The six biggest consumer frustrations with ecommerce site search

Site search matters, yet many ecommerce sites are actually deterring customers through poor experiences. Indeed, a fifth of UK shoppers are not satisfied with retailers’ search results. 

RichRelevance has surveyed consumers about their attitudes to site search on retailers’ websites, finding that some retailers have room for improvement.

So what are the common problems that customers have with site search?

1. Irrelevant product results. The point of site search is to make it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for, so no surprise that this would frustrate users.

2. Inability to find the right product. This doesn’t means products aren’t there, but it could be that labelling of products and the strictness of search functions causes the problem.

For example, if I search for ‘swimming costumes’ on Sears, I get these fairly useless results.


However, if I search for ‘swimwear’ or ‘swimsuit’ instead, the results are much better.

You would think that the word ‘swim’ in the search term would be a clue, but apparently not.


3. Site search not recognising terminology or phrasing. People will not necessarily search in the language used by product manufacturers or copywriters.

Retailers need to look at their site search data to understand how customers are searching, and what they can learn from the terminology they use.

4. A poor search interface. Confusing functionality can deter users.

5. Slow loading results. This isn’t about site search so much as general site usability. People expect web pages to load quickly and will become frustrated when results take too long to appear.

6. No product images. Images in search results help customer to identify the products they’re looking for, and to make quick judgements about a product by scanning images.


Mobile site search usability

The study also found plenty of user frustration around mobile site search, with 36% of respondents procolaiming themselves dissatisfied with mobile site search.


The stats:

  • Retailers are failing to satisfy customers with the mobile search experience. 36% customers are not satisfied with mobile search, compared to 21% on desktop websites.
  • 34% of shoppers say the mobile search experience is worse than on desktop.
  • 95% of UK shoppers will leave a retail site if they get bad search results, with 68% people saying they are likely or extremely likely to leave.

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