Intershop Insights

Is your eCommerce site search costing you sales?

Think about the time you spend online – chances are, you often find yourself searching for information. Cast your mind back to the last time you were online. Maybe you Googled the new Harry Potter book or where to find the best Mexican food in your local area. Regardless, the point is that most of our time spent online sees us trying to find information.

Sure, from here, we could throw a heap of statistics and numbers at you to validate this contention but what we’re really getting at is this: if you’re aware the on-site search on your organisation’s eCommerce site is bad, you need to fix it

The evolution of site search

A good starting point takes us back to where on-site search first began: with Retail and B2C. 

Take a look at eBay back in 2000.

eBay Site Search B2B eCommerce


The search box only allows for a few words and is tucked away to the left of the screen. Something tells us that eBay didn’t want the search function to be the focus of its website. Now, take a look at the site today.

ebay site search ecommerce

As you can see, the search box is now right at the centre of the page and the first thing your eyes are drawn to upon landing on the site. Importantly, the customer experience is fantastic as the search function delivers relevant results in a speedy manner. As for eBay, they benefit from obtaining a ton of data that provides them with insight as to how people are searching, what terms are the most popular and how people go about finding what they’re after. Ultimately, this data tells them what’s converting and what isn’t, giving them the opportunity to use this information to further enhance the customer experience.

Did you know? 70% of online users prefer to use a search box to find information. Now that’s a telling stat!

On-site search – what it looks like today

One of the biggest challenges facing B2B companies today is that it’s virtually impossible to predict what a B2B user’s problem is or the solution they’re looking for. Even if more information was known about the intent of a B2B user, companies would still struggle to know how that particular user is looking solve the problem. Some of the factors at play at this point include:

  •  What information do they already have?
  •  Are they looking for a particular brand?
  •  Do they have a product name or part number handy?
  •  Are they working only with generic information and hoping to learn more on-site?

There are probably even more questions that can be considered but the bottom line is that a good search function allows the B2B user to investigate further in their own time. It allows them to find what they’re looking for however they choose to find it. This is where good on-site search is incredibly important.

Let’s take a look at an example that gets it right – in the image below, you’ll notice that the search results aren’t just made up of text. A wide variety of options are present.

Alibaba eCommerce

Here, we can see that:

  •   Both images and text make up the search results, categories as well as products
  •   There’s a related search function and information about how many suppliers can give quotations
  •   The navigation to the left presents users with a range of options to select from

The most vital takeaway from the above example is that search and navigation are working together to create a worthwhile customer experience. A basic search returns relevant results and a wide variety of options that allows the user to refine their results as they go.

So what does this all mean for your B2B eCommerce on-site search?

In the B2B space, on-site search is vitally important as the products involved are often complex with lots of detail, specifications and so on. In some cases, there are hundreds of thousands or even millions of products at play too. Here’s a rundown of what most B2B users will be keen for their search to include:

  •  Personalised search (according to industry, company and role)
  •  A clear indication of what products can be bought and at what price
  •  Product availability
  •  Competitor cross-reference
  •  Manufacturer part number
  •  Automated spell check / Auto Suggest function
  •  Past-order history so the user can see what has been purchased in the past

It’s clear to see why the best and most innovative B2B e-Commerce companies have made on-site search a priority. Search is important in B2B and on-site search matters. Intershop has  worked in the digital commerce space for over 20 years and understands that good search is based on good data. Building a good data bank is essential, as is making product data and content a priority within your organisation.

At Intershop, we can assist you with on-site search function and a range of other digital commerce needs. If you’re looking for support, contact us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.