Search Abandonment: The $300bn Opportunity Retailers Are Missing Today
22 November 2021
Search abandonment is a metric of urgent importance in retail organisations today. 88% of retail site managers admit it is a company issue, but 64% say their company has no solution planned.
It is easy to see why the issue occurs: 96% of retail sites have a text-based search function, but 94% of U.S. consumers report they have received irrelevant search results. The current, text-based approach to search is broken and it leads to search abandonment.
A new Google report, based on data from over 10,000 consumers and 200 ecommerce managers, has put a price on this golden opportunity: $300 billion.
What is search abandonment?
Search abandonment occurs when a consumer uses the search function on a retailer’s website but cannot find the product they are looking for.
In the US, only 11% of consumers say they find exactly what they are looking for on a retailer’s website every time. This has a knock-on effect for the retailer’s revenues:
“After an unsuccessful search, 3 in 4 consumers (76%) report that it resulted in a lost sale for the retail website, with 48% purchasing the item elsewhere.”
From Google’s research, consumers estimate the average cost of the item they last searched for and could not find was $84. In total, retailers miss out on $300 billion from consumers who are ready to purchase.
That $300 billion figure is both surprising and unsurprising. It is surprising that so many consumers can enter a website with purchase intent and leave empty-handed. At a time when all retailers are investing in their online presence, this seems a fundamental issue to address.
On the other hand, this huge figure will not surprise the many retailers who are aware of this problem. At Cadeera, we speak to plenty of retailers who know their web architecture struggles to adapt to individual users. Text-based search is a blunt instrument for a sophisticated task.
How does search abandonment affect consumer satisfaction?
Google asked consumers to define an “unsuccessful search result” by providing examples of search abandonment. The most common answers were:
- Search results that are not relevant to what they are looking for (61%)
- Not being provided the item they are looking for (59%)
- The retailer saying that there are no applicable items even though they know the store sells them (53%).
In the past month, the average consumer has had an experience of search abandonment four times.
This is a question of brand reputation, too:
Outside of the United States, consumers are even more likely to say they view brands differently following an unsuccessful search, particularly in Brazil (92%), India (91%), Mexico (89%), Australia (87%), and the UK (86%).
On-site product search is no longer just a basic function. It is now a core element of the brand experience. Those that miss out on this can damage an otherwise stellar brand reputation by ignoring this insight. 74% of study respondents agree that if a company won’t invest in improving their website, then they would rather shop with a company that will.
Why do these issues arise?
- Inventory management: The second biggest issue for consumers is that they see results for out-of-stock items. It is essential to tie inventory with search to adapt in real-time to consumer demand.
- Inadequate understanding of consumer intent: This leads to irrelevant search results – 78% of consumers say this happens to them “at least sometimes”. Effective product discovery begins by understanding what the customer really wants.
- Poor internal communication of the challenge: Retailers spend heavily to reduce cart abandonment, where consumers add a product to a basket but do not checkout. This situation is improving, even if the recognition of the issue is belated. 41% of retailers now say “abandoned customer searches leading to lost sales is one of their biggest barriers to increasing revenue related to their website.”
- Low-quality filtering options: “More than half of consumers report that they cannot narrow the search using filters or categories (59%)”. As a last resort, retailers can offer nuanced filtering options so that the consumer can adjust their results.
- Inaccurate tracking: Retailers must adapt their measurement framework to take this challenge into account. 55% of retail web managers say that they track the number of clicks it takes a customer to find a product, and 52% track the amount of time it takes them to find the item. There is room for improvement here: retailers should track user journeys and place a commercial value on abandoned searches.
How can retailers reduce search abandonment?
Cadeera uses artificial intelligence to get closer to true customer intent. We use computer vision and natural language processing to deliver multimodal search solutions for retailers.
Cadeera also offers advanced auto-tagging for retailer inventory to fuel a more sophisticated product discovery journey.
Get in touch today to arrange a demo and see how Cadeera can help you solve search abandonment.
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