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The Comprehensive Guide to B2B Ecommerce Site Search

What is B2B Ecommerce Site Search?

Often business-to-business (B2B) web stores do not have search configured for the various types of users visiting a website. For example, a manufacturer may have many different users, including inside sales, third-party rep networks, resellers, and multiple tiers of buyers—each looking for different information. Therefore, ecommerce and site search administrators need the ability to manage different search experiences by product catalog or web store.

According to Gartner, "two of the top three benefits of digital commerce were search-related: comparing prices and ease of product discovery."

Driving Ecommerce Site Search Conversions

According to Forrester Research, 43% of website visitors go straight to the internal search bar after loading a website. A Baymard Institute report on ecommerce site search and usability found that ecommerce web store users fall into one of four search categories:

  • Exact search: the user knows can query the precise product, whether by SKU or product name (e.g., 'Ariat Turbo 6" Waterproof Carbon Toe Work Boot')
  • Product type search: the user searches for a general product rather than a specific brand or model (e.g., "compressor")
  • Problem-based search: the user searches for a solution to a problem without knowing what kind of product is needed (e.g., "Sensor Error 722")
  • Non-product search: the user searches for information rather than a product (e.g., "branch opening time")

"Due to the increased level of purchase intent from searchers, they're known to convert up to 5–6x higher than the average non–site search visitor." - CXL

Ecommerce Web Store Search Benefits

An ecommerce web store search provides a multitude of benefits that impact a customer's experience with a brand. A primary target of any customer experience is to reduce friction, and a universal site search engine delivers the following benefits:

  • Enables product and content discoverability
  • Universal site search reduces friction in customer experience.
  • A well-configured site search tool that provides relevant results increases brand trust.
  • Personalizes the shopping experience
  • Uncovers customer intent and reveals data about customers' priorities
  • Increases product velocity and margin through merchandising capabilities

11 Ecommerce Store Search Best Practices

  1. Highly Visible Site Search
    The search box should be as large as possible within the web store theme and be available from all site pages via header. The design of native site search in the Znode software development kit theme puts search front and center for all web store visitors to find and use easily.

  2. A Personalized Searching Experience
    Delivering a unique search experience by an audience is a goal most manufacturers and distributors hope to achieve. Unfortunately, technology usually hinders the ability to offer a personalized experience to each account or segment profile that utilizes a web store search. More importantly, for businesses operating multiple web stores, the ability to differentiate the search experience between stores is necessary. Configuring and managing such complex search requirements can be streamlined with Znode's search profiles. Administrators can create unique search logic by web store or product catalog applied to accounts, users, or user profile segments.

  3. Utilize Auto-complete
    Site search functionality should be able to reference information in the index to anticipate where the search is headed and begin listing suggestions while the shopper is still typing. Additionally, featuring the product name of recommendations and the product image provides a second level of validation for users looking for a product. In Znode, the type-ahead functionality is configurable according to when it engages (i.e., after two characters are typed) and reflects boost and bury search configurations. Znode's type-ahead feature can showcase product names, product images, and more.

  4. Redirects to Categories and Landing Pages
    Creating internal redirects can increase customer satisfaction and conversions. For example, redirects can direct customers searching for categories to the corresponding category product list pages. Additionally, buyers looking for support information such as a "Warranty" page can be directed to the appropriate landing page.

    It is typically a best practice to direct buyers to top-level categories via search with corresponding queries. Still, the same can be applied to top selected attributes in those categories, e.g., "18-volt drills" or "20-volt drills". Znode's site search functionality enables administrators to set redirects for any keywords desired and searches directed to specific URLs. Additional Znode's site search indexes both product and content web pages, ensuring web store visitors can find all information via search.

  5. Stop Words
    Stop words are removed from search queries as they provide no descriptive value. For example, if a product catalog consists of only wiring, entering "wire" as a stop word could be beneficial as it would return every product in the catalog. 

    Stop words are frequently occurring, often insignificant words that appear in a product name or category. Znode's default stop words include: a, an, the, in, of, on, and are.

  6. Search Should Never End in "No Results"
    A search needs to help visitors discover the information required to complete a task. To this point, then, a search should never result in a dead-end. There are many options of what to showcase when a search delivers no results, top-selling products, automated suggested products, top landing pages, most popular categories, and the list goes on. Web page templates in Znode can be customized, especially the Search Results page, to deliver a user experience that leads to conversions.

  7. Facets and Filters
    When a single search can display hundreds of results, the need to facet and filter the results could not be more significant. Identifying the most appropriate facets for usage on a search results page can be challenging in a multi-store ecommerce environment. Znode offers search profiles that allow administrators to personalize the search experience by web store, including selecting what facets and filters to display on the results pages.

  8. Mobile Site Search Functionality
    As the applications of B2B ecommerce continue to increase, the need for mobile-orientated search capabilities will grow. Merchants should not overlook a mobile phone's inherent QR code scanning ability, as service technicians in the field may rely on such functionality to fix broken equipment and identify needed repair products. The same can be said for those without a free hand in a repair shop. Enabling voice search allows users to identify products required with both hands full. With a native QR code scanning feature and voice recognition, Znode's ecommerce site search is prepared to deliver results for mobile device users.

  9. Search Indexing Should not Affect Experience
    Customers expect to see the latest information when researching products and suppliers. Search indexing should not impede a web store visitor's ability to find information. Administrators can configure Znode's site search to update the index for product data and content management system data at set frequencies and as new information is published and updated.

  10. Site Search Analytics
    Tracking ecommerce site search activity provides a plethora of data to optimize the searching experience and the broader shopping experience of customers. Evaluating top search keywords allows administrators and those responsible for inventorying products to ensure top products are available. Reviewing search results with zero or minimal results enables marketers to identify gaps in product data or search enhancements, including redirecting to content landing pages. Znode tracks both top search results and zero result searches natively. Additionally, native integration to Google Analytics provides search administrators with even more data to optimize the user experience.

  11. Robots.txt
    Whether a marketing team wants search result pages indexed by searches like Google or not, configurability in an ecommerce site search is needed. Znode's native web store configurations allow administrators to exclude search result pages from indexing with Robots.txt file controls.

Ecommerce Site Search FAQs

What is ecommerce site search?
Ecommerce site search is the functionality that enables users to search a given website's content or product catalogs with speed and relevance.

What is faceted search?
Faceted search is a feature that allows users to refine search results with results driving the data available in the facets for filtering.

What is semantic search?
Semantic search in ecommerce breaks apart the parts of a query to identify the difference between product categories and product attributes. Sometimes referred to fuzzy search, which identifies elements of a query with keywords that are similar but not the same.

What are the four types of search queries?
The four types of search queries are exact search queries, product-type search queries, problem-based queries, and non-product search queries.

Ready to turn ecommerce onsite search into a conversion tool for all sales channels? Request a Znode demo today!

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