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The Future of Ecommerce Search Technology

The power of online search is vast. In eCommerce, it supports online sales revenues in many ways – so it’s really no surprise that advancements in search technologies and methodologies are still a relevant topic.

For visitors, search gives them the flexibility to shop via numerous navigation options. Customers can identify, qualify, and research products through the contextual presentation of supporting content such as reviews and user feedback, building confidence in the product and encouraging purchasing decisions. For merchandisers, it can be used to influence and improve customer experience, as well as allowing them to implement upsell and cross-selling strategies.

Simply put, there are many paths to purchase, and great eCommerce search capabilities present these multiple paths contextually and dynamically. Here we look at what’s next for search, beyond what retailers are currently employing:

Voice search

According to Gartner, approximately 30% of all searches will be done without any screen use by 2020, and comScore has stated that 50% of all searches will be made via voice by 2020. Voice search is gaining in popularity at a rapid rate, and its effect on search is definitely noticeable.  

Voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa have become commonplace, and according to Google, 55% of teens and 41% of adults were already using voice search by the end of 2016. Beyond the hype, voice search really does present retailers with numerous opportunities.

Voice search gives retailers the ability to provide answers to their users, which in turn helps direct them to relevant landing pages, thus contributing to increasing traffic to said landing pages. Searchers are hungry for faster answers, and voice search technology serves this need. Furthermore, it is an attractive alternative to web search.

Voice Search is clearly a new way to help boost traffic to your website, and its time to take note of this trend and begin to look at implementing it into your business. Aside from improving your user experience, voice search helps to improve rankings on search engine results pages.

Digital marketing agency QueryClick, surveyed over 150 Chief Marketing Officers of UK consumer brands with a revenue of over £150 million and an eCommerce offering. They found that over half (53%) of retailers will invest in voice search technology within the next 12 months. Leading the way in the US is Walmart, who have partnered with Google’s voice assistant, Google Assistant, to allow customers to reorder.

 

Visual search

When it comes to searching for products online, sometimes it’s easier to picture the product than use words to describe it. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and eCommerce is an extremely visual place. So, inevitably, visual search was a natural evolution of that.

The technology works by looking at the pixels in imagery to match and return similar results. For example, instead of typing keywords like “red dress”, which no doubt would return a huge number of general results, users can upload an image to help narrow the results down to something closer to what they are looking for.

Over the years, further advancements in artificial intelligence mean that visual search technology is becoming much more sophisticated, allowing improvements in accuracy and ability to compute data faster, making the new buzzword “visual intelligence” much more of a prominent term in “advancement in search” communities.

Visual search is particularly beneficial in the social commerce sector. Research by Accenture stated that social media will become the preferred shopping channel for Generation Z, with 69% of young consumers interested in purchasing directly through social networks. Pinterest is taking the lead on visual search, where the Pinterest Lens feature allows consumers to search discover and shop products based on a single image. This is a huge opportunity for eCommerce brands looking to drive purchases from the platform.

With the larger retailers like Amazon, Target, and Neiman Marcus having already integrated visual search and evolving the technology in various ways, it’s only a matter of time before the smaller retailers follow suit.

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