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How search and discovery helps you stay ahead of e-commerce trends

The e-commerce landscape is one of constant motion. Today, companies need to utilize all the tools at their disposal to stay ahead of the changes. In this article, we’ll discuss how search can enable users to seamlessly explore and discover content, offering e-commerce sites a direct path to more engaged customers, increased conversions, and an improved user experience.


Why you should pay attention to e-commerce trends  

Staying ahead of the curve is paramount for an e-commerce business to thrive. Acquisition is harder than ever in today’s competitive e-commerce landscape. Switching costs are low and consumers have numerous options for buying. Further, major platforms are taking more and more of the pie. In fact, nearly half of consumers turn to Amazon for their first product search.

Consumers also have very high expectations for UX and want things immediately. For example, Google found that 53% of mobile users leave a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. However, expectations are not simply for page load. Platforms like Amazon and Netflix have trained users that discovering new content and converting should only take a few clicks.

If your site isn’t meeting and exceeding user expectations, you’re likely losing crucial business. 

Online shopping trends changing e-commerce

Online shopping has changed rapidly over the last decade. Here are a few key ways:

  • Shoppers have advanced product knowledge. Studies show that at least 82% of consumers use online reviews before visiting a business or buying a product. Notably, the average consumer reads 10 reviews before trusting a business. Research found that customers will spend up to 31% more on the site if the reviews are “excellent.” 
  • E-commerce is happening everywhere. Today, e-commerce exists beyond the traditional bounds of a website. Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have built native shopping tools, and personal assistants enable consumers to make purchases simply using their voice. This growth is only predicted to continue, with the virtual assistant market expected to compound at least 40.4% per year for the next five years.
  • Shoppers want new, innovative ways to search and engage. Brands that include visual content in their shopping experience see a 111% lift in conversion and 180% lift in revenue per user. Further, 62% of Gen-Z and Millennial consumers want visual search capabilities when they shop, and augmented reality is expected to contribute $122B in e-commerce spending by 2022.
  • Shoppers want a brand that understands their preferences. 51% of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase from a brand if the content is personalized. This will only continue to grow as artificial intelligence and voice assistants continue to provide users more and more of a customized shopping experience.


5 ways search and discovery can help

Search and discovery can be leveraged to keep the brand competitive and meet your customers’ needs. Here are five strategies to help do so:


1. Engage users with a great UX

Search needs to be fast and relevant to keep customers engaged. Boost search relevance with helpful functionality such as autocomplete or autosuggest, typo tolerance, and filters and facets. 

In addition, displaying search results as the user types and leveraging a federated search interface, which can display results from diverse microsites and databases, can also streamline the search experience. Finally, integrating content from across your online properties, such as reviews and buying guides alongside your products into a single, unified experience to inspire your shoppers and build trust. 

These functions can work together to guide users to things they did not know they needed yet, compelling them to keep engaging with site and driving sales and conversions 


2. Create personalized customer experiences

When shoppers search on an optimized e-commerce site, they share their intent and interest via their actions and behaviors. You can leverage their data to provide contextually relevant content to users to increase engagement and conversion rates. 

For instance, use historical click-through and transactional data to determine the categories that a user is likely to search for again, then speed up the exploration process by automatically recommending or filtering results based on this information. Moreover, the personalization factor makes users feel welcome and provides an experience that stands out.


3. Use analytics to better understand customer needs

In addition to using search data to personalize the experience for individual users, this data can be analyzed for customer trends to inform business improvements . For instance, common keyword searches can tell you products that users are looking for, which can help you determine changes or adjustments to your product line. This can give you an advantage over brick-and-mortar stores where this type of analysis is much less precise.


4. Deliver a simple experience on every platform

Users should be able to easily interact with your platform regardless of the interface — web, mobile, digital assistant, social media, and so on. Using a headless architecture where the front-end is decoupled from the backend can help ensure that the system is properly interoperable between different platforms without significant custom development overhead. 


5. Continue to iterate and improve on site search and discovery tools

As user tastes and psychology change over time, optimizing your search and discovery tools is an ongoing and iterative process. You should always be collecting data and A/B testing improvements to see how it affects KPIs such as engagement, bounce rates, and conversions. This should be done on both front-end changes such as design improvements and backend changes such as ranking algorithm adjustments.


Let search and discovery power your e-commerce site

To meet the demands of modern online consumers and keep them engaged, you’ll need a search as a service partner that can provide the search and discovery tools that users expect. Read our ebook “Search beyond the box” to learn how your e-commerce site can use search to provide innovative user experiences and improve your conversion rates.