Search is about discovery. And fewer things are more disappointing than discovering nothing at the end of a journey.

In digital search experiences, we remember when we can’t find something. The majority of online shoppers are less likely to return to a brand’s website if they can’t find what they are looking for or at least a viable alternative. This is the crux of product discovery. If your customers can’t find it, it leaves a bad taste in their mouths.

So what do brands do? It’s both simple and critical. They need to focus on making product discovery an integrated part of their digital experience. Brands should treat product discovery as an opportunity to make customers feel understood. This takes a combination of strategy and technology. Here are three best practices for a product discovery experience that leaves a lasting positive impact on your customers and business.

1. Think about customer goals, not search queries

Above all, the guiding principle for your brand is thinking about who your customers are and what they want to achieve when landing on your digital experience. People are not just their search terms. They have wants, needs, and goals related to everything they search for. And their goals are unique.

As an example, let’s say a customer is searching for „cake.“ There’s a lot more than one might expect to searching for a cake. When a customer makes a search like this, numerous questions immediately arise. Are they looking to learn about a cake recipe? Do they already know the recipe and just need the ingredients? Or do they want to outright buy a completed cake? By taking into account that this is a goal – not just a collection of search terms – brands can deliver content experiences that support customer goals. This can, for example, lead our cake customer to making discoveries they didn’t know they needed – such as recipes, cake types, ingredients, or design inspiration – which leads to an overall improved customer experience.

2. Tap into user signals

The best way to understand what a customer will most likely respond to on their journey is by looking at signals. These are all the small actions they take on your website such as how they hit your homepage, where they move on your website next, how much time they spend browsing your catalog, what they have purchased in the past, and more. There are so many ways for a single customer to interact with a brand’s website, and the context around one customer’s journey can say a lot about what your customers expect from you. Ultimately, signals are a way to understand your customer better, and allow you to tune your product discovery strategy around what the majority of them want.

3. Consider new tools for personalization

Omnichannel personalization is the best tool you have to make customers feel like they’re browsing with a personal shopper by their side. You could be burning out your merchandisers with manual rule curation to achieve this level of individualization. Customer profiles and in-session signals are two key data sources to create strong and effective personalization. Retailers can leverage NLP (natural language processing) capabilities, signals (collecting, processing, storage), and content/user analytics, to create that special “you-know-me” experience.

With machine learning capabilities merchandisers can easily identify and approve suggestions for low-performing queries. When ML is woven within the applications and user interfaces that search experts and merchandisers use every day, they spend more time smiling and less time frowning at work. Empower your search and merchandising teams to get back to tackling larger initiatives that optimize your product discovery experiences, while delivering on omnichannel personalization for shoppers.

Taking generative AI into account

Additionally, the hype for generative AI is approaching a fever pitch. While it’s important to see through hype and recognize the grounded, practical applications of new technology, the potential is still worth excitement. At Lucidworks, we see a ton of potential for the technology in its relationship to search, as well as how it fits into our solutions. Take a look at our generative AI field guide for a full primer on the technology and how brands should be thinking about its applications.

Through a combination of innovative technology and savvy strategic thinking, any brand can create meaningful digital experiences. At Lucidworks, we believe these meaningful experiences start with the search bar – the first, natural step for so many of our online journeys. If you’d like to learn more about what Lucidworks solutions can do for your brand’s product discovery strategy, contact us today.

About Brian Land

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