5 Ways to Improve Product Search Discovery

Anna-Louise McDougall
Last Updated:
August 31, 2023
5 min

Here are five ways we recommend dialing up your product’s discovery to obtain the Holy Grail of eCommerce, higher Customer Lifetime Value.

Let’s skim through the pandemic part, shall we?

We know more people shopped online in 2020.

We know high-frequency online shoppers increased their purchases - at least - once a week during lockdown, and you’re aware of those first-time customers pouring into your database.

And, if you want the hard facts, according to the 2021 Australia Post eCommerce Report, fashion and apparel captured 25.9% of the eCommerce market in the past year.

So, why should your business improve product discovery, if you’re naturally attracting more first-time shoppers on your site, and an increased rate of repeat customers?

Consider that, according to Shopify, over 3.5 billion eCommerce searches resulted in $2.3 trillion in revenue for online stores in 2019. As well as the fact that shoppers using search functions have a 1.8x higher conversion rate than an average visitor.

... shoppers using search functions have a 1.8x higher conversion rate than an average visitor.

Improving your discoverability will improve your bounce rate, lead to higher engagement and conversion - and ultimately result in the Holy Grail of eCommerce (cue the angel chorus): higher Customer Lifetime Value. Here are five ways we recommend dialing up your product’s discovery

1. Knowing data means dollars

Good data health is imperative to the wealth of your brand; customers who don’t see relevant products based on their query - guess what, they’ve already left.

If your eCommerce site has a robust data tagging system, it automatically improves the product’s discoverability.

Smaller retailers track longer time on site (200 seconds), over larger retailers (70 seconds).

Why? Customers shopping with smaller retailers can’t find what they’re looking for.

By leveraging AI-powered solutions and keeping up with automated growth tactics, you can compete with data-driven marketplaces, and ensure your website is the one that customers are returning to.

In order to pick apart valuable insights from data, ensure your products are tagged properly, your metadata is clear and systemised across your website, and use AI engines with algorithms that absorb these patterns, so you can review, analyse and adapt easily.

2. Bulletproof your search bars and filters

Every shopper’s dream. We’re lazy, don’t make us type more than we have to.

In fact, don’t even make us think harder than we have to. It’s 2021 and nothing is too convenient.

Shoppers using site search have proven to have 21% higher average order value compared to customers that simply browse.

The search bar is the optimal point of discovery for users of your site, so do as Google does: when you type in a query, more suggestions appear as well as popular searches. So should yours.

Ideally, your search engine should identify typos, misspells, and errors and still return a good set of results. When you standardise your product meta tags, you can add tags with common mistakes, broader terms, and the different ways people describe your item, so you can ensure that any keyword search returns at least some related products or product suggestions.

Assume your new customer doesn’t know the difference between a romper and a jumpsuit.

Additionally, your search filters can help lead to a faster discovery experience and prevent the dreaded ‘no results found’ page. Having product attributes that are as specific as outfit type, shape, style, length, and occasion, will narrow down customer confusion and keep them highly engaged with your site. Again, this comes back to creating and maintaining detailed meta tags for that rockstar experience.

3. Navigation, navigation, navigation

Don’t skimp on the benefits of intuitive navigation options when it comes to product search and discovery. This is a great way to introduce first-time customers to an effortless customer experience, without leaving the search bar to do all the heavy lifting.

Sites with lackluster navigation lists see abandonment rates of 67-90% – Baynard Institute

Intuitive and well-categorised navigation lists, the Baymard Institute states, can improve leads and conversion by 400%.

The general rule of thumb is: Your website navigation structure should allow someone to land on any page on your site and find what they need within 3 clicks.

The navigation enables site visitors to:

  • discover the hierarchy of your hero products,
  • your priorities as a business, and
  • help them to consider making purchases they did not come to the site for.

Remember to keep the navigation clear and simple to understand, ensure it’s in a standard web location so users can find it, and make sure it works on mobile.

4. Make it personal

According to a Forrester study, 77% of shoppers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalised experience. And, you guessed it, that means catalogs that are heavy with crazy-detailed product metadata, that is accurate and ready to be found. This will usually include critical user data such as past search history, location, and demographics to hone in on what it is they really want.

Personalised recommendations offer unparalleled opportunities for your online store, giving you the chance to show sponsored or promotional items, or those golden-egg items with high margins.

5. Up your Google ranking with optimised titles

Studies suggest that over 60% of shoppers start any product search on Google. And evidently, good product tags help improve product discovery on external search engines. With product data that takes into account every product’s attributes, you can optimise search for long-tail queries to ensure shoppers find products wherever they are, in any way they want to.

While Google Shopping is an in-depth, day-by-day game of tweaking, analysis and auditing, there are a few simple ways you can start getting the up-tick on your ranking and discoverability - once your tags and categorising are in check.

This includes title enhancements. There are three important factors to consider when optimizing and enhancing your product titles for Google Shopping. You should include the most important characteristics of your product, and include pattern, materials, or size. Data will help to identify which characteristics or attributes the searcher is most interested in.

Next, you want to make sure the most relevant keywords are in your title, and then you want to ensure the words that most closely match what your potential buyers are searching for appear first. If your brand name proceeds your product, then opt to put it first.

Now is the time to leverage the undeniable growth of the global eCommerce sector. Increase your product discoverability, keep those hot leads on-site, and boost that conversion rate.

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