According to eMarketer, eCommerce is expected to climb
15.8 percent this holiday season, while total retail growth
will slow to 2 percent! As an e-retailer, you should be doing
everything in your power to ensure that your website is
optimized for the large amount of shoppers that will be
visiting your site this holiday season. We’re here to help
spark some ideas on how to utilize on-site search and
navigation to prepare for your most successful holiday season

1. Getting the Basics Right: Search Box Design

A) Location

The location of the search box has a big influence on the
number of daily searches performed, the site conversion rate
and the revenue generated from search.

For maximum impact and usage, e-retailers should ensure that
their search bar is easy to locate by keeping it above the
fold. There are various areas that e-retailers place the search
bar. Some of the most popular are:

  • Top right

  • Top left

  • Top center

To get a better idea of where the world’s most successful
eCommerce websites are placing their search boxes, we took a
look at where the top 10 e-retailers place their search box.
Based on of the 2017 Top 50 E-Retailers Chart, 60 percent of the top 10
websites have the search bar in the center, whereas 40 percent
have it on the right-hand side.

Top Center:

The central placement of the search box is the most popular
tactic of the top 10 retailers. The prominent, bold placement
makes you want to use it.



Amazon is the number one e-retailer in the world. Their search
box is very hard to miss as it’s placed in the center of the
page, and stands out from the dark blue background. Bold and

Top Right:

The right-hand side placement is the second most popular


B) Size

The value and use of the search box will vary between
e-retailers. Search is crucial for stores with large product
catalogues and large product ranges. Some examples are Amazon,
Walmart, and Macy’s.

These websites all have very prominent search boxes because
they want to encourage visitors to use the search, as they have
such a vast number of products.

Ensure that the search box size demands interaction from
customers by ensuring the width and height of the input field
can include long product SKUs, product numbers, and lengthy
product names.

C) Consistency & Visibility

The search box should be easily accessible and positioned on
every page of the website. Maintaining a consistent
appearance and location of the search box throughout the
website will allow visitors to become familiar and comfortable
with the site and search functionality.

Positioning the search box on every page will enhance the user
experience as the visitor won’t have to always return to the
home page to perform a search. Requiring the shopper to return
to the home page to complete a new search increases the
probability of bounce rates. The goal is to require the least
amount of clicks as possible.

The search box should not only be at the top of each page, but
should follow the shopper. As the shopper is scrolling down,
the web page could include a floating search box that moves
with the scroll. Two great examples of the floating search box

D) Text in Search Box

It’s helpful to include default text in the search box that
prompts the consumer to take an action. Also, ensure that the
text automatically disappears when the user clicks on the box
to enter their search query. Some popular examples are:

  • “Search”

  • “Enter a search term”

  • “Search by the item # or keyword”

  • “What can we help you find today”

2. Functionality: Adaptive Search with Enhanced Autocomplete

Consumers who know exactly which product they’re looking for
will go straight to the search box for efficiency. If the
search results don’t come back with what they’re looking for,
they’ll leave to find it on a competitor’s site. A recent study
shows that 80% of consumers will abandon a site after a poor
search experience.

With the vast amount of eCommerce competitors out there, you
want to ensure that your website provides shoppers with an
outstanding user experience—and that starts with enabling
shoppers to find what they’re looking for.

A) Adaptive On-Site Search

This is a type of search technology that learns and adapts to
customer behavior over time. This means that if a group of
products have equal relevance in a shopper’s search results,
the best performing product (the one that gets clicked most
often) will automatically be promoted to the top of the search
results. There are a few good reasons this feature is important
for any eCommerce store: 

1. An adaptive search algorithm will change
over time instead of remaining static. As new products are
released and customer buying habits change, so will search

2. Instead of just displaying results in
alphabetical order, the adaptive search algorithm displays
results more effectively by showing the most popular products
at the top of the search results. By popular, we mean products
that are the best and most in-demand based off of customer
behavior. Chances are, if several people preferred one product
to another, others will too.

3. All of this is done passively by the
algorithm, without ever needing input from a retailer. Adaptive
search is a completely hands-off solution that revolutionizes
how on-site search operates while delivering higher conversion
rates and revenues than stock search solutions. Additionally,
the search results can always be customized to the needs of the

Enhanced Autocomplete

This is a feature that can be integrated with on-site search to
maximize its functionality. Basic autocomplete finishes the
word in the search box as the visitor is typing and provides
suggested related search terms.

Enhanced autocomplete goes beyond the
simple plug-in technology that only provides basic suggestions.
Retailers can customize the autocomplete functionality, which
is helpful in promoting certain products. Customizing product
order can push certain products to the top of the autocomplete
suggestions. In turn, this will ensure shoppers view
high-margin products or products that need to be sold quickly
to remove excess stock.

One valuable feature that comes with enhanced autocomplete is
the ability to accompany search queries with high-resolution
images. This helps eliminate a search step by allowing
consumers to view the product, without clicking on it.

3. Advanced Merchandising

Merchandising refers to the art and science of displaying
products and offers on an eCommerce website with the goal of
increasing conversions. Below are some of our favorite tactics
that e-retailers should take advantage of this holiday season:


Banners are an easy way to promote information in a visually
appealing and eye-catching way. E-retailers can use them to
promote holiday sales or shipping information. For example, a
banner on the homepage can inform shoppers that there is a 30%
off sale on all Adidas products. By clicking this banner,
shoppers will be directed to the Adidas landing page.

Banners can also be triggered by specific keywords in the
search box results. Looking at the example below, whenever a
shopper searches the word “creuset”, a banner for that brand’s
sales is displayed in the search results.

B) Cross-selling and Upselling

Holidays are an excellent opportunity for online retailers to
capitalize on the traffic surge with cross-selling and
upselling tactics. Cross-selling is the practice of encouraging
customers to buy related or complementary items, while
upselling encourages customers to purchase a comparable
higher-end product than the one in question.

Upselling is the reason we bought a 13” MacBook Pro instead of
that 12” MacBook Air we planned for. Cross-selling is the
reason we bought AppleCare for that MacBook Pro.

To increase average order value, e-retailers should invest into
both of these strategies. The nice thing about cross-selling
and upselling on a website is that contrary to a brick and
mortar store, you don’t have to be pushy like an in-store sales
person would be. You can easily coax shoppers into purchasing
more items by adding simple modules to the side or bottom of
the category or checkout pages.

If these modules are leveraged properly, the products are
common-sense purchases for shoppers who may appreciate the

One effective way to cross-sell is by displaying complementary
product recommendations and “You Might Like” product
suggestions to shoppers. Cross-selling labels vary, and should
be determined with the website’s demographic in mind. Other
label options include:

  • “People Who Viewed This Also Viewed”

  • “Frequently Bought Together”

  • “Customers Also Considered”

  • “Complete The Look!”

One great example is the industry standard of them all—Amazon.
Their website is known for the endless amount of upsells and
cross-sells. They show you items you have recently looked at,
sponsored items, products other customers bought and

Final Thoughts

The holidays will be here before we know it, but it’s not too
late to implement these on-site search tactics to enhance the
user experience and boost conversions on your Magento store.
The shopper knows what they want to buy—and they’re giving you
a shot to provide it to them.

About Michelle Seges and Nextopia
Michelle Seges is the Partner Marketing Coordinator at Nextopia, a
leader in eCommerce on-site search and navigation, and a proud
partner of Magento. To learn more about how you can increase
conversions on your eCommerce store, check out the Nextopia
or sign up for a free site audit.