Mobile Search Best Practices for Ecommerce

Sometimes, ecommerce customers are simply in the mood to browse. This typically takes the form of using the navigation bar to find a category, then perusing your product catalogue. Other times, customers are seeking a specific query. When this is the case, they’ll head for the search bar and input their specific wants and needs directly.

If customers can’t find what they’re seeking, they will try their luck elsewhere. This is precisely why search results impact conversion rates. And it’s not enough to consider the desktop search experience alone—the rise of mobile shopping adds another layer to site search.

Here are some mobile search best practices for ecommerce.

Make Your Search Bar Obvious and Usable

Mobile devices are mighty convenient for on-the-go research and buying. But the small screen size does make search more challenging. As UX Planet notes, “Users often move fast and furiously when they’re looking for search. They typically scan a page looking for ‘the little box where I can type.’”

It’s not enough to provide a small drop-down arrow or even the word “Search” in your mobile navigation bar. Best practices dictate you should show the actual search box with a magnifying glass symbol prominently on your site. In addition to being highly visible, the search tool should be large enough for shoppers’ fingers to easily tap on their mobile device.

Provide Relevant Search Results on Mobile

Search results too far off-base will only serve to alienate mobile shoppers. Remember, these users are already dealing with a small screen. If the first few results seem less than promising, they will simply exit out of your website. Thus, relevancy is key when you’re returning search results.

Irrelevant results, especially at the top of the page, will cause users to draw false conclusions about your product offerings. You may very well have a product suiting their wants or needs, but because your search tool returned less-than-ideal results, the customer in question believes you do not sell what they’re seeking.

To ensure you’re providing relevant search results for mobile shoppers, first consider your platform. Some cloud-based ecommerce solutions are more mobile-friendly to begin with. Then examine the search function itself. If results seem to be off, refine your strategy for mapping certain queries to certain products and categories. Conduct regular internal usability testing to make sure search results stay relevant even as you add and discontinue products.

Always Return Something

Sometimes, your store simply won’t stock a product exactly matching a highly specific search query. So, should you return a message telling the searcher that no items match their search? Not quite. This action is a surefire way to turn customers away right off the bat. Avoid obvious dead ends. Instead, show similar products that keep mobile shoppers perusing your product selection. This will keep people in the funnel and continuing their journey.

Tell Users Where to Tap

Your mobile search methods may be alienating simply because they are not “thumb friendly.” Mobile hit zones can make or break how a user interacts with your search results. It seems simple at first glance but making the link obvious is key. Ask yourself questions like: Can users click anywhere inside a listing box, or just on the product name to access it? Do users fumble before finding the right link? Is any part of scrolling or tapping a hassle? Any extra steps can alienate users, especially on mobile devices.

Anticipate User Mistakes

Humans are just that—human. They will make spelling errors, forget search terms and more. If your mobile search function can provide guided auto suggest, you’ll be able to help them return the right results.

When you’re setting up and refining your mobile search, prioritize ease of use. Then put yourself in your customers’ shoes to make sure you’re delivering a quality experience.