As an outdoor equipment retailer, you know the importance of helping your active, adventurous customers to find highly specialized items. They have a clear idea of what they want and need, and when they come to your store, they need to be able to locate it with ease.
With mobile traffic on the up, but conversion rates still lagging behind, it’s important to do all you can to optimize for sales via this channel. This is where on-site search can play a huge part in your strategy. This guide will help walk you through the various ways in which sophisticated functionality in this area can boost your advantage.
- Discovering the Great Outdoors Starts With Great Product Discovery
- Chapter 1: Stronger Starts: Encouraging Search-Led User Journeys
- Chapter 2: Stars of the Smallest Screen – Putting Mobile First
- Chapter 3: Don’t Make Me Type – Lightening the Load for Your Mobile Audience
- Chapter 4: Up Close and Personal – Harness the Power of Personalization For Mobile
- Chapter 5: Hit the Jackpot Every Time – Help Your Customers With Dynamic Filters
- Chapter 6: Clear Signposting: Go Bold With Banner Ads
- Chapter 7: The Need for Speed – Get Fast Results for Your Mobile Audience
- Outdoor Retailers: It’s Time to Add On-Site Search to Your Essential Kit List
Let’s kick off this guide by considering your audience: purchasers of outdoor equipment. This segment is practical, active and would probably rather be wading through a trout stream than an e-commerce site!
They want quick solutions to logistical problems. They’re shopping for functionality and have highly specific needs. They know exactly what they require for their specialized interest or hobby, and it’s up to retailers to ensure that these enthusiasts find exactly what they’re looking for.
There’s a reasonable expectation that they’re “on the go” types of people — likely to grab their mobile to place a spontaneous order to make sure their next trip is better equipped. Even before we factor in their specific demographics, the importance of optimizing for your mobile customers shouldn’t be understated — mobile accounts for 65% of ecommerce traffic, and this figure is only expected to rise.
Why are retailers at a disadvantage in terms of conversion on mobiles? A combination of severely restricted screen sizes, low user patience to wade through result sets, sub-optimal checkout processes and major demands on speed are all thought to contribute.
The cost of a poor mobile experience will only continue to rise as mobile traffic increases. On-site search can provide improvements in multiple facets of your mobile customer experience. From minimizing the impact and inconvenience of interacting with a smaller screen, to helping get the perfect product in front of motivated shoppers quickly and accurately, on-site search has solutions to many of the problems that mobile poses.
This guide will take you through the many ways that outdoor equipment retailers are already improving their mobile conversion rates through the power of sophisticated on-site search.
When looking to encourage successful usage of on-site search, it’s helpful to think of the process in three stages:
- Awareness: your customers being aware that they can search
- Active search: your customers deciding to input a search term
- Refinement: your customers sorting through their results to discover the perfect product
The first step is critically important — if you’re not nailing this, you’re disincentivizing some of your most valuable and motivated customers.
Forrester Research found that 43% of visitors to a site go immediately to a search box, and searchers are 2-3 times more likely to convert. If your mobile store is not set up in a way that encourages (and ultimately rewards) this action, you’re headed for suboptimal conversion results.
The Importance of Boosting Engagement With Mobile Search
On-site searchers are known to convert at higher rates, so you should make it a top priority to encourage user journeys to start in this way.
In the outdoor equipment sector, your customers are looking for practical products that solve a problem or fulfill a specific requirement, be it weatherproof apparel, camping gear or a knife sharpener. If a customer has navigated to your store on a mobile device, chances are they’re experiencing the need for that product in the moment, and have a clear idea of what they require. Incentivize on-site search to bring them to the perfect solution quickly and accurately, and help convert that impulsive purchase.
Snowys do a great job of ensuring that search is prominently placed to encourage a search-led journey for those customers who view their store on a mobile device.
Their search bar occupies prime position at the top of the screen, and the high contrast design helps it to pop. In addition to placement and design, they’ve also deployed some pre-filled copy to encourage and inspire their clientele.
Similarly, Fjellsport deploy a full screen width search bar when their store is viewed on a mobile device. This ensures that trending suggestions are right at their customers’ fingertips, providing inspiration and potentially saving them from typing in their search term. The result? Products in front of shoppers, quickly and efficiently.
Not only can on-site search use correlate to higher conversion, it has the power to significantly enhance your customers’ experience. This, in turn, encourages repeat visits. Customers returning after a previously satisfying on-site search experience are more likely to engage with search again, and so the cycle continues.
Your customers do need to see search featured prominently if they’re going to trust that it’s a credible way of navigating your store. So give serious consideration to the placement of your site search bar, and its design.
By clearly signposting search as a dominant navigation option on your home page, you’re extending a confident and encouraging invitation to begin a user journey in this way.
The universal iconography of a magnifying glass is a helpful shorthand that will be easily recognized and understood, but remember the small screen sizes that your users are using to view your store on and also consider deploying a high-contrast design.
Promoting on-site search through intentional design shortens the path to purchase, and provides customers who have a specific product in mind with the smoothest route to finding and obtaining it. These shouldn’t be sales you lose as a result of a poorly presented on-site search.
How Klevu Helps Skyrocket Your On-Site Search Success
Having encouraged interaction with site search, you need to make sure the experience delivers. If you’re driving up the percentage of your audience that initiates a search, but then seeing high exit rates afterwards, it’s a strong indication that their search experience has not lived up to expectations. You risk harming the impression that shoppers have of your e-commerce store by providing a frustrating and fruitless search-led journey.
To ensure that your on-site search is firing on all cylinders, you need to work with a specialist. Klevu provides some of the search industry’s most advanced machine learning capabilities to ensure that user experience is second to none.
If you’re using prefilled suggestive or instructive search bar copy to encourage its usage (highly recommended!) then popular search keywords provided from Klevu insights could lead your choices here.
We all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and yet, from wine labels to actual books, we often do. The same goes for our digital decisions — 57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile.
What’s more, 85% of adults think that when viewed on a mobile device, a company’s website should be as good or better than its desktop website. When browsing a store on mobile devices, today’s consumers expect a sleek presentation that fits their screen responsively and doesn’t require pinching or zooming to view fine detail.
Responsive, mobile-first sites are fairly ubiquitous today, and because of this, a poorly designed mobile experience feels all the more jarring. 75% of consumers admit to making judgments on a company’s credibility based on its website design, so this could be costing brands more than they realize.
Why Mobile-First Extends Beyond Presentation
As outdoor equipment retailers, you know that your audience are active, busy people — they’re highly likely to experience at least a portion of their buyer journey on a mobile device. So, all the more reason to ensure that you’re catering to all eventualities.
Good mobile-first mentality extends to much more than the basic presentation of your store. Your on-site search should also be device agnostic, and ready to give the same great experience across screens of any size.
Outdoor equipment customers are purchasing practical items that they have a real requirement for. The Outdoor Industry Association’s Consumer Segmentation Executive Summary found that “75% of consumers shopping for outdoor products are shopping with intent.“ As a result, they need to have real faith in your brand and its ability to deliver a high quality product.
An especially strong visual reassurance of a store’s integrity is required, and a poorly designed search results page will feel especially off-putting.
Alewalds do a fabulous job of replicating the look and feel of their store’s theme within their mobile search results. A practical, functional presentation brings real clarity, packing a lot of information (including colour variants as shown in the second screenshot) into a clean design that’s easy to interpret and navigate on a small screen.
Simm’s Fishing also delivers a great looking results page, adapting for a mobile view by concealing an expandable range of filters, enabling the customer to refine their search if they feel the need to, without cluttering up the page unnecessarily or causing the need to scroll before products can be seen.
In order to remove any barrier to conversion, your on-site search experience needs to be designed with mobile users in mind, and ready to handle their queries as accurately as it would a desktop user.
Klevu Delivers on Screens of All Sizes
Klevu is designed to cater to mobile audiences with fully responsive capabilities. It’s truly device agnostic, meaning whatever the screen size or resolution, users are being served the same exemplary experience and can find products quickly and easily. This is so crucial when attention and time may be at a premium, and when your customers are looking for specific, specialist items.
Klevu also allows for easy theme preservation meaning that your search results pages will look visually identical to the rest. This can be as easy as ticking a box in the case of our Magento clients. Build trust with a store that looks familiar and reassuring on every page, on every device.
Yet another barrier to conversion for mobile shoppers comes in the form of tricky typing. Smaller screens have the potential to put shoppers off from entering custom queries, instead defaulting to button-based category navigation. Because of this, the best mobile experiences are engineered to require as little manual input as possible.
It follows that modern on-site search shouldn’t necessitate lengthy inputs and needs to be able to handle mistyped words — especially likely when browsing on mobile devices — with ease.
The rise of voice search also needs to be considered — this is increasingly common, and as expectations around the practice rise, stores (and especially mobile versions of those stores) need to be ready to handle voice-based queries.
Why Minimizing the Manual Matters
If mobile users are going to the trouble of typing in a search term (as opposed to attempting product research or discovery via standard menu or category based navigation), chances are they’re highly incentivized to make a purchase.
As outdoor equipment specialists, you know your audience are practical people used to working with the best tools for the job (you should know, you supply them!). So they’ll expect a smooth search experience that copes with a few bumps in the proverbial road.
By ensuring that on-site search does the heavy lifting when it comes to making relevant suggestions, you’re getting the best products up in front of your incentivized shoppers as quickly and accurately as possible.
A mistyped query that serves a zero results page, could mean your customer defaulting to a competitor under the false impression that you don’t stock the product they were looking for. Mitigate the risk with high error tolerance.
By seeding the experience with suggestions, or trending keywords, you’re also encouraging spontaneous product exploration and potential purchases or upsell
Klevu customer Tentworld does a great job of this, providing both popular searches and trending products in a visually appealing quick overlay. All before the customer presses a single key.
At the first keystroke, trending suggestions, both text and image based are instantly served.
How Klevu Keeps Fingers from Fatigue
Your customers may be the active type, but they’ll still thank you for saving them from excessive manual input when it comes to on-site search. Klevu offers a range of features that drastically reduce the number of keystrokes needed to get customers from the concept of the product they desire, through to discovery, and ultimately purchase.
Rich autocomplete is the first and most impactful function here — relevant and insightful suggestions are made from the very first letter. As demonstrated by our Tentworld use case above, another powerful and very visually appealing option is instant search overlay. Product imagery and popular searches can be presented as soon as the search box is selected, and before a single letter is entered.
Beyond all this, automated catalog enrichment (with thousands of relevant synonyms being applied to your product catalog) and Natural Language Processing capacity combine so that however your customers phrase their search term, if you stock the product they’re looking for, it will be presented within search results. This is especially relevant to the mobile segment of your audience who are far more likely to use conversational or colloquial voice search terms.
When manually inputting search terms, your customers won’t want to have to start all over again because of a small error in their spelling. Klevu is able to handle an exceptionally high error tolerance (crucial for those typing on the go in challenging conditions), so your shoppers won’t experience a frustrating zero results page because of a small typo on their part.
Similarly, if customers input a search term with no results, Klevu can help to ensure that their effort wasn’t wasted, and give retailers a second chance at conversion. Creedmoor put measures in place to ensure that if a customer does enter a term that brings back no results, instead of being served a blank page, the blow is cushioned with a cheery message written in their distinctive brand voice. Additionally, other popular products are suggested to help avoid a bounce.
In terms of demographic, the outdoor equipment vertical enjoys a diverse market. From urban millennials looking for out of town adventure, to older generations enjoying more traditional pastimes such as fishing, there’s a broad range of personas to cater for. Because of this, if you want to ensure that your online store is delivering an experience that always feels relevant, no matter who’s shopping, then personalization is the answer.
Omni-channel retail is the new norm — shoppers expect a personalized experience when buying online, and switch between many channels and devices in the process. This extends to the results that on-site search provides them with. A consistent, personalized search experience can play a huge role in making a brand experience feel familiar across all touchpoints.
Personalization is especially relevant when we consider your mobile traffic. Your customers want to see products that resonate with them, and with a distracted mobile audience, you don’t have long to get these products in front of them.
On-site search is a gift here. It enables retailers to provide a highly curated and optimally merchandised array of products to those shoppers giving the clearest signal of their interest and intent.
Why Personalization Performs
Increasingly, customers expect their interests and demographic details to be recognized across multiple device experiences. Customized product listings and recommendations that integrate seamlessly with on-site search (and wider marketing campaigns) play a huge part in ensuring this happens.
The outdoor equipment sector, more than most, should pay close attention here. Your audience are always on the go, getting out in nature but still in tune with their tech. They’re highly likely to use multiple devices as they complete their user journey and will want a flawless experience that links these steps together. The Sports Edit for example, will suggest personalized products to display on a subsequent desktop session, as shown below.
They’ll likely also have fairly distinct interests and hobbies, which can help to generate very clear personalized profiles and product recommendations. Keen fishermen for example should be shown more knives suitable for that pastime, while those more interested in bushcraft and survival may be interested in an entirely different range of products. This experience should follow them whenever they choose to browse.
It’s even more crucial to grab shoppers’ attention with the perfect product when they’re browsing on a small screen and are statistically less likely to convert. Personalization maximizes your chances of clickthrough and add to cart by increasing the odds of instant appeal.
Dig into the data you collect on multiple device use within your audience. The aim is to learn from your customers’ shopping habits so their experience remains consistent and highly targeted to their own attributes, tastes and interests.
With Klevu, It’s Personal
94% of in-house marketers agree that website personalization is critical to current and future success, and making shoppers feel recognized and welcomed is even more important when it comes to winning sales with a flighty mobile audience.
Klevu enables you to leverage advanced personalization features in combination with powerful machine learning to serve customers a totally unique experience when they interact with on-site search, regardless of the device they select.
This highly curated capability can even be extended to category pages, with Klevu’s Smart Category Navigation feature. Wherever your audience is experiencing a range of your products on your store, they’re presented in a way that’s optimally ordered and visually merchandised.
Klevu’s advanced algorithms expand the recognition of your customers’ preferences over time, regardless of the device they use. Each interaction with your store better informs the personalized results and recommendations they’re served, so repeat custom is rewarded with an ever-improving shopping experience.
A Needle in a Haystack
In the first chapter of this guide, we mention the three stages of site search — awareness, active search and refinement.
Many retailers come unstuck at the final stage of this process. Customers have decided to perform a product search, have successfully entered a search term that was recognized and have been served up a range of suggestions within a results page. All too often, this page can feel overwhelming. If they don’t immediately see what they’re looking for, or feel the range of options is too vast to easily narrow down, they’ll bounce.
When customers are showing such high motivation up until this point in their journey, this is a huge waste of sales.
Help Your Customers Help Themselves
Those shopping the outdoor equipment vertical are likely to be looking for specialized equipment, to meet a distinct need. They’re likely to be knowledgeable about the products they’re looking to purchase, and will want a way to narrow the field swiftly and effectively. Attributes are especially important when it comes to specialist equipment.
So you need to make sure that they’re being given the correct tools to refine their on-site search results quickly and efficiently. And it needs to be presented in a way that’s encouraging and visually appealing.
By helping them quickly narrow down the list of products their search term pulled up, you’re shortening the path to conversion and maximizing that all-important chance of conversion.
A great example of this is a retailer like Next Adventure, who use dynamic filtering to give shoppers the chance to quickly narrow down the choice of their next sleeping bag with a range of automatically generated, relevant attributes (i.e. sleeping bag shape).
Manduka offers a similarly sleek filtering experience on mobile. After a search has been performed, filter options are initially tucked away, ensuring that products occupy the screen as the results page loads. However they easily expand via an overlay, clearly signposted by icon and text. Once expanded, only the attributes relevant to the search term — in this case, “travel yoga mats” — are displayed. This keeps the process of narrowing down products swift and preserves their uncluttered, minimalist design.
How Klevu Fixes the Issue With Dynamic Filters
As an outdoor equipment specialist, from the number of people each tent can accommodate, to the tensile strength of the fishing line you sell, there’s a high likelihood that many of your products will have a distinct array of attributes. Without the kind of dynamic filtering offered by Klevu, your search results pages risk looking cluttered, presenting many irrelevant filter options.
Dynamic filtering means that when a search term is entered and products are brought up on the subsequent results page, only filters with relevance to those products are displayed. So if you’re a retailer selling sleeping bags, as in the example above, you’ll see “sleeping bag shape” as an option, but not “blade length” or “fuel type.”
This is especially important when optimizing for mobile conversion, as you’re dealing with a smaller screen, less real estate for filter options, and smaller tick boxes for your shoppers to accurately hit.
Filtering on mobile is possible, but it needs to be streamlined and made as easy as possible. By enabling dynamic filtering with Klevu, you’re maximizing your customers’ chance of successfully finding the perfect product and swiftly adding to cart.
Bright, Bold Mobile Store Messaging
When browsing on a smaller screen, in a more distractible state, your audience may need a little more nurturing and “hand-holding” along their user journey.
This means that any messaging injected into the experience needs to be clear and to the point. You should prioritize visual impact and concise, focused instruction.
Flying the Flag With On-Site Search
Interaction with on-site search provides a great opportunity to bring highly targeted messages to a self-selecting audience.
By linking banner ads to specific keywords, you have the opportunity to redirect shoppers who haven’t found what they were looking for to a new area of your store, perhaps a sale page or new collection. This keeps their attention and, crucially, their thumb away from navigating to a new tab, app or competitor’s store.
Within the outdoor equipment vertical, this can work well with regard to seasonal shifts in focus. Because so many outdoor pursuits operate in a very specific time period, promotional banners can be an effective way of driving end of season traffic to sales. You can also speak to a specific segment of your audience searching for niche items, to direct their interest towards a target landing page or category page.
Banner ads offer a really diverse opportunity, and the only limit to the way they’re deployed is your imagination. They’re especially effective when it comes to rescuing missed sales from zero results search queries. Let’s say you know that a keyword is commonly used and brings back no results. Linking a banner ad to this term is a visually appealing invitation to explore a similar range of products or brand that’s popular with that demographic.
Beautiful Banners With Klevu
Klevu enables you to deploy promotional banners in a highly strategic and informed way across your whole store. Not only do you have the physical capacity to apply these easily and swiftly from within the Klevu Merchant Center, insights from the data that Klevu gathers can help to better inform the strategy around your choice of placement and messaging.
Klevu customers enjoy the ability to add banners on category pages, as well as in search results. By highlighting other relevant collections or offers, you have the ability to redirect shoppers’ interest in a targeted, intelligent manner, boosting dwell time and increasing the likelihood of a product capturing their imagination.
Promotions can also be highlighted in the automatic overlays generated by instant faceted quick search.
This is a great strategy for catching the attention of mobile shoppers at the first few keystrokes. You already know that they represent a higher chance of conversion (as they’ve navigated to interact with search). Double down on this motivation by communicating some of your best performing offers, categories or promotions!
Promotional banners are also a great opportunity to inject a little more of your brand’s personality and voice into the search experience, with carefully chosen copy. With the native functionality to quickly apply beautiful banners across your store, Klevu makes this easy.
Speed is always an important factor when it comes to e-commerce conversion, but never more so than when shopping on a mobile device.
You’d think speed would be a top priority for e-commerce retailers. Yet studies show that in recent years, in terms of mobile performance, the time it takes for a page’s primary content to appear on the screen has flatlined on desktop and worsened on mobile.
Somewhat ironically, as we try to improve broader customer experience by adding increasing numbers of integrations to enhance our stores, websites are getting more complex and slowing down. This is dire news for mobile conversion rates.
Why Speed is So Important to Fix, Fast
The Outdoor Industry Association’s Consumer Segmentation Executive Summary found that “the average outdoor consumer spends $465 annually on apparel, footwear, equipment, and electronics for their activities.” If you want to ensure your brand is benefiting from the lion’s share of that spend, you need to make sure your mobile store is optimized for peak performance.
53% of mobile users abandon websites that take longer than 3 seconds to load. A balance must be struck — a website that’s feature-rich, versatile and capable, but at the same time, lightning-fast. A 1-second delay in page response can result in a 7% drop in conversions. Everything that can be done to keep things speedy, must be put in place.
These rapid response times also apply to your on-site search experience. The Outdoor Industry Association’s Consumer Segmentation report suggests that “more than 20% of consumers use technology to read product reviews or compare prices”. Customers are engaging with your internal search capacity to try to find, compare and consider items quickly — the process shouldn’t have the opposite effect. Lagging search results are a huge turn-off. If searches take too long to perform, filter and return results, customers using mobile may even assume the function isn’t working and abandon their hunt entirely.
As outdoor equipment retailers, who knows where your audience are searching on their mobile devices! Perhaps more than any other segment, they’re most likely to be living, working and playing in remote or rural locations, with less connectivity and coverage. Don’t risk a slow site compounding this potential issue.
Klevu Keeps Things Speedy
In addition to being designed to run seamlessly on your store with an absolute minimal impact on general load times and performance, Klevu uses the fastest cloud hosting.
This means that Klevu search delivers results virtually instantaneously, in just a few milliseconds. Your impatient mobile audience, hungry to complete their purchase and get packing for their next outdoor adventure, will be delighted with instantaneous results that are delivered in the blink of an eye, and perfectly optimized for discovery and conversion.
Bright, Bold Mobile Store Messaging
By 2021, mobile e-commerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total e-commerce sales. So it's imperative that modern e-commerce retailers perfect the shopping experience delivered to their mobile customers.
As this guide has shown, for a practical and active audience enjoying a range of specialist hobbies and activities, outdoor equipment retailers need to provide their customers with a speedy, accurate and personalized mobile experience.
On-site search has the potential to help improve the user journey at multiple points and is proven to lift conversion rate, helping to counter the drop that mobile typically sees here.
When appraising the performance of your mobile on-site search, run through the three stages that your shoppers will encounter: awareness, active searching, refinements.
If you’ve taken care to ensure that each of these stages has been truly optimized for the busy, distracting and rushed circumstances of a mobile customer, you’ll be well on your way to boosting the chances for conversion.
Klevu is blazing fast, highly accurate, intelligently personalized and provides a valuable source of additional data that will help you deliver peak on-site search performance across all devices.
Interested to learn more about how on-site search can help to optimize your mobile conversion rates? Book a demo today.