Just as there are malls where one can find to be very comforting to shop on, there are also e-commerce sites that can also provide a great feeling while doing online shopping with. A great e-commerce site can help bring about such a positive feeling.
But it takes a lot to be a great e-commerce site. There are lots of factors to consider such as site design, user interface, product quality, customer service, and how all these works together to shape user experience.
Here are 10 best practices that great sites do, which you can simulate too so that you can improve the shopping experience that your e-commerce site can offer to your customers:
1. Implementing natural language processing
The need for natural language processing (NLP) has increased, especially when it comes to the search functionality of e-commerce sites. NLP can help bring about more accurate results.
NLP takes context into consideration instead of just matching the search term to words on the product names. With this, search results would be more related to what the customers are looking for.
2. Enable filtering through search results to find the best deal
Depending on how specific the search criteria is, a search may bring about multiple results. Great e-commerce sites enable their customers to filter through these results to find the best offer for them.
Some of the basic filters are the price, the color, or the point of origin (whether local or international). If you do not do this, your customers would have to run through the results one by one, and that is not efficient.
3. Personalize using machine learning
The big players in e-commerce have already implemented the use of machine learning to help make personalized recommendations to their customers. Personalized offers and strategies, as well as search suggestions, are more effective because these are more aligned with the interests and past activities of individual customers.
4. Enable predictive autocomplete
Search functionality is common for big names in the e-commerce business. They make it more intuitive by providing autocomplete capability. The suggestions are usually in line with previous searches, as well as the personal preference of the customers.
Autocomplete is a lot helpful for mobile users because it would eliminate the need for typing the entire query. But of course, autocomplete would only be helpful if the system is able to pick suggest the right stuff, and that is again, why machine learning is important.
5. Provide spell check to eliminate typos
Typographical errors can make search functionality less effective. While natural language processing somehow helps address that, it would still be a lot easier if the customers spelled right in the first place.
To help achieve this, you should provide real-time spell check and the suggestion for what the customer was intending to type. A simple step like this will not only help your customers get what they want but would also help you provide what they want easier.
6. Have a strong tolerance for errors
Even with spell checks to help eliminate typographical errors, there are still other errors that may exist. An example would be homophones where you might be able to spell correctly, but what you mean is another word with the same pronunciation.
With a strong error tolerance, your system would be able to understand that what is meant is the other word. You will need both NPL and machine learning to pull this off.
7. Invest in analytics for smart insights
It is always a good idea to have a strong grasp of your business. This involves the use of analytical tools that dig deeper into your business’ data. Some of the data that your chosen tool should be able to provide insights as to which pages and products have the most searches and most conversions, as well as which products and pages are underperforming.
Analytics help you come up with well-informed decisions such as which products you’ll need to advertise more, as well as which you should stock on more. It is therefore important that you invest in tools that can help you out.
8. Choose easy-to-integrate search
While search is seen as a complicated functionality, it should be simple enough to be integrated into your e-commerce site with ease. The key is to be able to fully implement a working search functionality to your site without complications.
9. Optimize search for mobile devices
It is best to highlight the need to optimize search functionality for mobile users as mobile devices are becoming the primary means for searching. It is best to make searching through handheld devices an easy thing to do.
To optimize for mobile, the best thing to do is to have a prominent search bar. Also, make sure that you have a functional auto-complete to make it even easier to use the search bar. Finally, make it easy to easy to run through the results to arrive at the desired product.
10. Quickly return results
Although mentioned last, one of the most important things you should do that big player in the e-commerce business is doing is returning search results in a snap. Your customers simply do not have time to wait too long so when a search is done, the result should be almost instantaneous.
But speed should never compromise quality. The results should be both relevant and timely. Only when these two are present can the search function be considered effective.
With all these, search really seems like an overly complicated functionality to offer. But its benefits far outweigh all these. Search is a helpful function to offer to your customers. It boosts ease of navigation by a wide margin. That is why it is important to make it work in the most intuitive manner possible.
The above is how they key players are doing it. If you wish to be like them, you should start by simulating how they do it. But it doesn’t end there. The challenge is to do even better than they do. Start now!
Kenneth Sytian is a website developer in the Philippines, the CEO of Sytian Productions. He has been designing websites and developing web apps for more than a decade. He is considered as one of top influencers in web design and development in the Philippines.