Distributors and manufactures, it’s go time. Many of you have your e-commerce sites, many of you are working towards getting it up. But is your on-site search box ruining your customer experience? The search box continually ranks #1 as the top thing that frustrates B2B customers when visiting an e-commerce site. We see this as a huge opportunity for manufacturers and distributors that are embarking on e-commerce growth goals this year. The search box can offer you a competitive advantage if you get it right! Unfortunately, more often than not the search box is one of the last things that manufacturers and distributors consider when embarking on an e-commerce project.
Why is search so important? The best B2B manufacturers and distributors have concentrated in this space and built search into their projects. Addressing the content and search first in an e-commerce project is going to empower you to become the digital disruptor in your space. Between improving the customer experience on-page to gaining access to customer data, it’s a win-win.
Amazon to Grainger- their search box is the #1 used feature.
On-site B2B search is complex- lots of attributes, lots of variants, lots of images, hundreds of thousands or more products. If you have a couple 100, 1000, or even millions of SKUs, how can you expect the customer to find the product they need from your homepage? Being frank, most customers will not utilize your navigation to dig into 4-5 sub-categories. They expect a one click experience, using search, with the results they desire.
-Good search is based on good product data. The best companies have both good search and good product data. Make product content a priority in your organization and continually improve upon it. There is no start and stop date for this type of project.
-Search should be personalized and in context of your customer and inventory availability. Example, if your customer has a contract to buy certain products then when searching your site they should be able to easily search and find those products prominently displayed. If products aren’t in stock, they either shouldn’t be displayed in the search or be displayed towards the end- offering other options first. They should also be able to narrow your catalog down to what they have ordered in the past. Even more granular, if they are authorized to purchase only certain products, only those products should be displayed. It makes sense, but unfortunately most distributors don’t do that.
-Part number matching and automated spell check is imperative. Between mistypes and missed dashes, this can make or break your search. You need to be able to strip out the special characters and do part number matching along with automated spell check in your search box.
We touched on this earlier; the search box provides more than just a better customer experience, but it gives your brand access to TONS OF CUSTOMER DATA! You can better understand how people search and what terms they are searching for. This allows you to learn what converts and doesn’t convert. Take this information and funnel all that data learning back into the search experience and overall customer experience.
When a B2B user visits your website, you have no idea what they are looking for or what problem they are trying to solve. Even if you knew the problem, do you know how they want to solve it (do they have a product number, brand name, generic attributes?). You just don’t know. Search allows your user to find what they are looking for and how they want to find it.
On-site search optimization is a program that should be improved upon month over month, year over year. It is the ongoing work that is a critical part to your success. Looking at terms, matching against your sellers, reviewing top selling products. You need to continually optimize the ordering of your search results to be relevant to what should sell to this customer. This takes deep analytics. It doesn’t need to be hard or expensive, but you do need to put this place (this is beyond Google Analytics, although that is important too). We all know how frustrating a bad search experience can be. Staring at the zero results found page is beyond frustrating- it is enough to make you hop off the page and go elsewhere. Contact Echidna’s User Experience Team to discuss your on-site search today.