounce rates
  • Equal engagement for mobile and desktop shoppers
Whether you leverage responsive web design or opt for eCommerce platforms with built-in mobile optimization features, the key is ensuring consistent search functionality across devices without compromising performance or load times.

» Have a mobile app? Here's how to add search functionality

While the investment required may vary from minimal to significant, mobile optimization is a scalable solution that will continue to grow in importance as mobile-first browsing becomes the norm. This will pave the way for future technologies like voice search and augmented reality.

Example: Luvme Hair demonstrates excellent mobile optimization by providing a rich instant search interface on mobile, displaying product attributes like thumbnails, reviews, and prices effectively and catering to the mobile shopping experience​​.

Screenshot of Luvme Hair's mobile search functionality

» Don't forget about crucial site search statistics

5. Leverage Filters and Sorting Options

Imagine a customer searching for a specific product on your site, only to be overwhelmed by irrelevant results. This frustration can quickly lead to abandoned carts and lost sales. That's where filters and sorting options come into play, enabling efficient navigation and decision-making for a heightened user experience.

By implementing faceted search systems and responsive merchandising design, you'll empower customers to personalize their shopping journey, leading to:

  • Improved navigation
  • Heightened satisfaction
  • Increased conversion rates in your online merchandising strategy

» Confused? Start with the difference between product search and product discovery

While balancing user interface design with performance optimization can be a challenge, the investment in filters and sorting options is well worth it. As your product range grows and user preferences evolve, these features will become even more essential, with future trends pointing towards integrating AI for predictive filtering.

Example: Nike offers detailed, category-specific filters like “activity,” “technology,” and “closure type,” aligning with user needs and brand values.

Screenshot of the Nike website showing their advanced product filter search options

6. Invest in Relevant and Rich Product Information

In the eCommerce world, comprehensive and accurate product information is vital. By furnishing thorough and relevant details, you'll not only enhance customer understanding but also facilitate informed purchasing decisions, leading to higher conversion rates and lower returns.

While maintaining accuracy, consistency, and striking the right balance between detail and clarity can be challenging, investing in content creation, product information management (PIM) systems, and visual search will future-proof your site for personalized and interactive experiences, such as augmented reality.

» Think your descriptions need work? Here's how AI can help

Example: International Military Antiques leverages rich descriptions, high-quality visuals, and effective content management to significantly boost conversions.

Screenshot of the International Military Antiques website showing detailed product descriptions

» Don't forget to include searching within collections

Embracing the Future of eCommerce

In today's eCommerce landscape, embracing trends like AR/VR integration, voice search optimization, and AI-driven personalization is crucial. Prioritize ethical and sustainable practices to resonate with conscious consumers.

Implementing these strategies alongside site search best practices will enhance customer satisfaction and future-proof your eCommerce presence. Remember, a site search engine is a powerful tool that can make or break the shopping experience. Embracing these best practices will empower your customers and encourage their return.