eCommerce Insiders

Retailers Should Include Search Filters To Boost Their Sales

If a customer were to visit a retail store, it would be off-putting and foolish for a sales rep to start bombarding the shopper with info about specials right away.

The best way to convert the shopper into a buyer is to place them at ease by creating a buying environment. This is done when the sales person asks the shopper what they’re looking for, and if they (the sales person) can be of assistance.

The same holds true with online shopping, although, the shopper is at a bit of a disadvantage because of the lack of a helpful sales person. That’s why many online retailers experience issues such as shopping cart abandonment and high on-page bounce rates.

But fortunately for e-retailers, there’s a page element that functions as the helpful sales person – it’s the search filter bar.

The search filter bar is usually located in the upper right corner of most retailer’s display pages. As the name suggests, the search filter bar is useful for shoppers who:

  • Feel overwhelmed by all of the product choices available on a site
  • Are in a rush and need to find what they’d like to purchase, quickly
  • Want to drill down and explore all of their shopping options
  • Are looking for products in specific colors, sizes, or price points

…and other qualifying factors that often work to convert an ambiguous shopper into a sure and confident buyer.

Internet Retailer quoted data collected by an Edgecase study, stating:

Engagement rates for product filters on its retailer client websites are, on average, 40% higher for first-time visitors than for returning shoppers, Edgecase finds. So, during the holidays, when retailers often see a surge of first-time visitors, site search engines and filters can make a difference in terms of sales, the firm says.

Clients experienced an overall 48.7% increase in filter engagement on Black Friday and a 46.7% increase on Cyber Monday, across all platforms, the company says. For mobile shoppers, filter engagement for Edgecase clients spiked fivefold during the period compared with the rest of the year.

Edgecase also finds that repeat shoppers who use filters tend to convert 52% more often, on average, while first-time shoppers who use filters post conversion rates twice as high as those who don’t. ‘First-time shoppers want to discover and be inspired,” says Garrett Eastham, chief data scientist at Edgecase. But that’s something that e-retailers often ignore,’ he says.

Holiday shoppers need an optimization tool, too

Far too often, retailers rely solely upon momentum (along with shopper urgency) in order to convert sales during the Q4 holiday season. But this is a huge mistake-many retailers are leaving money on the table by leaving first-time site visitors to their own devices.

While repeat shoppers are adept at finding what they need on a retailer’s site while completing their holiday shopping, first-time visitors are sure to feel overwhelmed! Smart retailers can take some of the edge off of new shoppers by making sure that they include a prominent search filter. This allows new shoppers to spend time learning about the site’s inventory, and overall, it reduces bounce rates and lost conversions.

Spotlighting the search filter bar

Here’s a brilliant game plan for not only implementing the search bar widget, but also, turning your search bar into a conversion tool, in of itself.

The KissMetrics blog provides explicit instructions for how to get this done:

The search bar itself is the start of the journey, and an often neglected piece of the conversion puzzle. Offsetting it in a different color from your site’s color scheme is one method of drawing attention to it.

Putting text inside the box, such as “Enter keyword,” lets visitors know at a glance what is expected (and differentiates it from a newsletter opt-in form). Top it off with a button that reads “Search” or “Find” and include some stylized arrows (indicating motion), and you’re off to a great start.

This method is ideal for displaying eCommerce products but could be improved even further by allowing the user to view a close-up of the product (or different product angles) without having to click.


The blog also recommends creating and implementing a search bar that allows for filtered options, such as product size, color, and style. But in addition, the search filter should also include options for sales, clearance, and new items.

The search filter should include any options that are sure to capture a shopper’s attention and keep them shopping, with pleasure!

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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