Searchandising: What is it and why is it important?
Searchandising: What is it and why is it important?
Searchandising is more than just a buzz-word. This sophisticated strategy is being adopted by retailers across industries and it’s easy to see why. Read now to learn more.
In e-commerce we place a lot of effort in generating traffic. We spend loads of time on SEO and a lot of money on PPC campaigns. But it’s all for nought if a poor user experience just leads to bouncing and poor conversion rates.
Being able to provide tailored search results for your shoppers is key to their engagement. Consumers expect personalisation and a smooth omnichannel experience. If they don’t get it, they won’t buy.
‘Searchandising’ (also known as search merchandising) is a recent term that was coined largely as a result of the evolution of ecommerce search solutions. In this post we talk about what searchandising is, why it’s important, and how it can help you smash your sales targets this quarter.
What is searchandising?
Picture this: you’re running a brick-and-mortar store and you’re trying to sell some leftover stock. You need to move it quickly and you’ve decided to discount them and move your items to the front of the shop to make them more attractive to your shoppers. This is classic merchandising.
In the ecommerce world, online retailers take many of these same concepts and work them into their online stores. Popular examples can include sales announcements with loud banners and calls-to-action.
It doesn’t stop there though. Search merchandising allows you to take a step further by merchandising to shoppers that are looking for a specific product or solution to their problem.
As you can imagine, there’s quite a lot to searchandising, so let’s take a dive and try to understand it better.
Searchandising (Search merchandising) combines search and merchandising to customize your ecommerce site search results to fit a certain criteria that you set. Searchandising enables you to ensure that the results your shoppers see are highly relevant and match their intent, but that these results also align with your business goals. These might include trending products, seasonal items, related products with higher profit margins and the like.
In the world of ecommerce today, the power of search solutions is well known. Shoppers want to have natural shopping experiences, and search is key to providing them with relevant results.
However, it’s one thing to give users search results that are relevant. It’s another to give them relevant results that you want them to buy. That’s what searchandising is all about, and it benefits both the shopper and the seller.
How does searchandising work?
At its core, searchandising is all about enhancing search capabilities, including navigation, autocomplete, recommended products, recent searches related queries, and more. With searchandising, you can layer merchandising into site search features, such as autocomplete, recent searches, search suggestions, and more.
It achieves this with behavioural data and automation to create a seamless, personalised search experience.
At the most basic level, searchandising involves setting ‘boost-and-bury’ rules on variables such as profit margins, stock availability, and more.
On a more advanced level, it can take into account behavioural data, and use sophisticated machine learning algorithms to sort products based on relevancy, popularity, personalisation, and more.
Searchandising allows you to quickly amend your search engine relevance to your business KPIs. It works by enforcing business rules in addition to relevance rules for the site’s search engine. This allows you to adapt to your business goals, by promoting, boosting, and burying products for key search queries.
As with all solutions, you can take it further. Advanced searchandising solutions give you access to analytics, that allow you to refine search results, understand user intent and key word data, such as underperforming and trending products. This all helps you ultimately build an experience that your users truly care about.
Not all businesses are the same and searchandising will look different in each scenario. As a search provider, we work with our clients to customise and optimise their results according to their specific criteria, and that they are easily monitored and adjusted as the system learns from shoppers.
Search results are sorted to reflect user intent and the retailer’s business rules, be it product popularity, personal taste, time of year, campaigns, new and changing inventory, and so on.
As well as this, related search results are generated in real-time and displayed next to search results.
Manual merchandising tasks are automated, such as sorting, ranking, and tagging. Retailers are able to better anticipate shopper intent and minimise costs as a result. We’ve seen our customers increase their sales by as high as 20% in some cases as a result of advanced searchandising, and save incalculable time.
Searchandising allows ecommerce teams, including product owners, marketers, merchandisers, and managers to organise search results in ways that align with business goals, such as pushing key products, tracking how people interact with your offerings, and more. Searchandising is a continually improving process that can be optimised to drive sales and meet business objectives.
What can you do with searchandising?
There are some key things you can do with searchandising, such as:
- Personalisation: Providing personally relevant content to your users increases conversion rate
- Search rules: Use a boost-and-bury strategy to promote certain types of products to users based on KPIs such as time of year, customer relationship, or other factors.
- Recommend products: Take advantage of merchandising to users directly in their search experience. This provides an intuitive user experience and opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.
- Campaigns: You can also leverage display ads and promotional banners on your search results pages to help promote key products.
- Monitor performance: Searchandising is a process that requires continual fine-tuning. There is no ‘set-and-forget’ option. Monitor your user interactions and decide how to adjust search relevance and product rankings accordingly.
What are the benefits of searchandising?
There are several advantages to searchandising that you should be aware of. These include:
- Increased revenue: showing shoppers products based on the customisable rules you set when done optimally will increase conversion and sales
- Enhanced navigation and filters: providing a smoother experience for your shoppers
- Display campaigns: you can promote products and content as display ads and banners on the same page or throughout your site, keeping your users engaged
- Better product listings: searchandising allows you to optimise your product listings and maximise efficiency
- Monitor data and improve iterations: Searchandising gives you a greater understanding of your shoppers. This data will empower you to make adjustments to search relevance and product offerings you have on your site, as well as managing your inventory and supply chain processes.
- Understand your priorities and strategies: This means knowing your goals which will allow you to align your search results with the kpis that matter most to your business
- Defining merchandising criteria: Where you decide which results will be highlighted when a search is completed. Data points such as number of sales, product cost, events, profit-margin, CTRs, discounts, stock, and more will be considered and incorporated in the algorithm.
- Monitoring performance: When the algorithms are defined and integrated into your store, you can monitor performance, looking at areas for improvement.
Of course it’s not all clear skies and there is no ‘set it and forget it’ approach to searchandising. The best on site solutions learn and apply what they’ve discerned about your shoppers and make continual improvements.
What do good searchandising tools look like?
To understand what makes a searchandising platform worth your time and money, let’s look at four key areas:
- Search relevance
- KPIs for search results
- Automation and machine learning
The ability to match results that are relevant to the user’s intent is pivotal to success. Merchandising means nothing without it. There’s no point trying to push products that aren’t relevant to the shopper’s search, and will just frustrate them.
The best search solutions are built with user intent at their core, and use it to their advantage in search merchandising. For example, if I search for a red dress, I don’t want to see red shirts or dresses of a different colour. Or if I’m looking for an oak coffee table, I don’t want to be shown marble or dining tables.
Today’s site search engines use natural language processing (or NLP) to analyse the search, discern intent, and retrieve the results it thinks the shopper wants. They are much more sophisticated than they used to be and are more focused on honing in on results with greater focus and more precise targeting. NLP is key to that.
Relevant results are the most important part of site search, but by combining it with personalisation, you can expect even better results from your searchandising.
Personalisation leverages historical user behaviour and brings your searchandising strategy to the next level. To give an example, a customer enters your store looking for an LED TV. Why then would you show them LCD TVs? Smart searchandising solutions will automatically retrieve all this data and display properly merchandised search results.
Another example would be location-based merchandising. Geography-based merchandising can also support your omnichannel commerce strategy by boosting goods nearest to the physical store location. For instance, say you’ve got a particular product that perfectly matches the shopper’s search intent, and it’s available in a store near them for collection. Searchandising can achieve this.
KPIs for search results
To get the most out of searchandising, you should fine-tune your site search in a way that it understands your merchandising strategy. Of course, this requires input from you.
These KPIS vary from business to business and you’ll have to work with your vendor to determine the right formula and application of business rules for the right searchandising.
Let’s look at several examples.
If you were to launch your ecommerce search solution and have it focus on product profit margins at the exclusion
In short, these rules encompass all of the variables that could affect the ranking of your search results, including things such as profit margin, product availability, discounts, free delivery and shipping options, product release date, and so on.
Automation and machine learning
Searchandising leverages automation to move beyond manual and labour-intense on-site search merchandising towards a solution that continually self-optimises. Search results rank themselves in real-time to reflect new information, including:
- Relationship and similarities between products
- Business rules and logics, like new products, stock levels, seasonal events, etc.
- CRM (past purchases, user profile info, etc)
- Behaviour data, such as clicks, adds-to-cart, purchases, etc.
- Particular words and synonyms
Could search merchandising work for you?
Ask yourself some key questions:
- Do you know why your products are ranked in a particular way for a certain search?
- Are you able to change your rankings flexibly?
- Do you struggle to understand data on search-specific results to make decisions and changes?
If your answer is no for one or more of these questions, it might be time to consider investing in searchandising.
With a search merchandising solution, business owners and marketers can take ownership over search, finetune their relevance, test changes, run A/B tests, and more to boost conversion rate and sales.
If you think about it, online merchandising has greater potential than merchandising in a brick-and-mortar store. With a searchandising tool, you have the ability to merchandise products in the tens of thousands rather than just the ten you might manage in a physical aisle, leading to greater potential profits and a better user experience.
Searchandising sounds tough but it doesn’t have to be. In fact search solutions such as Findologic are robust but built with simplicity in mind. Non-technical users are able to quickly make adjustments and test them to find out what works and stay flexible.
Adopting searchandising into your ecommerce strategy will increase your chances of conversion, grow your profit margins, move inventory, and create an excellent shopping experience.
Of course, searchandising is but one of many ecommerce site search best practices you can implement. If you want to learn improvements you can make to your search offering and get the most out of merchandising online, why not get in touch with Findologic today?