As the #1 platform for eCommerce in the US, Shopify is growing at an annual rate of over 30%. Up to date, there are more than 1.2 million websites worldwide built with Shopify, accounting for 10.98% of the eCommerce solutions.
Some of the biggest names on Shopify are ColourPop, Kylie Cosmetics, GAP, MAVI. Even news companies like BBC, The Economist base their eCommerce on Shopify. All of them saw a significant surge after revolutionizing onsite experience, especially in site search and product filters. Gymshark, a sportswear empire, for example, almost tripled its revenue after working with Shopify Plus for 3 years.
Gymshark current e-store on Shopify with nearly 4 million visits in the past 6 months (Source: Shopify)
To achieve such incredible success, the top Shopify sites must share something in common. They spend $200 to $600 a month on eCommerce site search and filtering solutions. Even though you can’t spend that much, you can still learn some best practices that the big brands apply to facilitate user experience. Those small yet powerful functions are totally worth your attention.
In today’s blog, I examine how 5 prestigious Shopify eCommerce stores set up their search and filter. I also consult with our experts to give you the top secrets for online store search engine optimization. But first, let’s see how it works by default.
An overview Shopify Site Search and Product Filter
The default site search engine of Shopify gives merchants some useful functionalities like:
- including both singular and plural search terms
- automatically using “AND” to connect searched keywords
- ignoring misspelling up to 2 letters
However, the search range is limited to Product, Article, and Page fields. Typo tolerance only works when you have the first 4 letters in the correct order. Also, Shopify search lacks useful features to reduce searching time like the prompt suggestion, auto-correction, fallback search.
Shopify Product Filter
By default, Shopify merchants have only one option for product filter, which is filter by tag. To add insult to injury, no filter automatically appears on the search result page. If you want to add one and facilitate your customer experience, you will need to deal with a bunch of code. Such technical pain!
So, will you let the standard yet hazardous site search and product filter of Shopify lure your potential customers away?
No, you never should do it. An investigation of 21 cyberspace stores conducted suggested that web visitors who do a search accounted for 13.8% of the online sales. That said, there is a lot of room for your store bloom by upgrading your Shopify site search and product filter.
Research on Site Search and Product Filter Practices of Top Shopify Sites
Launched over 20 years ago, the online store of the famous casual wear brand continued to rank top in terms of eCommerce net sales. In 2019, the GAP has made nearly US$ 3,000 million from its global online shopping. So, what’s special about their internal search and filter?
Easy to navigate with 2 layout filters
Visit a collection on the GAP website, you’ll find 2 filters. One on the left side and another along the top. The former offers a higher level of filtering while the latter contains more contextual options. The top filter is neat and clean, so shoppers won’t feel like it dominates the page or downgrading user experience.
GAP displays 2 filters on their website (Source: Mattish)
Also, GAP eCommerce site sets an excellent example of mobile-friendly filtration. The mobile interface brings out a relevant filter for the search result page with a filter button right below. It doesn’t take up too much space but provides quick navigation for customers.
NLP for well-matched search results
As for site search features, GAP takes advantage of natural language processing to generate more accurate search results.
The search result eliminates redundant words (Source: GAP)
In the example above, GAP seamlessly retrieves search results based on an item + attribute query. It automatically eliminates the redundant word “the” and possessive case. Such practice or Stop Words, to put it in another way, is a critical feature your internal search engine should acquire to reduce "Not found product" pages, which makes customers leave your shop.
Mavi only joined the online market seven years ago but it has made incredible progress in its cyber sales channel. The total visits in the last 6 months on both desktop and mobile web reached 859.34K. In the US, traffic has surged 66.47%.
Moreover, to save searching time for shoppers, Mavi enables auto-suggestion on their search widget. Every time you type a letter in the search box, there will be a list of relevant keywords, collections, or products in a drop-down menu. Recommendation while searching is of great value as the conversion rate sixfold when shoppers click on an autocomplete product suggestion.
What if you enter the wrong or misspelled words? No worries. The search engine of MAVI has a fallback search to assist you. You’ll see a notice like “Did you mean: ?” appear in the drop-down.
Fallback search on Mavi search widget (Source: Mavi)
ColourPop is an affordable and high-quality makeup brand of Seed Beauty. Appeared a little late in the market, in 2017 to be exact, but ColourPop has turned the table to become the top brand for beauty and cosmetics. Their annual turnover is roughly US$7.5 million.
Filtering with color swatch
To help online shoppers navigate the right products, ColourPop implements a distinct top filter for each collection and sub-collection. Still, some filter options are available for all, like “Shade”. You know how important it is to pick the right shade when it comes to beauty products. So, ColourPop initiates a swatch in their filter as a color picker for makeup addicts to find what they need.
Spell-check and auto-correction
Typos are common when customers search for a product. The downside is that the results may not show when a spelling error occurs. It is frustrating to customers and they may leave your site right away even though it’s not your fault.
Typo tolerance on ColourPop search engine (Source: ColourPop)
ColourPop eliminates this issue by a robust spell-check and auto-correction. As you can see in the picture above, Colourpop’s search engine doesn’t crawl the misspelled words. Consequently, the result page doesn’t turn out blank. The company does one thing more to facilitate purchasing decisions with the “add to cart” button in the product listing. It’s a great practice to prompt searchers to actually buy the product they search for.
Gymshark re-platformed to Shopify in 2015 and soon scale to a $41 million business in global fitness and apparels.
Search as you type
An infographic by Hubspot indicated that a 1-second delay caused a 7% reduction in conversions. Site search on the Gymshark eCommerce website is time optimized by showing the product preview as soon as you type.
Suggestions show up in the blink of an eye with flash product images. What can be more impressive?
Responsive result page on Gymshark (Source: Gymshark)
Extend search results
Plus, Gymshark makes use of Synonyms to show customers relevant items. To make it simple, Synonyms helps to expand the search volume, introducing more products to your browsers. As in the example picture, I search for “tank”, but the result also shows crop tops.
Synonyms are used on Gymshark search results (Source: Gymshark)
Control the product listing order
Another highlight of Gymshark's internal search is Merchandising. The web puts the new items in the first place for relevant keywords. It’s a great way to promote specific products that align with the company’s campaign.
New items appear first in a line (Source: Gymshark)
With 5 out of 6 websites based on Shopify, Skinnydip has grown out of a contemporary accessories retailer. When it first released the digital flagship store, the online sales of the company skyrocketed by 250%.
Search box highlight
Browsing Skinnydip eCommerce site, it’s easy to notice the search bar, which has an outstanding blue tone, totally different from the background.
The search box with blue color in Skinnydip online store (Source: Skinnydip)
By highlighting the search box, Skinnydip navigates customers to begin their search. And you know what? A study pointed out that the conversion rate via the search box is 2.4%, which is higher than the site average of 1.7%.
As you click to the search box, there is a list of popular searches in a pinky dropdown widget, also very remarkable. Likewise, popular keywords give shoppers some ideas in case they don’t know what to search for. Zero character search prompts shoppers with not only commonly searched words but also recently viewed items for better personalization.
Predictive suggestion by way of Popular Searches (Source: Skinnydip)
To assist searchers to refine the search result, Skinnydip put a filter on the left side of the result page. You can choose to show or hide the filter options by clicking on the minus or plus icon. Skinnydip’s filter also allows multiple values to be chosen, so shoppers have a lot of choices for refining the search result.
Lessons learned from Top Shopify Site Search & Product Filter
For your product filtering
Try both layout filters
Experts’ advice: The left sidebar position is suitable for a large number of filters (more than 8), which will grow over the period of time. If you have around 3-4 filters that stay pretty the same all the time, the top filter brings a better layout. In case you have a multitude of filter options, try the 2 layout filters as GAP does. Make sure they don’t overlap.
Customize filter for each collection
Experts’ advice: Because customization can take a great deal of time and effort, we suggest a default filter with the shared options and add more specific variants to a certain collection. However, don’t go for more than 10 displayed filters. The complexity of categories leads to confusion rather than helping users navigate the right products.
Optimize for a mobile experience
Experts’ advice: The best practice for a mobile-friendly filter is to use a collapsible sidebar or topbar. Also, allow your customers to show or hide filter values so that the filter tree is not too lengthy.
For your search box
Play it safe with the search box position
Experts’ advice: Most of the eCommerce sites place a search box on the right side corner with a magnifying-glass icon to signify the search. In this case, it’s helpful to follow the tradition because our customers are accustomed to the right side search box.
Work with the search box design
Experts’ advice: You can make it more noticeable by adding a different color or some text to the box. Instead of common sentences like “Search here”, “Search”, let’s be a little wind. A good example is “Find your new items”, “Explore your closet”. The search box text can also work as a guideline with words like “Enter product, code, or brand”.
The search box of BBC Shop has guidance: “Search store” (Source: Shopify)
For your site search functionalities
Must-have features: Fallback search, Instant suggestions, Instant spell check, No “not found products” result
Autocorrection on Fashion Nova (Source: Shopify)
Experts’ advice: In the worst case, when customers search for a non-exist product on your site, it shouldn’t return a blank page. The best practice is to show other product recommendations after saying something like “We couldn’t find what you search for, but we have some suggestions”. It would be a much better user-friendly experience than showing a blank page. Also, make it another opportunity to present your products.
Advanced features: Analytics, Stop Words, Synonyms, Merchandising...
Experts’ advice: Based on the data in the site search analytics, you can create Stop words to eliminate redundant parts of a search term or better the Synonyms usage to show customers more relevant results.
In the time of AI technology, we are expecting a lot more changes in site search functionalities. Voice search might be used in an internal search. Deeper personalization in terms of gender, preference when suggesting products might come in the near future.
Third-party app integration
Experts’ advice: The best apps to integrate into the product listing are review and wishlist. In fact, 88% of consumers believe in online rating while WishlistKing and Smart Wishlist enable visitors to save the products for later purchase.
The product layout in the result page on Pixi online shop is combined with wishlist and review (Source: Pixi)
A Few Last Words
Site search and filter is a little touch-up for your Shopify site, which can upgrade your conversion rate. If you still hesitate to make changes to your search and filtering, let our experts resolve your concern with a free trial of our Boost Product Filter & Search. Do try and feel the difference.
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