How to be a top online retailer in 2023? Start with a top ecommerce search engine

Search is the key to improving the customer experience–and business outcomes


Retailers that weathered the global pandemic now face new challenges: emerging shopping patterns, competitive upstarts, and economic uncertainty.   

Trends that have impacted online retailers 

While ecommerce sales are expected to top $1 trillion in the U.S. for the first time ever in 2022, it is still tracking lower than 2020 levels, with a nearly 10% drop. 

At the same time, concerns over inflation are a key driver for many online retailers. Even Amazon is prioritizing ways to streamline operations to prepare for a possible economic downturn. 

Moreover, new consumer technology expectations and capabilities should have organizations rethinking their strategies, or risk losing out on shoppers’ precious time and resources. After all, ecommerce spend hasn’t grown in line with internet use.

Companies that are able to capitalize on opportunities to boost revenue and reduce margins with a refined customer experience may be in the position to gain a lasting advantage. 

It all hinges on having a world-class ecommerce search engine

Here’s the thing that keeps ecommerce folks up at night: having the products people want but customers not being able to find them due to subpar search results.

It’s a pervasive problem for retailers of all sizes. As we noted in another post earlier this year, 76% of shoppers said they abandoned a retailer after being unable to find a product they wanted. But here’s the rub: 70% of the top 149 ecommerce sites in the U.S. and Europe were unable to return relevant results for product synonyms, and more than a third failed to produce relevant results if shoppers misspell a product name by even a single character.

So close, yet so far …

On the flipside, a frictionless, intuitive search experience can not only increase sales, but also enhance customer loyalty. As we reported back in August, a recent study showed that 68% of shoppers made unplanned purchases based on tailored product suggestions. Over-delivering is a sure strategy to create customer delight. 

How to create an omnichannel ecommerce strategy centered on search

The two keywords for creating an ecommerce strategy that can weather the conditions in 2023 and beyond are flexibility and customization. 

By using a robust and flexible tool that allows you to make search the center of the customer journey, you can help shoppers find and discover relevant products both online and in-store. That means adopting a solution that can grow with you as your business matures. Off-the-shelf solutions are unlikely to provide the flexible developer tools that you need to tailor your experience to customers and scale.

In today’s ecommerce sector, extracting and using proprietary purchase information is a key competitive advantage. Using built-in search analytics and creating your own customizable dashboards and reports can give you better visibility across the business to help you spot trends among customer segments and throughout the buyer journey. Putting data to work in the context of your unique business gives retailers a competitive edge.

With the help of machine learning and real-time analytics, you can tune search results, anticipate trends, and personalize product offerings. As Matt Riley, General Manager, Enterprise Search at Elastic explains: “Companies want the ability to use administrative dashboards to make changes for edge cases. Maybe they have an enormous amount of product in the backlog, so they want to put it in as the first result. People should have the flexibility to be able to do that.”

How flexible is your ecommerce search platform? Learn more about Elastic ecommerce solutions for retailers.