Site Search Savvy Lagging Among Top 100 Retailers

Last week we announced the launch of an exclusive Internet Retailer report examining the state of consumer eCommerce expectations and what the Top 100 Online Retailers are doing to respond. The report revealed that retailers have a long way to go if they are going to deliver on their promise of giving consumers what they say they want when shopping online.

The report looks at how effectively the Top 100 online retailers are using personalization across several key areas. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at how the Top 100 retailers are handling site search and consumers’ attitudes toward more advanced site search functionality.

Retailers earned low marks for their failure to use advanced site search tactics such as anticipating a shopper’s end goal.

In many cases, online retailers treat their search bars like a dictionary lookup as opposed to an opportunity to show consumers products tailored to what they previously have expressed an interest in. Retailers can generate more relevant results if they understand a consumer’s preferences and can incorporate nuances about what the user has shopped for in the past.

According to Internet Retailer, site search capabilities among the Top 100 are limited. The majority of retailers analyzed relied heavily on basic keyword terms to itemize search results and didn’t accurately prioritize them based on a shopper’s expressed interests and preferences.

The vast majority relied on the basic search method of crawling for keywords, or matching the search term to a product description. Very few seemed to take browsing history, gender, age or style into consideration to bump products likely to appeal to that shopper to the front of the line.

Upon closer inspection of the report findings, the lack of site search intelligence among the Top 100 online retailers is evident:

  • When a merchant’s inventory appealed to both genders and the item searched for was gender-specific, only 37.8% of retailers seemed to get it right in search result suggestions.
  • When a merchant’s product offerings appealed to multiple age ranges and the item searched for was age-speci c, only 28.2% of retailers paid attention in search predictions.
  • When the style of a browsed-for product could be determined via color, pattern, cut, size, genre, brand, vibe or similar trait, a meager 15.5% of retailers were able to reflect preferred characteristics in search recommendations.
  • More than one in five consumers surveyed reported an interest in using advanced search options such as photo or voice search, but not a single Top 100 retailer offered either to shoppers on their main eCommerce site (two did offer it on their mobile sites).

For more details on how the Top 100 retailers are missing the biggest opportunities in digital personalization, download the full report.


Matt Helmke

Matt is the senior director of communications and content at Reflektion. He’s led global communications, content and brand strategy programs for high-profile, culture-shifting Fortune 500 business divisions, as well as innovative, early-stage startups. The common thread running through his career is a passion for disruptive technologies focused on improving and redefining end-user experiences. Outside of technology, his passions include his family, music, bourbon, craft beers, fishing and swimming… but not all at once.