Last year, ecommerce gave brick-and-mortar stores a run for their money. The industry has become a goldmine and a very real social obsession. It’s consumers’ new “norm,” and if retailers don’t adapt, they risk the chance of failing altogether.
From web stores to marketplaces and now social channels, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online in 2021. As much as consumers are expanding their online buying portfolio, new sellers are cropping up around every corner. Brands with well-established online stores are being tested daily by these “newbies”, forcing them to experiment with multichannel commerce strategies to stay top-of-mind for their customers.
One thing that has particularly changed in multichannel commerce is product listing optimization. The days of optimizing for search-only are behind us, and discovery is the next big thing. Without neglecting your ecommerce SEO strategy, you must focus on those who want to browse for the sake of it. This means you need to find ways to personalize navigation. For instance, up your taxonomy structure for filtering and start improving search suggestions and results.
There will always be a competitor that is one step ahead of you – whether for paid campaign performance, social engagement, or creative product videos. And the list goes on. But if you optimize your content for search and discovery, you will always be found online. And that’s what you really want to increase conversions.
Why does product discovery matter?
It’s an opportunity to increase visibility and conversions by optimizing for users, not bots. You can target customers who are unsure of what they want, those searching a range of sites to find something practical and in their price bracket. Let’s put it into perspective: you’re exploring the great outdoors this weekend and need a pair of durable footwear. You jump onto Google before arriving on Twisted-X. Now you navigate the internet using filters available to you on different sites, and eventually, you find what you like. What a pleasurable experience!
Unfortunately, it is not that simple.
It usually happens more like this: a customer visits a site to find a blue rug. They click on the “blue” filter, and a red one shows up. Frustrating much? The customer tries again, looking for their second option: a green rug. The rug does not show up, but a green sofa does. A customer exits the page, and you’ve just lost a sale.
How to improve the product discovery stage
As it is, retailers already dedicate so much time to metrics that are search-specific. For example, bounce rate, page views, time on page, and more. The rest of the shopping experience is being neglected. A recent study done in the UK found that “26% of ecommerce websites couldn’t process simple misspellings and were unable to return relevant results and 30% showed zero results when faced with a query such as ‘men’s jacket under £100.” To add, the majority of ecommerce websites fail to deliver results when processing complex search queries, which account for 17% of all searches, causing £8m of lost revenue.
Now, along with not doing anything, there is the reverse of doing too much: choice paralysis. There is a fine balance when optimizing for product discovery, and here is how you can achieve it.
Personalize product searches
It’s crucial to segment your audiences – a senior looking for durable hiking boots will not be looking at the same shoe design as a millennial going to an outdoor festival. So, in order to personalize the product content you share, you must have a deep understanding of who your shoppers are: their demographics, shopping behavior, interests, previous searches, etc. With all the technology and tools available to ecommerce brands, customers expect personalized content. In fact, 77% of shoppers are even prepared to pay more for a brand that offers a personalized experience for their search. And this is where product analytics comes into play.
Start optimizing your content for themed attributes. For example, if someone searches for “winter hiking boots,” you would expect to receive results with thermal inners. Baymard Institute conducted a usability study, noting that 60% of websites don’t support thematic search queries” and 84% don’t handle queries with subjective qualifiers. These details have a big role to play in the product journey, so optimize your search bar for relevant searches. This way, you keep customers on your site longer, and enhance their shopping experience.
Offer suggestions on “No Results” pages
Getting the standard “No results found” on a search is frustrating. After a couple of those, you’ll push customers away and lose the sale. In situations like these, make sure that your product pages offer suggestions or alternative options while teams work on the data behind the scenes. Keep track of these searches so that you can start incorporating them (and variations of the word or phrase) into your results for future customers. By optimizing for these new searches and tweaking taxonomies regularly, you'll get a better understanding of what your customers’ search intent is and how to respond to queries on products that are not available.
Improve your taxonomy structure
When a customer is in the mood to browse, they’ll want to search your site through filters. Regardless of industry or product offering. By providing the relevant filters, you’ll have a 21% higher average order value compared to customers that simply browse without engaging with the filters and attributes. Start adding rich information such as style, material, weight, length, occasion, or theme to your taxonomy structure and watch customers spend minutes on your website without feeling the need to exit the page. This will also encourage loyalty as customers will always know where to go to find a good shopping experience.
Strategize around typing errors
It’s a common reality that people make typos when they search. It can be for many reasons, and marketers must document these mistakes to offer suggestions in return. Optimize your content using a wide variety of meta tags, keywords, synonyms, and close matches to ensure that any search can be directed to a similar result without driving customers away.
Do not neglect your SEO search strategy
Your products won’t show up on search engine results pages (SERPs) if you don’t have an SEO strategy in place. At least 46% of product searches begin on Google, which means that you still have to optimize for competitive short-and-long-tail keywords, categories, product attributes, images, titles, and descriptions for search and the relevant platforms they appear on. So, regardless of whether a customer chooses to shop on a singular web store, marketplace, or social platform, you need to optimize for both search and discovery.
Maximize social commerce for product discovery
A major perk of being multichannel oriented as an ecommerce brand or retailer is how you’re able to be present on various channels. Whether a customer actually searches for you on all platforms is irrelevant: it’s about showing up with a multichannel listing and creating awareness from different touchpoints. Customers spend hours (about 2 hours and 24 minutes per day, to be exact) on social media. They’re comfortable with these platforms, so why complicate shopping when it’s possible in one place. Allow customers to chat, browse and shop using Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest.
Optimize your product content using a PIM
As you can see, good product discovery is reliant on quality product information. It is not a once-off task; it’s something that will continually need to change based on how customers engage with your brand. By managing your content in one single source of truth, you’re able to edit, optimize and syndicate it with multiple platforms at once, maintaining brand consistency.
Plytix Product Information Management (PIM) system is tailored to small to medium-sized companies in the online retail industry. This next-generation ecommerce tool automates product management so that you can get your products to market faster and win at multichannel commerce. We even have a product analytics tool that generates real-time insights on how your product listing optimization performs to make more informed decisions.
Book a demo with our experts to understand PIM software in action, or download our FREE “Multichannel Commerce: The Secret to Unlocking Ecommerce Success in 2021” to see what thriving ecommerce brands are doing to boost conversions and get ahead of their competition.