14-errors-in-online-store (2)
14 mistakes online stores owners make

7 common mistakes in online store search due to which you lose customers


There are many universal tools for converting visitors into buyers: product descriptions, filters, product recommendations in categories and promotions. But there are also tools with a narrow specialization, which are intended for visitors who already select a product through the search bar of an online store. The search bar must be noticeable and functional to attract the maximum visitors. We studied how searches in popular online stores were implemented, and it turned out that even the biggest of them often miss potential buyers because of an incorrectly organized search.

We have chosen the seven most common mistakes, why the search in the online store does not convert, and the bad and good examples of search engine. If you find such mistakes in your online store, do not worry — it can be quickly fixed. And we will tell you how to do this.

1. Incorrectly placed or invisible

All standard elements, including search bar, should be placed in the usual places. The basic principle for arranging elements is not to make the user think a lot. We are used to the fact that the search bar on sites is located in the top center or top right. Sometimes designers are too creative and place the search bar in unexpected places. As a result, the user gets lost, cannot find the search bar and leaves the site, instead of appreciation of the original design. Therefore, make the search bar clearly visible and do not hesitate to highlight it graphically — this way the customers will be more likely to use it.

The bad example: 

 Rusy's online store

Rudy’s placed the search bar in an unusual place — on the left side and made it small and pale:

The good example: 

ASOS posted center search bar and highlighted it. The search bar clearly visible and attracts customer attention:

ASOS online store

You can add one more trick to motivate customers to use the search bar: an animated tooltip like here:

 Animation in search bar

It is possible with the “Live search” add-on for CS-Cart.

2. Does not take into account synonyms and word forms.

If your online store does not take into account synonyms and word forms, then the customer can get no search results. This happens even with well-known online stores.

The bad example:

For example, a customer searches for a T-shirt in Yankia, but enters “tee” in the search bar. We can see no results:

"tee" in Yankia online store

But there are T-shirts in the catalog. The customer should understand that “tee” is a “T-shirt”, enter the correct request and then search results will be relevant:

"t-shirt" in Yankia online store


There wouldn’t be such a problem If users really rarely used a “tee” instead of “T-shirt”. But look at Google AdWords statistic: average monthly searches for “addidas T-shirt” is 10k-100k and for “addidas tee” is up to 1k. If your online store will not take into account word forms and popular synonyms you can lose so many potential customers. 

GoogleAds "tee" and "t-shirt"

The ideal search means that the customer finds the right product calling it the way he used to.

The good example:

ASOS search knows that “tee” and “T-shirt” are synonyms and show the same relevant  search results for both queries:

"tee" in ASOS

"t-shirt" in ASOS

Ideally, online stores should know all the synonyms by which the customer calls the goods. He should not be forced to sort all the words combinations or search the items manually in the catalog.

 3. No autocomplete or suggestions

The suggestions is a drop-down menu with products, categories, brands or query history. It appears when the user begins to enter the first letters of the query. For example, he is just starting to enter “ipho”, as he sees the popular models of Iphone smartphones, categories, related products, etc.

Autocomplete means that as the user enters a word, he is offered options to continue the request.

The suggestions and autocompletion help the user quickly find the product. If they are not on the site, the purchase process will be more complicated, and there will be a risk that the user leaves the store without placing the order.

The bad example:

Matalan sells clothing for women and children. When we enter “red dress”, no options are offered: there is neither autocomplete to a full query, nor suggestions: 

 Matalan store

 You will have to spend time to enter the request completely, and then sort out the list of products on the result page.

 "red dress" in Matalan store

The good example:

Boohoo is the great example of a user-friendly search bar. Suppose we want to buy the same red dress. We enter a “red dress” and see the suggestions: 2 available categories of goods and 2 product cards. We can choose one of them and not waste time.

Boohoo store

Particularly useful is that relevant suggestions are shown even for typo queries:

"red dress" in Boohoo store

The suggestions and autocompletion are useful both for users (it helps to quickly find products, even when typing with a typo), and for an online store (more profit and the ability to increase the average check).

4. No auto correction of typos

If you lose the customer only because the search could not recognize the request with an error or typo it will be really offensive. Verify that your search has a correction function that will automatically correct the query and help to avoid zero search results.

The bad example:

There are no suggestions and auto correction in Vegan Town when we spell “chocolate” incorrectly:

Vegan Town store

The search engine did not recognize the request so there is no search results on the page:

Typos in Vegan Town store

 The good example:

 The same request with a typo, but in Humble market:

Typos in Humble Market

Auto correction works fine: it recognizes the request, warns about a typo, shows the available options. 

5. Does not show similar and popular products

The worst thing an online store search is the page with the text “No results found”. A blank page is a hole in the sales funnel that leads your potential buyers. If the user has entered a meaningless character set, he needs to see at least something. Especially if he entered a search query without typos, but such a product is really not in the store. Even in this case, not everything is lost and the user can be restrained: show similar or popular goods, offer promotions and bonuses.

The bad example:

No results were found in FeelUnique or “skirt”. There are no any suggestions on the page. It looks blank.

 No results in FeelUnique

The good example:

The same request in BeautyBay:

 No results in Beautybay

There is no results for “skirt” but we can see popular searches and articles. This holds the user’s interest and motivates him to stay on the site.

6. Not enough information

This is not quite a mistake. It is an opportunity to make the search process more informative and to convert visitors into buyers better.

The bad example:

Let’s look for a lipstick in Beauty Vision:

Beauty Vision


In the drop-down list for the query “lipstick” we are offered several categories with the number of available items. But does it help us as a buyer to immediately understand the assortment? You will have to click on one of the category and go to the page of each product. There is a risk that we won’t reach the checkout.

The good example:

Another thing is Credo. At the request of a “lipstick”, we can see not only the name of the product or categories, but also price, rating, cart button and items thumbnails. You can immediately see what the lipstick looks like, evaluate its price and choose the most popular lipstick:



One more good example is SallyBeauty:

 Sally Beauty

In the suggestion menu we can also see some popular articles about lipsticks.  

Suggestions with the maximum information about the product and the ability to add it to the basket is the best option for an online store. Such an informative search minimizes the path from choosing a product to buying. The visitor can immediately go to specific products and choose among them, and not waste time on extra clicks.

7. Search only by name

If the online store engine searches only by the name of the items, then some them can be “hidden” in the catalog.

For example, a user is looking for “IPhone 7 128Gb red”. When the administrator filled out the product card he indicated “128Gb” and “red”  as the features of the product, not the name. That’s why “IPhone 7 128Gb red” search results can be empty. The user can decide that such a product is not in the online store, but this is not true.

It would be ideal if engine can search by all textual data about a product:

  • name, 
  • short and full description, 
  • meta keywords, 
  • options and features, 
  • languages, 
  • search words, 
  • stop words, 
  • product code, 
  • meta description, 
  • price, 
  • status, 
  • popularity , 
  • vendor name for marketplaces.

Only then you can be sure that the search engine will find right product and it will not be lost in the depths of your catalog.

A well-functioning search is one of the stages of a sales funnel in an online store. It help to convert a potential “heated” user into a customer. At this stage the user decides whether to further interact with your online store or whether it makes no sense to spend time on it. The seven main search mistakes that we have reviewed can be the starting point for the further development of your online store. Even if you fix only them, you can significantly increase the conversion.

You can easy to modify the standard CS-Cart search using the “Live Search” add-on. Customizable interface, different search conditions, suggestions and recommendations displayed in the search results and many other useful features. Your online store will be protected from loss of customers due to complicated search process and irrelevant search results.


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