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These e-commerce issues drive customers away, pose Black Friday threat

Search issues could affect holiday sales.

Basic search issues are causing many online shoppers to leave before making a purchase.

More than three-quarters (77%) of respondents head straight to the search bar when they land on an e-commerce site, according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers from customer experience platform Nosto.  However, 84% admit they have left a site because of search issues, including irrelevant results, too many/too few products being displayed, or being directed to out-of-stock items.

Based on these findings, and on projected e-commerce sales revenue/average order values, Nosto estimates that U.S. online retailers could leave $13.8 billion in online sales on the table during Black Friday and Cyber Monday by not addressing basic search errors.

[Read more: Here’s what will drive Black Friday purchases]

Key site search failings that cause shoppers to bounce

Nosto research reveals four big site search issues that cause shoppers to bounce (immediately leave an e-commerce website):

  • 42% leave after not seeing any relevant results at all.
  • 31% after being shown out-of-stock products.
  • 31% after results take too long to load.
  • 31% after results return too many options without enabling any narrowing of the search results.

Possible resolutions to search issues

If a retailer has no relevant products to display, the survey shows that 60%2 of respondents say they would continue shopping if alternative products are suggested upon receiving zero search results.

More than four in 10 (42%) respondents say that one of the ways retailers can improve site search is to provide contextual filters based on their search queries to help narrow down results when there are too many products (e.g. having a 'cut' filter for users searching for jeans, having a 'finish' filter for users searching for lipsticks).

Young millennials have highest expectations

Nosto data reveals that young millennials (25–34-year-olds) demand most from on-site search. More than eight in 10 (83%) young millennial respondents go straight to the search bar, while 90% agree that a good, fast, accurate site search makes online shopping easier (higher than any other age group). Nine in 10 also say they are likely to buy a product in the search results that they directly searched for.

In addition, 83% of young millennial respondents buy a product having consumed user-generated content (UGC) in the search results (against an average of 65%), while 82% purchase after engaging with UGC specifically. Eight in 10 (81%) believe that site search should be quicker (against an overall average of 62% and just 52% of respondents who are 55-plus).

Eighty-seven percent say that as the cost of living increases, they want to compare products from different online stores and good ecommerce search makes this easier (higher than any other respondent age group).

Other findings

  • Two-thirds (66%) of respondents engage with relevant content in site search results (such as articles, FAQs, and collection pages), with 65% saying they have made purchases after consuming such content.
  • Close to six in 10 (58%) have engaged with relevant influencer/user-generated content (UGC) specifically in site search—with 64% buying after seeing it.
  • Three-quarters (77%) of respondents say they are more likely to purchase if search results are personalized to things like their purchase history, or specific brands, colors, or sizes they like
  • Two-thirds (66%) want retailers to use their search queries to personalize their wider site experience from there, such as by only showing relevant products or ranges to them based on their search intent data.
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