How to Influence Purchasing Behavior Through Customer Site Search Analysis

By Brook Burke

Brook Burke, Senior Digital Strategist – B2C, demystifies B2C Commerce site search and its impact on the customer experience.

Site Search

B2C Commerce Merchandising refers to the strategies and techniques used by businesses to effectively showcase and sell their products or services directly to individual consumers online. While there are several crucial aspects involved in creating a positive customer experience and influencing purchasing behavior, one area that is often overlooked is site search. It plays a vital role in helping customers find what they’re looking for quickly and efficiently. However, many businesses fail to realize the potential impact that site search can have on the overall customer experience and purchasing behavior. That’s why listening to the voice of consumers through on-site search is so important.  

Giving attention to the search queries, patterns, and behaviors of your website visitors pays dividends because it is rare, direct feedback from users. Businesses can gain valuable insights into customer preferences, needs, and pain points by analyzing and understanding this data. This information can improve the search experience, optimize product offerings, enhance personalization, and drive sales.  

People’s shopping and on-site search behaviors change throughout the year. In the US, Q4 means people have less time on their hands given the pressures to deliver gifts.  They use search more often in Q4 and search for different things. Meanwhile, retailers bring in seasonal assortments with 60- to 90-day lifecycles. Consumer behaviors and fleeting offerings deserve unique treatment and sorting on the site to maximize conversion opportunities and increase customer satisfaction.  (Pro tip: consumer search queries during the holidays can provide suggestions for items to add to your assortment.) 

Businesses must recognize the significance of site search as a powerful tool for understanding and meeting customer needs. By leveraging the insights gained from on-site search data, companies can effectively tailor their ecommerce merchandising efforts, maximize customer satisfaction, and ultimately drive higher conversion rates and customer loyalty. 

1. Noisy, Less Relevant Search Results 


Customers often encounter search results with little relevance to their query, causing frustration and potential abandonment.  


  • Use synonyms and related term mapping to ensure the search engine understands different variations of keywords. 
  • Tune your searchable product, category and content attributes for the user’s benefits, ‘educating’ the platform’s search engine as to where in your data to find the best information.  
  • Use all the search dictionaries to enhance the native functionality. 
  • Tune your sorting rules for search results differently than those for category navigation. 
  • Incorporate natural language processing to interpret search queries better and match them with relevant products. 

2. Misspellings and Typos 


Consumers may need to correct spelling mistakes or typos while entering search queries, resulting in incorrect or no search results.  


  • Implement a spell-check feature that suggests corrected search terms when misspellings occur. 
  • Utilize fuzzy matching algorithms to identify and correct minor errors in search terms. 
  • Provide autocomplete suggestions to guide users and prevent common spelling mistakes. 

3. Out-of-Stock Items 


Customers may be disappointed by the results when searching for products that are currently out of stock.  


  • Harvest null-search queries for guidance on items you offer but are sold out when the user wants them. 
  • Ensure the search index happens at the right frequency to reflect current product availability. 
  • If you choose to configure your site to display out-of-stock items, provide clear and prominent notifications for those items, suggesting similar or alternative products in stock. 
  • Consider implementing email alerts allowing customers to set up notifications when out-of-stock items become available again. 

4. Mobile Optimization 


Mobile users have different search behavior and screen limitations than desktop users, requiring a mobile-optimized search experience.  


  • Implement a design that adapts to various screen resolutions and sizes. 
  • Optimize the search interface for mobile devices by using larger input fields, clear call-to-action buttons, and intuitive search filters. 

5. Limited Product Information 


Site search can be challenging when the product information and attributes are limited or poorly structured.  


  • Ensure comprehensive and accurate product data is available, including attributes such as product name, description, category, brand, and specifications. 
  • Implement data normalization techniques to standardize product attributes, making them more searchable and filterable. 

6. User Feedback and Iterative Improvements 


It can be challenging to identify ongoing issues and areas for improvement without gathering user feedback and monitoring search analytics. 


  • Implement tools to capture and analyze search data, including popular search terms, failed queries, click-through rates, and conversion rates. 
  • Encourage users to provide feedback on their search experiences through surveys or feedback forms. 
  • Monitor and analyze search metrics to identify patterns, improve relevance, and refine the search experience. 

Addressing these common challenges and implementing appropriate solutions can enhance the site search functionality in B2C merchandising, improve customer satisfaction, and increase overall engagement and conversions. 

Achieve Immediate Results with Site Audits 

RafterOne has extensive experience in merchandising strategies and site search optimization. We can be a valuable partner to help you streamline and enhance your online retail experience. By conducting appropriate audits, we can support you to optimize your site search. The audits we often recommend include: 

  • Performance Analytics: We employ advanced analytics to track and measure your site search performance. They provide key performance indicators (KPIs) such as search-to-purchase ratio, click-through rates, and average order values. These metrics enable you to gain insights into user behavior and make data-driven decisions to enhance your merchandising strategy.  
  • Continuous Improvement: Our partnership goes beyond a one-time audit. We can work with you to continuously improve your site search performance. We monitor the impact of recommendations, track changes in user behavior and provide iterative enhancements to keep your site up to date with evolving customer preferences and industry trends. 

By collaborating with RafterOne for site search audits, you can leverage our expertise in B2C merchandising and optimization to deliver a seamless and personalized shopping experience for your customers. 

Site Search Audit Implementation Success  

We recently implemented a number of recommendations based on the audit performed for one of our retail apparel clients. 

Comparing the 90-day period before and after those changes showed: 

  • Null Searches decreased by 40% 
  • Conversion of customers using search increased 51% (while conversion of ALL customers in Q4 grew only 42%- this fact ‘normalizes’ the search increase against the effect of Holiday) 
  • Revenue from customers using search grew from 18% of total revenue to 22% 
  • Revenue from customers using search increased 148% (while total site revenue grew ‘only’ 101%) 

Our Unique Approach 

With our extensive experience in merchandising and site search optimization, we can help to enhance your online retail presence and drive meaningful customer experiences. We have a team of certified Salesforce professionals with in-depth knowledge and expertise in leveraging the Salesforce Commerce Cloud platform. In addition, we have a proven track record of working with various B2C companies across diverse industries, assisting them in achieving their merchandising goals. Our team understands the nuances of effective merchandising and can help you create compelling product assortments, refine pricing strategies, implement effective promotional campaigns, and optimize your site search capabilities. 

Allow us to help you tune in to the voice of your consumer through an onsite search audit. Our experts will assess your current site search functionality, identify any pain points or areas for improvement, and provide you with actionable recommendations to enhance the search experience for your customers. By partnering with RafterOne, you gain access to our team of Salesforce experts and benefit from our extensive merchandising experience. We are passionate about helping businesses succeed in B2C and believe that seamless merchandising and site search experience is critical for driving customer engagement and increasing sales. Contact us today to learn more about our services. 


Ready to elevate your customer experience through site search analysis?