Online Shoppers' Average Search Length on Retail Websites

For all the talk of online shoppers' lofty expectations, perhaps a recent finding paints the bigger picture: consumers expect to find what they are looking for in just one word. 

SLI Systems analyzed a global sample of more than 1.5 billion queries during the last four-plus years to see if it could spot a trend in the number of words shoppers use to tell retailers exactly what they are looking for. What did SLI find?

The number of searches with three or more words is decreasing while the number of one-word searches is increasing with now more than half of on-site search queries including a single word. 

While SLI's data is difficult to contest (the sample of 1,518,283,711 search queries was generated by looking at searches from SLI Systems clients every second week spanning from January 2013 to March 19, 2017) - it will be interesting to see how that search length changes as voice search makes its way onto retail sites. AddStructure, for instance, is a Chicago-based startup that just raised $1.4 million in seed funding to let shoppers use natural language to find what they want - and Target looks to be an early adopter.

One thing is for sure, on-site search can be a conversion maker or a deal breaker in the customer journey. With SLI Systems recent Q1 2017 report on ecommerce performance indicators and confidence reporting that 80 percent of retail executives expect an increase in online revenues and profits, now is a good time to consider the experience shoppers are having when they navigate to the search box to find what they are looking for. 


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