Really Understanding Zero Results Searches

By joseac -
03 May 2018

“What products are customers currently demanding that we don’t have?” This question is probably one of the most repeatedly asked by all eCommerce companies in order to understand demand and product replacement. The answer seems obvious: “The products that people search for and can’t find!” But, this isn’t entirely true.

It may seem that the most demanded and yet unavailable product or products from the previous week would be the best candidates to be re-added to the catalogue. However, this is not always the case. That product may, for example, have only seen high demand on one single day of that week. Or, it might have been an item that was more highly demanded two weeks ago.

In both cases, the Retailer may not be interested in re-adding the product to their catalogue. So, the answer therefore isn’t necessarily identifying the most demanded product but in studying and understanding the trends of highly demanded and unavailable products.

The following visualization provides an example of an eCommerce company with the queries that had zero results during the previous week compared with the same queries two weeks prior. This comparison offers a clear visualization to help Retailers understand the trend of highly demanded and unavailable products.

You can get more details for each query by mouse-overing and clicking on them.

To understand why trends are so important, let´s look at the query with the most zero results for this Retailer during the previous week, “home”. It had 233 searches that week but 272 searches two weeks prior. So actually, we can see that the trend of this query is downward. If the Retailer didn’t solve this zero results query two weeks ago, they may not be interested in solving it this week.

However, the second highest zero results query, “high waisted trousers”, had 192 searches in the last week, compared to 75 two weeks prior. The trend here is clearly on the rise with over double the number of searches. So, this zero results query is much more important for the Retailer than the first query despite it having a higher number of zero results.

By keeping up-to-date with the most demanded searches, especially those showing zero results, Retailers can not only offer replacement products but they can also improve the customer journey and experience.

This clearly demonstrates that looking at the trend of zero results queries can provide much more information and detail than by solely considering the queries with the most zero results at a specific moment in time.

What´s more, for a greater level of trend detail, the Retailer can also review the daily distribution. This means looking at the daily trend of a specific query, which can be displayed for each query selected, and then compared with the same day of a previous week to have an even better understanding of product trends.

There are many interesting behaviours and insights available within the customer searches that produce no results. And, based on these searches, an eCommerce company can assess whether to re-stock or chose to incorporate a new product to cover the demand.

This can be done in one of two ways; by either specifically marking an alternative product to control the sales volumes during the next few days or by simply creating a synonym for a query with zero results so that a substitute product, which may have another name, can be shown to the customer instead.

Through analyzing and understanding zero results searches Retailers can receive a more detailed, informed and holistic product view enabling them to truly answer that all-important question “What products are customers currently demanding that we don’t have?”

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