Ecommerce Site Search Best Practices 2024

We all know how important having an optimized site search in 2024 is for your eCommerce store. High intent shoppers will be looking to use the search bar immediately in order to find their products. For lower intent shoppers, it can work as an inspiration and product discovery tool. The search itself can be optimized through AI and other capacities in order to fit in with the rest of your eCommerce strategy. Here are some best practices for getting the most out of your search in 2024.


Merchandising isn’t just for your product and collections pages. The art of merchandising combined with site search is often known as Searchandising. This means that the order that products are displayed within your search will mirror your merchandising capacities.

An optimized site search will allow you to add merchandising rules within the search. Therefore, when people search for a certain product, the products shown first will be the ones you want to be sold the most. This can also work for promoting, burying or hiding products. 

Merchandising is a useful technique in order to meet your business goals, and within merchandising it is just as important as elsewhere in your store.

Natural Language Processing

One of the most obviously necessary elements of an eCommerce site search in 2024 is natural language processing. This allows shoppers to ask questions in the language they would normally use. The AI can then understand the context of the query, and produce results based on this rather than standard keyword search.

With keyword search, if the shopper doesn’t use the exact words required, the dreaded ‘no results’ screen might appear. This is incredibly unhelpful as a merchant. Sometimes when searching for industry specific products, shoppers might not know the technical name of products, this is the case within Toner Buzz, for example.

Other times, shoppers may be searching for a bikini but in the product catalog it is written as ‘swimsuit’. Being able to understand what the searcher is actually looking for, rather than just the words used is a great step into providing an optimized customer experience. At the same time it will produce more sales for the merchant, so it’s a win-win.

Vector Search

One stop beyond NLP is Vector Search. Vector Search uses AI and machine learning to understand text, images and audio inputs in order to create a scalable and accurate search. AI can help the search find related objects with similar characteristics, across different input mediums. In short, vector search makes sense of language in a way that other methods cannot.

This form of Generative AI uses neural networks to identify patterns within existing data to create new content. Based on a variety of inputs, such as large language models and huge data sets, machine learning can clearly understand what shoppers are searching for. 

Vector search offers new and optimized ways that site search can function. Whilst still in development currently, vector search has the capacity to make a difference to your search if you choose to include it.

Multimodal Search

A multimodal search system, similarly to Vector Search, leverages information from different sources and modalities. These can include:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Audio
  • Visual

Quite simply, through including a multimodal search you are increasing the scope and possibility of query retrieval for your shoppers. This helps for searchers who don’t know the correct terms or product names. It also helps shoppers who find it more intuitive to search using images or sounds.

This is a new stepping stone in eCommerce technology. If you have a multimodal search included in your system, it shows that you are up to date with the latest advancements in AI and search technology. 

Visual Discovery

Visual Discovery is an element of multimodal search, but has strong prominence standing alone. Obviously, the first sense we engage with products is sight. We need to see whether we appreciate the aesthetics of something before buying it. This is why having good quality images is incredibly important.

Search bars that include images tend to do better, as they give shoppers a clearer indication of what they are purchasing. Using images in the drop down bar within search is a great way of optimizing your search. 

Similarly, visual discovery can be used in conjunction with social media. Visual discovery can hypertag and pinpoint certain products within social media posts, which can then be found via site search and other means on your website.


There are many ways to take site search to the next level. Giving your shoppers the opportunities to search in more ways with more advanced AI technology ensures more sales. It also demonstrates that you care about user experience, and that you are willing to go the extra step to help your shoppers make their sales.