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Don’t Stop Searching

Search usage stumbled

For decades in retail, the merchandising team had all the swagger - and that translated from stores to digital.

Their power to searchandize is what connected shoppers to product.

(I’m grateful to the formidable Sue Chapman for introducing me to that term, btw).

Search has massively changed over the years. Manually generated synonyms and hyponyms have given way to using AI and NLP to get to the real shopper query. The rigor has given way to working smarter.

Shopper activity, though and site design are hinting at a change in search engagement.

The Shopping Index reports search usage falling to 6% of site traffic, down from 8% the quarter prior (and the lowest I can remember). That traffic is 2.5x productive as always, driving 16% of revenue, down from 19%.

When it comes to massive catalog sites - Amazon and other marketplace-types - search remains the default shopping approach. But, sites with fewer products have always given search the side-eye, often claiming that search isn’t necessary. And, the site design trends look to be understating the search bar once again. And, with search icon-ized into a compact magnifying glass, it’s easy to relegate it to the same pixel area as a pin or even an account link.

But, as the great wave of DTC darlings expand into new categories, they’ll be faced with decisions on how to help shoppers find product.

Put it all together, and we have a simmering formula for site search to earn some much needed UX innovation:

[[ Operational efficiencies in place x  cookie-cutter site design x evolving needs]]

Site search may be feeling the tailwinds of AI, but it’s the other two letter acronym, UX, that may need to get some attention.

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