Retailers have a lot of data that they want to bring into the cloud securely. Additionally, scalability and consistency are very important. With most retailers now having a 24/7 online presence they need to guarantee minimal-to-no downtime to their systems as part of the migration.

New data from Google Cloud finds that search abandonment — when a shopper searches for a product on a retailer’s website or mobile app, but does not find what they are looking for — costs retailers more than USD2 trillion annually globally, and over $40 billion in Australia alone.

The data also uncovered that despite the continued rise in online shopping, many shoppers report hurdles in the product discovery experience on retailers’ ecommerce properties. Case in point — after an unsuccessful search experience using the search function or search box on a retail website, more than half of consumers in Australia (56%) say they typically abandon their entire cart and go elsewhere if there’s at least one item they can’t find on a website.

In addition, search abandonment is also having a real impact on brand loyalty, with 3 in 4 Australian consumers (75%) saying they are less loyal to a brand when it’s hard to find what they want on its website. More than 4 in 5 (83%) Aussie shoppers agreed that after an unsuccessful search experience on a retail website, they are more likely to leave the site and purchase the item elsewhere.

So how can retailers shape product discovery into a shopping experience that is timely, relevant, and personalised? Here are five tips:

  1. Look through the data to understand the customer journey. Did they get stuck with dead-end searches? Were they clicking on recommendations on the product detail page? Did they journey from mobile to desktop and back? Once you can answer questions like these you can optimise everything from the search bar, to suggestions, to landing pages, and more.
  2. Connect every channel, brand engagement and purchase behaviour across devices. The increased connective tissue with the shopper, particularly through mobile apps, increases the accuracy of targeted offers and products as well.
  3. Take advantage of advanced search and browsing technologies to create more fluid and fruitful shopping experiences for customers. Using tools such as Discovery AI, which is now also integrated into Shopify’s Commerce Components, retailers are able to reduce search abandonment by leveraging search capabilities built upon Google’s understanding of user intent and context. The tool also enhances the shopping experience by making it easier to search for products with an image and improves conversion and order value through greater personalisation of the shopping experience.
  4. Apply a recommender strategy based on touchpoints and context. As new visitors may lack familiarity with a retailer’s catalogue, recommenders for “you may also like”, “similar items”, and “complete the look” that are placed on a product detail page or the shopping cart page are particularly effective in driving purchases for these new shoppers. For known or repeat shoppers, personalised recommendations such as “may we suggest” or “just for you” based on the customer’s engagement — past and present — are a great way to drive additional purchases.
  5. Establish success criteria and measure performance: It’s important to establish a success criteria for measuring the effectiveness of Retail search. Get a consensus on which factors you want to include in the scope for measuring the effectiveness of Retail Search. This could include one or two of the following: Search Conversion Rate, Search Average Order Value, Search Revenue Per Visit and Null Search Rate (No Results Found).

The search bar is a retailer’s most important online asset and can make or break a shopper’s retail experience. No longer can retailers expect their customers to search, filter and refine repeatedly to find the products that they want.

Sameer Dhingra is director of retail and consumer at Google Cloud.