The eCommerce environment is currently undergoing colossal change. Fueled by technological advances, increased competition, fragmented buying habits and shifting customer expectations, commerce leaders are being forced to adapt and innovate, more frequently in often unpredictable ways.
Against this backdrop of external change, however, there’s still one key thing your business can influence— and that’s your customer experience.
The modern-day shopper
Customer expectations have never been higher. The modern-day shopper expects seamless, compelling and personalised shopping experiences. They’re impatient too—if you’re not able to offer them what they want when they want and how they want, then they’re going to look for a competitor who can.
It’s thus crucial that businesses pay the utmost attention to their customer experience and how it can be improved. It should form the core of your strategy, from which you build around.
At Vaimo, we work with B2B and B2C clients across the globe to deliver the sorts of customer experiences that accelerate sales and drive growth.
And pivotal in our mission to do so is the role of search.
To put this into context, let’s quickly dive inside the mind of the average modern-day consumer.
Most of the time, customers know exactly what they want. Indeed, a Forrester Research study found that 43% of site visitors immediately go to a search box. And that these searchers are 2-3 times more likely to convert.
Customers are impatient, so you haven’t got much time to play with. It’s been found that you have just 8 seconds to convince a customer to remain on your site.
Those who are searching for something specific are more likely to make that purchase! A study of 21 stores found that those using search converted at 4.63% versus the websites’ overall average of 2.77%. That’s almost 2 times more effective.
The power of search in spearheading the overall customer experience is undeniable. And it’s a clear antidote to the demands of the modern shopper because it gives customers control and autonomy in the purchasing experience. It means that customers don’t have to trawl through the noise of countless irrelevant products. They get exactly what they want in a manner that suits them.
What makes search so exciting, too, is that it presents a serious competitive advantage in today’s market. See, only 15% of companies have dedicated resources to optimizing the eCommerce site search experience. And what’s more, only 7% of those companies are actually learning from internal site search data and leveraging it in other areas of the business.
The potential for search is, therefore, relatively untapped—and something your business can start seeing quick wins from straight away. The search functionalities, shortly to be described, are helping our clients at Vaimo to maximise their traffic, conversions and ultimately growth.
How exactly does it work?
We’ve established that intuitive search provides customers with the autonomy that they crave whilst shopping.
That’s all well and good, but you might well be thinking: OK this search thing sounds good, but how exactly does it work in practice? And what are the different ways it can be incorporated into my site?
Modern search tools use the latest machine learning technologies to apply layers of real-time optimisation to search results. This means that specific products are automatically boosted, based on how users are interacting with them.
Products can be boosted based on customers clicking on them, adding to cart and purchasing them through search. This all helps to ensure that the most popular products become more visible. And for your customer, that means fewer hoops that they need to jump through in order to get to the product they want!
This kind of machine learning is applied in real time, so the impact on your business is almost instantaneous. And what’s more, businesses can also apply an additional layer of custom logic—where customers can boost specific items and groups of items at a global level or a keyword level.
Artificial intelligence—you can’t go very far these days without hearing about it. The upward trajectory of AI and its influence on businesses and their eCommerce strategies is clear for all to see and it’s understandable why.
From a retail standpoint, AI has the power to learn from a customer’s habits and tastes to better predict and target what they want. In an age where choices are seemingly limitless for consumers, this type of technology is crucial for businesses in providing personalised one-on-one experiences.
And if there’s one area of commerce that’s maximising the power of AI to improve its functionality, then that’s search. Automated catalogue enrichment, rich autocomplete, trending searches, natural language processing, error tolerance and much, much more. These are just some of the ways in which AI is revolutionising search and ensuring that your customers are connected to the right products at the right time.
Another beneficial characteristic of search is that it can be personalised. Based on how your customers have interacted with products via the search function, you’re able to personalise the search experience. And again, this is something that customers are demanding and will thank you for.
Examples of this in action could come in the form of personalised product recommendations upon activating search, promoting recently viewed and trending products and personalised recommendations for results that return zero search queries.
All of these serve to engage and delight the users on your site at every turn. Personalised search functions allow you to anticipate the needs of your customer and then deliver!
Incorporating search at Vaimo
Vaimo is a full-service omnichannel agency helping brands, retailers and manufacturers all over the world to drive success in digital commerce. And in order to maximise success, we work with a number of different solutions and platforms.
As an example, let’s take the case of Helly Hansen. We’ve been partnering with the outdoor apparel brand since 2016 when we launched their site on Magento Commerce Cloud.
With 30 different sites, a catalogue of 35,000 products per store and six languages to contend with, intuitive search functionality was crucial in delivering on customer experience. For Helly Hansen, we included a number of integrations, including Klevu search. And the level of success was undeniable. The apparel brand saw a 32% increase in transactions, a 68% increase in transactions from mobile and 45% growth in revenue.
This is just one example of how including search as part of a wider digital commerce strategy can help to drive success and fuel growth. We’ve seen already how important it is in the current climate to attract and crucially, to retain, customers. And search, along with other key functionalities such as payments, security, automated marketing, product information management and more, is a vital ingredient in our building of world-class digital commerce solutions.
Author: Piers McEwan, Content Writer at Vaimo