The Marketer’s ORCs (Part 8)

ORC #5: Browse or Search

In the early days of the Internet, Yahoo had a directory format enabling visitors to browse categories in their quest for websites. This is how it looked in 1997 (sourced from Version Museum).

And then along came Google with its search box interface (courtesy UXdesign):

And we know who won!

A similar conundrum awaits marketers managing ecommerce sites. Product discovery is the key for conversions. A product may be in the catalog but if it doesn’t show up in front of the customer, it is not going to get sold. As consumers, our typical behaviour consists of a mix of browsing the category pages or using the search bar. Google has taught us through the years the power and delight of good search results. Yet many ecommerce sites do not have good search results – meaning that an item is in the catalog and possibly visible via page browsing but does not show up in the search. The conundrum for marketers is whether to stick to the default search engines that come up with many commerce platforms, try and build their own, or use an off-the-shelf SaaS solution (like Unbxd, a Netcore company). A good site search engine can enhance product discovery and thus deliver revenue uplift almost immediately.

As an Unbxd blog writes: “Not all shoppers on your eCommerce website come looking for a product they have already thought of. While many shoppers know what they want, some are impulsive shoppers. Some of them just finished chatting with a friend who’s referred you, and that’s why they are on your site out of curiosity. Some love browsing through your product categories, while others simply compare products (which means they might have come from a competitor or clicked through an ad or a banner within Google or Amazon.) 30% of all shoppers use the site search within your eCommerce store. Interestingly, half of the people who use site search end up buying something on your Site – which means a conversion rate of 50% for the cohort of people who search. This makes it more vital for you to retain your shoppers and have them coming back for more. These numbers indicate that shoppers who use the inbuilt search system are more likely to buy from your store because searching for a product shows a higher inclination to buy. Hence, as an eCommerce store owner, your search results page must display products they are looking for or are more likely to buy.” Relevancy is what matters most in a good site search engine.

Marketers need to take site search seriously to avoid the fate that befell Yahoo.


Conundrum: how best to solve product discovery – category pages and default search software, or a very good site search engine

Insight: a good site search engine can lead to big increases in conversions

Solution: switching to a better product (like Unbxd) can improve shopper experience dramatically

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.