What’s the secret to improving your Shopify conversion? Great search

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could jump-start your Shopify-powered online store or app and end up with some amazing KPIs? 

The good news is that you can; all it takes is adding some search features and a little content discovery technology to your ecommerce site. Whether your Shopify-powered store is small and just starting out or large and well established, you can enhance your shoppers’ online searching, browsing, and buying experiences with API-based solutions from Algolia, a Shopify Plus Certified Partner

What about built-in Shopify search — isnt that good enough? 

Well, no. Its a start, but only a rudimentary one. 

You can do much more to help your shoppers love the experience they enjoy on your Shopify or Shopify Plus site. You can do it by taking your search functionality seriously and extending its reach. With specialized plugins that enhance searching, you can drive your conversion up, increase your average order value, and vastly improve your bottom line, not to mention delight your customers and keep them regularly coming back long after they complete their first checkout. 

So what, then, does creating a compelling Shopify search experience entail?

7 tips to improve your online shopping experience on Shopify

There are 7 key areas that, when done right, make for great Shopify search:

  1. Improving the relevance of shoppers’ search results
  2. Using search analytics to guide your decisions
  3. Enhancing the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI)
  4. Streamlining for people using mobile devices
  5. Using targeted personalization
  6. Doing smart merchandising 
  7. Anticipating shoppers’ needs with product recommendations

Improving the relevance of shoppers’ search results

High search relevance naturally correlates with a great online shopping experience. The better you are at determining your customers’ search intent and serving them relevant search results pages in your Shopify or Shopify Plus store, the better their user experiences will be, with the added benefits for you of higher conversion and lower bounce rates.

Textual relevance refers to how well search results match the text of someone’s query. You can provide more-relevant results for visitors to your Shopify store by improving these aspects of your textual relevance:

  • Typo tolerance. Understand a shopper’s buying intent from their search product description, even if they misspell a word or use a “stop word” (e.g., the, and, at, with)
  • Synonyms. Offer synonym results (e.g., results for parka when they enter jacket) and include prefix search (p, pa, and pan would show results for pants and trousers)
  • Plurals. Apply intuitive search tactics: when the shopper enters “man shoes”, return results for “men’s shoes” 

Business relevance means using your site metrics — like click-through rates (CTRs), conversion rates, and popularity — to refine your search relevance and ensure that shoppers are shown their most appropriate content. For example, you can track conversion on items and then, in search, show those with the highest conversion rates first.

Because shopper preferences and search patterns continually change, it’s smart to regularly assess where you have opportunities to fine-tune and optimize your search relevance. You can also schedule a quick tune-up whenever there are changes in your Shopify store content or product catalog.

Using search analytics to guide your decisions

If you want to grow your Shopify business KPIs, it pays to carefully calibrate your search. You can do that with search analytics by monitoring your users’ experiences and online behaviors. For instance, look at the results your searchers get or don’t get (empty results), your popular searches, click positions, number of “no results” searches, and filter usage. Having these key details on hand then lets you make data-driven decisions about your Shopify search experience. For example, you can proactively identify searches that aren’t performing well and adjust their relevance.

Shopify search analytics

Enhancing the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI)

Giving your users the ability to find what they want fast — and intuitively refining what they’re shown — is imperative for getting the most out of your Shopify search functionality. Put these UX- and UI-improving tips to work on your site or in your app:

  • Display results starting with the searcher’s first keystroke. An autocomplete (search-as-you-type) feature encourages users to enter twice as many search terms, which leads to more-relevant search results and, according to studies, a 24% increase in conversion.
  • Provide search and then navigation, or vice versa. Let users start by either searching or navigating, then refine their results by following up with the other method. For example, offer facets after they do a search or make the facets searchable.
  • Display and highlight searchable attributes. For example, with the product search below, the shopper can narrow the search by the product type, texture, collection pages, or price:

shopify store highlighting searchable attributes

  • Provide federated search, which also surfaces any product-related content, such as  reviews, blog posts, and collections, that could be interesting to the shopper. Here are some sample federated search results:

federated search on shopify

Streamlining for people using mobile devices

Mobile users account for more than half of the traffic on the Web. Mobile shoppers are time constrained and easily distracted, so as you build and improve your Shopify or Shopify Plus search, it pays to make your site’s mobile experience as easy as possible.

Mobile devices pose challenges because of their small screen sizes, so it helps to:

  • Prominently place your Shopify search bar. Make it easy for people to find with a full-length text box, dedicated search tab, or simple search icon:  shopify mobile search - placement of search bar
  • Utilize query suggestions. On mobile devices, where screen real estate is so impossibly limited, it’s difficult to display more than 1–2 “rich” results (those with several attributes and an image). Avoid that challenge by instead showing query suggestion results: complete queries of what the user might have in mind. 
  • Take advantage of built-in mobile functionality. Despite their screen-size challenges, mobile devices are loaded with cool tools and functionality. For example, shoppers can:
    • Use mobile payment options instead of being asked for a credit card number
    • Instead of passwords, use GPS or biometric sensors to prefill personal data fields
    • Easily query using voice, speech to text, and images

Using targeted personalization

The massive impact of personalization is hardly a novelty, but what’s often overlooked is how personalization strategies are often different for each ecommerce business and its unique customer preferences. 

To succeed with personalization, you must first thoroughly understand your users and their needs. Sometimes what matters is their purchase history, sometimes it’s their brand affinity. 

Only then can you define your search strategy. You might choose to personalize by focusing on a brand, a color, a type of product, a size, or a mix of various product attributes. The same goes for user actions: you have to determine whether someone clicking “Add to cart” is more meaningful than opening a product page.

One more important tip: do A/B testing of your search scenarios and continually iterate on your strategies.

Doing smart merchandising

You can use merchandising to amplify your Shopify search strategy by aligning it with your catalog, revenue targets, promotional campaigns, and marketing strategies. Best practices for merchandising include:

  • Aligning search with seasonal campaigns. When you promote holiday products or feature seasonal content in your Shopify store, make sure related search queries have the same items promoted for the same time periods.
  • Intelligently optimizing keywords. In the same way that you optimize Shopify category pages on your website or in your app, you can optimize matching keywords to hide or boost relevant items, ensuring a consistent user experience.
  • Localizing shoppers’ search results. People are used to being served search results covering where they can buy products nearby and other information that reflects where they’re located. Satisfy your local customer populations by adjusting your merchandising and product promotion strategies to include local results for their keywords.

You can also use visual drag-and-drop tools to manually reorganize items as needed. You can:

  • Push certain items to the top of the search stack
  • Highlight seasonal items
  • Feature items you want to sell fast

Anticipating shoppers’ needs with product recommendations

One element of both personalization and smart merchandising is making appropriate product recommendations to shoppers based on their behavior on your site. This can make your customer experience truly stand out, as according to a survey we did of online retailers about how they use search, only 20% of these companies  personalize their searches and recommendations to appeal specifically to each  shopper.


With product recommendations, you can automatically show people items and content that complement or offer a refinement of what they’re searching for or viewing. Providing “thoughtful” recommendations like this maximizes conversion, as well as catalog exposure for online vendors.

Double down on your Shopify success

How much can you increase engagement, conversion, and customer loyalty by plugging Algolia into your Shopify or Shopify Plus online store?

Polish toy retailer Noski Noski is one impressive example. The team implemented Algolia Recommend on its website so that if a customer reached a page and wasn’t interested in what they saw, they’d see a recommendation for something truly relevant. “The journey on the website is much richer,”  says the company co-founder Piotr Tuszewicki. “We conducted A/B testing and we saw after two or three weeks that the results [were] definitely better.” 

Algolia provides full integration with Shopify and is a Shopify Plus Certified Partner. You get access to a full range of advanced search and discovery capabilities through a plugin, plus full documentation and 24×7 support.

To see how easy it would be to improve your business KPIs with advanced search from Algolia, request a demo today!

About the authorsIvana Ivanovic

Ivana Ivanovic

Senior Content Strategist
Catherine Dee

Catherine Dee

Search and Discovery writer

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