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How to facilitate the search for a product in an online store?

Many factors can determine the success of an online business. When it comes to online stores, both the offered range, prices, speed of delivery, descriptions, photos of products, service quality and the appearance of the website are vital elements. Individual features on the e-shop website must consistently interact with each other, and not only they need to have a nice appearance, they must also fulfil their functions. One of the main such elements is the abovementioned search bar. But what can be done to make the search for a product in an online store run smoothly?

Why is the search bar an obligatory element of an online store?

productMost customers search for products without using a search bar, they simply enjoy filtering through various options and having the opportunity to browse through wider selection of goods; who knows maybe that way they hope to stumble across a better offer or some other favourable product. Thus they simply click on the relevant categories and browse away.

Other users, however, like to be very specific and want their search to be precise, quick and down to the point – so they opt for trying out different keywords in a search bar. For them, it makes the process of search for a product in the online store easier and more efficient. This is especially important for larger stores that have hundreds or thousands of options, choices and varieties of products. So, if we want to please and satisfy all of our customers, it’s vital that we include a search bar to fulfil their needs.

Search for a product in an online store – the basic assumptions

The basic assumptions are that the search bar must be and should be located in a clear, visible place, usually somewhere at the top of the webpage. It offers easy access and is always in plain sight so that a search can be made virtually on every subpage. The size and appearance of the search bar are not without significance. Firstly, it cannot blend with the background colouring or patterns used on the website. It’s therefore a good idea to place a small text inside asking you to enter what you are looking for, e.g. ‘search here for a specific item’. The second important issue is to avoid displaying the message ‘No search results found’ at all cost i.e. even if you don’t have the item in stock convergent with the entered keyword, then suggest something else or highlight other options. If the user has made a typo or error be sure to implement a ‘suggestion’ system that will try and correct them.

How to facilitate the search for a product in an online store?

A search bar in an online store should enable easier categorisation, sorting and filtering of products. Sorting should be done in such way so that the search and rendered results fit the phrase entered by the potential customer. It is also good if the customer gets to ‘hierarchise’ some of the rendered examples e.g. by categorising them into ‘cheapest vs dearest’, ‘most popular’, ‘top rated’, ‘newest vs oldest’ products.

Filtering, in turn, is the ability to narrow down search results by selecting or deselecting a range of boxes that complement a user’s agenda. For example, if we are looking for shoes for a child, we can choose the gender, type of footwear, price range, size, colour, or any additional features that we’d like to appear in our search results page. Filtering essentially makes it much easier to search for a product in an online store.

Other search bar functions in the e-store

The search bar in the e-store should respond to phrases that have been entered with spelling or typo errors. We are all humans and typos happen to the best of us, but if that happens it’s best to facilitate the user. For example, it is worth displaying the message ‘Did you mean to enter….?’, ‘Did you search …?’ or it’s always worth to render results which closely match the errored phrase. E.g. if a user enters ‘shurts’ instead of ‘shirts’, it’s still useful to generate results under ‘shirts’, with an additional ‘did you mean…?’ message like the ones mentioned above. Such ‘suggestion’ systems are really appreciated by customers, and if possible try and optimise your e-store to this system. You should guide yourself with what Google does, because they have mastered this system. Sometimes the customer doesn’t even notice that he entered an incorrect name and if he sees the blunt message ‘no results found’ without any corrective suggestion, then he/she will simply leave the e-store thinking that there have been zero results because the store lacks the item they are looking for. So make sure mistakes in spelling and recommended searches are implemented!

This brings us to another point: autocompletions, that is, displaying a list of words/phrases that begin in the same way as the word entered by the customer. That way if a customer enters ‘sh’ then a list of recommended search options such as ‘shoes’ & ‘shirts’ will immediately drop down, also sparing the user typing something out too. Once again, Google is fantastic in this method.

So overall, the introduction of the aforementioned functionalities should shorten the time of search for the product and may influence the customer’s purchasing decision. If your e-store system is fluent, coherent and most of all successful, it may even encourage the customer to return because he/she will be aware for future that their purchase was completed easily and without any unnecessary issues. This is exactly what people in our current busy world rely and look out for, so if you follow this rule then your e-store will have a guaranteed success.

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