Google Builds Customizable Engine As Retailers Lose $300B Annually To Search Abandonment

Most are familiar with cart abandonment, but what about search abandonment?

U.S. online retailers lose more than $333 billion yearly because consumers abandon a search when the function on the website is not sophisticated enough to return the items that consumers are querying, according to research conducted by The Harris Poll, commissioned by Google Cloud.

To fix this multibillion-dollar challenge, Google Cloud on Tuesday introduced Google Cloud Retail Search, a customizable onsite engine that provides recommendations and search results. It gives retailers Google-quality search on their own digital properties.

Belwadi Srikanth, group product manager at Google Cloud, believes this is an industry-wide challenge. Traditional search platforms are keyword-based, but Google’s semantic understanding of query intent enables retailers to dramatically improve experiences for customers with learning-based search, he said.

For Google, this is not new, for onsite search for companies. Google has been offering the technology for years, but it lacked the sophistication of Google Search across the web.

Macy’s -- an early adopter of the product -- saw a reduction in search abandonment and an increase in conversion rates after implementing Retail Search on its digital properties. 

“Understanding our customers’ needs and being able to deliver results seamlessly is critical to providing an enjoyable shopping experience,” stated Jilberto Soto, director of product management, search at Macy’s.

The successful pilot showed improved click-through rates and revenue per visit.

The technology, built on Google’s understanding of user intent and context, aims to improve the user engagement, deliver personalized experiences, and drive improved conversions.

Ninety-four percent of consumers globally received irrelevant results while searching on a retailer’s website in the last six months, and 85% said they view a brand differently after experiencing search difficulties.

Retail website managers agree, with 90% of U.S.-based managers surveyed expressing concerns about the cost of search abandonment to their company. But when retailers can deliver a positive experience, 53% of those participating in the survey said they often purchase additional items once they find what they are looking for on a website.

The data comes from a Harris Poll that surveyed consumers globally and in the U.S., as well as website managers in the U.S.

The global consumer survey was conducted online across Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, and the UK between June 24 through June 30, 2021 among 9,096 adults ages 18 and older, including 8,099 who have used the search function on a retail website in the past six months.

The U.S. survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Google Cloud from June 22–July 7, 2021 among 1,004 consumers ages 18 and older who used the search function on a retail website in the past six months, as well as 201 full-time retail website managers and work in IT monitoring website traffic.

Website managers, 88%, said abandoned searches are a problem at their company, and 90% are concerned about the cost of abandoned searches to their company.

Improving onsite search functions work. Some 53% of consumers said they often end up purchasing additional items once they find what they are looking for on a website.


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