Sasha Butkovich is senior writer for Ecommerce Outtakes and a guest blogger for SLI’s Site Search Today.
When it comes to e-commerce site search, what’s going to be the next big trend? Well, there are a few serious contenders to take a look at. Some truly cool features have been popping up in online stores around the web, and they are bound to take off for widespread use throughout the coming year. Take a look at the newest best practices in site search.
Personally, I can’t wait until autocomplete and rich autocomplete are the norm on every e-commerce site. Until then, this growing trend is well worth exploring, since there are a few different levels of this feature. At the most basic level, autocomplete can guess at the user’s search term, prompting them to select from a drop-down. Even this is helpful to steering shoppers in the right direction and avoiding spelling errors.
Beyond this, rich autocomplete can come into play for an even more satisfying search experience. Displaying suggested search terms is great, but displaying specific products is even better. Rounding it out by showing a thumbnail image, short description, and in some cases the price, goes above and beyond for the user. The example below from The Home Depot even offers project guides. All this extra info in the search helps people get to shopping faster, which is really the whole point. Easy and seamless!
Once shoppers enter a search term and view the results page, there are even more opportunities to create a great experience. Refinement options are a prime example of this. Get creative here, and show your customers images to help narrow down their search. The key is not to go too over the top and overwhelm a shopper, but to create imagery that is helpful to the shopper and makes your brand memorable. The Republic of Tea does a great job of this, displaying images of what the brewed tea looks like. Very cool!
Social Media Integration
Have a strong fan base on social networks? Tie it into your search results page. This offers some interesting refinement options for your shoppers. For example, FTD offers the ability to sort search results by most Facebook likes. It’s an awesome way to show shoppers which products are popular among their peers. Or check out Kidrobot. Their search results pages offer tabs that give users all kinds of social options. You can see when these products were mentioned on Instagram and Twitter, for instance. Can someone say “retweet”? When site search is social and fun, it’s a win for everyone.
These are just a few ideas to implement into a site search to kick it up to the next level. Expect to see these on more and more e-commerce sites in the year ahead. With the way these features make the search experience easier and richer for the shopper, they are bound to take off in a big way.
To learn more top site search tips, download the 2014 edition of SLI’s Big Book of Site Search Tips.