The best search for your online shop

by Kristof Maletzke, 24.04.15

For online merchants, a good search function is essential. When customers visit your shop, the first thing many of them do is enter a search term rather than clicking through categories or following links.

This is especially true of visitors who know exactly what they are looking for and who are therefore more likely to order something than those who browse aimlessly through the shop. Especially if you sell a high number of products in your shop, a good search function will improve the user experience of your customers enormously.


The search field of an ePages shop

Overview of the ePages search function

Please note that some of the functions presented below are not included in every shop package. Ask your provider for more information.

The search function in your ePages online shop is both easy to use and powerful: even a high number of products and a mass of visitors all accessing your shop and using the search function at the same time will not bring it to its knees.

In ePages shops there is a search field as default which is generally located at the top of the page. When the customer enters the first letter, the first search suggestions are displayed in a small pop-up window which shows the products, categories and manufacturers that match the character entered. There is a small preview image for each suggested product. The search suggestions can be selected directly and the customer reaches the relevant page.

Search suggestions in the shop

Search suggestions in the shop

If the customer does not use the suggestions, after running the search they are taken to the search result page of your shop on which all products matching the search are displayed. Customers can themselves specify the order in which the results are displayed: by relevance (the results that best match the search term first), alphabetically by product name or by price (in ascending or descending order). Customers can also determine how many results are displayed per page.

The underlying settings for display of the search results are however made by you as the merchant. For example, you can specify the number of columns in which the search results are displayed and how many products are included as standard on one page.

If a search does not produce any results, the customer will see an advisory message which you can also edit if necessary. It is then possible to give the customer tips on how to find what they are looking for.

In the administration area of your shop, you can also enter alternative search terms for each product. If a customer uses one of these terms for the search, they will also find the product in question even if the term does not appear in the product name or the description. If you are selling sunglasses, you can for example enter “shades” as an alternative search term.

To find out what your customers actually search for there are search statistics. Here, all search terms including search frequency are displayed. This data is very useful and can be used to further optimise your shop, for example by placing frequently searched for products on your home page.

The filter search: powerful and practical

Depending on your shop package you purchased, the ePages filter search is also available to your customers. You may be familiar with what experts refer to as “After Search Navigation” from Amazon or eBay: following the first search query, the results can be further narrowed down with filters.

The search filters

The search filters

How does the filter search work in your shop? A customer enters a term in the search field of your shop and reaches the search result page. Normally, only a list of search results is displayed here and if there are a large number of results, he or she must laboriously go through them all, which can be very time-consuming. With the filter search activated, a range of filters appears next to the search results with which they can narrow down the search further. The available filters include standard filters such as “Manufacturer” and “Price” or filters defined by you. The customer can then quickly find the desired product, for example all green jackets with hoods which cost between 100 and 300 Euros and which have mainly positive ratings from other customers. The filter search therefore takes on some of the advisory functions that are performed by the seller in a normal store.

The appearance of the filters depends on the attribute in question. The desired price span can be comfortably set using a slide control and manufacturers can be selected via check boxes. For some attributes, a figure is displayed next to the filter. This specifies the number of products that will remain if the filter is activated. This enables you to quickly identify how well the search results can be narrowed down using this filter.

When the customer selects a filter, the page is not completely reloaded but instead only relevant results are filtered and displayed directly. This happens very fast and there is no annoying wait for the page to reload.

Settings for the filter search

In addition to the standard search filters such as price range, which are always displayed, you yourself can determine which product attributes are to be available to customers as search filter. If you wish, the search filters can automatically be displayed as soon as a customer reaches a certain category depth. If, for example, you have set this value to “2”, the search filters are visible as soon as the customer accesses a subcategory of a category. This makes it easier to navigate in the deeper regions of your shop.

About the author

is Communications Manager at ePages.

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