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current thoughts on site search

 6:56 pm on Aug 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Like most merchants we have always had a site search function on our website and it does work fairly well with good filtering/refining options on the display page.

My big concern of course is for customers not finding what they are looking for, getting frustrated and leaving.

Has anybody completely removed their search box - if what were the results?



 11:24 am on Aug 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

IMHO I believe you should keep it. The more ways you provide for a user to get to what their looking for, the more likely you are to make a sale - baring in mind clean navigation and design and the full user experience.

Not everyone browses a website the same way and different markets require different ways of presenting content. Toothpaste (for example) is a commodity item and if I wanted to buy it online I would simply search for it on your site. But buying the passenger side torsion bar link for my 2000 Honda CRV would be better served by a drill down menu - maybe a search if I knew the part number - which most driveway mechanics aren't likely to know.

I'd say keep it but maybe you can track the searches and success rates?


 11:57 am on Aug 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

I removed mine because it broke. That was back in November. Since then, sales have averaged 45% higher. Are the two things related? I don't know. I can't think of anything else I did. I have been posting on Facebook for a while, but I see hardly any clicks from there. I have been wondering, though, if having a search box means people search, don't see what they want, and leave, as opposed to no search box, people go looking, and find other stuff they didn't know they wanted. But I don't know. One thing nice for me about the search box was keeping track of what people were looking for, which gave me ideas for expanding products.


 7:53 pm on Aug 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

If your internal search sucks, then either improve it or remove it.

The problem is that customers have grown accustomed to the big search engines which are tolerant to typos and mistakes. If a customer types in wdiget or wodget instead of widget and your internal search engines shows no result, the chances are high the customer simply leaves.

My recommendation however would be to improve your search instead of removing it. I did that about two years ago, added an "instant search" feature where results are shown while customers type and a fuzzy search based on the Damerau-Levenshtein algorithm. I implemented this myself, however if you lack the knowledge to program something like this, there are third party solutions available for a monthly fee, like Exorbyte or Findlogic. You provide an XML Feed with your products and add their search box to your website. I tested Exorbyte and the results where pretty impressive. However since I do not like third party tools I wrote my own search engine - which is pretty slow compared to theirs but works with the few hundred products I have.

A good internal site search can give you a real edge over the competition.


 10:53 pm on Aug 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

And keep in mind that the search data is valuable. Be sure to mine it to find what words and phrases your users use for products you stock and to find what products they want that you don't stock.


 2:05 pm on Aug 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Be sure to mine it to find what words and phrases your users use for products you stock and to find what products they want that you don't stock.

Interesting idea! Thank you.


 4:53 pm on Aug 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

good replies, I do mine the search results but most of them look like 3rd grader typed them in, really awful searches which would never return a result.

I like the auto-suggest type search, might look into a 3rd party for that.

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