If you're a retailer that's worried about the global supply chain, shipping, and delivery, you're not alone. According to a recent retail outlook report, those were the top concerns of merchants surveyed. It's understandable, of course, because 2021 stretched the global supply chain beyond its limits. And, 2022 is like the hangover that feels like it's never going away.
The customer journey often begins with an on-site product search. While site search seems like a very different issue than shipping and supply chain, they can be related. An online shopping experience is easily ruined — and reflects poorly on your brand — if the product they want is out of stock or takes weeks to arrive.
Fortunately, site search can help. In this article, we're going to look at a few of the ways to manage customer experience with on-site search that takes inventory and delivery into account.
Hide low inventory or out-of-stock products from search results
First, it’s important to have good inventory records, then connect your inventory via your PIM, ERP, and/or inventory management software to your search solution. With Search.io, you can use relevance settings to deprioritize results with low or zero inventory or for products that are backordered and may take weeks to ship. Or, conversely, you can boost products with higher inventory levels using the same feature.
Note, too, that you’ll want to ensure to exclude and boost these same results both on the search results page and in the search bar autocomplete.
Learn more about search and inventory levels.
Merchandise products you want to move off your shelves
Promotion rules enable you to merchandise products for different brand or seasonal campaigns. You can either manually curate results or use rules to promote items based on inventory levels or any other criteria. Keep in mind, too, that the rules you set can work across both search results and dynamic catalog pages, so whether a customer is searching or browsing, they’ll get the same results.
Read more about promotion rules.
Keep the index up-to-date
What’s worse than a customer abandoning your site because a product is out-of-stock? When it’s in-stock, but your search index still thinks it’s out of stock.
You might be making hundreds or thousands of changes daily to your index. Some companies update their index nightly, and others update them continuously. If indexing is slow and infrequent, the search engine can show stale data.
With Search.io, e-commerce sites are updated continuously via API so your content is never out-of-date.
Your search engine can power product recommendations, too. You can use the search index to dynamically display other products with matching criteria such as brand, popularity, size, color, material, price, etc., and they can be personalized for each customer.
Offer backordering for out-of-stock items
If a customer searches for something like “jeans,” perhaps any brand will do. However, if they have their hearts set on Levi’s or Madewell, they may choose to hold out for their size. Email solutions like Klaviyo and Ewcid offer a convenient way for your customers to be notified when a product is back in stock. This gives you one more chance to connect with your buyers and set your brand apart from the competition.
While the supply chain disruption is a macroeconomic issue that can’t be managed by any single company, there are strategies around it you can control. This includes building positive experiences for customers such as hiding or boosting search results by inventory levels, or offering other website features such as backordering.
With the right integrations in place, you can also inject real-time updates on inventory levels into the search index to be used for adjusting results. This will help keep your customers happy and coming back for more!