DIY photoThe weather’s warm. The days are long. Some call it summer. For others, it’s do-it-yourself season – and it officially kicks off with the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

Online sales for hardware and home improvement retailers continue to grow, and it’s no wonder.

The Internet boasts an endless supply of project ideas, before-and-after galleries and video tutorials. Most recently, Nifty’s “stuffed animal zoo” video made the rounds on my Facebook feed, and it was enough to make me want to try my hand at building something. (I didn’t but I still might.)

Customers with varying levels of expertise (me versus a professional) is one of the challenges retailers in this space face. Another issue is that certain products – appliances versus building materials, for example – are searched for in different ways. Appliance or décor purchases may be driven by price, brand or appearance, whereas those looking for a tool or part need to match a particular specification, such as gauge, thread size or dimension.

However, the right e-commerce solutions can help you overcome these hurdles and deliver an exceptional shopping experience.

Provide Highly Relevant Search

If shoppers can’t find what they want in the first page of results, they are likely to believe you don’t carry the item and abandon your site. Show customers the most relevant items first and you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll make a purchase. Automatically present relevant products, images and other information as soon as visitors start typing letters into the search box.

Search by Various Measurement Units

Are your products specified by measurement in fractions or decimals? Site visitors don’t always search for products using the same unit names or symbols. Whether they search “8.5 x 12.375” or “8 ½ x 12 3/8,” your site search should accommodate searches with standard or metric units so customers are always presented with the right products.

Match Full or Partial SKUs or Part Numbers

Many tools and building materials are referenced by a SKU instead of a product name. Additionally, customers visiting your site may only have a manufacturer’s part number as a reference for what they need. Make sure your search can match full or partial SKUs, making it easy for customers or customer service teams to find a product quickly.

Target Your Customers by Location

Your customers’ needs and your ability to deliver might be different based on geography. Make sure your site search can integrate geolocation services to allow deeper segmentation of products by location. This allows you greater control over regional variations in price, function or other attributes. Additionally, you can point them to the closest store.

Index Educational Information & Specs

Whether you target B2B or B2C customers, education is an important factor in your e-commerce site. New homeowners may want basic information on how to make repairs, while contractors or architects may need technical specifications. Keep all of your documents, online articles, video tutorials, reviews and other non-product content easily searchable, so customers always find what they need.

For more tips, check out the SLI industry brief Do It Yourself: Hardware, Appliances and Tools.