When optimizing any online store, it’s important to focus on product discovery if you want to maximize conversion rates (who doesn’t?). This quick guide will examine product discovery’s crucial impact on conversions, as well as eight key locations that are typically weak in this area (plus tips on how to strengthen them!)
Ready? Let’s get started.
Product Discovery: The Most Important Factor In eCommerce
“Product discovery” is the process of someone coming to your online store and discovering a product they want to buy. “Product discovery time” is the time it takes for that to happen.
If you think about it, product discovery is the most important factor in eCommerce, because unless someone is able to find a product they want to buy, all the traffic and conversion optimization in the world won’t do anything (or drive a bit of revenue).
The State of Product Discovery
Clicktale- a customer experience analytics platform, recently completed a comprehensive analysis of on-site analytics across thousands of eCommerce stores and found some very interesting data around average bounce rates and average time on site.
To save you some time, we’ll travel to the shallow end of their deep analysis and give it to you straight.
1. On less-established eCommerce sites, shoppers are spending MORE time on the site while attempting to find their desired product, then leaving because they can’t find it.
2. On the other hand, larger retailers are making it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for, and as a result, more people are sticking around to make a purchase (even though they’re spending LESS time on the site).
In the study, Clicktale concluded: “Short time on page can indicate that users leave the site too quickly; when combined with low bounce rate, however, it actually indicates that users find what they are looking for faster.”
So, here’s why all this matters:
These numbers illustrate that larger retailers are beating smaller retailers in the product discovery game, and they’re raking in the dough as a result. Due to the less-than-optimal user experience that smaller retailers are providing, customers ditch their stores before they have a chance to discover products they want…a disappointing experience for all involved!
How to Master the Product Discovery Game
OK, now we understand why product discovery is so crucial for driving revenue, so how do we optimize our eCommerce experience for it?
First, keep this in mind at all times: The important theme here is relevance — don’t waste your customer’s time. The more relevant your site is to each individual customer that visits it, the better your product discovery experience will be. So we pried around and unearthed some strategies that the top-selling online retailers are using to make product discovery lightning-quick for their customers.
1. Set the Stage With an Optimized Homepage
A. Current Promos: These are your current sales, new items, and time sensitive offers — great for driving urgency!
B. Personalization Units: Why do you think Amazon plasters personalized product listings all over your site? These are your “Recently viewed” and “You might also like” product listings that are shown for logged in visitors (or visitors whose browsing history is saved via cookies).
C. Trending/Popular Products: Show popular and best-selling products — great for displaying to brand new or unknown visitors that are lacking browsing history!
D. New Arrivals: People love the latest and greatest!
E. Educational Content: Content that pre-sells your products. This is great for people that are in the browsing state but not ready to buy yet. (Think buyer’s guides, product reviews, product videos, helpful how-to’s, etc.)
2. Ace Your Navigation
Those who use navigation know what kind of product they’re looking for, but don’t know specifically what they want yet. For this reason, your navigation needs to be fast. You don’t want to lose someone right when they’re starting their search, so make sure your navigation section is both powerful, fast, and easy to use.
Your navigation menus should show a robust collection of categories and subcategories so that your potential customers can quickly start their product search from a narrower range of products. Think about the difference between looking for a pair of red dress pants by starting in the “dress pants” subcategory versus having to start in the “men’s apparel” category and manually drilling down each subcategory until you get to “dress pants”.
Flyout menus are the current trend here, so consider developing some for your store (or make your current ones more robust, if you already have some).
3. (Gimmie, gimmie more) Filterable Product Attributes
Now that we’ve gotten people to your product listing pages, you need to focus on giving the people to what they came for — quickly. Remember, they might have already had to click through multiple pages or menus already (or, they might have just come from Google and are a back button away from being gone forever).
Keep these two keys to success in mind:
1. Make sortable/filterable product attributes as rich as possible (these are your tags for color, height, width, length, brand, etc. per product). This helps customers narrow their search down to exactly what they’re looking for.
2. Allow mixing and matching of sorting and filtering tags. For example, allow people to search for both red AND blue shoes in one view — don’t make them go through two different searches.
4. Don’t Play Russian Roulette With On-Site Search
Thanks to Google, people expect to be able to type some words into a box and get exactly what they’re looking for in an instant. Optimizing your on-site search will help with this.
Here is a compilation of everything your site search must be able to handle for a truly optimized solution:
● Product names or IDs
● Product types or categories
● Commonly typed informational or customer support queries
● Product features
● Variations of the same keyword
Keep in mind, your on-site search must be able to search and return the results quickly!
5. Optimize Search Traffic Landing Pages
It’s critical to show relevant products immediately to visitors coming from search engines, whether it’s from paid advertising or organic. Why?
Like we mentioned above, Google has mastered the art of giving you ten hyper-relevant links plus other information within milliseconds of your search. So if they don’t see exactly what they’re looking for when they arrive on your site, they’re likely to assume you don’t have it, and click the dreaded back button.
What can you do here to maximize product discovery accuracy and speed for search traffic?
Our biggest recommendation is to create specific landing pages built for both user experience that supports product discovery and SEO.
For example, if someone searches for “red running shoes”, your site should have a URL that pulls up your running shoes category page, with “red” pre-selected as a color filter. That keyword should be in the Title and H1 tag, and the page should be indexable by Google. So now, when a search visitor lands on your site, they can already see exactly what they’re looking for without having to search even further.
Key takeaway: Make sure you are creating dedicated landing pages for top search terms relating to your products, and make sure the correct product listings are shown.
6. Optimize 404 Pages
Our recommendations for your 404 page follow most of the same guidelines as your homepage (see #1). You can include:
● Popular or best-selling product lists
● Trending product lists
● Current sales and promotions
● Personalized product lists based on browsing history
● Anything else that helps customers discover products they want to buy!
7. Utilize Popular Product Pages
Dedicating a landing page for your best-seller and trending product listings are great resources to send people to who are just looking for ideas — especially gift shoppers. They’re also great to include in your new subscriber email series.
Why do they work so well? It goes back to the old saying — everybody wants what everybody wants. Simply by becoming more popular, products become more desirable, so you want to showcase that fact and see the increased conversions as a result!
8. Secondary Product Discovery: The Key to Upsell Success
Everything we’ve been talking about so far has been fairly early in the customer’s purchase cycle. However, there is still more optimization using product discovery that you can put into place once people are ready to make a purchase! This will help you drive up average order values by cross-selling and upselling related products.
Here are some of the product listings you can integrate into your cart or checkout pages to maximize upsells using secondary product discovery:
A. Recommended Items
B. Frequently Bought Together
C. “Complete the Look”
D. Add these products to get free shipping
E. Get an extra discount when you bundle this product
Have you learned a lot?
We hope so! There is a ton of information in this guide, so the best way to put it all to use is to start at the top and evaluate your site for each of the points we mentioned. When you come across something that needs work, mark that down. Then when you’re done, you can get started implementing solutions!
Want to get more detail plus screenshots of good (and bad) examples of all the keys mentioned in this guide? Check out the 8 Product Discovery Essentials for Advanced eCommerce Optimization by Add Shoppers.