On-Site Search Failing Because Retailers Still Lack Advanced Resources

Traditional search engines are moving toward artificial intelligence (AI) and conversational chat, once again causing a gap in on-site search services offered by retailers.

Research released Wednesday by Nosto, an ecommerce experience platform, suggests that 69% of consumers head for the search bar first when visiting online retailers.

Data released Wednesday paints a picture of merchants losing potential sales and frustrating shoppers with on-site search experiences that fail to meet consumers’ expectations. Some 81% of ecommerce leaders say rising living costs make the experience more important to online shoppers, but the biggest challenge has been giving consumers relevant search results and personalization.

The failure to meet expectations causes consumers to feel unnecessary friction and dread, with 68% saying with the cost of living on the rise, they like to compare products from different online stores and good ecommerce search makes this easier.



The findings are based on a survey of 2,000 North American and U.K. consumers and 308 senior ecommerce professionals at retail brands.

The data also includes tests of on-site search experience served by 100 leading ecommerce brands across fashion, beauty, and home, garden and DIY.

Leading retailers surveyed across North America and the U.K. acknowledge that their site-search is not up to par, estimating 39% of all traffic bounce to another site occurs due to poorly performing search or because shoppers can’t find relevant products.

Lack of relevance is among the shortcomings, although 99% of retail brands’ senior ecommerce professionals believe their company’s search results are relevant.

Some 69% of consumers complain that they frequently see irrelevant results. Real-world site testing revealed 81% of ecommerce websites display irrelevant items when shoppers search even two-word queries.

About 70% of consumers say they are likely to make a purchase if results are personalized, 66% of ecommerce professionals acknowledge that they fail to offer personalized search results — although 82% of them agree that personalized search is critical for higher conversions.

Some 59% of consumers say they are likely to make purchases after reading FAQ, but 60% of brands acknowledge that their on-site search doesn’t display that type of content.

Ecommerce brands say they are held back by the company’s current technology. Some 81% of brands participating in the survey said that effective, fast, accurate site search is essential for a successful ecommerce store, with 84% saying they plan to invest in continually improving this area.

Part of the problem is the technology that many brands use does not allow them to easily do all the things they would like to do, with 95% of ecommerce professionals in the survey experiencing at least one pain-point with their current search solution.

The top challenge, according to 29%, was a lack of advanced product data processing, meaning that they are unable to serve complex queries and provide relevant matching. Other challenges, 26% cite spending too much time making improvements, and 25% said too many manual configurations needed to get relevant results.

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