The ecommerce landscape is wildly different today versus only a few years ago. Many brands have had to rapidly adjust their strategies or outright clear the drawing board and start from scratch. Brands that have not refined and streamlined their digital experiences are getting left behind.

Despite people slowly trickling back into offices and the return of in-store shopping, it’s unlikely that customers will return to their former shopping habits. That means your brand’s digital commerce experiences need to be able to handle the demands of today’s ecommerce. At the end of the day, it’s all about connecting with customers. They want a personalized, meaningful digital experience that makes them feel understood–and the bar has been set high.

If your ecommerce platform isn’t making this happen, it’s time for a change. Here are the three most important factors to consider when replatforming.

1. Understand your customers through signals

The ability to capture signals is critical to understanding what is most important to your customers. Signals are all of the little actions that your customers take to engage with your brand. This can include the parts of your website that they most frequently traffic, the searches they most often make, and the history of their engagement across all channels.

Signals allow brands to improve the relevancy of its search results to the individual customer. Without relevancy, your customer might as well be casting a search into a nebulous slush of information, with no guarantee that what is returned to them will take into account their purchase history or goal. Your brand should prioritize an ecommerce platform that is capable of capturing these insights to give you a look at where your customers are most engaged, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

2. Streamline the experience with dynamic type ahead

Type ahead–most popularized by its first implementation from Google–has become nearly ubiquitous to ecommerce platforms. The customer begins their search, and they almost instinctively expect the search bar to attempt to fill in the rest. Basic type ahead alone is not enough, though. The next generation of dynamic type ahead not only takes into account what the customer may be looking for, but also what they have previously looked for or what else they might be interested in. It should also innovate on how they can interact with the search–such as providing a fly-out option to immediately add something to their cart or click through to an entire category.

By providing suggestions in typeahead that dynamically change as they type more letters in the search box, customers can see that your brand carries the items they are looking for, and by providing the right-hand flyout you give them a quick and easy way to get to the product detail page so they can add to cart. You can curate this experience for your customers, and you can use signal data to influence the suggestions and results that you are returning, just like you would for the search results page.

3. Eliminate zero-result searches

A zero-result search should be the worst nightmare of any ecommerce business. Instances of this can occur due to:

  • The item is discontinued or out of stock
  • The item is one you don’t carry
  • The search term is misspelled

Zero-result searches have a serious impact on business. Research shows that if your search bar is not giving your customers alternative recommendations for out-of-stock or uncarried items, they outright leave your website. Your ecommerce platform should be capable of understanding and delivering a relevant result every time a search is made–even if the exact item is not carried. Recommendations keep customers on your website and let them know that you understand their needs. If they hit a dead-end, however, you’ve lost them to the competition.

4. Don’t forget metrics

There are a number of metrics that are important when you are looking at your ecommerce business. In general, your brand should be monitoring insights into:

  • Conversion Rate
    The percentage of users that convert or complete an action on your site – like add a product to cart and/or purchase.
  • Average Order Value
    The average total of every order placed within a certain time period.
  • Clickthrough Rate
    You can use this to measure the quality of your search results, and measure when a user goes from your search results page to a particular product detail page.
  • Search Abandonment Rate
    The rate that which customers see a set of search results, and then abandon the page without any further action.
  • Null Results
    As mentioned above, this is the list of queries on your site that bring back no search results.
  • Search Utilization
    The percentage of customers on your site who use the search box.

If you are considering a replatform, make sure that you have baseline data for these metrics. In order to account for any fluctuations with your business throughout the year, you should have at least 12 months of data for your legacy system. By reviewing and measuring these metrics, you can look at the health of your ecommerce platform, and use the data so that you know where to focus your time, energy and resources.

5. Plan your replatforming checklist

Okay, so you understand all of the above and are ready to replatform. When the time comes, you’ll want to ensure the actual act of replatforming is done carefully. The following steps can guide your brand through the process without breaking things:

Spend time on your site, and if you don’t already, get to know the good, the bad and the ugly. Your customers have found ways to tell you where your pain points are, you just need to know where to look. Start with your customer service feedback and online reviews.
After that, make sure that you know your top search terms and your zero results terms. This information will be really useful as you replatform, because you want to make sure you bring back the right search results on the new platform.
Since you need to keep your site running while you replatform, explore options that can enhance your search and site experience while you are deciding to replatform.

Ready to make sure your new platform checks these boxes? Lucidworks can help. Our solutions are designed to create personalized, meaningful experiences in the moment and make sure your customers feel understood–no matter what they search for. Get in touch with us today to learn more about what our solutions are capable of and what would be right for you. For an even deeper dive on replatforming your ecommerce solution, check out our webinar.

About Erin Chappell

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