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E-commerce toolkit – 5 features of a good search

10.10.2019 - Read in 3 min.

A growing number of Internet users (50% according to a research by Nielsen Group) take a search-dominant approach. When visiting a webstore, they proceed directly to the search bar to look for a specific product or information, without browsing the contents of the store first.

RST_Software-commerce toolkit - 5 features of a good search

A growing number of Internet users (50% according to a research by Nielsen Group) take a search-dominant approach. When visiting a webstore, they proceed directly to the search bar to look for a specific product or information, without browsing the contents of the store first.

A visit of a search-dominant user gives you 2–3 times higher chance of conversion in comparison with users preferring filters and categories.

What simple, basic solutions can increase your chances of a direct purchase?

Our e-commerce toolkit:


It’s easy to find

Some stores, although in a minority, do not offer any search. But when it is available, it should be one of the first elements that attract attention. It’s important to graphically highlight the search bar, as well as to design the top of the store in such a way to avoid the bar competing with other functionalities. Sometimes, designers are overzealous too, and while trying to design a unique front-end of the store, they also create a search that’s “like no other”. As a result, its unexpected format or location makes it difficult to find for end-users.

Provides relevant results

Today, more and more users do not have time to browse through a webstore and its categories. Those users are perfectly aware what they came for, and they want to get it as quickly and efficiently as possible. When they find the desired product, they complete the purchase.

According to the “Comfortable search engines in e-commerce” report, the largest area of improvement is the support for different queries, and this should be the primary area to focus on. What does that mean? For instance, when you type “black t-shirt” in the search, you will get only black t-shirts. Not t-shirts in other colours, and not black trousers, jumpers, or jackets. When a search supports different forms of queries, the results show exactly the products you are looking for, combining various desired features, e.g. a product category and its feature, not necessarily included in its name (waterproof watch, black t-shirt, or wireless vacuum cleaner).

Understands grammar and spelling

Users make typos, and our search must know how to deal with them and return relevant results to misspelled queries. The system should be able to correct typos and grammar errors, inflect words, and support different spelling variations (like jeans and dżinsy, t-shirt and tiszert). Ideally, it should also be able to recognise synonyms and colloquialisms, e.g. jacket and parka, cardigan and sweater, coffee percolator and moka pot.

A search that cannot correct typos or predict what the user is looking for returns zero results. And that’s only a blink away from moving to a different store and making purchases from a competitor.

Doesn’t keep you waiting

Time is money – in business and on the Internet, this is obvious, and that’s why so much attention is paid to site loading times. This also applies to store searches—if they’re too slow, they irritate potential buyers. Your search should display recommendations with no visible delay. According to the Baymard Institute, it should take less than 100ms.

Works… too good

It’s not good when your search returns zero results, but it’s equally bad when it returns too many results and users have no option to filter them. It often happens that after entering “cotton t-shirt”, you get results for women, men, and kids, and there are hundreds of items shown. If they don’t fit on a single page and require scrolling, proceeding to another page, or clicking ”show more”, browsing through them can be time-consuming and irritating. In such cases, your search must offer a filtering option to narrow them down, e.g. by department, category, or sorting by price, date added, etc.

These are five important topics on search UX in e-stores. If you want to learn more, download our full report „Comfortable search engines in e-commerce”, where we have analysed 50 searches against 59 usability criteria: https://www.usability-lab.pl

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Iga Rogała-RST Software

Iga Rogała

Senior UX / Service Designer

She works as a Senior UX / Service Designer at RST Software Masters. She gained her experience by implementing projects in the B2B and B2C sector - both on the side of the UX studio, software house and a product company. A specialist in the holistic view of the service and discovering the needs of users. She is passionate about working in an interdisciplinary team and combining the needs of business, people and the possibilities of technology.

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