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Conversion Optimization

eCommerce Product Discovery: 3 proven strategies (+ great examples)

There are many benefits that can come from optimizing your product discovery. Not only will your product discovery time help you make online shopping easier for your customers, but it will also help raise your profitability and your conversion rate.

eCommerce Product Discovery: 3 proven strategies (+ great examples)

Do you know what's more irritating than boring ads? 

Not being able to find the right products. That’s the frustration bothering your average online customer. 

This is where Product Discovery comes into play.

As promised, we shall explore the 3 tips for better product discovery but here's a heads up of the topics we'll be exploring:

What is product discovery in eCommerce?

Product discovery in eCommerce is about how your website visitors and prospective customers find and explore products on the site. 

Here is an example of a product discovery from Ulta. The search bar shows trending categories and popular products. 

Ulta product discovery example trending categories

Trending categories and Popular products help your customers find the products that they are looking for. This is vital because this is the first interaction of your site visitor. If your site visitors don’t find what they’re looking for, they won’t return. 

History is witness to it - 68% of the online shoppers won’t return to a site that offers a poor search experience.

In short- eCommerce product discovery is making products easy to find for your site visitors. How do you do it? You’ll find out as you read further. 

Why does product discovery matter? 

Product discovery is critical because 84% of eCommerce buyers look for answers using search engines. 

And social media is not far behind. 82% of the online shoppers have discovered products on social media

They don’t want to spend time talking to customer support. This demonstrates the ease of discovering products. 

Further, 62% of the eCommerce journeys start online. The majority of shoppers land on your homepage, which is crucial in moving them from awareness to the consideration stage. 

Here’s the magic sentence you’re waiting to hear! 

2x conversion rates due to site search-led product discovery. As per an Econ study, searches accounted for close to 40% of the total revenue. 

Site search and conversion rate graph

Here’s a double bonanza! 

Conversion rates happening as a result of site searches can be 50% higher than average

In a nutshell- if you don’t optimize your site for product discovery, you’re losing out on visitors who would have otherwise been your paying customers. 

eCommerce Product Discovery: 3 proven strategies (+ great examples)

1. Convenience of Discovery (easy-to-use search bar) 

eCommerce product discovery will always begin with the search bar. 64% of online buyers use the search bar to manage the I-want-to-buy-now moment. 

The objective of a search bar is to make it easy for your customers to find products. Here’re a few ways to do so- 

Use prompts

Newair introduced a prompt in its search bar to elicit a response from its users. The results were remarkable.  The search bar enabled 30% higher conversion rates.

Autocomplete suggestions

Another way to make search easier is to provide autocomplete suggestions. Warby Parker uses autocomplete suggestions with visuals that make product discovery easier for your customers. 

Warby Parker autocomplete suggestions

Why is it effective? 

Autocomplete suggestions help customers who might not know the product name or how it looks. 

Autocomplete suggestions are known to boost sales and conversions by 24%

Trending searches 

Trending searches can also significantly improve product discovery. Target uses trending searches to influence purchase decisions based on necessities and social cognition. 

Target Trending searches

If you observe, paper towels, face mask, and toilet paper are necessities while Apple AirPods and Nintendo switch are luxuries. 

Purchase of gaming consoles is highly driven by social cognition-where if one person buys it, others are influenced to buy it as well.

Trending suggestions can attract people of all economic backgrounds. 

Image search

Image searches help a great deal in finding the right kind of products. 

IKEA uses image search to help users who have an image as a reference but may not know the product name and details. 

Quite handy for customers who have a picture of a Sofa and are looking for similar models. 

IKEA image search

Take help from stop words

Stop words by themselves don’t have meaning. For example, for, an, and the are examples of stop words. 

But, if you recollect, it is important to speak your customer’s language. Using stop words can help make relevant suggestions that are important for product discovery. 

Underarmour uses stop words in the search bar that bring up relevant product search terms. 

Underarmour search suggestion based on stop words

Pro Tip- Always make sure to include slangs for products that are common in the region.

Don’t vilify spelling mistakes 

Spelling mistakes shouldn’t be ignored. If a customer gets a spelling wrong, you can direct them to products that are similar or to a product category that is in vogue. 

Warby Parker directs searches with wrong spellings to its contact lens category. 

Spelling mistakes in search terms Warby Parker

The copy is conversational which successfully catches the user’s attention. 

Pro Tip- You can direct users to the help section to find what they are looking for.

Use carousels above the fold

Carousels work well in driving attention to products. Including it, in your above the fold works as an emotional hook in holding your site visitor’s attention. 

FlawlessCBDShop uses carousels to drive product discovery. It’s effective in introducing your popular products, special offers, or new products. 

FlawlessCBDShop carousels Above the fold

This works entirely on increasing the dwell time on your eCommerce website. In a recent study, the average page time across all industries is 62 seconds. 

The longer the site visitor stays, the higher the chances of conversion. 

Make first impressions count. Check out Above the Fold: 9 ideas for better conversions (+ amazing examples)

2. Get your customer journey map up to speed 

In a highly competitive landscape, bringing your customer journey map up to speed is critical.

A customer journey map refers to the visual representation of various touch points a user goes through before they become a customer. It includes all interactions like online, offline, retail, etc. 

As an eCommerce brand, aligning your product discovery efforts with your customer journey map will give you the answers you need. 

Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of each stage of the customer journey map-

a) Awareness 

Your prospective customer realizes a need and sets out to find a product that fulfills a need. 

Since 87% of the purchase decisions begin with research done online, it is important to convey the value you can offer to users. 

Here is an example of communicating your value proposition in your meta tag. 

Booty Bands communicates the problem and solution in its meta tag. It offers a solution for fat loss and flaunting your curves(sells confidence). 

Booty Bands Value Proposition in meta title

It highlights the process (3 step program) from the comfort of your home(convenience). 

b) Consideration 

The user now lands on your site and explores the products. Now, they might explore your products based on their needs. 

Here is an example of how a typical user would make decisions in the consideration stage. 

Suppose a user who is looking for a gut supplement lands on Terra Origin’s website, the usual step would be to explore the product categories. 

Terra Orgin Product Categories

The next step would be to click Healthy Gut and proceed to check the product details, and nutritional information, and read the product reviews. 

All these factors influence the buying decision. Here, it's important to address buyer’s remorse with your customer reviews. 

Social proof is a proven way to drive conversions. 

Unsurprisingly, 88% of online customers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations. 

c) Acquisition 

This is where the user has finally decided to buy the products. After they add to their cart, you’ve got an opportunity to upsell or cross-sell products. 

Here is how BootyBands upsells on its cart page. It upsells a barbell with a booty band. The intention is to promote equipment to build a home gym. This sells convenience which is likely to make users consider buying it as well. 

Booty Band upsell product discovery

Pro Tip- You can add smart product bundling to ensure product discovery.

Borrow product bundling inspiration: Check out 13 product bundling examples that convert (& 10 proven ideas)

d) Service 

Depending on the experience of the product, the user may choose to make a second purchase. In case of a positive experience, you can choose to recommend products that are closely related to the previous purchase. 

Decathlon recommends supports & accessories on the purchase of a resistance band. This might just be the product that fitness buffs could buy. 

Decathlon product discovery

Injuries and sprains are common when it comes to sports and weight training. The odds of this selling are on the higher side. 

e) Loyalty 

Loyalty is the final stage of the eCommerce customer journey map. In this case, you can use emails to introduce your new products. 

Harry’s introduced its new razor Truman in a classy way. It was given a grand introduction explaining the product and why they decided to put it away. Answering FAQs smartly drives the conversation toward the CTA. 

Harry's Truman introduction to loyal customers email

Pro Tip- Ask your loyal customers to refer and spread the word around if you recently launched a new product. They’d be more than happy to do it for you. 

Read this before creating a strategy: eCommerce marketing strategy: 12 questions founders should ask themselves

3. Host your customer (Use guided selling) 

When customers aren’t sure or hesitant about what to buy, you can make the move to become their guide. 

Guided selling works on the principle of authority. Online buyers trust the process based on the belief that the expert will help them buy the best product. 

Guided selling has several benefits-

  • It reduces friction in navigation. Users won’t have to do endless scrolling or clicking to find the right products 
  • Helps in easy decision-making when it comes to buying complex products. For instance, if you are a runner having flat feet, you might not be sure what kind of cushion you need 
  • Makes the customer journey smooth and comforting. With an expert assisting you, you’re assured of making a well-informed decision
  • Gets rid of the one-size-fits all approach by offering personalized product discovery unique to the customer
  • Makes the customer experience pleasant. Answering all the questions and reservations about the product, guided selling helps in valuable product discovery
  • Minimizes product returns since risk aversion is addressed

Here’s how Floliving uses guide selling to onboard the customers. It uses a quiz to evaluate the menstrual health of female visitors who are usually unsure about their symptoms. 

Floliving guided selling product discovery

Here is the first question which can give you a better picture if you want to create your own. 

Floliving product discovery question

Why it works

  • The quiz sends a trust signal with a diagnosis before a product is recommended. Chronic health conditions need a doctor’s consultation and the quiz is a way of evaluating the menstrual health of women. This leads to personalized product discovery. 
  • It uses social proof of social cognition. Social cognition is a psychological principle that deals with how people process, store and apply information about other people and social situations.
Looking to build social proof? Check out eCommerce social proof: What, why & how (with proven examples)
Floiving social proof

5,00,000 women have taken this quiz and have found the right product. 

Since 5,00,000 is no small figure. It conveys the message ‘If it worked for them, it might work for me’. 

And those were the three tips for better product discovery.  It needs a great deal of data visualization. It might be a bit overwhelming but with a tool like CRO360, you will be able to find your key conversion pathways and optimize the site for sales. 

What are the product discovery techniques?

Product Discovery is a long and tedious process. While you may be eager to make some progress, how you go about implementing it is critical to its success. Here’re 5 product discovery techniques you can use-

1. Customer interviews

The simple way to get insights is to ask your customers. While it may take longer, it's worth the wait. Here’re a couple of questions that you might want to ask- 

  • How was your experience using the product? 
  • Where did you face problems? 
  • How would the product benefit you?
  • What action did you take when you needed help? 

Here’s a tip- Start with light questions and slowly progress to the open-ended questions. 

2. Product analytics

Digging deeper into your product analytics can help you gain insights into customer pain points and needs with quantifiable data. 

Here’s how you can use product analytics to improve your product discovery-

  • Product teams can pinpoint the least and most used features and compare a feature’s usage to its past 
  • You can perform journey analysis- It can help you identify bottlenecks in the user journey and come up with a solution. 

       For instance, a customer experience manager can map the path taken by users to solve an issue.  

  • With the help of Attribution analysis, you can figure out the touch points attributed to success. 

The product manager can identify the attributes responsible for the sale of a high-priced product. They can find the touch points the customer goes through before making a purchase. 

Smart tip- Call a meeting where product teams, marketing teams, and sales teams can give their input on why certain products seem to be underperforming.

Pull the past six months’ data and critically analyze it. This will ensure everyone is on the same page further strengthening your product discovery efforts. 

We've something for you. Explore 7 unconventional product page Metrics for eCommerce (& insights)

3. Competitor analysis 

If you’re feeling stuck and heading nowhere with your product discovery efforts, turn to your competitors for inspiration. 

Become a user and spend some time examining the user journeys and documenting them. Repeat the process for other competitors and map the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps to better your product discovery efforts. 

4. The five ‘whys’ technique 

Your customers may give the idea of what’s missing but to further refine it, you need to use the five ‘whys’ technique. 

In simple words, it critically deconstructs a problem at the base and goes deep until the root cause isn’t identified. 

It breaks down the problem into 5 whys. Here’s an example you can better relate to. 

You are a fitness supplement brand and you know why customers are not buying a BCAA on the checkout page. 

Why? We're not answering customer doubts

Why? We’re not including customer reviews 

Why? Video testimonials do a better job since it has a high engagement rate

Why? We haven’t mentioned FAQs and return policy 

Why? We don’t do smart bundling with a protein shaker 

5. Usability testing 

As is the norm, we’ve saved the best for the last. 

Usability testing is all about understanding the experience of users on your website. The key goal of usability testing is to determine if your website is user-friendly. 

In short, overall user experience and design are two key aspects that usability testing measures. 

Here’re a few questions to help you get started-

  • What’s the first thing the user clicks on?
  • Can you site visitors easily find products?
  • Does it take more than 2 seconds for the site to load?
  • Are users able to find information?
  • Is it easy to find help or customer support?

As for finding users, your existing customers can serve as respondents for the usability testing. 

Understandably, not all brands have a large customer base but that won’t be a problem. 

If you need users for testing, you can check out UserTesting or Mechanical Turk (it’s cheap). 

While there are numerous methods of usability testing, the natural usability test works best for eCommerce sites. 

In this method, users are unaware of the usability test. They aren’t informed or provided tasks to do. 

Here’s a list of elements commonly tested as a part of usability testing- 

  • Call To Action(CTA)- Text, font, and color have a profound impact on click-through rate. 
  • Headlines- A/B testing your headlines is crucial to improving your conversions. A/B testing is a method of testing where two or more versions of a website or page element are done; Users are shown different versions at the same time to determine which improves conversion rates. 
  • Pricing- Pricing is a major factor when it comes to making a purchase decision. Studies have proven that free shipping leads to a 30% higher average order value. This too warrants an A/B test. 
  • Product Information- Product information that lacks personal touch, tone, and benefits don’t sell. A/B testing your product description can help decrease your drop-off rates. 
  • Forms- Simplicity sells and this applies to forms as well. An easy-to-understand checkout form gets the job done. 

Here’s an interesting case study of how Marco Promos was able to see a site-wide conversion rate improvement of 17% and an A/B testing success rate of 56%. 

What are the key elements of product discovery?

Product discovery isn’t tough but requires a keen sense of attention to detail. Here’re six crucial things that constitute a robust product discovery mechanism- 

1. User-friendly site navigation (start with crisp product categories) 

Websites having user-friendly site navigation focus on ease of finding products. Neatly organized product categories help your website visitors browse and find products without having to dig deep into multiple pages.  

Jigsaw Health makes product discovery easy with crisp product categories. From Best Sellers to Apparel & Accessories, all categories are easily accessible for first-time site visitors. 

Jigsaw Health product category

2. Filtering options to make searches more defined

The second key element in product discovery is to enable customers to make well-defined searches. This can be done with the use of filters.  

The must-have filters like price range, type of product, color, and brands are good enough.  However, you might want to include filters for seasonal items, special collections, and special offers which take things a step higher. 

Terra Origin has filter options based on collection, best selling, price(high to low),  and price (low to high). 

Terra Origin product page filter

It has a unique filter for searching for products based on their benefits. This helps users looking for specific products. 

Terra Origin Benefits custom filter

3. Tailored search results 

Relevant search results account for a rich customer experience. Relevant searches highly influence 39% of the buyers.

But the sad part is, that almost 84% of the companies don’t optimize their site for search

There’s still time if you want to get started.  

Customizing search results based on browsing history is a great way to start with. 

Amazon offers search results based on previous product searches of the customer. Here is an example of showing related products based on past browsing history.

Amazon product recommendation browsing history

Here’s another example showing the last items searched and shopping trends.

Amazon personalized product recommendations

Here’s something eCommerce brands dread! 

Relevant search results are critical because 12% of the users go to a competitor’s site after an unsuccessful search

Something that can be fixed by prioritizing site search with personalized results. 

Enable product discovery with smart product recommendations. Check out eCommerce Product Recommendations: Strategies, Examples, Do's/Don'ts

4. Make your homepage a customer magnet

Your homepage is the first thing that impresses your customers. Sorry to burst the bubble but your homepage influences your conversion rates. 

The average conversion rate is less than 3% in eCommerce. Yes, it’s shocking but true. 

Here is how Casper has optimized its homepage to influence site visitors. It has two CTAs with the copy selling the benefits (sleep and comfort) exceptionally well. 

Casper Value Proposition

The vertical product category where Clearance is marked in red helps capture the site visitor’s attention. In fact, 76% of the people opined that red triggers speed as an emotion

Surprisingly, red-colored CTA buttons increased the click-through rate by 21%

Double your homepage conversions: 23 Ways to Boost eCommerce Homepage Conversions (2022 edition)

5. Site speed > site aesthetics 

Your site visitors will be disappointed if it takes more than 2 seconds to load your website. 

That’s the average time to finish eating a Snickers. 

Here’s why you need to prioritize site speed.  

79% of the eCommerce buyers unhappy with a site’s loading speed are less likely to make a second purchase. 

Even a one-second delay in page loading time can result in-

  • 11% decreased pageviews 
  • 16% drop in customer satisfaction levels 
  • 7% decline in conversions 

Your images and videos serve no purpose if it slows your loading speed. So, optimize your website for speed and not for beauty. 

You might be interested in reading eCommerce Product Image Optimization: 11 Common Myths

6. Speak the language of your customer 

Your customer may not get spellings or keywords always right. This is where you need to guide them. 

How do you do it? 

Either by directing them to customer support or making smart recommendations.

Let’s see how Ulta shows search results in case of wrong spellings. Here is a search result for the term ‘gluss’.

Ulta search suggestions after spelling mistake

It shows accurate results of Lip Gloss which demonstrates that this site is optimized for search. 

Don’t underestimate the impact of site searches. As per a study, 15% of visitors use site search but account for 45% of the total revenue. 

Au revoir!

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