Why Can’t I Find What I Want?

by Hayley Silver •

If a customer cannot find what they are looking for, then they will leave a site without making a purchase and possibly never come back. This is a powerful statement, and is the reason why retailers spend so much time and money trying to perfect their search functionality.

BizRate Research ran a “Hot Topic” study in Q1 2009 to uncover how customers search for products, their mindset, and the tools they expect to be available to help them find that perfect little black dress…or television…or gift for a friend. We launched the questions across the majority of our Network of retailers.*

Check out some of the key findings:

  1. Most customers (62%) come to a site knowing exactly what they want. In categories such as Apparel, browsing is more of a factor (50% come to an Apparel site to browse).
  2. The Search Box (49%) and Menus/Tabs (47%) are the most popular search methods – make them intuitive, easy to find and ensure your algorithms produce relevant results.
  3. “Mixed Relevant and Irrelevant Results” was the top reason the Search Box was ineffective (16%), while “Produced Too Many Results” was the top reason for Menus/Tabs (26%)
  4. Make sure you have a “View All” option. Customers picked “View All Choices On One Page” as most important in helping them find what they want the next time they shop for that particular item (14%).
  5. Provide a variety of sorting and narrowing options. Customers want control; they want to be able to arrange search results in a way that makes sense to them. 62% want to control either the sorting or narrowing (or both) vs. having predetermined groups, such as “most popular” (24%).
  6. Overall, customers find Brand/Model (13%), Sale/Clearance Items (9%) and Price (9%) to be the most important attributes in locating their coveted item (outside of “View All Choices On One Page”).
  7. These top three can differ depending on your category or business. For example, if you are an Apparel retailer, especially a private labeled retailer, then looking for products by Sale/Clearance Items (14%), Size (11%) and In-Stock and Available (10%) are most important for your customers. For Office Supplies retailers, Brand/Model (18%), Item/Catalog No. (12%) and Price (12%) are most important.

I’ll be posting results from some of our other “Hot Topic” studies, so please stay tuned! If you are interested in learning more about the “Hot Topic” program, then please contact us. We welcome suggestions for future topics – leave a comment with your ideas!

*For this “Hot Topic” study, 107,224 consumers submitted responses Network-wide; 32,452 of which were Apparel purchases and 20,401 of which were Office Supplies purchases. Survey responses were collected from January 27 – April 15, 2009.

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