How to Turn Curious Browsers into Buyers with Effective E-commerce Site Search

Effective e-commerce site search is essential for turning curious browsers into buyers. When shoppers can easily find what they are looking for, they are more likely to complete a purchase. In this article, we are going to discuss a number of things you can do to improve your e-commerce site search.

Dr. Arindam Ballav
Dr. Arindam Ballav
12 min read | September 02, 2023

Did you know that according to research from Nosto, the Commerce Experience Platform (CXP), 69% of online shoppers directly go to the search bar on e-commerce sites? However, a staggering 80% of them end up leaving due to a poor user experience.

Shopping cart and magnifying glass

The Next Big Thing in E-commerce: Site Search

We are in a constant flux of information at our fingertips. As soon as our 'curiosity urge' tinkles us, we summon our smart devices.


Have you ever given a thought about the difference between a search engine and a web browser?

Let us understand this with an example. When we use the search box for ‘Google’ to locate a website or any other information, ‘Google’ is your search engine.

We use 'Google Chrome for accessing the 'Google' search engine. Here, Google Chrome is the web browser. A search engine is used to locate the information you desire but a web browser is used to access a search engine. In 2023, everything is already online and an e-commerce site search is a necessity for e-commerce platforms. Online site search capability equipped with search algorithms and programmed to meet customer search in nanoseconds is the next big thing. WHY?

It is because customer preferences have changed. Previously, Indian consumers had to depend on local vendors where their needs were shaped by the availability of products at those stores. With the simultaneous growth in e-commerce and Internet, the tables have turned. Local vendors and suppliers are no longer in control of customer needs.

This is WHY e-commerce site search is going to play a vital role in order to tap this E- market with unlimited potential.

E-commerce websites are not ignorant of the importance of site search to provide a smooth user experience. Let us focus on understanding how you can maximize the capability of your search engine site for the ultimate goal of customer acquisition.

What is an E-commerce Site Search?

Magnifying glass with search text

Imagine you are in a shopping mall with a list of items in your hand. It's a large, spacious area under one roof where you can have anything for free. There is one single catch: you only have 10 minutes.

You would run like there is no tomorrow. The signages that market the items available would be your only way of locating your favourites.

Imagine if there were no signages and you have to toggle through every corner.

Similarly, when you enter an e-commerce website, your first instinct is to type in the name of the item on the search bar. This space where you get the search results served in a filtered and optimized manner is known as an e-commerce site search.

Without an e-commerce search bar, an e-commerce platform will fail to serve its basic purpose: to sell!

“Findability" is the core objective for a search bar, and this secret is out. Every e- commerce platform has perfected their search bar. So where can you stand out? It is the UX (user experience) of your search bar that will bring in your users’ time and again.

User experience for a search bar will be the deciding factor whether your customers are going to stay around or not. Every platform will be providing the products/services you desire, but the way of "presentation" (UX) will decide if your customer's first preferences will be your platform.

Definition: An e-commerce site search allows users to come across items or information based on the keywords that they use, in an algorithmically structured manner. It can be referred to as an optimized search engine solution exclusively for each portal.

Types of Visitors

There are two types of visitors for any platform which is aiming to sell its products: browsers and searchers.

There is a difference in intention between a browser and a searcher.

A browser intends to go through a variety of items without a particular preference. They may or may not end up buying that item.

A searcher can go through a plethora of search activities but with the clear intention of something specific. The chances are higher that a searcher will place an order.

To run a successful business, it is important to target both of these groups. User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) can help ensure that all consumers are able to browse, search, and eventually buy.

The reason why you end up buying more while grocery shopping in big supermarkets is because their design and strategies inject product needs in you. The same philosophy can be applied to e-commerce platforms. This is called "product injection," where a need for a product is created within a customer.

It has been found that 43% of customers rely on search engines for any platform for information or for products.

This number is rising exponentially and has already increased by the time you are reading this article.

In order to know about the types of visitors, let us understand the importance of optimizing site search. This is because the efficiency of a site search can determine whether a browser becomes a searcher and eventually a buyer.

According to an estimate, browsers bring in 45% of the total revenue. For a seller, procuring a buyer is the most important part of the cycle of buying and selling.

How does optimization work?

An e-commerce site search is a search engine that identifies the need of a customer through keywords and characters and presents the items of their requirement. Optimization works when the search query by a customer is met accurately with the item(s) presented on the screen.

This may sound simple, but a complex algorithm-based search functionality is working 24/7 behind the scenes to deliver those results.

61% of e-commerce companies lack optimization in their site search. This can lead to difficulties in providing search results that meet customer demands.

Let us understand the different types of e-commerce type search queries. It will help us navigate more efficiently without depending entirely on search engine optimization.

Types of E-commerce Site Search Query

4 types of e-commerce site search query

1. Exact search:
As the name suggests, an exact search is where a customer types in their query which can be a name, model number or actual description and the ‘exact’ item(s) or information comes into view. This kind of search saves a lot of time for the customer.

According to reports, there is a 70% higher chance for a customer to buy an item if the search matches the first time without cajoling through several attempts.

2. Product type search:
When you search for ‘formal shirt’ on an e-commerce platform, you do not specify the brand name, color or other specific details. This kind of product-centric search is eventually followed by ‘Faceted search’.

A faceted search is when a user looks for a product and then applies filters such as size, price range and other details. It helps the search engine to understand user demand more precisely, resulting in accuracy while meeting customer requirements.

3. Problem-based search:
When a customer looks for a tangible solution to a problem, their query is categorized as a "problem-based search." Queries such as "comfortable shoes for elders" or "gluten-free food" are a few examples.

The search engine should be able to optimize the keywords to the extent to which the user meets their requirement. An efficient search data analysis can be of great help when customer queries get tricky.

The search engine should be able to optimize the keywords to the extent that the user meets their requirement. An efficient search data analysis can be of great help when customer queries become complex.

This is where the importance of search engine optimization comes into play. According to a report by WorldStream, 42% of US online shoppers have returned an item they bought online in the last six months.

Such returns can be due to the inability of the product to solve the problem of the customer. Aesthetic features such as UX design and E-commerce UX serve no purpose if the customer is not able to find what they are looking for.

4. Non-product search:
When a user looks for information rather than a product, it falls under the category of ‘non-product’ search.

For example, in India, we celebrate the word ‘Sale’ just like ‘Cricket’. Customers reach for information on these e-commerce portals to know about the brands which are on sale or on discount. They also look for shipping options and returns policies.

Read also: How to Create an Amazing eCommerce Mobile User Experience

Common E-commerce site search issues you need to tackle

Man looking at computer screen with magnifying glass

1. Low conversion rates:
Statistically, a conversion rate of 11.45% or higher is a good record. A percentage less will make the website join the mediocre crowd. A website's inability to meet customer satisfaction will result in poor user experience.

If we cannot convert a browser/searcher into a buyer then the e-commerce portal serves no purpose besides being an online portal for window shopping.

2. Poor search results:
This is one of the main reasons why an e-commerce website loses its customer base. A search engine portal is designed to provide expected search results. If it does not meet the expected level of demands of customers at the first moment, the game is already over. No wonder they say “first impression is the last impression.” Providing accurate and relevant search results is vital for a positive e-commerce user experience.

3. Slow site search speed:
We are living in a generation where people are always busy, but in a productive way. This is a boon for e-commerce platforms, as they can bring the stores to the customers instead of the other way around. Customers are sensitive to speed. If your website takes a second longer to load, your customer may have already switched to another website. Slow site search speed can cause catastrophic damage to customer acquisition and lead to a poor user experience.

4. Lack of personalized search results:
Optimized search results are directly proportional to higher conversion rates. Lack of this capability can either make your user stay or lose them in a frenzy. Optimized and filtered search results will boost customer satisfaction.

5. Inaccurate autocomplete suggestions:
It's no secret that autocomplete can create havoc while texting a friend or in the worst case, your boss.

Inaccurate autocomplete suggestions test the patience of your customer leading to an unhappy user experience. E-commerce search engines must not push other products during their search for the desired one. Providing accurate and relevant autocomplete suggestions is essential for a smooth user experience.

According to Baymard Institute, Autocomplete features are provided at 80% of e- commerce sites — yet only 19% get everything right when it comes to designing the feature for end users.

6. Duplicate search results:
Too much of everything is never a welcome sign. Similarly for e-commerce sites, if the search results get too crowded with duplicate items, it is a red alert for the customer to ditch the entire idea of buying an item. People love clarity especially when they are looking for something with limited information on a search engine portal.

Now you know the areas where one needs to improve to restructure their e-commerce site search. But this article does not end here.

We will also discuss the ways through which you can improve optimization, gather more customers, stand out from the competition, and ultimately enhance the overall e- commerce user experience.

Strategies to Garner Curious Browsers and Acquire them as Buyers

8 actionable e-commerce site search strategies

1. Auto-complete:
A friend in disguise. Autocomplete is a powerful tool that enhances the user experience on an e-commerce website. By reducing search time by an average of 25%, it helps customers find what they are looking for quickly. Autocomplete filters user demands and optimizes keywords, increasing the probability of customer acquisition.

2. Spell checker:
The perfect ingredient for an addictive search portal We are always in a hurry. So, when we spell a product and click on 'search', we expect it to be visible in nanoseconds. Customers can make spelling errors during their quest for their desired products but search engines cannot afford those luxuries.

It is important for a site search to detect spelling errors and a spell checker will work just like magic.

3. Relevant search results are the start:
An effective site search should provide relevant search results, even if the exact desired product is not available. Not all customers are specific about what they want, and search data analysis, along with language processing, can prove to be quite effective in delivering relevant results. This enhances the e-commerce user experience and increases the chances of customer acquisition.

4. Images complement customer search:
When customers are not exactly sure about the product they are looking for, relevant search results combined with image-based search results can work wonders. Such capabilities will ensure that your customers visit again. This will pave the way for a website to recommend its relevant products to the customer since they are yet to decide on the brand of the product.

5. Filters to search results reduce chances of error:
A filter is a win-win feature for a customer and the search engine. How? Search filters help customers to be more specific about their requirements and reduce the chances of error for a search engine portal. It is very important for a search engine to provide relevant to customer searches through a detailed analysis of the selected filter options.

6. Time your breadcrumbs:
You cannot sell a mobile charger unless your customer decides to buy a mobile device.

An effective e-commerce UX strategy involves providing user-optimized search results. Once a customer decides to purchase an item, it opens the door for other items to get their attention as well. This can lead to additional purchases and increased customer acquisition.

7. Language cannot be a barrier:
Language processing is quite vital, especially if you plan to target a larger audience. Not everyone is tech-savvy, and not everyone is fluent in English. By catering to different languages and proficiency levels, a website can engage a wider range of potential buyers.

8. Analysis is the key:
If your search engine cannot accurately analyze the customer's requirements, all suggestions from point 1 to point 7 will fail. Customers can be quite confused when choosing the right product, and their descriptions can be vague and their requirements unclear. This is precisely when the search engine must identify the client's requirements through accurate analysis.


With the current world population of 7.9 billion, over 2.64 billion people worldwide are now digital buyers.

E-commerce portals are the future of online purchases. The secret is out. In order to stand out, certain features need to be perfected, not once, but time and again.

UX and UI will be the unique selling points (USPs) for e-commerce platforms. A fully optimized search engine that provides a positive user experience will be that fragile thread to customer acquisition.

The purpose of this article is not limited to sharing the loopholes, but also to provide the ingredients to fill those.

We are already aware that you believe in your products and services. This is exactly the reason you have reached till the end of this article. Now, let us be a part of your endeavor in making your customers know about your product's potential.

They say that you can sell anything you want if you have the acumen for it. With the advent of e-commerce platforms, bringing the product to the right customer at the right time is the key, and that is exactly when a well-equipped e-commerce site search comes into play.

We believe in you and if you allow us, we can help you with getting that last piece of puzzle for customer acquisition.

Get a free Product Strategy & Growth Design consultation today, get in touch with us here.


What is an E-commerce Site Search?

An e-commerce site search allows users to come across items or information based on the keywords that they use, in an algorithmically structured manner. It can be referred to as an optimized search engine solution exclusively for each portal.

How does user experience (UX) affect the search experience on an e-commerce site?

User experience (UX) encompasses all aspects of how a user interacts with a website, from the moment they land on the homepage to the moment they make a purchase. A good UX can make the search experience on an e-commerce site more efficient and enjoyable for users. Here are some specific ways that UX can affect search experience: Clear and concise navigation, Effective search functionality, Personalized recommendations, Affordable and convenient payment options, and Error-free checkout process.

By taking these factors into account, e-commerce businesses can create a positive UX that will help to improve the search experience on their sites.

Why is effective e-commerce site search important?

Effective e-commerce site search is important because it can help you:

  • Increase your conversion rate: When shoppers can easily find what they are looking for, they are more likely to complete a purchase.
  • Improve customer satisfaction: Shoppers who have a positive experience with your site search are more likely to return and shop again.
  • Reduce abandoned carts: Shoppers who are unable to find what they are looking for are more likely to abandon their cart.

How UniKwan can help us with effective E-commerce Product Strategy and growth design?

UniKwan is a leading UI/UX design company with expertise in e-commerce product strategy and growth design. We can help you develop a customer-centric product strategy. We will put the customer at the center of everything we do, from user research to product design. This will help us create products that meet the needs of your customers and drive growth.

How can I get in touch with UniKwan Innovations?

You can contact UniKwan Innovations by visiting their contact page or by emailing us at

About the Author

Dr. Arindam Ballav
Dr. Arindam Ballav  Content Writer

Dr. Arindam Ballav is a dental surgeon turned healthcare IT consultant with a passion for creative content writing. He is inspired by the world around him and often draws on his own experiences in his writing. He is passionate about using his writing to explore complex themes and connect with readers on a personal level.

Who We Are?

UniKwan Innovations is a product design and innovation consulting company. We specialize in product strategy, user experience design, CX design, and research. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, we're your guide to success.

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