< Technical < Product Overview < Autocomplete
What is it?
Autocomplete is an ecommerce search suggestion solution that quickly suggests
relevant recommendation to users as soon as they click in the search box. Its
primary goal is to find out user intent and provide relevant keyword suggestions
so users can easily navigate to the best possible Search Result Page. The secondary
goal is finding out the product the users are searching for – which is more
difficult to do in this scenario, because there are limited space in the
autocomplete box to show products. In order for Autocomplete to be effective,
it has to be fast. Prefixbox's Autocomplete works quicker than the blink of an
eye. Our Autocomplete provides popular suggestions to users immediately when they
click in the search box. As users begin typing, Autocomplete adjusts results
instantly to provide relevant recommendations.
Read our guide: 10 Autocomplete Search Best Practices
Autocomplete is important, in fact it's the most widely used search feature and helps
with conversion rate optimization. Prefixbox's Autocomplete recommends both
keywords and products.
When users visit websites on a desktop, 50% click keyword
suggestions, 5% click product recommendations and 45% just hit enter. Users
depend on keywords to guide them to high quality results on the Search Results
Page, so it's important to display accurate results quickly in order to
augment user experience on your website.
Keyword vs product suggestions
Oftentimes, search boxes are implemented to show products only,
instead of keywords, when customers start typing. However, simply
displaying the product is not enough because the chance the right product
is displayed is slim. Showing keywords is much more effective because it leads
a potential customer to the Search Result Page with a wide range of UX options (filtering, sorting),
which increases the chance of looking at multiple products, finding the right one and making a sale.
On mobile eCommerce websites – when the autocomplete box is optimized - 65% of search users select
keywords. Usually, the search suggestions on mobile websites takes up half the screen while the
keyboard takes up the rest, so it makes sense to show only keyword suggestions and no product
suggestions in autocomplete in the mobile scenario. We usually set up different autocomplete
search boxes for the mobile and desktop views. The additional benefit that the two scenarios
then can be measured and optimized separately.
We automatically update our search suggestions daily and suggest
keyword terms the exact way users have searched for them in the past.
Many search engines generate suggestions artificially based on product or
category names, which is less effective and often times looks really weird
(e.g.: inflection) as it doesn't directly mirror search user's language.
Prefix matching and synonym suggestions
Prefix matching is an efficient way to increase the accuracy of displayed
autocomplete items. Prefix matching matches the first few letters of a
search term to product titles. For example, if someone searches "bi" for
"bicycle", prefix matching will suggest products (or keywords) with "bi"
at the beginning of a word. Searches that are not optimized, will display
results for any matches with the letters "bi" in the word, such as "mobile",
which is obviously not helpful.
In addition to prefix matching, Prefixbox is able to help with synonym suggestions.
The software automatically mines and aggregates a list of applicable suggestions
for each of your products and keywords. For example, for the term "bicycle",
Prefixbox might create a synonym list that looks like: mountain bike, child's
bike, city bicycle. The same applies for those who search "desk" and results
named "table" appear. These synonym suggestions help the user discover many
more products in your online store regardless of your product naming.
Prefixbox highlights searched phrases in the suggested keywords and product title text,
so users can quickly identify why certain products were recommended and find exactly
what they're looking for. This gives additional usability benefits to users.
Product suggestions and ranking
Product suggestions are recommended by a ranking system that is updated daily,
so the most relevant and popular suggestions are listed first. Prefixbox ranks
products based on product page views, search engine result page (SERP) clicks,
cart actions, and number of orders. Most solutions only rank products according
to the number of times they've been ordered, but this can lead to an inaccurate
ranking, since order events don't happen too often as the other events listed above.
Especially for new SKUs relying on order event data is very sparse. Sometimes
products are sorted alphabetically, but this is even worse. Customers should
be able to find the most popular products easily.
The way products are ranked is important. The first displayed item is most likely
to be selected, so it should be an accurate match - one that leads customers to
the product they want to buy. The following results that are displayed are
exponentially less relevant. This trend can be observed in any recommendation
engine (positional bias). Since the first result is most likely to be clicked,
you need a proper ranking system. If users are shown too many products after
every keystroke, they are likely to get information overload and discontinue
looking for the product they initially came to find. This is also why keywords
are more effective than product recommendations and showing more than 10
suggestions is not recommended.
Prefixbox also allows you to display category suggestions, which isn't generally
very effective since shop categories usually have different names than
the terms people search, but you have this option with our Autocomplete
if you would like to test it. The reason sometimes ecommerce product
owners prefer category suggestions in autocomplete is because their
category pages are more optimized for conversion and offer better UX.
In the Prefixbox portal, you can easily edit the amount, order and type of
suggestions you would like to be displayed on your search box.
These changes can be made in the matter of minutes and go live in a
few seconds based on the settings you provide on our self-service portal.
We recommend displaying 10 or fewer product and keyword suggestions.
For example, 4 products and 4 keywords or 6 products and 4 keywords etc.
We offer separate autocomplete setup for desktop and mobile, so your eCommerce
search is optimized for however your customers like to shop. Creating
autocomplete boxes take a few minutes and is easy.
If you have a mobile site in addition to your desktop site,
we recommend setting up two separate search boxes, so that you
can see the search data separately. We also recommend this if
you have a responsive website (the same site with separate desktop and mobile views).
Since mobile screens are smaller, we recommend only
displaying keyword suggestions in order to save space.