How to Capitalize on Shoppers’ Search Diversity

Different shoppers search uniquely, making it essential for retail e-commerce brands to build the right product taxonomy to capture both common and long-tail searches.

I’ll admit that I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to accurately describing the clothes that I wear. Beyond things like collars and buttons and colors and sizes, a search for the type of shirt I might like to wear to work would probably go something like this: “collared untucked checked men’s large.”

A fun exercise if you’ve got some time is to conduct a search like this of your own on a few retail e-commerce sites. At one high-profile retailer that very much sells men’s clothing in this style, there appeared to be no collared, checked men’s shirts, but I did receive these very helpful recommendations for items that I might like instead.

The point is that every consumer has their own “long-tail” way to describe what it is they’re looking for. As we make our way in the world, we learn different colloquialisms, expressions and features that we use as shorthand to describe what’s important to us. Yet this “search diversity” is barely acknowledged on a high percentage of modern e-commerce retail sites, and the result is missing results from on-site search that, had they been returned to the curious shopper, could have led to an instant purchase. There’s also the shopper frustration that comes from being recommended hand towels and teacups when the goal is to find a new shirt to wear this Monday. 

Different shoppers search uniquely. Take a look at the synonyms for “Loose Dress” in this example. What you might call a loose dress I might call a sun dress; your best friend might call a nap dress and her mother might call it a house dress:

The key to serving all four of us is to build a robust product taxonomy that takes into account how real people search in the real world. Sure, those who are already focused on a particular brand name can often unknowingly filter their search just to the results from that particular brand (i.e. Nike, Hugo Boss, Topman etc.), and that certainly makes it easier. For the majority of shoppers looking to compare items between brands, however, it’s essential to assign attributes to items that allow for the rich and varied diversity in what we actually call things, and what’s truly important to us when we shop.

Retail e-commerce brands capitalize on shoppers’ search diversity when they start enabling products to be surfaced in a language of customers, not merely legacy, out-of-the-box attributes. We’ve got a few ideas on how to help brands with just that – just ask us and we’ll be happy to show you how.

We also made a video for you that underscores the power of a robust, synonym-optimized product attribute taxonomy that converts.


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