Nosto (credit image/Pixabay/stevepb)Research with US consumers suggests that basic failings in site search could cost eCommerce retailers an estimated $13.8 billion in lost sales this coming Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM). It also finds that shoppers want retailers’ site search to provide content—including authentic user-generated content (UGC). This is alongside product listings to help them make better-informed buying decisions. The research highlights the need to personalise search results, revealing that younger millennials aged 25-34 are the most reliant on site search.

The survey of 1,000 US consumers was commissioned by Nosto, the Commerce Experience Platform (CXP). The research found that 77% of shoppers head straight to the search bar when they land on an eCommerce site. However, 84% of all consumers admit they’ve left an eCommerce site because of search issues. This included irrelevant results, too many/too few products being displayed or being directed to out-of-stock items.

Based on these findings, and on projected eCommerce sales revenue/average order values, Nosto estimates that US online retailers could be leaving $13.8 billion in online sales on the table during Black Friday and Cyber Monday by not addressing basic search errors.
Key site search failings that cause shoppers to bounce

Key site search issues

The research outlines four big site search issues that cause shoppers to bounce (immediately leave an ecommerce website):

  • 42% leave after not seeing any relevant results at all
  • 31% after being shown out-of-stock products
  • 31% after results take too long to load
  • 31% after results return too many options without enabling any narrowing of the search results.

Many of these are resolvable, according to Nosto. For example, even if a merchant has no relevant products to display, 60% of shoppers in its survey say they would continue shopping if alternative products were suggested upon receiving zero search results.

42% of shoppers agree one way retailers can improve site search is to provide contextual filters based on search queries. This will help narrow down results when there are too many products. For example, having a ‘cut’ filter for users searching for jeans or a ‘finish’ filter for users searching for lipsticks.

To avoid listing out-of-stock items in searches, merchants can integrate site search with their inventory systems. This will ensure it is dynamically updated with product stock levels.

(credit image/LinkedIn/Jan Soerensen)
Jan Soerensen, General Manager North America, Nosto

Jan Soerensen, General Manager North America, Nosto, said, “Our research highlights the importance of site search to eCommerce success this holiday season. Especially as 75% of shoppers reveal, given the current macroeconomic outlook, they are more likely to browse multiple online stores.

“Ensuring you have great site search means you’re more likely to capture their attention and have them spend. Rather than letting them bounce to rivals. The research finds many eCommerce sites are not getting the basics right.

Shoppers want content and products listed in search results

The research suggests eCommerce brands need to go beyond showing relevant products, including content that helps shoppers make buying decisions.

For example, two-thirds (66%) of consumers engage with relevant content in site search results. This includes articles, FAQs, and collection pages. 65% say they have made purchases after consuming such content.

In addition to this, 58% have engaged with relevant influencer/user-generated content (UGC), specifically in site search. 64% buy after seeing it. This demonstrates the growing importance of UGC to consumers, who respond positively to authentic endorsement of products by other shoppers.

Personalisation drives shoppers’ purchasing behaviour

Another way retailers can get an edge during peak is by delivering a personalised site search experience. 77% of shoppers say they are more likely to purchase if search results are personalised to things like their purchase history or specific brands, colours, or sizes they like.

66% want retailers to use their search queries to personalise their wider site experience from there. This could only show relevant products or ranges to them based on their search intent data.

Young millennials demand most from on-site search

Research indicates that millennials are becoming the biggest spenders during the holiday season. Nosto’s data shows site search is especially important to younger millennials (US men and women in the 25-34 age group). 83% go straight to the search bar, while 90% agree that a good, fast, accurate site search makes online shopping easier (higher than any other age group). Similarly, 90% say they are likely to buy a product in the search results that they directly searched for.

Tech-savvy but time-poor and cost-conscious, these younger millennials are likely to be juggling multiple commitments. This may include building a career, saving for a home, and potentially starting a family. This means they want site search to be fast, helpful, and tailored to their needs. However, 90% say they often come across irrelevant results from search (against 69% on average).

They also want to engage with content, including UGC, in search results—and it directly leads to making a purchase. 83% will buy a product having consumed related content in the search results (against an average of 65%). 82% purchase after engaging with UGC specifically.

Demonstrating a desire to save time and money, 81% of 25–34-year-olds believe that site search should be quicker. This compares to an overall average of 62% and just 52% of those who are 55+. 87% agree that, as the cost of living increases, they want to compare products from different online stores. As a result, good eCommerce search makes this easier, higher than any other age group.

Soerensen adds, “Retailers know that search results have to be relevant and quick. But, they’ve also got to tackle the other big search frustrations that drive customers to bounce. Make sure your search isn’t listing out-of-stock products and include filters so shoppers can narrow down results when there are too many products to choose from.

“Adding personalisation to search results can help you elevate the overall search experience by making it more relevant. And if you can display helpful content, especially UGC from other customers, shoppers will be more confident in making purchases.”

Enterprise Times: What this means for business.

Nosto’s research makes perfect sense. Its in-depth study of US shoppers demonstrates the importance of fixing basic site search failures before peak season shopping. The indications are that this holiday season, shoppers will rely on eCommerce site search more than ever to help them get their purchasing right. So, it should be such a simple business proposition for brands and retailers to get their search right. Millennials will not tolerate poor user search experience.

This research is a continuation of Nosto’s previous research work published earlier this year. The lessons are clear and simple. Poorly functioning search will simply drive shoppers away. Customers who cannot find product information fast and easily will simply not return to those sites. Furthermore, with a smart and sensible search product, brands and retailers can enhance the eCommerce store and relevancy. Keeping shoppers engaged, happy and spending on your online store.


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