6 Steps to Improve E-commerce Product Discovery
Customers often start their online shopping journey with an idea and not a product. Customers rely on varied channels like search engines, forums, and online stores for discovering new products. Keywords like “gift for men” and “toy for 8 years old” are used to uncover hidden offerings of online stores.
In the recent past, e-commerce stores have replaced search engines as the preferred platform for product discovery. To offer an exceptional experience, drive sales, and create a loyal audience base, online stores are now willing to put the effort in catalog management and product discovery.
What is the Product Discovery?
Product Discovery is best described as an event where a customer starts with a query and ends with a relevant product. The time spent by a customer in finding the most relevant product is referred to as Product Discovery Time.
For example, A customer that is looking for a Nike Shoe will start a search on the online store and buy one on finding a relevant product, this entire process is called Product Discovery whereas the time spent in finding the right product is referred to as Product Discovery Time.
Why Product Discovery is Important for E-commerce Stores?
Earlier, users relied on search engines like Google for new product ideas but recently, Amazon has become the most preferred platform for finding new products. Since Amazon is optimizing its catalog and algorithm to support faster product discovery, other players need to follow suit or Amazon will become invincible.
The increasing cost of customer acquisition is coaxing online players to look at alternative options of enamoring and retaining customers. E-commerce players are willing to try new tools and follow paradigms that tend to provide them with genuine traction.
E-commerce stores are willing spending on Product Discovery because it offers additional benefits like:
- Improved customer experience
- Cross-selling opportunities
- Helps organizations with customer journey mapping
How to Improve E-commerce Product Discovery?
Here we lay out a comprehensive six-step product discovery plan for e-commerce stores. Following this illustrative plan will help online stores streamline their catalog to improve search results and offer incomparable customer experience.
Step 1: Understanding the Problem
A recent study reveals that “18% of online stores fail to identify existing products even when a single character is inserted wrong”. If you look intricately, you will find that the problem lies with the search. While a good number of online stores can improve product discovery by working on search analysis but some need to overhaul their catalogs too.
The first step to improving product discovery on your e-commerce store should always be finding the problem. Once you have discovered the problem, you can rely on e-commerce professionals or leverage outsourcing as a tool.
Customer journey mapping is a good place to start with; when you start mapping the journey, you will identify the challenges that are stopping users from completing the purchase. Based on your finding, you can analyze, whether it is the search or catalog that needs improvement.
Step 2: Optimize Navigational Search
A navigational search is designed to help users find desired products faster. It includes of Home, Searches, and Product pages. E-commerce stores highlight these pages to assist customers with an online purchase.
Optimizing navigational search will require e-commerce professionals to work on Home, Product, and Search pages. Metrics like “Intent Understanding” and “Product Ranking Relevance” are weighed in when optimizing the navigational search.
An optimized navigational search will offer help customers navigate to the desired products almost instantly. By investing in this particular paradigm, online stores can reduce product discovery time and offer a memorable customer experience, which will impact a customer’s lifetime value and referral sales positively.
Interesting Read: Top Bottlenecks for E-commerce Growth
Step 3: Focus on Search Quality Analysis
Errors in search result lead to varied problems like
- Declining customer experience
- Brand interference
- Increasing return rates
- Lesser conversions
By studying and optimizing search quality, online stores can offer customers with the power to find the most relevant product almost instantly. Optimizing search quality analysis is a meticulous process and involves multiple intricate steps like:
Traversing Search Results: The professionals need to traverse the search results to identify the underlying problem. Once the keywords that are either inserted wrongly is identified, experts can make requisite changes and improve product discovery on e-commerce stores.
Competitor Benchmarking: All underlying problems once identified are benchmarked against the leading competitor. Such benchmarking cut-shorts the effort and allows the online store to get par with its competitors almost instantly.
Seek Engineering Expertise: Often search engine algorithms are the reasons why online stores fail to offer faster product discovery. Leveraging engineering expertise can help marketplaces get rid of the problem. In contemporary times, marketplaces are using machine learning to offer better search results.
Step 4: Offer Impactful Product Recommendations
With improving product discovery the end goal is driving more sales, which can be further optimized by offering highly relevant product recommendations. Allow customers to look at other similar products once they have searched.
E-commerce marketplaces are smartly placing these product recommendations on the home page, product pages, and even on the checkout page to ensure higher conversion. Our e-commerce product recommendation primer focusses on how popular marketplaces use tabs like “Similar Product” and “often bought together” tabs to increasing sales and customer lifetime value.
Why offering product recommendation is important?
Some of the reasons that make product recommendation important includes
It overshadows search engine mistakes: Search engines often fail to list the best product but with product recommendation, where highly competitive products are placed, online stores can hide their shortcoming.
Increases time spent on site: Varied studies show that the more time users spend on your site more they are likely to spend. Through relevant tabs like “often bought together”, online stores can sell products that are often bought in combos like mobile devices and their protective gear.
Simplifies user experience: By highlighting combos and frequently bought together products, marketplaces can save user’s time and offer them a memorable experience. Users are likely to come back because they had a near to perfect online shopping experience just because of the product recommendation.
Step 5: Cater to User’s Intent
Intent understanding is an important attribute of product discovery improvement. By understanding the underlying intent of users, marketplaces can offer better search results, cut-short user’s effort, and drive more sales.
Catering to user’s intent will require e-commerce stores to focus on string analysis, optimizing search engines, and relying on external sources for improved understanding. E-commerce players can also leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to build a search engine that is smart enough to uncover the hidden user intent and offer results accordingly.
Step 6: Keep Repeating These Steps Again and Again
Improving product discovery is an ongoing process and no online store should consider it as once in a lifetime task. Since technology is rapidly changing and product descriptions are getting updated every quarter, search engines of e-commerce stores need to keep up hence continuously improving product discovery through search query analysis and intent understanding and help e-commerce players keep up with the quality customer experience.
Product ranking relevance is perhaps one of the reasons why online stores need to continuously work on product discovery improvement. Sellers can use attribute values illicitly to improve the ranking of fake or imitated products, which will lead to increased return requests and dipping customer experience.
When the e-commerce industry started almost 3 decades ago, the product discovery term was not even coined but now, it is impossible to mention e-commerce success without mentioning product discovery.
This intricate methodology of offering customers what they are looking for almost instantly is the key to success in modern days where there are thousands of online stores selling the same product. Leverage it, optimize it and you can build a multi-billion online store like Amazon.