CX Improvement

The ultimate guide to improving your digital customer experience

Alexey Baguzin
By Alexey Baguzin
Apr 1 2022
Time to read
17 min to read
If you ask a passer-by on the street what makes for a good online store, he'll likely put ease of use top of the list. He might then talk about website design, product delivery times, prices, and other things, but ease of use will remain the number one priority.

We avoid sites which are hard to navigate like the plague, for one simple reason: we can't find what we are looking for and that makes our experience as customers downright unpleasant.

Nowadays it's all about creating a great customer experience. We value it more than we value money, because even paying huge money for a product or service doesn't guarantee quality service.

Delivering the best customer experience (or CX for short) has thus become paramount. 47% of users will leave a site if their journey wasn't pleasant. That's half your potential shoppers gone, likely to buy from your competitor.
And there are so many things that can go wrong on a website. Not all store owners have the firepower of Google or Amazon, to assign whole departments, or even branches, that focus on improving customer experience. Website design, product descriptions, navigation, on-site search functionality, the checkout process… It can go wrong at any junction. One slight hiccup, one false note, is all it takes for your potential customer to close the tab.

So what do you do? Where do you start? How do you reduce bounce rates, and increase conversion? We are here to answer that.

What is Customer Experience

Customer experience is how shoppers feel after interacting with your brand. Everything from viewing social media ads to making a purchasing decision is an interaction, and so all of it is important to create a positive impression.

Two things form the backbone of customer experience: the products you offer and the customer service you provide. As a result, more often than not visitors will tie their experience to your online store - because that's where you sell, and chat to your clients in real time.

So you need to break down how your customers travel through your site - to find out what can potentially create friction along the way and enhance the experience.
What the numbers say
Why is that last number so high? Simple: shoppers who use search already know what they are looking for. Their shopping intent is much more pronounced. They are just checking availability and comparing prices. They need little persuasion to buy - simply a tool to do it.

If site search fails them, your customers will bounce en masse. Search failure on the most basic level means returning no relevant results, or worse - returning a blank page. Other things come into play where a good search experience is concerned too.

Site search - or navigation - is just the top of your sales funnel. After your customer successfully arrives at a page with relevant results, he'll need to narrow them down to a manageable pool. That is the second stage of a selling process.

He or she will then go to a product page, or multiple product pages, before adding something to cart. That is the third and fourth stage of his or her journey respectively. Finally, he or she will need to click on the cart and complete the checkout process.

And, in an ideal world, you'd want your customers to return. That is the ultimate goal of any ecommerce store, to have as many loyal customers as possible, because they are the ones who bring in the most revenue.
Site sales funnel
Visitor's path through an online store
As you can see, customer experience optimization is a long road. But don't worry: there are ways to make it shorter and much more pleasant for your shoppers. And we are going to stop on every phase of it in detail, with practical ideas on how to improve them.

Every journey begins with a query

When visitors come to your site, most are looking for something they think you should have - unless they are casual browsers, of course. Many of them know what they want and will go straight to the search bar.

Make no mistake: the search box is an integral part of your brand, and your shoppers' experience. Once they get past the beautifully designed home page, they need the means to find what they want, and that will be intertwined heavily with site search.
What the numbers say
But what does it mean, having a good search? What do users expect from it? We'll walk you through it.

Quick loading times

Speed is everything in today's world. It only takes 0.05 of a second for a user to form an opinion about your website (work on that homepage hard!) He or she in 120 seconds otherwise.

The same principle applies to loading times. Every 2 seconds that it takes for the results page to load, you lose 30% of potential shoppers, as is obvious from our piece on the search index's importance. Ideally, your search engine should come up with relevant results in just 1-2 seconds, 3 tops.

Autocomplete

Another bedrock on which your site search should rest. A polished autocomplete function can increase sales by as much as 24%.

Why is that? People are lazy. They expect websites to anticipate their needs. The less users have to type, click, or scroll, the better they'll perceive their search experience. An ideal autocomplete offers suggestions from the very first letters you type - and updates them with every additional letter. So it should be snappy.

Autocomplete can make or break the user experience. If it's slow, unresponsive, or offers irrelevant suggestions, it'll leave users frustrated and increase chances of them bouncing, or worse - leaving for a competitor.

Done right though, autocomplete is a powerful weapon. It allows users to quickly find what they want without typing out the query in full, decreases chances of them running into a 'no results' page (we'll talk about it separately later on - the topic merits a detailed analysis) and even serves as a promotion tool for your products by displaying products images in search. Oh, about that…

Product images in search

78% of online shoppers want products to be brought to life via images. Consumers in e-stores with high-quality images are 3 times more likely to convert too.

Getting those product images right is paramount - and there's a lifehack which will allow customers to jump from the search bar directly to the product page: displaying images and short info in search suggestions.

Coupled with autocomplete, product images in search is the way to go. Just as your customers type something into the search bar, they get instant and relevant suggestions, see what the product looks like and how much it'll cost - and click on it. They thus bypass the need to enter a full query, or scroll through the search results page. Improving customer journey thus leads to a successful sale.
Search with suggestions and product previews
Essential site search functions

Key takeaway

Modern users have come to expect certain functionality from search engines, and they rarely stop to think few eCommerce websites have the muscle of Google or Amazon.
Features like Autocomplete, Spellcheck and Product Previews are just the most important ones. There are many other tweaks you can make to optimize your search box, improving the customer website experience as a result.

Arriving at the search results page

Even if your visitor found the relevant search suggestion in the drop-down menu, he might press enter on his search query to see what else is on offer. There are 2 ways this can go then.

The shopper will either be presented with all the matches on your website, which can be aplenty, if his query was generic - or else he'll be 'greeted' by the 'nothing found' page. Let's get the 'no results' page out of the way first.

The lowdown on the 'no results' page and how to fix it

The page stems from a poor-functioning search engine. 31% of all search queries ended in vain. Meanwhile, eConsultancy teaches us that 21% of users will immediately leave in frustration when their search returns nothing.

In short, few things are as disheartening for visitors as the 'no results' page. It ruins their experience to the point where they give up, leave the site, and may not be seen again.

There is a lot you can do to tackle the 'no results' page, but here we'll focus on the 2 most important things, which account for many 'no results' pages - assuming, of course, you have the products your customers are looking for in stock.

Have autocomplete and typo-correction on hand

Helping visitors avoiding typos is the bread and butter of your autocorrect feature (you desperately need to have it). A single misspelled letter is all it takes to arrive at the 'no results' page - you now know it will be a dead end for 21% of your potential customers. And yet 27% of websites do not support typo-correction features.

Rely on synonyms

A whopping 70% of e-commerce websites do not support synonyms functionality. That means customers have to search using the exact same terminology the site relies on: and brands like to come up with their own product names to stand out.

Meanwhile, users are left to grasp with those names, running a high risk of a 'no results' page if they get it wrong. Keep in mind that only 20% of users will refine their search if they can't find what they want from the first try. So deploying synonyms in your search box is highly important.

What happens when your customer's query returns too many results

In simple terms, he's overwhelmed with the options at hand - and will need to narrow them down. However, just like with site search, that's an area where many e-commerce websites can improve massively: only 16% of websites provide visitors with a good filtering experience. That means you can leave 84% of your competitors in the dust if you get your filtering game on point - as top brands do with their product filters.
You are just a few clicks away from pulling ahead of competition
Raring to go?
right hand
left hand
How exactly do you accomplish that? What things do you need to keep in mind when fine-tuning your filters and search results page?

Make sure to deliver personalized results

77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized experience. 91% of customers are more likely to shop with a brand that offers personalized shopping experience.

Of course, you can only deliver tailored results and offers for your clients after they've spent a while on your website. But once you get past that initial hurdle, personalization will help you increase average order value and retention massively.

Display products top or bottom of the search results page

Do you need to clear the shelves ahead of a season sale? Is there a particular product you'd like to promote further still, or on the contrary, relegate to backstage? Searchandising (i.e. search merchandising) can help you do this.

Your consumers won't even notice, but they can massively benefit from it, because they won't have to scroll through pages of products - and just select something from the very top, shortening their path. The numbers tell us 35% of users select the top result, and only 5% make it past the top-10.

Leave visual clues on the results page to aid consumers

These may come as:

  • labels (for example, to single out products currently on discount);
  • quick buttons, which allow customers to preview something or add it to cart without clicking;
  • color swatches, to only show one product variant, with all the colors tucked underneath

Cater to your filters

  • Promote the most relevant at the top. Only 16% of websites show their most relevant filters at the top of the search results page - and highlight them in a way to encourage selection to make it easier for the user to narrow down the results. That means 84% of your competitors miss out.
  • Provide category-specific filters. Sometimes generic options like price, availability and vendor just won't cut it. Visitors will need more specific filters: for example, by material, if they are shopping for clothes. 42% of sites don't provide these filters, shooting themselves in the foot.
  • Allow multiple filter selection. Your filters should not be mutually exclusive. This seems obvious, but 33% of e-stores fail at that. Few of your consumers will go through the mental gymnastics of remembering their selection for different filters: don't force them to.

Key takeaway

As much as 40% of your visitors might end up on the search results page. Those who end up there will need all the help they can get to continue on their journey. Applying the practices described above will go a long way towards accomplishing that.

Viewing the product

If your customer navigated the murky waters of the search results page successfully, he'll boil down his choice to one or several products, and his next step will be to pick between these products, add them to cart, and then complete the checkout process. Sounds simple and straightforward, right?

Well, it only sounds this way. In truth, 30% fall off after visiting the product page - and even more do so after adding something to cart. We'll stop on the latter a bit further down the line: for now let's focus on what you can do to stem the tide of leavers from the product page.

Make your CTA clear

We are talking about the "Add to Cart" button. Don't drown it under a sea of text, technical specifications or user reviews. Make it prominent, obvious and easy to find on the page. Add a 1-click checkout option too if you can - you can boost your sales by 26% annually with it.

Provide crisp, high-quality, images

Your images are your integral selling point: 78% of users consider them vital. So hire a professional photographer, shoot products from different angles, compress images to avoid massive loading times. If you can provide 3D images, you win: these up your conversion by a massive 250%. The same goes for videos: you can boost the conversion rate by 37% if the product page features clips.

Don't forget about social proof

What the numbers say
  • 90% of users read reviews before making a purchase;

  • 79% say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations;

  • product pages with customer reviews convert 3.5 more than pages without them.

Rely on live chat

What the numbers say
  • 77% of customers won't make a purchase if there's no live chat support;

  • 73% say live chat is their preferred way of communicating with a company;

  • consumers who use live chat are likely to spend 60% more per purchase than those who don't.
Whether you use a chatbot or a real person, make sure you answer quickly: a lot of users expect their issues to be resolved within 10 minutes - this number can be as high as 62%.

Use Upsell and Cross-sell

What the numbers say
Both cross-selling and upselling work particularly well if your specialty are complementary products, like shaving items.

Key takeaway

Your product page is probably the most important stage of the customer journey. You need to get it just right for the shopper to click "Add to Cart" and enter the final stage of the funnel. We are hoping we've given you some ideas on how to do that above.
A product page done right
Product page with CTA, social proof, quality images, live chat and upsell & cross-sell

Checking out

So you've put in all the hard work into your home page, search box, filtering system, product pages and overall customer experience… now you just need your shopper to check out. However, that's where cart abandonment kicks in: an issue which haunts store owners the most.
What the numbers say
Let's go over the 3 most common reasons behind shoppers leaving their carts and ways to address these issues.

Problem: unexpected extra costs at checkout (responsible for 49% of leavers)

Many add items to cart only to discover that the price they've seen on the product page is lower than the one at checkout. Shipping costs, or maybe VAT, is the issue but it's disheartening either way. It ruins customer experience big time, just as he or she was ready to convert.

Solution: state all costs upfront, introduce free shipping

Be clear and honest about how much your customers will have to pay on the product page. Entice them with free shipping offers, at least if they pay over a certain amount. It's a great way to sell extra products too.

Problem: the need to create an account (responsible for 24% of leavers)

Another common issue which grinds your shoppers' gears. They might be first-time customers, or simply in a hurry, with no time to enter their login details.

Solution: introduce guest checkout

Give your customers the opportunity to buy as a guest, and create an account later, if they want to. However, make sure guest checkout is prominent enough - 65% of sites fail at that. And keep your checkout form to as few fields as possible.

Problem: delivery times were too slow (responsible for 22% of leavers)

Amazon's same-day delivery has massively spoiled customers. 9% of US shoppers expect same-day delivery, 18% are willing to wait until the next day, and a further 40% find a 2-day waiting interval acceptable. That means ⅔ of your customers want to see their goods within 48 hours.

Solution: state delivery date explicitly, stick to it

Aim to ship your products the same day, or next day. If you can't do that - because it's not dependent only on you - say when your customer can expect his parcel to arrive. And make sure it does.
Cart abandonment
69% of customers abandon their carts

Key takeaway

When your potential customer reaches the checkout stage, you are not quite in the clear. Make sure it's optimized just as much as the rest of your visitors' journey. 7 in 10 users fail to overcome this last hurdle. Look at the checkout process with their eyes, and remove everything non-essential and burdensome.

Rinse and repeat

We all revisit experiences we enjoy, so there's only one way to convert one-time shoppers to repeat buyers: enhancing their customer experience.
What the numbers say
But how do you know whether your shoppers enjoyed the ride? Unless they write directly to you (in the form of a review, most likely), there's only one way for you to find out: relying on site analytics.

The role of site analytics

You can uncover how much time users spend in your store, which pages are the most and least popular, etc. Using site search analytics, you can easily find out what your customers look for and click on, which queries results in the 'nothing found' page, how much you sell, etc.

What you can do with that data

Pinpoint what ruins your customers' experience. Add products to your catalog to have fewer "nothing found" dead ends. Last but not least, you can segment your customers to understand which groups are your target audience and most loyal buyers.

You can then cater to these groups by offering different perks: discounts, loyalty bonuses, free shipping, etc. When you know exactly who you are selling too, it will make running sales promotions much easier too.

Key takeaway

Measuring your site metrics gives you a deep understanding of your customers' needs. Site search analytics is a big part of your overall picture: 43% of your visitors jump straight to the search box after opening the site - and those, who use it, account for 45% of your revenue. In short, the search engine is a big part of your shoppers' journey to checkout.

How to measure site search effectiveness

Site search plays a huge role both in how your brand is perceived and how pleasant your visitors found the experience. Putting in the yards to make it efficient is the way to go. There are 2 tools we think you should use in tandem to measure how effective your site search is.

Google Analytics

It shows how many of your visitors rely on search (or, alternatively, browse the catalog), how much revenue has been made from purchases via search/catalog, average order value and conversion rate. There are other noteworthy metrics GA offers you should pay attention to.

Internal admin section

If you are relying on a third-party search engine, you can track how effective the app is at what it does via the analytics tab. The most important metrics you'll find there are search query breakdown, product page views, and total revenue made from browsing via the search bar.

What to do if you find the numbers insufficient

If the analytics point to a problem with your default internal site search, then you should be asking yourself what exactly you can do to make it more efficient. We've put together a list of functions any search solution worth its salt should feature.
Site search checklist

How to choose your site search solution

What do you do once you run through the checklist above and discover your site search is severely lacking - and probably harms your sales directly? There are 2 roads you can take to perfect your default site search.

Build your own search engine

It'll require a big effort on your part. Here's an approximation of what you'll have to do:

  • buy/rent a server and shoulder its maintenance costs
  • hire a team of developers to write the search engine code
  • keep this team on a permanent basis to update and make improvement to your search
  • expand both the number of servers and the IT specialists as your business grows
  • deal with traffic spikes linked to holiday/seasonal sales

Use search as a service (SaaS)

Search as a service will allow you to do away with the problems described above. All you have to do to use it is pay the price of a subscription. Here's what you get by relying on a SaaS search:

  • no need for a server, as your search code and data will be stored in a cloud
  • team of professional developers on hand: you don't have to scout the market and take risks with hires
  • constant updates and bug fixes as part of the package
  • ease of scalability: as your business expands, you only need to upgrade your subscription plan
  • no worries about traffic spikes: SaaS solutions can handle the heat

Don't forget to optimize for mobile

What the numbers say
  • There are now more mobile shoppers than desktop users: at least 67% of your store's traffic comes from mobile devices;

  • companies are spectacularly bad at optimizing for smaller screens. 84% of users have encountered difficulties completing mobile transactions;

  • 40% of visitors will switch to a competitor in case of bad customer experience.
This means your search solution should look just as sleek on mobile devices as it does on laptops. Another thing much harder to achieve if you prefer building your own search to using a ready-made SaaS solution.

Reasons to stick your money on us

You'll cover every aspect of your customers' journey described above - and you won't have to break a leg to do it either. Our flexible plans have something for everyone.

You can set the app up in just 1 click (and it will require no coding skills), and we are always on hand to help you out with any issues that might arise.

You can give us a try for 14 days at absolutely no cost: we will neither ask for your credit card details, nor charge you for the amount of searches carried out. The latter bit also applies for our paid plans.

Finally, you'll join more than 12,000 happy customers, with brands like Sennheiser, Durex and Decathlon among them.

We could go on and list another dozen reasons - but we really think you should give us a try and see the results for yourself.

Pick your platform and watch your e-store shoot to the top with Searchanise

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“Rock solid performance! I wish we knew about this app a year ago! The intuitive nature of the searches and speed of information make this a perfect app for our web store."
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"Works great for our needs!
The Searchanise plugin/service excels where other leading (and much more expensive) search providers have fallen short on our site. We have over 17,000 products and this plugin indexes them flawlessly and creates a top-notch search experience for our customers. Really pleased that we found this one."
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My last hope was to try Searchanise. I was, and I am still amazed! The search results are PERFECT! The sync speed is AMAZING without bags or delays. And I have never seen such great support. The Searchanise App is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and I really hope someday to find again such a nice team and support."
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"Searching for a Search app? Try Searchanise. We are totally impressed, works great, it's faster than the default BC search and looks gorgeous in our shop - it's form and function! Supported by wonderful people. Many thanks to Alexey and the team! Excellent app and awesome team"
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"The results are fantastic.
We use it on many customers and they are all satisfied. It greatly enhances Magento's search."
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"I could say a lot of great things about this add-on, but I think this one line suffices; adding the Searchanise feature to your store is one of the most important and rewarding decisions you will make for your business and customers. Not to mention, the team is an absolute delight to work with, namely Angelina Morozova!"
Senior copywriter at Searchanise. Rum, Beatles and football lover. Maybe not in that order.
Alexey Baguzin

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