By Mark Brixton

Everybody loves a gift, but in the eCommerce world, selling a wide range of gifts and hampers presents navigational challenges for retailers. Consider the mindset of a customer searching for the ultimate gift as opposed to seeking self-gratification. When looking for a gift, the customer is less likely to have a specific product in mind and more likely to have a specific budget in mind. ‘Gifts’ covers a wide selection of products and can include hampers, cards and vouchers, product bundles, as well as personalised items. The challenge for online retailers offering gifts and specialty items is to guide the gift-buying process with useful search, navigation and presentation features.

The Right Tools for the Job
Ultimately, the user experience goal is to help speed customers to their selections quickly and intelligently. To that end, optimising search and navigation become critical factors in reducing site abandonment and increasing the propensity to purchase. SLI Systems has recognised this, and has developed premier search and navigation features to improve the quality of search results and streamline the path to finding that special gift. In particular, SLI System’s patented Learning Search tracks and learns from browsing behaviour to continuously improve the quality and relevance of the site search experience. That’s a gift for a site’s users that will literally keep on giving, serving more relevant search results and reducing frustration and cart abandonment. One of the features of Learning Search is that it drives more popular products higher in search results, presenting the most relevant results, and ultimately, increasing conversion rates.

Optimising the Gift Shopping Journey
When you examine best practices in gift retailing online, a Gift Finder is one of the must-have features to offer your customers. This intuitive site search feature can take on many forms, adding a new dimension of personalisation to the user experience.

A gift finder helps narrow down a customer’s search by offering choices and refinements to identify the most relevant items through an easy-to-use interface. It saves the customer significant time and energy wading through countless irrelevant items.

The more refinement options you can provide, the better and quicker the user experience. Basic must-have refinements for a user searching for a gift would include:

  • Price – price sliders are a great option here
  • Occasion/Event – are you buying a wedding gift, birthday present, etc?
  • Type – are you looking for an electrical product, a beauty product, hamper, etc?
  • Component – for hampers and gift bundles, are there products you’d like to have – eg. Champagne or chocolates

Tailoring Temptation through Merchandising and Analytics
Capitalise on seasonal promotions and the halo effect of traditional gift buying occasions with smart merchandising. SLI offers a powerful merchandising console that allows you to create customised banners and landing pages for seasonal and ad hoc promotions. Integrated reporting provides insight to campaign performance, tracking conversions and purchase results to help retailers make informed decisions.
Reporting and analytics are critical to the continuous profit optimisation of your business, and SLI’s reporting console gives deep and valuable insights into top search phrases, most clicked facets and most profitable search terms. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to tailor your user experience to generate higher conversions and keep customers coming back more often.

Put the Fun into Online Gift Shopping
Put some life into the gift buying experience online to increase engagement. User-generated content, particularly ratings and reviews, add enormous value to the online shopping experience and give customers greater confidence in making purchases. Using multiple product images, original content and helpful videos also serve to heighten the user experience, but be wary of overloading the customer or diverting them to pages away from products. Quick view or mouse-over pop-ups are a great option on site to give richer information and imagery at a glance rather than loading a new page.

Talk to the Hand
With more than a third of users browsing sites via mobile devices, you simply cannot ignore smartphones and tablets. SLI Systems offers mobile solutions to allow a smooth search and navigation experience via mobile. This is critical for avoiding frustrated screen-pinchers abandonments on your mobile site. The aim is to deliver a flawless user experience anytime, anywhere.

Mark Brixton is the country manager APC for SLI Systems.