Episode 8: The Future of On-Site Search for Ecommerce
We are now officially in the era of first party data. What are your customers looking for and what are they finding on your site?
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- The Era of 1st Party Data (00:07)
- Introductions (02:11)
- Welcome to The Future of Ecommerce (02:54)
- Driving More Revenue with On-Site Search (03:46)
- Increasing Conversion and AOV? (06:30)
- Which Merchants Should Be Focused on Site Search? (08:06)
- What Type of Content Should Brands Be Posting? (09:37)
- Best Practices for Site Search (12:51)
- How to Make Use of a Zero Results Page (15:45)
- The Future of On-Site Search (18:35)
- Doofinder, The Advanced Search Solution for Ecommerce (22:04)
- Final Thoughts (23:02)
The Era of 1st Party Data (00:07)
We are now officially in the era of first party data, whether that's through collecting email, address, phone number, taking a quiz and getting skin type and body shape from your customer, or perhaps in the case of this episode, there's search and search intent. What are your customers looking for and what are they finding on your site? In this episode, you'll learn about the power of onsite search, how you can use that search to inform the next blog article or support article that you're going to write ways to avoid the zero results page and how detrimental this page can be to your store. Please never have a zero results page again, after listening to this podcast and a lot of best practices in optimizing your onsite search results in order to increase average order value and conversion rate five massive numbers.
So let's take you to The Future of On-Site Search for Ecommerce.
This episode is brought to you by Doofinder - the advanced on-site search platform for Ecommerce. If you're looking to avoid the no results page and increase average order value and conversion rate on your site, maybe you've got hundreds of skews or a few different categories to choose from, and you know, that your customers are getting lost. Doofinder is the right solution for you. You can check them out at https://ecommtech.link/doofinder-podcast. That is https://ecommtech.link/doofinder-podcast. You'll learn more about Doofinder and find out if they are the right solution for you later in the episode.
Hi, everybody today's episode is a little bit different as I have brought in a guest host, Lucas Walker. He hosts a myriad of podcast over at https://rolledup.io. I highly recommend you check them out. They're perfect for Ecommerce store owners and entrepreneurs. Lucas is interviewing Victor from Doofinder and they have a nice casual conversation about the state of onsite search as it is today, components that go into improving average order value and conversion rate, how to figure out what articles to write and do some customer development through analyzing your on-site search results, owning your own first party data as well as the future of Ecommerce and on-site search. Let's get into it.
Welcome to The Future of Ecommerce (02:54)
Welcome everyone. I am Lucas Walker, filling in as a guest for the future commerce podcast. You might recognize my voice from one of the gazillion pods I've done, but this is the Lucas Walker show. This is all helping you find better tech to help your store perform better. Joining me today is the chief search evangelist from Doofinder, Victor. Victor say hello to everyone. Give us a little bit more background on who you are and the, the five second pitch of what Doofinder does. We'll get into more details towards the end, but give us a quick overview of who you are and what Doofinder does.
I am Victor from Doofinder. Doofinder is an advanced search solution that allows you to have full control over your Ecommerce search experience, helping Ecommerce achieve their goals.
Driving More Revenue with On-Site Search (03:46)
And one of the ways that you hit those goals of driving more revenue is by making onsite search much easier. So I think when most people think of search, they think of Google SEO, veteran Ecommerce sellers may think of Amazon search as its own specific type of search. And I call this platform specific SEO, but what's something that maybe if you are say, selling LED replacement lights for pickup trucks, you might start to think of it then when you have a lot of SKUs, but customers are, are searching for things that are on your, your website and Google is traditionally not the best at that. So you, they need to be able to search on your site and what makes Google so bad at onsite search for Ecommerce?
Well, I would say that what, what makes them so, but to say, say it that way is that they're not trying to be your site search. Google search and site search, I'd say are both sides of the same coin. Both are trying to help you as a user find what you're looking for. Google is trying to take a query and distill all the knowledge in the universe, squeeze it and deliver a very easily understandable answer to you. That very moment while your site search is all about delivering usability and, and keeping control over the experience that I think is, is the key word here control because as an Ecommerce manager, you can't control what Google search is showing. I mean, you can try, that's what SEO experts are trying to do all the time.
There's what do you like a Buddhist analogy or a surfer analogy?
Surfer, right? Yeah, let's go surfing.
So it's almost like you're surfing and you know, the tide's coming in. You can't control that tide, but you can try to ride it as best as you can. And if you do it well, you can get a lot of speed and that's sort of like search engine optimization where you can't control what Google is doing, but if you understand it, you can ride that wave in. But you're really at that tide's mercy, just like you're at Google's mercy.
Absolutely. At the end of the day, you are like, renting space on Google. You're trying to keep yourself there as much as possible. That's a very good analogy with surfing. But with site search, you own the channel. You can fine tune it with firsthand information from your users. And that, that is really, really powerful.
Increasing Conversion and AOV? (06:30)
Absolutely. And I think that, that brings up something that we were talking about in the green room, which is, you'd mentioned that customers or shoppers who search, they tend to spend for the increase, their conversion rate by 4x to 8x, and these tend to increase AOV as well. Is that across the board or are there specific types of sites that benefit from, from that conversion?
That is an average across the board. Across the board 30% of users search and out of those who search, they tend to convert way more with, with a higher ticket. But obviously depending on your vertical and depending on your user interface and so on and so forth search is going to be more important to your, to your case then it's going to be either more important to you than, than other verticals. For example, I can think of one case where site search wouldn't make much sense to you. Imagine that you only have one product and you are only selling, I don't know, one type of coffee right on the internet because you are roasting it, and that is all you offer. And you just, are you just selling that, then it makes no sense for you to pay so much attention to site search. You have all the ways to improve your conversion and to improve discoverability of your products. But in most other cases, site search is going to be really important for you.
Which Merchants Should Be Focused on Site Search? (08:06)
I think one of the biggest conceptions around site search is do you have to have a bunch of SKUs, or if I'm selling maybe three different flavors of something or, or funny t-shirts for instance, and I've got maybe 40 different designs, do I still need to focus on my, my onsite search? Or is it more for brands and websites that have a ton of SKUs?
I would say that both the number and the variety of your products are going to give you a very good baseline indicator. Obviously, when we need to understand that site search is trying to simplify the process of navigation and discovery. It makes sense that if you have more varied catalog, search is going to you simplify your navigation and discovery process, because there is more there to simplify, right? If you have a very simple website to begin with search is not going to help you that much. But for example, if you, if we come back to the same example as before, if you're only selling one product, one product, but at the same time, you have a lot of content related to your product. If you have a blog where people can, can search for coffee related content, and they use that, you have to care about site search too, because not everything is about discovering product. It's about discovering your content too.
What Type of Content Should Brands Be Posting? (09:37)
It's a little bit of a detour. If you, you don't want to know that we teased everyone with these increase your sales eight, eight times, but we're, we're, we're going to have to wait to get to the really good stuff. What type of content should brands be, be posting? And I love the coffee knowledge because most people drink some sort of caffeine as some sort of caffeine delivery method. So if I'm a coffee brand or I sell tea, what kinds of things should I be putting on my blog that could get searched? I'd love to just hear a an example. And I'm asking the question in a really long way to give you a little bit of time to think about it. Cause I know it's a loaded question, but I just think it's so, so fascinating to think of from a, how do you use the product to make sure that they, they get the best experience to even just finding new, new types of products and educating customers on it, but without taking away from the product page.
I'm going to give you an answer that I think is very simple, but it's going to surprise you at the same time. I would say post what your users are searching for. With your search, you have firsthand information of super long tail keywords where you can know what are they searching for? What do they want to see? Obviously, with when you're making your SEO strategy for content you're using tools like SEMrush, or Ahrefs, or whatever, the ones that work for you, right? But those databases don't have the depth that you would have with first-hand information because those super long tail keywords don't appear inside any database. Maybe they don't know that your particular users are very interested in site into a particular kind of coffee, or maybe you have to post, you have to post support related content because that is what people are searching for. But at the end of the day, I would say, understand how they're searching for it, understand why they're searching for it, understand the keywords that they are using, and then you will be able to implement actions that that will allow you to deliver that content.
The support related content is such a, it's such a no brainer to me. And of course we've done a ton of work with Gorgias. I think four years ago, I was giving a keynote at the Shopify support summit. And one thing that really comes to mind with that is if it's a question that your current customers are asking potential customers are probably asking it too, because if your existing customers can't figure it out, you probably want to address that ahead of time because that's probably an objection, an objection that somebody wants to bust.
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. 100% there. And you can definitely tackle your shortcomings with communications before the fact information is key. And I would say that site search is a great source of information to understand your sales process and your funnel better.
Best Practices for Site Search (12:51)
Yeah. Now let's get to the, the real meat and potatoes with the people are, are looking for. So what are the best practices when it comes to that site search? So what do merchants need to be doing to boost their average order value and their conversion rates?
Well, I would say that from what we have said, understanding your users, understanding what they're looking for and, and the queries, the specific keywords that they are using, it's really important. So having that information very on the forefront of your strategy has to be a priority for you. So you need to know first, how are they searching for the keywords and how is your current search answering those questions, because imagine that you have, I dunno, a sports store, right? And you're selling a ping pong paddles, and somebody searches for ping pong paddles, and they get zero results. Why? It could be because you have indexed those ping pong paddles as I know, table tennis rackets. So even if you do have a product, but you don't understand how your potential customers are searching for those you are going to be getting zero results, which is one of the worst user experience that you can have. When, when speaking about site search because 70% of those who arrive to a zero results page never come back, did they just leave the page and two never return again, because that, that is one of the biggest problems that you can have when optimizing your site search, not caring about your zero results. And that is because you don't have enough information to know where, where you have to optimize.
And then when you, the information that people are searching for ping pong, paddles as table tennis, or vice versa, table tennis records, or ping pong paddles, you can do a hundred things. You can set synonyms for those two queries, you can create custom results where you can deliver only the products that you want for those specific keywords, or I dunno, you could even prioritize certain products over others when, when people are searching for those terms. So you can do a hundred things, but the first things to do is understand your users, understand how they're searching for your products and then avoid bad user experience. And zero results are one of those that you definitely don't want to have.
How to Make Use of a Zero Results Page (15:45)
What if there is a zero results, frequency coming up? Is there any way to make use of that zero results page?
Yes, of course. Imagine that you don't have the product that they're searching for, right? Imagine that you have the same store and people are searching for ping pong paddles and you don't sell those. Well, I would say that where you have to do is first of all, to know, to have information about how many people are searching for that, for that term. And to question yourself, should I be selling ping-pong paddles because, because maybe there's an opportunity there, but the first thing that you need to do is to offer related results. And you can do that the same way that we have done the synonym relation or the custom result for the term in the previous example. But you need to know when are you getting zero results? Because what I have found out is that most Ecommerce managers, I talk to have no idea of the percentage of searches that return zero results. On average for standard side search tools, the ones that comes with your, your Ecommerce platform, that number is 15% means one in seven searches returned zero results. It is crazy.
Wow. Wow. That's, that's pretty, pretty significant. So now that we, we know what we want to avoid, what are some of the opportunities that come up when we're looking at our search data?
Opportunities, all of them, I would say, because as I've said before, firsthand information is the only one that, that matters. It's the one that matters the most because that is what your users are searching for, right. This moment. So you can, you can check analysis of your vertical. You can check, well, what other people are saying, but at the end of the day, what your users are searching for right now should be your main focus, right? Because that is what it's going to give you a short term boost in your revenue. So, having information for your current current searches, have an information on what products are there, are they clicking what products others searching for, but you don't have inside your catalog, what products they are searching for, but you are not showing because maybe you don't have a good site search solution. So I would say that opportunities are there, but you need to have the information to take advantage of them.
The Future of On-Site Search (18:35)
I think that that's a, a really nice segue into transitioning into what the future is with all the data collections. What do you think the future of onsite search is?
I would say that we're now on the verge of all the buzzwords, like AI and machine learning and all those terms that sounded like Sci-Fi a few years ago. They are becoming a reality as of right now. For example, we have AI such solution right now in the market that is able to collect all the information of a user and deliver personalized results. And I think that is that's, that's going to increase exponentially during the next years. Personalization, that is something that the giants of Ecommerce are always doing and that have been doing for years, but now that is accessible to medium Ecommerce and small Ecommerce is all around the world for very little money. So I think that is going to be a huge leap. Not only in terms of quality of results, but also in terms of quality of life for Ecommerce managers, because you are not going to have to spend as much money optimizing your search, because that is going to be done on the backend of your solution, because it's going to take all the information where are they looking? How are they moving their mouses, the keywords are they using? Where are they clicking? And they're going to be delivering personalized results for that specific session.
Following that same logic, voice search and virtual reality are probably the next two, the next two technologies that are around the corner passing artificial intelligence. We know that virtual reality is having a huge impact in verticals like architecture and interior design. But I think through the next 5 to 10 years, we're going to be seeing a much broader adoption of those technologies in order to mimic sort of say the retail experience.
Well, that's something that I think is really coming out with a lot of virtual merchandising, which is great when you first walk in and it's like walking into a store, but if customers can't find what they're really coming there to buy, it doesn't matter. I mean, think of a hardware store when you walk in and you see all the latest, smart home, new tech, but really what you want is some washers for your toilet. That way in the back, the packaging hasn't been updated since the 1980s, but it doesn't matter. You just need to be able to find it because you have such a specific need for that product. .
Yeah and, and hardware stores know that, because they have been doing it for years. That is why you can find at least one people per hour. So you can ask them directly, "Hey, where can I find this small screw that I'm looking for"? So even the smallest thing can be solved because they have in-person search from the workers of the appliance store or the hardware.
Doofinder, The Advanced Search Solution for Ecommerce (22:04)
Yeah. And I think that's a a nice little segue to tell us a little bit more about Doofinder. Where can we find you and just really who, who should be checking you out if they, if you describe them and someone says, "Hey, that's me" where can people find Doofinder?
Doofinder is an advanced search solution that allows you to take control of your Ecommerce search experience. So if you have an Ecommerce go to doofinder.com. It can be installed in less than five minutes, no code required. And it works with all Ecommerce platforms regardless of, of how they're built. And you will be able to do things like advanced filters, smart suggestions manage synonyms, get real time statistics and a lot more so head to doofinder.com for a free 30 day trial. If you have site search related problems, or if you want to improve the conversion of your store.
Final Thoughts (23:02)
Wow. So many great nuggets to unpack in that interview. Most importantly, you should from now on ensure that nobody is getting a zero results page. This is the perfect opportunity to find other products, to sell them in your existing catalog, as well as the customer development opportunities. Anytime somebody lands on a so-called no results page on what you should be including in your store, new products to launch, new blog posts to write, new support articles to create based on those search results. If you didn't catch it, high SKU stores are going to need search quite a lot more than low SKU stores, but low SKU stores with blogs that need relevant search content to come to the top are going to still benefit from this.
I think you can imagine what the future of onsite search is going to look like across typing, voice, virtual reality, and any other way people can search and discover your products from your own site, not just from Google, but from your own site, your own first party data, right?
That is it for me, Derric Haynie and this episode. Again, if you are looking for an onsite search solution, if you're looking to increase average order value and conversion rate, if you know that your customers are, or you think that they're hitting the no results page, if you're worried that your search terms are confusing, convoluting, there's common spelling, mistakes, etc. Check out, https://ecomtech.link/doofinder. That is https://ecomtech.link/doofinder.
If you enjoyed this episode, we would appreciate a five star review on whichever podcast platform you're listening to. For the show notes of this episode, you can head over to https://ecomtech.link/podcast.
Thank you again to Lucas Walker from rolled up podcast network for guest hosting this episode. Lucas's amazing. Highly recommend you check out his podcast and as always, I will see you next time.