Unsuccessful search: 80% of consumers abandoning e-commerce retailers’ on-site search bar due to poor user experience

Despite almost 7 in 10 consumers going directly to an online retailer’s search bar, converting searches into purchases remains a tricky task.

New research suggests 69% of consumers go directly to the search bar when visiting an online retailer, but 80% of those surveyed admitted to leaving because they were dissatisfied with the on-site search experience.

Part of a new report from commerce experience platform (CXP) Nosto, the findings were sourced through combined surveys of 2,000 US and UK consumers and over 300 retail e-commerce chiefs with real world testing of the search experience offered by over 100 e-commerce stores across the fashion, beauty and home and garden industries.

The research found that a significant amount of traffic bouncing - 39% in the UK and US - was due to poorly performing search offerings and shoppers being unable to find relevant products.

Additional insights from the report identified that the current economic downturn has made on-site search even more important, with 68% of consumers saying they like to compare the cost of a product across different stores as living costs rise.

Further, 66% of retailers are failing to personalise on-site search despite 70% of consumers saying they’re more likely to make a purchase if search results are personalised. Another supposed shortcoming from a retailer’s perspective is a failure to include articles or FAQs alongside product search results. 59% of consumers said they are more likely to make a purchase after consuming this kind of content.

Guy Little, Head of Brand Marketing at Nosto, said: “This research highlights just how important search is for the performance of ecommerce stores. Shoppers don’t simply want a personalised and relevant experience every time they shop online – they expect it and are frustrated by not having it.

“Relevancy is critical and it’s clearly a huge pitfall of merchants.”

How to better optimise on-site search

As has been outlined, there are three main features where there is a disconnect between consumers’ wants and brands’ on-site search offerings:

1. Relevance

2. Personalisation

3. Content accompanying search results as well as products

For a brand to facilitate more sales from on-site searches, Nosto suggests firstly addressing each of these pitfalls.

However, the shortcomings represent a general lack of effort on brands’ behalf to create a frictionless and easy on-site search experience for customers. The report identified that 27% of shoppers have left a site because the results showed too many options and it wasn’t possible to narrow down the search using appropriate filters, while 26% have left because search results listed out-of-stock products, and 25% have left because results were just too slow to load.

Not being able to narrow down search results with appropriate filters is one of the top three on-site search frustrations of 30% of consumers. Despite this, 56% of retail brands’ say they don’t provide dynamic filtering that is specific to the products being searched for.

On the surface, it would appear that brands are seemingly ignoring the importance of optimising their in-house search bars, however, Nosto’s research claims that this isn’t the case.

Antanas Baksys, head of search product, Nosto, said: “What’s interesting in this research is that, while 95% of brands are citing pain-points with their current search provider, 84% agree that they are planning to continually invest in their search technology, meaning they understand the importance of this critical piece of the ecommerce equation.”

With the study suggesting that most brands are currently restricted by their current technology, there is an opportunity for some to grab a foothold over their competitors should swift investment into optimising their on-site search offerings occur.

Nosto’s report declares that consumers will be responsive to improved search, so the question is, which brands will step up to the plate and make the necessary investment?