5 Strategies for Optimizing Your B2C eCommerce Site Search

A prominent, user-friendly search bar is the gateway to optimizing the entire search experience on your eCommerce site.

Jameela Ghann - Writer for Fast Simon
By Jameela Ghann
a woman wearing a suit and a black shirt
Edited by Nelsy Mtsweni
Oli Kashti - Writer and Fact-Checker for Fast Simon
Fact-check by Oli Kashti

Updated May 20, 2024.

eCommerce merchant sitting in front of a laptop computer depicting a B2C Shopify store with intuitive site search

Site search significantly influences the customer experience and, ultimately, your business's bottom line. Approximately 30% of eCommerce visitors use the internal site search function, with those users converting up to six times higher than non-site search visitors. These figures underline the importance of optimizing site search on your B2C eCommerce platform. Let’s go deeper into the challenges and strategies you can employ to optimize your site search and, consequently, boost conversions.

Meet the Expert

Jameela Ghann is an e-commerce and marketing expert with more than 10 years of experience. Apart from running her own successful online store, Alora Boutique, she's the marketing manager of Fera.ai.

A well-optimized site search is not just about making it easier for your customers to find products. It’s also a gold mine of valuable data. Every search on your site provides insights into what your customers want and how they describe it.

This knowledge allows you to tailor your product assortment, descriptions, and even your marketing messages to more closely mirror the language and desires of your customers, achieving a higher level of personalization. An effective site search function is like having a dedicated market research team working around the clock to inform your strategy.

» Learn how you can optimize your site search with Fast Simon

Fast Simon infographic showing the 5 strategies for optimizing your eCommerce site search

1. Promote User-friendly Search Bar and Filters

The search bar is the primary entry point for your customers to find what they're looking for on your site. Therefore, it's crucial to make it prominent, user-friendly, and effective, just like Amazon does in the following examples:

Prominent Placement and Intuitive Design

Place the search bar in a highly visible location on your site, preferably at the top of the page. Consider using a pre-filled bar with prompts like "type in what you're looking for" to encourage user engagement and leveraging autocomplete to help guide them along. Ensure the search bar is large enough to be easily noticed and used.

A screenshot of the Amazon homepage showing their intuitive search bar

Direct Searching and Filtering

Allow customers to search directly from the results page, enabling them to refine their queries without navigating back to the main search bar. Additionally, add product filters on the results page, such as price range, color, size, or other relevant personalized product suggestions, to help customers narrow their search results.

Screenshot of the Amazon results page for "monitor" showing the filtering capabilities

Multilingual Support Integration

If your eCommerce business operates in multiple languages or targets international customers, providing multilingual search support enhances user experience. This is because the integration increases accessibility for non-English speakers and broadens market reach, ultimately boosting sales and customer satisfaction.

Customers should be able to change the language of your website, but it should also be intuitive enough to identify when another language is being used and prompt the change intuitively. This can be achieved through website coding workarounds or by integrating third-party language translation tools.

Amazon search results showing support for multilingual queries (espanol)

» Learn more: Our ultimate guide to the Shopify search bar

2. Optimize Product Data

Accurate and relevant search results are the backbone of a successful eCommerce search experience. To achieve this, you must optimize your product data and categorization.

Organized Product Categories and Labeling

Organize your products into categories with great descriptions that make sense to your customers, using terms they would naturally use to search for those items. Avoid arbitrary or branded category names that may confuse or mislead users. Ensure consistent and accurate product labeling, including variations in spelling, abbreviations, and synonyms.

Example: Superbalist not only has their primary categories efficiently presented on the homepage but also nests sub-categories and collections under their primary ones.

Screenshot of the Superbalist homepage showing the categories listed on the homepage

Screenshot of the superbalist homepage showing the subcategories nested under the main categories

Synonym and Misspelling Recognition

Incorporate synonym recognition into your search function to account for variations in how customers may phrase their queries (this is called natural language processing). Additionally, implement misspelling recognition to ensure that common misspellings or alternative spellings still return relevant results.

3. Ensure Mobile Compatibility

With the rise of mobile commerce, optimizing your site search for mobile devices is crucial. Here are some key considerations:

Responsive Design and Speed Optimization

Ensure that your eCommerce site and search function are optimized for mobile devices, with a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes. Prioritize speed optimization, as mobile users tend to have less patience for slow-loading pages or search results.

Mobile-Friendly Navigation and Accessibility

Optimize your search results page for mobile browsing with features like side-scrolling and adjustable text sizes. Ensure elements such as alt text and screen reader compatibility are accessible.

» Have an app for your store? Here's how to add search to your mobile app

4. Incorporate Visual and Voice Search Capabilities

As technology advances, voice and visual search become more important. Customers can use their voice to navigate, search for products, and even make purchases through voice commerce, making it easier for mobile users to find what they need.

Additionally, visual search allows customers to find products by simply uploading or taking a picture. Our AI Visual Discovery technology uses a deep learning model to create representations of the shopper’s image that will lead to relevant search results. These features improve the user experience and keep your website current.

Example: Fashion Nova utilizes visual search within their normal search bar to allow customers to upload their own photos or test the feature if they're not confident.

5. Avoid a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

For B2C eCommerce sites, search functionality isn't one-size-fits-all. Many stores face challenges such as unorganized product categories or difficulty finding the search bar due to prioritization of aesthetics or SEO-focused merchandising. For example, arbitrary categorizations, such as "Fuego collection," hold little meaning for customers and fail to align with their search intent.

This approach inevitably leads to irrelevant search results, frustrating users and diminishing the effectiveness of the search feature to that of an outdated search engine.

» Enhance your customer interaction by understanding the difference between personalization vs. customization

Optimizing your eCommerce site search is an ongoing process that requires continuous analysis and refinement. Regularly review user search behavior, common queries, and misspellings using tools like Shopify Search and Discover, Google Search Console, and Google Analytics.

Refining catalog organization is also necessary for effective search results. Prioritize understanding user behavior, organizing the catalog, and optimizing speed and accuracy. These core elements lay the foundation for an efficient search experience that breeds customer satisfaction and business growth.