On-Site Search 101: 3 Steps to Increase Your Sales this Holiday Season

November 27, 2017

By: Michelle Seges,

Sr. Partner Marketing Coordinator

, Nextopia

On-Site Search 101: 3 Steps to Increase Your Sales this Holiday Season

According to eMarketer, eCommerce is expected to climb 15.8 percent this holiday season, while total retail growth will slow to 2 percent! As an e-retailer, you should be doing everything in your power to ensure that your website is optimized for the large amount of shoppers that will be visiting your site this holiday season. We’re here to help spark some ideas on how to utilize on-site search and navigation to prepare for your most successful holiday season yet!

1. Getting the Basics Right: Search Box Design

A) Location

The location of the search box has a big influence on the number of daily searches performed, the site conversion rate and the revenue generated from search.

For maximum impact and usage, e-retailers should ensure that their search bar is easy to locate by keeping it above the fold. There are various areas that e-retailers place the search bar. Some of the most popular are:

  • Top right

  • Top left

  • Top center

To get a better idea of where the world’s most successful eCommerce websites are placing their search boxes, we took a look at where the top 10 e-retailers place their search box. Based on of the 2017 Top 50 E-Retailers Chart, 60 percent of the top 10 websites have the search bar in the center, whereas 40 percent have it on the right-hand side.

Top Center:

The central placement of the search box is the most popular tactic of the top 10 retailers. The prominent, bold placement makes you want to use it.



Amazon is the number one e-retailer in the world. Their search box is very hard to miss as it’s placed in the center of the page, and stands out from the dark blue background. Bold and simple.

Top Right:

The right-hand side placement is the second most popular tactic.


B) Size

The value and use of the search box will vary between e-retailers. Search is crucial for stores with large product catalogues and large product ranges. Some examples are Amazon, Walmart, and Macy’s.

These websites all have very prominent search boxes because they want to encourage visitors to use the search, as they have such a vast number of products.

Ensure that the search box size demands interaction from customers by ensuring the width and height of the input field can include long product SKUs, product numbers, and lengthy product names.

C) Consistency & Visibility

The search box should be easily accessible and positioned on every page of the website. Maintaining a consistent appearance and location of the search box throughout the website will allow visitors to become familiar and comfortable with the site and search functionality.

Positioning the search box on every page will enhance the user experience as the visitor won’t have to always return to the home page to perform a search. Requiring the shopper to return to the home page to complete a new search increases the probability of bounce rates. The goal is to require the least amount of clicks as possible.

The search box should not only be at the top of each page, but should follow the shopper. As the shopper is scrolling down, the web page could include a floating search box that moves with the scroll. Two great examples of the floating search box are HSN.com and Nike.com.

D) Text in Search Box

It’s helpful to include default text in the search box that prompts the consumer to take an action. Also, ensure that the text automatically disappears when the user clicks on the box to enter their search query. Some popular examples are:

  • “Search”

  • “Enter a search term”

  • “Search by the item # or keyword”

  • “What can we help you find today”

2. Functionality: Adaptive Search with Enhanced Autocomplete

Consumers who know exactly which product they’re looking for will go straight to the search box for efficiency. If the search results don’t come back with what they’re looking for, they’ll leave to find it on a competitor’s site. A recent study shows that 80% of consumers will abandon a site after a poor search experience.

With the vast amount of eCommerce competitors out there, you want to ensure that your website provides shoppers with an outstanding user experience—and that starts with enabling shoppers to find what they’re looking for.

A) Adaptive On-Site Search

This is a type of search technology that learns and adapts to customer behavior over time. This means that if a group of products have equal relevance in a shopper’s search results, the best performing product (the one that gets clicked most often) will automatically be promoted to the top of the search results. There are a few good reasons this feature is important for any eCommerce store

1. An adaptive search algorithm will change over time instead of remaining static. As new products are released and customer buying habits change, so will search results

2. Instead of just displaying results in alphabetical order, the adaptive search algorithm displays results more effectively by showing the most popular products at the top of the search results. By popular, we mean products that are the best and most in-demand based off of customer behavior. Chances are, if several people preferred one product to another, others will too.

3. All of this is done passively by the algorithm, without ever needing input from a retailer. Adaptive search is a completely hands-off solution that revolutionizes how on-site search operates while delivering higher conversion rates and revenues than stock search solutions. Additionally, the search results can always be customized to the needs of the website.

Enhanced AutocompleteB) Enhanced Autocomplete

This is a feature that can be integrated with on-site search to maximize its functionality. Basic autocomplete finishes the word in the search box as the visitor is typing and provides suggested related search terms.

Enhanced autocomplete goes beyond the simple plug-in technology that only provides basic suggestions. Retailers can customize the autocomplete functionality, which is helpful in promoting certain products. Customizing product order can push certain products to the top of the autocomplete suggestions. In turn, this will ensure shoppers view high-margin products or products that need to be sold quickly to remove excess stock.

One valuable feature that comes with enhanced autocomplete is the ability to accompany search queries with high-resolution images. This helps eliminate a search step by allowing consumers to view the product, without clicking on it.

3. Advanced Merchandising

Merchandising refers to the art and science of displaying products and offers on an eCommerce website with the goal of increasing conversions. Below are some of our favorite tactics that e-retailers should take advantage of this holiday season:

eCommerce Websites - MerchandisingA) Banners

Banners are an easy way to promote information in a visually appealing and eye-catching way. E-retailers can use them to promote holiday sales or shipping information. For example, a banner on the homepage can inform shoppers that there is a 30% off sale on all Adidas products. By clicking this banner, shoppers will be directed to the Adidas landing page.

Banners can also be triggered by specific keywords in the search box results. Looking at the example below, whenever a shopper searches the word “creuset”, a banner for that brand’s sales is displayed in the search results.

B) Cross-selling and Upselling

Holidays are an excellent opportunity for online retailers to capitalize on the traffic surge with cross-selling and upselling tactics. Cross-selling is the practice of encouraging customers to buy related or complementary items, while upselling encourages customers to purchase a comparable higher-end product than the one in question.

Upselling is the reason we bought a 13” MacBook Pro instead of that 12” MacBook Air we planned for. Cross-selling is the reason we bought AppleCare for that MacBook Pro.

To increase average order value, e-retailers should invest into both of these strategies. The nice thing about cross-selling and upselling on a website is that contrary to a brick and mortar store, you don’t have to be pushy like an in-store sales person would be. You can easily coax shoppers into purchasing more items by adding simple modules to the side or bottom of the category or checkout pages.

eCommerce site design - Cross-selling

If these modules are leveraged properly, the products are common-sense purchases for shoppers who may appreciate the recommendations.

One effective way to cross-sell is by displaying complementary product recommendations and “You Might Like” product suggestions to shoppers. Cross-selling labels vary, and should be determined with the website’s demographic in mind. Other label options include:

  • “People Who Viewed This Also Viewed”

  • “Frequently Bought Together”

  • “Customers Also Considered”

  • “Complete The Look!”

One great example is the industry standard of them all—Amazon. Their website is known for the endless amount of upsells and cross-sells. They show you items you have recently looked at, sponsored items, products other customers bought and more.  

eCommerce website design - Up selling

Final Thoughts

The holidays will be here before we know it, but it's not too late to implement these on-site search tactics to enhance the user experience and boost conversions on your Magento store. The shopper knows what they want to buy—and they’re giving you a shot to provide it to them.

About Michelle Seges and Nextopia
Michelle Seges is the Partner Marketing Coordinator at Nextopia, a leader in eCommerce on-site search and navigation, and a proud partner of Magento. To learn more about how you can increase conversions on your eCommerce store, check out the Nextopia blog or sign up for a free site audit.