As an avid online buyer and researcher, there’s nothing that disrupts my journey more than the following phrase.
No Search Results Found.
Especially when I know the site does sell what I’m looking for. Ok, I might spell something wrong, or use the wrong word for something, but asking visitors to try again can disrupt their journey, and even annoy them.
Why does it appear, and how can it be avoided?
There are three main reasons why a specific search might not surface any results.
You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto,
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!
Let’s call the whole thing off!
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Mispells, typo mistakes, plural variations and sound-a-like phonetics all present extra challenges for ecommerce search engines. The very nature of online shopping (offering a wide range of products to a wide (possibly global) audience) means spelling mistakes are inevitable.
Rather than educate each one to spell properly, try using “fuzzy” search algorithms – these are readily available through various ecommerce platform plugins, APIs or third party outsourced services (including our PersonalSearch ecommerce search).
Fuzzyness uses algorithms to look at the characters used and swaps them until it can find results. For example a search for “Calvin Cline” would find “Calvin Klein” results by removing, swapping and adding characters.
I use a laptop, but you might call it a notebook. Users searching for “ipads” might just mean “tablet computer”. Synonyms rear their ugly heads in in all industries, from clothing to electronics, beauty to office equipment.
Synonyms are different words that have the same meaning – if you’re not catering for these in your ecommerce search then you’re probably missing out.
They’re easy enough to implement – most ecommerce platforms can handle these, they can be managed through third-party search tools or they can be set as a specific attribute.
You just don’t sell it!
Not everyone is Amazon. Sadly, you can’t offer every product on the planet, as much as you’d like to.
How can it be an opportunity?
“No results” pages are great for personalisation, using one important algorithm to find relevant products.
Similar searched and bought
This type of algorithm looks at the search term used by the visitor, and looks to see if any other visitors used the same term, then looks at the products they eventually bought.
Here’s an example.
- A visitor searches for “notebook” on an electronics store, and the store doesn’t have any synonyms set up. The search returns no results.
- Other people have also searched for “notebook”, have seen no results and then used category navigation to find and eventually purchase a laptop.
- In this case, the most popular laptops bought by others who searched for the same term would be displayed on the “no results” page.
To maximise the chance of predicting the most effective product for the visitor, personalisation filters can ensure the returned products are relevant to the individual. Using past behaviour, we can mine visitor preferences and show, for example, a visitor who has shown interest in “Sony” products, a Sony laptop as part of their “no search results” page.
Consciously test and optimise to achieve your goals
If you could, you would want to sell each customer a more expensive version of the product they are buying. Business rule support lets you achieve higher revenues, increase profit or shift old stock by skewing suggestions so that, whilst remaining relevant to the visitor, they have your best interests at heart.
- Use a search tool that uses “fuzzyness” and supports product synonyms
- If you can’t find any results, show “people who searched this eventually bought” product suggestions
If you’d like to find out more about how personalisation and search technology can work together, get in touch today! Contact us, LiveChat with the blue box in the bottom right-hand corner or tweet us @TweetIntent.