In Depth

Site Search A High Priority For Gift Shoppers

When searching for gifts online, U.S. consumers want to be able to find them easily.

OK, so when U.S. consumers are searching for gifts online, they apparently are most concerned about the ability to search for and find products on a retailer’s site, according to a recent report.

Shop.org Retail’s Digital Summit survey said that more than one-third of shoppers ranked the ease (or lack thereof) of finding and searching for products on a retailer’s or brand’s site their top priority when shopping online for gifts.

Of those surveyed, 47 percent said the ability to search for and find products easily mattered most to them, which was more than 20 percentage points higher than the second place entry on the survey — the importance of ratings or reviews on a product, which came in at 26 percent. High-quality images were important to 19 percent of online gift shoppers, followed by curated gift ideas at 4 percent and “other,” which also came in at 4 percent.

The survey by personalized technology firm RichRelevance Inc. polled 1,006 U.S. consumers in early September.

“The search box provides a natural starting point for shoppers who are moving quickly or [may be] unfamiliar with a given site’s navigation structure or categories or who don’t want to invest the time and effort to browse gift guides and look books,” according to Diane Kegley, RichRelevance’s chief marketing officer.

Kegley said that online gift shoppers are more likely to be shopping for items they don’t normally purchase from websites they don’t normally visit, which is why a good search function is so important to them.

Of those surveyed, 37 percent ranked search as more important when shopping for gifts online, while 55 percent said it was equally important to the overall online shopping experience and 8 percent said it was less important to the overall online shopping experience.

But most U.S. consumers seem to use the search box when on retailers’ sites, as 84 percent of those surveyed said it is “extremely important” to them when searching a retailer’s website; 32 percent of those surveyed said they always use the search box on a retailer’s website, while 44 percent said they “often” use it.

Kegley said that retailers can improve their websites by ensuring that their search function can understand slang and less commonly used words for items, as 73 percent of U.S. consumers said they are likely or extremely likely to leave a retailer’s website if the search function does not produce good results.

“A search box should be able to recognize if a consumer inputs a model number or if a consumer types in ‘10 ft. paddleboard,’” according to Kegley.

Online search on a mobile device, however, is a mixed bag, at least according to the survey.

Only 65 percent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with search results they received on a retailer’s mobile website, while 38 percent of consumers believe mobile produces worse search results; 54 percent said there was no difference between a retailer’s website and mobile site, and only 8 percent believed that mobile search was better than online search.

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