Shopify businesses of all sizes can ride a new wave of increased opportunity with effective search solutions that enhance their shoppers’ experience. The built-in Shopify search works well, but you can do a lot more to help your site visitors with their online searches. A host of Shopify plugins extend search functionality to improve your search conversions, increase order value, and improve your bottom line.
What makes for a great Shopify search experience?
There are 7 key areas that, when done right, make for great Shopify search:
- Relevance of search results
- User experience / user interface (UX/UI)
- Mobile experience
- Search analytics
Relevance of search results
A great digital experience correlates directly with high search relevance. The better you are at determining your customers’ intent and serving up relevant results in your Shopify or Shopify Plus store, the higher the conversion rate, the lower the bounce rate, and the better the user experience will be.
Textual relevance refers to results matching the text of the query. You can provide more relevant results in your Shopify store by improving these aspects of textual relevance:
- Typo tolerance: read into a user’s intent even if they misspell a word or use a “stop” word (the, and, at, with…).
- Synonyms: offer users a synonym result (“parka” for “jacket”) and include prefix search (“p,” “pa,” and “pan” should show results for both “pants” and “trousers”).
- Plurals: return results for “men’s shoes” when the user types “man shoes”
Business relevance means using your business metrics — like click-through rates (CTRs), conversion rates, and popularity — to tune relevance and ensure users see the content or products they are most likely to act on. For example, you could track conversion rates on your products, and display results with the highest conversion rates first.
Regularly assess where you have opportunities to tune and optimize relevance. Using search analytics, you can review results for your most popular searches, searches with high click positions, the most popular searches, and searches with no results. You can identify searches that are not performing and adjust your results relevance. It’s important to do relevance tuning regularly since customer needs and search patterns change. It’s also important to tune relevance when you have changes in your Shopify store content or product catalog.
Enhancing your UX / UI
Giving your users the ability to find what they are looking for fast — and refining it intuitively — is key to getting the most out of your search. Consider the following UX/UI best practices to improve search:
- Display results from the first keystroke. Search-as-you-type experiences encourage users to type twice as many search terms, which leads to more relevant search results and a 24% increase in conversion rates.
- Provide search and navigation in concert and separately. You should allow users to start by either searching or navigating, then further refine their results by leveraging the other strategy in addition — for example offering facets after the user performs a search, or making facets searchable.
- Display and highlight searchable attributes
- Use federated search, which lets you surface all products and content that could help the user along their buyer journey.
Take a mobile-first approach
Mobile users currently account for more than half of web traffic. Users are on the go, time-constrained, and easily distracted, so as you build and improve your Shopify search, the mobile experience you offer needs to be as polished and frictionless as possible.
Mobile devices have unique challenges because of their small screen size, so you should:
- Use query suggestions. On mobile, where real estate is small, it is difficult to display more than 1-2 “rich” results (with several attributes and an image). Instead, a great alternative is to show query suggestion results: complete queries of what the user might have had in mind.
- Take advantage of built-in functionalities
Despite connectivity and screen-size challenges, mobile devices are loaded with tools and functionalities you can take advantage of:
- Use mobile payment options instead of asking for credit cards
- Use GPS to pre-fill addresses and biometric sensors instead of passwords
- Use voice, speech to text, and images for easy input
Improve your KPIs with search analytics
As a critical part of your digital experience, search should be carefully calibrated to grow and maximize your Shopify business KPIs.Search analytics enable you to do that by following your users’ experience and behavior: results they get and those they don’t (aka “empty” results), popular searches, click position, number of “no results”, filter usage, etc.
This will help you make data-driven decisions about your Shopify search experience, and your online business overall.
Personalize the user experience
The massive impact of personalization is hardly a novelty, but what’s often neglected is how different personalization strategies are for each e-commerce business and its customers’ needs. To succeed with personalization, you’ll need to define your strategy: understand your users and their needs and signals. Sometimes what matters is their purchase history, sometimes their brand affinity. You may need to personalize on brand, color, type of product, size — or a mix of these attributes. The same goes for user actions: you’ll need to decide whether clicking on “add-to-cart” is more meaningful than a user opening a product page.
From there, we recommend A/B testing your search scenarios, and constantly iterating on your strategy.
Boost your Shopify conversions with merchandising
Use merchandising to amplify your Shopify search strategy by aligning it with your catalog, revenue targets, promotional campaigns, and marketing strategies. Some best practices and use cases include:
- Seasonal campaigns. When you run a seasonal campaign to promote products or feature content in your Shopify store, make sure that related search queries have these same items promoted for the same time period.
- Keyword optimization. The same way you optimize your Shopify category pages, you can optimize matching keywords to ensure a consistent experience on your website or app by hiding or boosting relevant items.
- Deploy a global strategy and adapt it to your local customer base by adjusting merchandising and product promotion strategies locally to the relevant keywords.
Take advantage of visual drag and drop tools to manually reorganize items for direct impact:
- Push certain items to the top of the stack
- Highlight seasonal items
- Feature items you want to move fast
Modern Shopify plugins offer plenty of features to help you use search strategically. You can now use Shopify search to power inspiring discovery experiences for your users, and harness better business results for you.
See what Algolia has in store for Shopify businesses by checking out our Shopify solutions page, or watch this short video: