Retailers Serving Too Many Irrelevant Results In Site Search

Some 48% of shoppers participating in a study released Tuesday say the ability to easily search and find products on a retailer's Web site can make or break a deal. For 37% the stakes rise during the gift-giving season, according to those participating in the study.

Advertising Week seems to signal the beginning of the holiday shopping season, when retailers put a stronger emphasis on fine-tuning search and seem to pay more attention on Web site design.

The RichRelevance U.S.-based study, conducted from Sept. 1 through 14, 2016, found that 73% of the more than 1,000 consumers participating in the study are likely to leave a retail site that doesn't provide good search results, with 37% not saying they're not likely to return.

More than 28% cite irrelevant product results as the most frustrating experience, followed by 25% who cannot find products; 16% who say the search function doesn't recognize specific search words; 12% who cite an unclear search box that is difficult to navigate; 13% who say it takes too long to load results; and 6% who cite no product images.

While most real-time ad technology continues to move forward at lightning speeds, site search remains relatively stagnant, according to Diane Kegley, RichRelevance CMO. "Retailers want to put more emphasis on site search to give consumers more relevant results," she said, adding that if it's all about intent, retailers think they need to do a better job of provide search results, especially through mobile.

Although Google touts the increase of searches on the mobile Web and in apps, the RichRelevance study cites more than 37% of U.S. shoppers who say they get poorer search results when shopping on their mobile device, whereas 8% say they get better results, with the remainder saying they don't notice a difference.

Admittedly, 65% are generally satisfied with the search results they are searching on a retailer's Web site and app, but 36% would like to see more personalized results based on previous shopping behavior.

RichRelevance supports companies such as Nordstrom and Williams-Sonoma with site search and precise product recommendations and next week after 18 months, will launch Find to further personalized site search capabilities. Find pulls in first-party consumer and other data from current and past behavior.

To help with gift giving ideas, nearly 26% of the survey participants would like to see product ratings and reviews; nearly 19% would like to see multiple and good quality product images; and 4% would even like to see curated gift ideas.

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