Archive for the ‘Site Search Tips’ Category

Give your Mobile Shoppers What they Want

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Sasha Butkovich is Senior Writer for Ecommerce Outtakes and a guest blogger for SLI’s Site Search Today.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ll say the obvious: mobile eCommerce is growing like crazy. Mobile and tablet sales continue to increase as a proportion of total online sales, surpassing desktop according to reports. But retailers looking to get in on the mobile action shouldn’t dive in blindly. As I mentioned in my last post on this blog, there are plenty of mistakes to avoid in a mobile strategy. Now, it’s time to take a look at the flip side of the coin and focus on the “dos” instead of the “don’ts.” Here are examples of three mobile sites that offer a great user experience. What do these retailers all have in common? They know their audience. Take a look.

Amazon: Personalization

24Oct_Amazon_screenshot1As the reigning king of eCommerce sites, it should come as no surprise that Amazon has their mobile act together. Of course, Amazon also knows their customers want access to their account wherever they go. Once a shopper is logged in to their Amazon account, the mobile site becomes more personalized, much like the desktop site. Customers will see product recommendations on the homepage that are based on their purchase and browsing histories. On top of that, users can manage their entire account, including wish lists, payment options, and more. All the perks of the desktop site, all the convenience of mobile, none of the mess. It’s a beautiful thing.

If users arrive on the homepage without logging in, they’ll see some of the popular Amazon products featured, like Amazon MP3 and the Kindle line. For a site that sells pretty much everything, it’s important to put that brand recognition front and center. Notice also that the homepage doesn’t waste precious space on a small mobile screen with the lesser-shopped departments. It only features the most popular categories to start people off with what they’re more likely to want.

Folica: Emphasis on Offers & Ratings

24Oct_Folica_Screenshot124Oct_Folica_screenshot2There’s something sleek about the Folica mobile site. The homepage doesn’t bother to feature any particular products, but instead places the focus on the special offers. It’s nice for users to see the promotions up front so they know they will be getting a good deal from this retailer. Mobile users are on the go, and won’t want to waste their time on a site that won’t offer them a good value, so this is a great way to make a happy customer.

Below the special offers banner, shoppers will find many specific categories to help them choose the avenue that will help them get to the items they want. One especially cool category is Top 10. Opening this tab, users will see a whole list of Top 10 categories, like Top 10 Hair Dryers, Top 10 Shampoos, and Top 10 Gifts. This is such a nice way to shop, because it combines product type with highest customer ratings in one simple list. Putting such a high emphasis on customer reviews shows how much this retailer values the shopper. This is especially nice for mobile shoppers because it eliminates the lower-rated items, helping the user get to the good stuff quickly.

Gap.com: Customer Service & Geolocation

24_Oct_Gap_Screenshot1Gap is an example of a retailer with both a strong eCommerce presence and strong brick-and-mortar sales. This retailer understands how to connect the two in their mobile site to provide the best experience for their customers. People shopping on their phone might be looking to make that purchase in a store, so the Find In Store option on this site is a perfect addition. Right from a product page, users can select their size and color, then click the Find In Store button. The site uses geo-location to show the closest stores, and displays the availability of the item in each location.

Putting customer service at the forefront is an awesome strategy, too. Free Shipping and Free Returns offers are displayed right on the homepage. When clicked on, the details are shown in a lightbox, eliminating the need for the user to navigate away from this page. Another great element is the easy access to the company’s other brands, as many of Gap’s customers also shop at Banana Republic and Old Navy. On this mobile site, it’s all easily connected by a simple drop-down menu at the top of the homepage.

At the end of the day, offering a great mobile experience is all about considering a site’s specific audience. Knowing who is using the mobile site and what they’re using it for will go a long way to inform the design and navigation. Offering customers any personalization, reviews, special offers, and geo-location they’re looking for will keep them returning to the site for future purchases!

Give Me Relevant Results Now – or Never!

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

As consumers, it seems the more technology-savvy we become, the more impatient we also become. Once we catch a glimpse of what it’s like to have an amazing customer experience, we expect other sites to rapidly adopt the latest technology and best practices to meet the latest standard of excellence.

This is certainly the case in eCommerce. When searching for a particular product, I expect to see highly relevant results the first time I type in a search phrase. Whether I’m using my smartphone, tablet or laptop, if I ask for “women’s wool blazer,” then that’s exactly what I want to see – nothing more or less – especially if I’m on my iPhone and don’t have enough screen space to browse 50 items. I find that if a retailer gives me irrelevant results, I’ll just move on to another site that I’ve had a good experience with in the past.

I’m not alone in my impatience, said Harris Interactive in a 2013 study, which found that 30 percent of mobile shoppers who hit a snag will abandon their online cart and never return to that site again. (See Mobile Shoppers Rarely Give Second Chances). An SLI Survey showed that 73% of customers will leave a site in less than two minutes if they can’t find what they’re looking for. Personally, I think two minutes is generous – I can tell you I won’t give a site that long if I only have five minutes between appointments to get something ordered!

Boden_Mobile_WomensWoolBlazerBoden understands the importance of relevance in delivering a great customer experience. In my search for women’s wool blazer, they showed me the three wool blazers they have, and nothing else. Since their site is optimized for mobile use, I could easily view the images and product details on my iPhone and gather just enough information to quickly browse the items and make a decision. This is the kind of experience that will keep me coming back to shop on their site. And it’s probably why Boden has seen a 177% increase in average conversions since implementing advanced site search solutions.

Another site search feature that streamlines the user experience is Rich Auto Complete. I love sites where I can start typing the first few letters of a word and within seconds see the name, image and short description of the exact product I’m looking for. NaturalWellbeing.com uses this feature, and it makes it so easy to shop. Wanting to try melatonin for sleep, I start typing in mela- and before I finish the word or click the search button, I’m shown the two melatonin products they offer along with the price. They both look good, so I click one and it takes me straight to checkout – I’m done and on to other things.

NaturalWellBeing_RichAutoComplete4You can bet the next time I try shopping on a site that doesn’t have Rich Auto Complete, I’m going to experience some of that technology-induced impatience I mentioned earlier.

Usability experts such a Jakob Nielsen confirm that such impatience is common. “Today’s consumers aren’t satisfied with sites that simply make it possible to shop; the experience must also be pleasant,” he said. In his eCommerce Usability study, Nielsen found that users’ first in-site query is successful only 64% of the time. And if users don’t find what they are looking for on your site, they’ll often assume you don’t have the product and will leave, rather than changing their search query. Yep, I’ve done that.

To achieve the kind of relevancy that keeps impatient shoppers like me on your site, you should learn which products are most clicked on for each search term and all its variations, and then rearrange each associated results page accordingly. Doing this manually would be beyond tedious, so it’s important to use a site search engine that automatically learns and ranks the most relevant products in search results.

Search that Learns and Improves
Such a capability goes beyond the default search that comes with your platform. But SLI’s Learning Search is effective because it determines relevancy based on site search activity – then continues to learn and improve based on which products are most clicked on after a particular search query. This ensures that the best results are always shown first.

It’s important to remember that today’s tech-savvy eCommerce customers are also sophisticated searchers. We know the type of search experience we can get from a good search engine, and we’ll expect that experience on your eCommerce site as well. By ensuring the highest relevance, you’ll meet or even exceed our expectations for an easy shopping experience.

There are several ways you can start improving your site search relevance today. Download SLI’s Big Book of Site Search Tips to read dozens of best practices. Or sign up for a free site critique to receive personalized recommendations on how to improve your site search relevancy. You can also request a demo to learn how SLI Systems can help you turn more site visitors into buyers. Whichever you choose, you’ll find that improving your customer experience with your site search will inevitably improve your conversions and profitability as well.

What Do Young Consumers Want from eCommerce?

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

In my last blog regarding usability, I detailed some of the design features and functionality that make eCommerce user-friendly for an older demographic. The important features to optimize site search and navigation for the 65 and older user contrasts considerably with today’s youngest set of shoppers. These digital natives, ages 12-17 years old, are comfortable with evolving technologies, new features, and shopping concepts that take shopping online to a whole new level.

Investment firm Piper Jaffray, in its 25th semi-annual study, found that 79 percent of teen females and 76 percent of males shopped online, with 70 percent of those teens shopping online at their favorite stores. Creating an engaging and valuable website is crucial in capturing the attention of young shoppers, who have never experienced a time in their lives without technology.

Important Features for the Young Online Shopper

Jakob Nielsen, a pioneer in the user experience field, has researched the usability features most important for the teen online shopper in his article, “Teenage Usability: Designing Teen-Targeted Websites.” Nielsen says sites geared toward the teen market should use less text and adhere to standard design layouts. Examples of such sites are HotTopic.com, KidRobot.com, and SpencersOnline.com. Nielsen points out some specific design features that are important for teens: use of bright color, high quality images, integrated media such as videos and music, interactive games, and links to social media.

The Influence of Social Media

Social media has become an integral part of the teen market online shopping experience. The 2013 Piper Jaffray survey confirms that Facebook and YouTube are still the favorite social media sites for teens, with 53 percent of females and 52 of males indicating that social media influences their purchases (especially Facebook).

Other non-conventional social media platforms such as Pinterest and Polyvore have created innovative ways for teenagers to connect with their friends, see what their friends are interested in, and link them directly to eCommerce sites where purchases can be made.

Polyvore, for instance, is a community-driven social commerce site where members pick and choose from a variety of clothing, shoes and accessories to create fashion collages. Users can see other community members’ and friends’ fashion boards. Below these completed fashion boards are links to external retail websites, where users can complete any online transactions.

Pinterest, like Polyvore, is community-powered and allows members to follow friends’ and like-minded individuals’ pinboards. Pinterest users can re-pin rich images of home design, nature, fashion, food and beverages, and an assortment of other items for their followers to see. Each image or “pin” links directly to an online retailer’s site, essentially sharing that link with a huge network of followers.

Surprising Findings on Usability for Teens

Compared to other demographics, the teen market is actually less affected by poor usability features such as errors (their own or at the fault of the site). In the case of negative usability, such as slower loading time, the teen market has been shown to forgive and forget more easily than the senior market. Longer load times can still be frustrating for any user demographic, and may seem even more so for a group that craves instant gratification. However, patience is something that the youth market has practiced because of all types of technology mishaps they experience on a daily basis. This is unlike the senior market, which isn’t completely absorbed by the tech craze of smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Why the Teen Market Matters

Although some will argue that tailoring eCommerce sites to attract the teen market isn’t as valuable because teens don’t have direct buying power when it comes to online shopping, they are extremely influential when it comes to the consumption levels of their parents. According to the 2012 Harris Poll YouthPulse, teen-influenced purchases account for over $211 billion worth of purchasing power! With 23 million teens in the U.S. alone, teens are making a huge impact to the economy and their parents’ wallets.

When considering the teen demographic in their site design and usability, internet retailers should implement those site search tips listed above as a starting point to capture their target market.  Including non-product content such as social media links and interactive content such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Polyvore is a way to stay relevant and exciting to this young group. The key to engaging these Gen Z consumers is to keep it simple, avoid boring content, and consider using responsive website designs for multiple interfaces to keep your site fresh and fun.

Contact SLI Systems for a free site critique to learn how you can optimize your eCommerce site for this emerging youth market and other key market segments.

Sweet Success with Jelly Belly

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Buttered Popcorn… Cream Soda… Toasted Marshmallow… most of us have favorite likes or dislikes when it comes to Jelly Bellies. And it’s nice to be able to order those favorites from Jelly Belly Candy Company’s online store at www.jellybelly.com. Jelly Belly’s eCommerce site is an important global sales channel for the company, which sells 100 other types of confections in addition to its 75 flavors of Jelly Bellies.

As highlighted in a newly published case study, Jelly Belly uses SLI Systems to improve its user experience and profitability. By optimizing site search and SEO, SLI helped Jelly Belly see a 33% increase in site conversions and a 10% increase in average order value. By using SLI’s customized product results pages and adding those links to email campaigns, Jelly Belly realized an 85% better open rate for emails.

Jelly Belly’s director of e-business Brandon Finch works closely with his Customer Success Manager at SLI to stay on top of search trends and best practices. Recently, Jelly Belly’s search data showed that their BeanBoozled product line of odd-flavored jelly beans was one of the most-searched for products on their site.

By the way, if you haven’t yet been BeanBoozled, watch out – a 1.6 ounce box contains both commonly liked flavors such as Peach or Licorice and identical-looking beans with flavors like Barf and Skunk Spray. It’s a higher-stakes trick than the one I did to my sister as a kid, swapping Watermelon Jelly Bellies for Jalepeno-flavored ones.

After learning how popular its BeanBoozled line was, Jelly Belly worked with SLI to add similar products to the search results page, so that shoppers buying BeanBoozled will also learn about Jelly Belly’s line of Harry Potter Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, which also have strange flavors. (In a handful of Bertie Bott’s, you may taste dirt, earwax, booger, cherry and tutti-frutti.)

SLI also worked with Jelly Belly to create faceted navigation for Jelly Belly’s site, with search refinement options in the left column of the page. For those really into unusual Jelly Belly flavors, their BeanBoozled results page offers refinement by Taste, with the choices of Icky, Assorted or Chocolate.

SLI’s work with Jelly Belly is just one fun example of how SLI continually works to improve each customer’s site for the best possible search results and conversions. You can read additional examples from Boden, American Bridal, PartySuppliesDelivered, Snow + Rock and others on our case studies page, or listen to customers speak in our podcasts and recorded webinars.

Best Practices for DIY and Home Goods eCommerce

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Is there anything people won’t buy online these days? Sofas and even major appliances now have their place in the e-commerce universe, which raises the bar for online businesses that need to serve the special requirements of these shoppers. Unlike browsing for shoes or books, shopping for DIY or home repair products like lighting or power saws needs precise navigating and searching capabilities.

The DIY/home goods space is now big business online: Online hardware and tool sales are a $6 billion market, which has grown an average of 7.8 percent a year since 2007, according to IBISWorld Market Research. To keep the growth at a steady pace, online businesses that sell home and DIY goods need to understand that these products are shopped for in different ways. For example, the expertise level of shoppers varies widely – from skilled craftspeople to someone doing their first home-painting project. Also, some products, like appliances and home décor items, are shopped for based on criteria like appearance, features, and price – whereas products like hardware and tools need to match specific shopper requirements for part number, size or dimension.

The first step in attracting (and keeping) DIY shoppers is to return relevant results for searches. Shoppers, especially the ones smack in the middle of a project, will expect to see results that match their keywords within the first page – otherwise, they’ll leave the site quickly (no doubt to visit the competition). Consider adding useful tools like Auto Complete, which offers search suggestions after the visitor types in the first few letters of a keyword. Thumbnail images within search results are also very helpful, since they provide a visual cue for shoppers trying to decide if they’ve found the products they want.

Since measurements can play an important part of DIY shopping, you should offer the option to search for products using either metric or imperial measurements – especially on a U.S. website, since both systems can be in use. Manufacturers may also use different systems of measurements (e.g. “counter depth” or “standard depth” for refrigerators), so this option can help shoppers avoid an unnecessary “no results” page or confusing results.

The same goes for searches by SKU or part number. If you’ve ever shopped online for a new knob for an oven, or hardware for a set of window blinds, you know how helpful a SKU search can be – you’ll know you have the correct item if it pops up in search results. Make sure your site search can match full or partial SKUs.

If you have store locations whose inventory mirrors what you sell online, you can turn on geolocation services that allow shoppers to see if a product is available locally.

Educating shoppers about best practices for DIY projects is another good way to encourage them to click on the “buy” button. If they’re confident about a project, they’ll want to purchase the products they need to get the job done. For instance, you can add how-to guides, technical specifications, videos, and blog posts to your site, and make this information available via search. It’s especially helpful to separate out these search results by type so that visitors will find it easy to navigate to the content type they want.

Product ratings and reviews can also help boost shopper confidence in an upcoming DIY project. These ratings and reviews should show up in search results, placing them at shopper’s fingertips while they’re looking at product options.

Whether it’s driven by homeowners trying to save money post-recession, or the plethora of home-improvement programs on cable TV channels, DIY has many enthusiastic followers. Make it fast and efficient for these consumers to complete their projects by shopping on your website.

For more research and commentary on eCommerce trends in the DIY category, download this paper: Hardware, Appliances & Tools Industry Brief.

Note: This blog was originally published by JXT Group on July 19, 2013.

Usability Features for the 65+ Online Shopper

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Many of us know someone over 65 who is hesitant to shop online, or even use a computer or smartphone. This leads to the common perception that users 65 and over are resistant to adapt to changing technology. However, some studies show that more than half of the senior market has integrated itself in the eCommerce experience and is continually embracing this “new” way to shop.

As of 2012, 19 million American seniors are avid Internet users, and this number has been growing 16 percent per year for the last decade. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, that’s more than half of the senior population, approximately 55 percent!

As shopping online becomes as routine and easy as checking one’s email, it’s no wonder why the majority of the senior market has really embraced this shift toward online browsing and purchasing. And for some seniors with limited mobility or fixed incomes – or those just looking for a convenient way to quickly browse a number of stores – the benefits of online shopping are becoming even more apparent. The conveniences of shopping at home, combined with the opportunity to compare prices online, are driving this market to push the boundaries of their normal shopping habits.

Online retailers have recognized this shift toward online shopping for the over 65 demographic, and are making a stronger effort to cater to this market that was initially slower to adopt. Sites such as Hoveround.com, Jaystrongwater.com and AARP demonstrate the implementation of certain necessary and important design features for seniors.

Jakob Nielsen, in his article “Seniors as Web Users” observed that companies who redesign their website to give seniors a similar user experience quality as younger users can obtain 35% more business from them. Site usability is the most important aspect of any retailer’s site, as recognized by Nielsen in his research. According to the study, there are five main components that lead to successful site usability:

  1. Learnability: How easy it is for users to complete basic tasks on a first-time site visit.
  2. Efficiency: How quickly users can perform tasks on the site such as searching, ordering and checkout.
  3. Memorability: How quickly users can re-establish proficiency with search and navigation after a period of not using the site.
  4. Errors: How many errors users make, how severe those errors are and if the user can recover from these errors (such as content errors, spelling mistakes and the like).
  5. Satisfaction: What users get out of the site design aesthetically, which is imperative for effective site usability.
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For the senior market, the most important usability features are the ease of accomplishing basic tasks on a first time encounter, how much they remember about the site’s design after not accessing the site for a long period of time and whether they can recover after making search errors.  Users aged 65 and older are 43% slower at using websites than users aged 21–55. And when they had site search problems, seniors blamed themselves 90% of the time, compared to 58% of younger users. This is where a carefully planned user interface and site design is paramount in successfully capturing the senior market to shop on their sites and increase loyalty and retention among eCustomers.

Some design features necessary in developing senior-friendly websites include a large, distinct search bar, clear and bold navigation buttons, easily-readable text and prominence of the most important information above the fold. Other very helpful features are a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page and multiple areas for contact information.

Research by MarketingSherpa suggests that visitors spend about 8 seconds before deciding whether to remain on a site or to search elsewhere. Having a clearly marked search box that returns highly-relevant results is a key component in lowering abandonment rates and increasing conversions to any age demographic – but even more so with this particular market. Online retailers who want to keep seniors coming back to their sites should consider working with search and navigation experts that can help them implement these key design features and ensure than search results are always relevant.

Looking toward the future, we can expect that the 65 and over market will be savvier when it comes to online shopping. Eventually, shopping online will be the norm and the senior market will have completely immersed itself into the experience.

Contact SLI Systems for a free site critique to learn how you can optimize your eCommerce site for 65+ buyers and other key market segments.

 

Mobile Shoppers Rarely Give Second Chances

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Many eCommerce sites are flirting with mobile buyers; some eTailers have fully committed. But a recent Harris Interactive survey makes this clear: if you fail to perform during a shopper’s first visit on your site, don’t count on getting a second chance.

More than 70 percent of U.S. consumers use their smartphones to shop, and among those shoppers, 88 percent have had a negative experience. Most of us can relate to the frustration of having tried to make a purchase via smartphone only to abandon our cart mid-way through the experience. However, according to this study, an alarming 30 percent said that they would never return to that particular retailer’s mobile website again.

How can eCommerce businesses prepare for the shift to mobile?

Whether or not you have a mobile site now, it’s time to treat it seriously. Perhaps you quickly created a basic site a couple years ago to respond to the trend of mobile shopping, or you’re just thinking about moving to the mobile space. Whichever stage you are at, there are some common Mistakes to Avoid when optimizing your mobile site.

Forrester Research, in its 2013 paper Mobile Trends for Marketers, announced that “mobile on the cheap is over,” and suggested that businesses treat it as a strategic priority rather than an afterthought.

The top complaints of mobile shoppers are:

  1. Retailers’ websites are harder to navigate and use on a mobile device than on a desktop (51%)
  2. Product images are too small to make a buying decision (46%)
  3. Concerns over security on a smartphone (41%)
  4. Checkout process is a pain (26%)

 

If these problems sound familiar for your own mobile site, take these proactive steps to improve the experience for your customers. You can start identifying what your mobile site needs by reviewing best practices, as outlined in the Whitepaper “Site Search and the Mobile Experience.” Then set up a site critique for specific, personalized recommendations on how to increase your conversions and boost your average order value, both on your web site and mobile sites.

Mobile shoppers are not the most patient or forgiving crowd. Considering that there are now more than a billion consumers with smartphones and more than 150 million tablets sold, it’s crucial to recognize that consumers around the world are driving a shift in how purchasing is done. By launching a new mobile site or optimizing your existing one, you’ll attract, engage and keep customers coming back.

Advice for eCommerce Success, Live from IRCE

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

We may be halfway through the last day of the exhibit hall at the World’s Largest eCommerce Event, but there’s a lot yet to see and learn today for those at IRCE 2013, the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago. Here are some of the highlights so far, and a couple opportunities still coming up today.

Al Gore Keynote: Focus on Mobile and Go Global

In his keynote address, Vice President Al Gore showed excitement about the growth of eCommerce. He noted that retail comprises 7% of the U.S. GDP, and presented other facts suggesting that he understands the potential boom in growth of online retail – especially in the mobile area, as there are already 1.5 billion smartphone users in the world.

He also focused on the need to think globally, saying “Your customers are global, your competitors are global. The Internet connects billions of people and smart devices… If you keep on your toes and innovate properly, the opportunities are boundless.”

Success Stories from eTailers

While the show is filled with vendors that promise to optimize one area or another of your online business, one of my favorite parts of conferences like IRCE is hearing from the online retailers themselves.

I have had the opportunity to listen in on success stories from seven different eTailers presenting at the SLI Theater in booth #501. JAM Paper, Samuels Jewelers, PartySuppliesDelivered and Envelopes.com have already presented on how they’ve increased their conversions with better search results and site navigation. One of these businesses, Samuels Jewelers, said in a press release today that by using advanced site search features, they were able to realize three times higher conversion rates and double the per-visit value for search users on their site.

Still on the Schedule Today

The following success story presentations are happening at the SLI Theater, booth #501, today:

1 p.m. ReNew Life

2 p.m. Steiner Tractor

3:30 p.m. Vermont Teddy Bear

If you can’t make it to the above live presentations, take a look at some of the following case studies for ideas on how to improve your online business.

Join Tomorrow’s Webinar with Folica!

Monday, March 25th, 2013

The best eCommerce websites understand the needs and buying behaviors of their customers. In the case of hair care and beauty products, shopping for the right product is very personal. Whether considering hair type, brand, or treatments being sought, being able to quickly sift through a wide variety of products and find the right one can be tricky.

Join our webinar tomorrow to hear Sylvia Zori, General Manager of Folica, a leading hair care and beauty site, share her strategies for improving customer retention and conversion rates with site search and merchandising. Learn how she’s pulled from user analytics and site behavior a streamlined shopping experience for customers.

You can sign up here to attend this free webinar. Don’t miss out on learning valuable tips to increase your sales volume with stylish eCommerce tools!

Black Friday Roundup – eCommerce Sales Exceed $1 Billion

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Black Friday spending was up from last year

The numbers are in – and there were two major takeaways from this year’s Black Friday sales.

First: eCommerce made a huge leap this year. Revenues for online sales exceeded one billion dollars for the first time on Friday alone.

The second takeaway: mobile is red hot – 24 percent of all black Friday shoppers visited a mobile site on their phone, an increase of more than 10 percent from just last year.

Sales on mobile devices accounted for more than 16 percent of all online sales, up from 9.8 percent last year, which points to customers’ increasing comfort with mobile shopping. Of all mobile devices, 14.2 percent of sales came from iPhone and Android smartphones, while 9.8 percent of all mobile purchases came from an iPad. Of purchases only from tablets, 88 percent were completed from an iPad.

So while lines were still wrapped around buildings for doorbuster deals and parking lots were still crowded, there was an increase in sales from those of us who prefer to do our shopping couchside as we recover from our Thanksgiving food coma.

Holiday promotions are starting earlier with some sales beginning Thanksgiving night, and customers are definitely getting into the spirit of online shopping. You could be losing them if your eCommerce site’s search isn’t optimized for a variety of web and mobile devices. Whether your customers are surfing from their laptop, on the couch browsing from a tablet or in a store comparing products on their smartphone, they’re looking for a shop and purchase experience that meets their expectations. If you can exceed those expectations, that’s even better.

There are a number of ways to do that by optimizing your site’s search features with highly-relevant search, refinements and features like Rich Auto Complete, which visually display relevant products.

Space is at a premium on mobile sites, which is why features like expandable navigation that stays hidden until users need to refine their searches, or auto complete, which matches a partial search term with possible suggestions, have such great impact. The fewer words your customers need to type or clicks they need to make to get to their product, the more likely they’ll be to revisit your site because of a good user experience.

Bad usability not only turns off customers from a purchase, it also erodes their perception of your brand. During the holidays, you’ll have thousands, possibly millions of customers navigating to your site – don’t be caught with a poorly-navigable site. Instead, invest in the rapidly-growing eCommerce space by optimizing the site search and merchandising features on your eCommerce and mobile platforms to take advantage of a steadily growing channel.

If your eCommerce site could use an update, you can learn more about the best features to improve your site by downloading our Big Book of Site Search Tips.

Plus, check out other interesting Black Friday results in this infographic.