Executive Summary

This guide will teach you how to harness on-site search to significantly improve customer experience and build trust in your e-commerce store. See how advances in on-site search technology help to provide a service that goes above and beyond customer expectations. Learn how to create flawless user journeys that win conversions and loyalty, and see just how quick and easy it can be to start seeing results.


We all aspire to the smoothest pathways to conversion within our e-commerce stores, but why are frictionless customer journeys so important when it comes to on-site search?

As e-commerce booms, shoppers have never had more choice. When a customer has made it through the online wilderness and is showing high intent to purchase by actively searching your store, every impediment to their conversion must be removed.

Experience counts, and expectations are rising. Great shopping experiences are memorable, bad shopping experiences even more so. Make sure you fall into the former category to win loyalty and brand advocates. A disappointing search experience can jeopardize your chances of both conversion and repeat custom.

We also live in an age of distraction. Mobile e-commerce is booming and we’re shopping on the go, in the advert break of our favorite shows or as we walk to the grocery store. When customers have an item in mind, the perfect product needs to have found its way swiftly into the cart before the kettle has boiled for their office tea break.

The old adage tells us, “the customer is always right.” But in the age of e-commerce, it’s not enough to simply respect your customers’ desires – you need to be actively anticipating them. In realizing this goal, seamless pathways to conversion can be created. It’s about knowing what shoppers want before they even really know themselves, creating a little bit of retail magic as perfect products are conjured right before their eyes.

On-site search is the perfect way to achieve this next-level flow. This guide will take you through some of the key ways you can be leveraging its power to deliver exceptional, seamless customer journeys with significant converting power.

Chapter 1: So, Tell Me What You Want (What You Really, Really Want) – Mastering Advanced Personalization

On-site search-led journeys have a significant and unique advantage over other paths to conversion. No other audience segment tells you as clearly, in their own words, exactly what they’re looking for in the context of your own store.

Make the most of this insight by learning from it – and let it inform the way that shoppers’ future experiences are crafted. The result is a win-win situation for all involved: a better brand encounter for your customer, and a higher likelihood of conversion for you.

This is where personalization comes into its own. A recent report by Accenture suggested that 91% of consumers were more likely to buy from companies that remembered them and provided offers that were relevant to them specifically.

Personalization and On-Site Search


So let’s take a look at what personalization looks like across a store, when it comes to on-site search. A user’s individual behavior and interaction with products is tracked, evaluated and applied to an informed merchandising strategy that’s perfectly curated to align with their unique interest and tastes. From product order in results, to specific banner messaging, their experience is tailored to attract, inspire and convert on an individual level.

Within the realm of personalization, product recommendations have been shown to be particularly valuable. Shoppers who click on a recommended product are up to twice as likely to make a return visit to the store in question. User journeys that include a recommended product click see a 10% increase in AOV (in relation to user journeys that don’t engage in recommendations). These shoppers are also 4.5 times more likely to add items to their cart and complete their purchase.

On-Site Search That Truly “Sees” You

With so much choice on offer, and competing stores just a few clicks away, customers are highly likely to shop around before making a decision regarding a purchase. 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying, so it’s vital that when the quest for information brings them to your store, you make customers feel appreciated, recognized and seen on a personal level.

This attention to detail is rapidly becoming a new baseline expectation, especially for digitally native generations who’ve grown up in a climate of advanced marketing and feel especially comfortable about data sharing.

When interacting with a store, the retailer should have put measures in place to make it feel like they know you, ensuring that the experience feels truly intuitive and familiar. The products served up following a search query should factor in as many of their individual characteristics as possible, from gender and age, to brand preferences and previous order history.

When working with a self-learning solution like Klevu, this quest for personalization initiates a cycle of ever-improving experience. Your customer has a memorable encounter with your store and as a result, their loyalty increases. This leads to a great number of future store visits, generating more data to better inform future iterations of their personalized experience... repeated, ad infinitum

How Klevu Helps You Perfect Your Personalization


Klevu’s intelligent algorithm has always helped our customers make excellent use of personalization, but recently, we’ve kicked things up a gear. Our brand new Personalization API gives customers the ability to create truly unique search results on a user by user basis, based on a number of different interactions and behaviors.

As you’d expect, a customer’s recent search activity provides the bedrock of information for Klevu’s “out of the box” personalization to get to work. Collaborative filtering, personalization based on manual inputs and even the impact of enabling personalization on search relevance and manual promotions are also taken into consideration.

If you’re looking to create a truly personalized, totally intuitive customer journey, on-site search is a vital component, and nothing achieves this more smoothly than Klevu’s AI-fueled automation.

Chapter 2: Failure Is Not an Option – Troubleshooting the Search Experience

It’s 2020. At this point in the history of e-commerce, no search-led journey should be ending in failure or disappointment. As previously mentioned in this guide, few customers have as promising a purchase profile than those using on-site search. If you’re missing out on sales when the shopper is so clearly motivated to buy from your store, you need to address the underlying issues swiftly.

Klevu makes on-site search look easy, but there are plenty of pitfalls for the uninitiated. This chapter will explore the main ways that on-search can let you down – and how to fix each problem.

Common Pitfalls, and How to Fix Them


One of the most common frustrations when interacting with on-site search? Your keyword is not found. Being served no results is bad enough, but when you’ve a sneaking suspicion that the store in question is highly likely to stock the product that you’re looking for, it becomes doubly annoying. If you haven’t already lost them, the customer may try entering a few new terms, in the hope that something chimes with the way your catalog is indexed. The fix: enhance your catalog with a rich list of synonyms. Make sure that whatever search term is used, if you stock the product, your customer will be led towards it.

It may be that the search term failed because it was entered in a way that your store search simply couldn’t understand. As audiences become increasingly accustomed to conversational commerce and search methods, we can expect search terms and phrasing to become more colloquial, casual, regional and diverse.

“Stop words” such as ‘and, to, for’ are increasingly common within search queries. Natural Language Processing is the key to ensuring that your on-site search takes a “meaning-based” approach to understanding the input it receives.

A similar issue, and one that is surely set to rise in line with the rise of mobile e-commerce, is the misspelling of search terms. While most stores can handle a few misplaced characters, a quick glance at your own search history will probably give you insight into the garbled input we all have a tendency to mash into our keyboards when rushing or distracted. Expectations for error tolerance are growing, so ensure this is upped as much as possible in the context of your own store.

Perhaps your customer’s frustration comes from searching for a brand that you don’t stock. Unless this is made clear to them, they have no way of knowing why their search failed. If a brand is commonly cropping up as a keyword in your “no results” search data, consider automatically recommending an alternative on the results page whenever this term is entered. Even if your customer doesn’t go for the other brand, they will at the very least appreciate the fact you’ve attempted to help them find a similar product and will understand that the lack of results was caused by your stock, and not a technical issue.

You also need a plan for the irregular “no results found” queries that don’t merit a strategic alternative product recommendation. Get creative with sympathetic copy that reflects your brand voice — acknowledge the shopper’s disappointment. Then direct to generic pages that are statistically likely to keep them shopping such as popular collections, trending products or seasonal sale pages.

Customers may also be disappointed as a result of an on-site search query when, even after finding what they were looking for, their desired product is out of stock. In these cases, be sure to set up a redirect to similar category products. Give options, show empathy with the fact that they’ve come up against a problem and present another solution.

One final pitfall is set to catch many stores out as its popularity increases — the inability to perform voice search. Retailers should be making proactive moves to meet this increasingly common demand. 31% of smartphone users worldwide use voice tech at least once a week, and all data appears to suggest that voice search is not only here to stay, but destined to become ubiquitous.

How Klevu Helps You Get On-Site Search Right, Every Time


Klevu covers all bases when it comes to mitigating the risk of an on-site search ending in disappointment or frustration.

On installation, our automated catalog enrichment is instantly deployed across your store. These contextual synonyms can as much as triple the depth and coverage of your search results. Our search algorithm is also rooted in Natural Language Processing principles, meaning that no matter how complex or unconventional the search query, the context will be understood and relevant results served up. Stop words are recognized and appropriately managed, so the intent of the search is preserved.

In addition to a sky-high error tolerance, Klevu also gives retailers exceptional capacity for customization of their search results pages.

And it goes beyond visual styling — you can add your brand voice to provide explanations or alternative recommendations. You can also deploy URL redirects for specific search terms, for example sending the searcher to a seasonal promotion page when the keyword “Valentines” is entered.

Voice search is also supported by Klevu, and getting it up and running is a simple two-step process. This has the double benefit of enabling a quicker, slicker method of search input, at the same time as future-proofing your site for this increasingly expected function.

Don’t leave the success of your on-site search to chance. By choosing a solution that actively guards against the common frustrations that can arise when shopping, you’re taking a monumental step towards delivering smoother, happier user journeys for a large percentage of your customers.

Chapter 3: Touchdown! - Laser-Focus Shopper Intent With Landing Pages

What’s one of the smartest ways to provide a smooth route to check out? Guide your audience down a clearly signposted path that you create yourself!

This is where landing pages can enter your strategy. Amazingly effective in terms of conversion, they channel highly specific interest into clearly defined funnels, giving the shoppers you attract to them a super simple and highly alluring path to conversion.

Why Land on Landing Pages?


The converting power of the landing page is well established. Within the realm of online retail they provide fantastic focus, but also a great deal of flexibility.

Typically used within a marketing context to pull in traffic from a targeted campaign and sell a very specific product or service, landing pages can also be helpful for a new product launch or promotion of a new collection.

In terms of helping ease your user journey, retailers are typically looking for speed and specifics when it comes to landing pages — these are customers who will arrive, make a purchase and leave without needing to do a great deal of browsing.

Infinitely flexible, landing pages have the capacity to be replicated into a number of variants, each driving different goals within your store. This is all well and good, but it’s important to remember that they can also be a significant drain on resources, requiring a good deal of design and dev work, and a lot of cooperation between different teams.

How Klevu Helps You Land a Win


One of Klevu’s smartest features helps to remove these barriers to getting landing pages working hard on your e-commerce store. Our landing page builder has been designed as a drag and drop solution, enabling marketers and merchandisers alike to create and replicate great looking and highly functional landing pages, quickly and easily with no need for technical knowledge.

This negates the need to get designers and developers on board as these pages are built out, leading to a quicker launch (and, by extension, faster results). The pages themselves have a wide range of capacities, including the ability to select products from your catalog using conditions, pin or even exclude products.

You’ll also find you can maintain multiple landing pages within the same management area.

This is an excellent feature when working to target several different audience segments, improving multiple user journeys concurrently. Apply for Beta access today!

Chapter 4: Do the Robot - Harness the Power of Machine Learning In Your Merchandising

Once a customer has shown significant intent via their search-led journey, it pays to make sure the results they’re presented with are optimized to as great a degree as possible.

This is where savvy merchandising comes into play, ensuring that each and every product is ranked appropriately and effectively when a search is completed. When merchandising is firing on all cylinders, the products displayed should be two things above all: relevant and appealing. By presenting the most appropriate products, time taken to add to cart and check out plummets, leading to smoother, faster conversions. Gartner predicts that smart personalization engines can boost the profits of savvy digital retailers by 15% in 2020.

Relevance to the search term itself is of course vital here, but personalization also steps up again. Applying logic to the products shown via knowledge of the shopper’s age, gender, past interactions and purchases, and specific brand preferences can all help to increase the likelihood of a quick, intuitive conversion.

It’s a Kind of Magic: Machine Learning and Merchandising

Manual merchandising is an art form that takes a lot of effort and valuable time. It’s also a task that never ends — you must constantly analyze data and readjust based on your findings. But getting the right product in the right place every time is made possible by the magic of machine learning.

Leveraging AI, Klevu combines the infinite capacity of a self-learning algorithm, with the psychological power of merchandising to create shopping experiences that feel fluid, polished and incredibly inviting.

As a self-learning solution, no extra manual work is required for the experience to keep on improving as more interactions occur over time. Its knowledge keeps on expanding, picking up on nuanced seasonal shifts in customer behavior and adjusting itself accordingly. Merchandising finesse is applied right down to variant level in some cases, with customers seeing the most popular colorway of a product as the default images in their (already optimized) search results.

While you could easily sit back and let Klevu’s algorithm do all the heavy lifting for you, when it comes to your store’s merchandising, your own product knowledge is still incredibly valuable. Because of this, the capacity to set up rule-based overrides is built into our system. These can be deployed to manually boost certain products for any reason you see fit (for example, to push sales of stock which will soon be perceived as out of season) and further enhance the effectiveness of your product ordering. The bulk of the work is still automated and driven by our self-learning system, but your team will be able to exercise a great deal of control over the outcomes, whenever and however they choose.

How Klevu Helps You Master AI-Ordered Merchandising


As we’ve seen, a smart solution for ordering search results can play a key role in enhancing your customers’ experience, while saving you the vast amounts of time and effort demanded by manual merchandising. So it seems a shame to keep such significant benefits confined to your search results pages...

You’ve probably guessed where this is going. With Klevu, you don’t have to. Smart Category Navigation means that the ultimate conversion power couple — machine learning and merchandising — can also be applied across your store’s product and category pages.

With a long list of features (including hero product promotions and advanced reporting and analytics) all designed to help retailers to automatically promote their wares, Smart Category Navigation is a fantastic way to help smooth your customers’ path to the perfect product across your entire store.

While the major e-commerce platforms are starting to implement some of these features natively, their flexibility and capacity for automation still lags behind the specialist functionality that Klevu can deliver.

Chapter 5: Happy Hunting - Provide the Right Tools for Successful Search

Optimizing for success is great — you do everything in your power to get it right the first time, delighting your customer by serving them the perfect product in response to their search. But humans are curious creatures, and in many cases (even if we have been served a product which ticks all the right boxes) we often find ourselves wanting to root around in results before making a final choice. If you’re looking to deliver a truly great shopping experience it’s important that you give your customers the ability to make their minds up in an informed and functional fashion.

This means that if, after entering a search term, your customer isn’t presented with a product that instantly triggers the dopamine hit they were chasing, you make sure it’s right around the corner and easy to track down!

Get a Real Result from Search Results


There are several ways to make narrowing the search simpler and more enjoyable for your customers. First and foremost, on-site search results should be clearly displayed in a familiar manner. Navigation and visual impact shouldn’t feel like a significant departure from the rest of your store — results pages should feel integral and integrated parts of a whole.

As a fast-to-deploy solution, Klevu has gone to great lengths to ensure that if you do decide to bypass significant customization, our templates look great right out of the box. Of course, if you do want to tailor the look and feel of them to better suit your store’s template, this is easily achievable via CSS. Our Magento 2 customers have the easiest task of all, because perfect theme preservation is as easy as ticking a box in your admin panel.

How Klevu Helps Your Customers Close the Net on their Perfect Purchase

Of course, search results pages rely on function just as much as form. It’s vital that products are easy to sort through and filter, helping your customers narrow their search more swiftly by providing the right tools.

This is where Klevu’s capacity for Dynamic Facets comes into its own. Another time-saving, automated feature, Dynamic Facets enables only product-relevant filters to be displayed in the search results.

This is a win on two levels. First, your customers instantly have the tools they need to explore results in detail, right at their fingertips. This means they can quickly reduce the number of products they need to examine. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly when it comes to streamlining user experience, they’re only being presented with the filters that are most relevant and applicable. It’s much quicker to see how to sort, as well as being far less visually overwhelming. Both of these benefits help in decreasing the time it takes your customers to get their perfect products safely stowed in the cart.

Retailers can also get creative with filters provided, providing options beyond the most common (product type, size, length etc). It’s possible to allow filtering in more targeted ways, for example, by the recipient “for him / her / dad / sister etc” (especially effective around holiday seasons).

Filtering goes hand in hand with sorting. Products can be ordered, before or after filtering, depending on a number of factors as dictated by the customer’s unique motivations (e.g. low to high pricing for the more cost-conscious shopper). This is all made possible via the automating power of Klevu’s Dynamic Facets feature.

The Future of Friction-Free Shopping

As with all aspects of UX, psychology is at the heart of a great on-site search experience. We’re hardwired hunter-gatherers, and this is why it’s so important to meet the aspirations of your most motivated shoppers with the products they’ve envisioned. Getting it wrong can have a big impact on their experience, but with the right partner, getting it right can be easy, effortless — and incredibly profitable.

As this guide has shown, sophisticated on-site search can prove a powerful ally when enhancing your customer experience via seamless, intuitive journeys that avoid the frustration and disappointment of a failed search.

An investment in on-site search is an investment in some of your most highly motivated shoppers. When it comes to easing the pathway to conversion, on-site search has the power to make a real impact on your customers and as a result, on your bottom line.

Klevu helps by taking away all of the guesswork from on-site search: you get a dependable, sophisticated solution from the moment you install. Most users will start to see significant impact within the range of their free trial. But as a self-learning, AI-fueled solution, Klevu just gets better over time.

So to start improving your customer experience instantly, talk to one of our experts today. In many cases you’ll be up and running in under an hour, with no obligations or card details exchanged.

Flawless, frictionless user journeys for your most motivated customers are closer than you think.

Ready to create frictionless customer journeys through on-site search? You could be up and running by the end of the day.
Let us show you how.


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