Getting the Search functionality right for any ecommerce website got to be one of the biggest challenge for the dev team.
Regardless how good your navigation to find your products is, majority of visitors like to use the search bar to find the product they require.
Here is some interesting facts about the current state of e-commerce search (Source: Smashingmagazine)
16% of e-commerce websites do not support searching by product name or model number, despite those details appearing on the product page! An additional 18% of websites provide no useful results when the user types just a single character wrong in the product’s name.
70% require users to search by the exact jargon for the product type that the website uses, failing to return relevant products for, say, “blow dryer” if “hair dryer” is typed, or “multifunction printer” if “all-in-one printer” is typed.
Searches with symbols and abbreviations are not supported by 60% of e-commerce websites. For example, the websites do not map the double quotation mark (often substituted for the double prime symbol: ″) or “in” to “inch.”
Autocomplete suggestions are found on 82% of e-commerce websites. While some implementations greatly enhance the search experience, 36% of implementations do more harm than good.
Only 34% allow users to easily iterate on their query by pre-filling it in the search field on the results page, despite the fact that, according to our tests, users frequently need to iterate on their query — on average, 65% of test subjects required two or more query attempts during testing.
Only 40% of websites have faceted search, despite it being essential to e-commerce search because it is the foundation of contextual filters.
While an e-commerce website eases navigation by offering two types of breadcrumbs, 92% of the top-50 websites display only one breadcrumb type or none at all.
Despite this, a large number of e-commerce website ignore the importance of the getting the search results right. In all fairness, this is not an easy thing to get it right, the biggest example is Yahoo and Bing still haven’t got the search functionality right despite being very large billion dollar companies with thousands of employees. Any dev team may require hundreds and thousands of hours just to write a basic search algorithm from the scratch, and it could be fruitless at the end. In order to avoid this huge time wasting activities for any ecommerce sites is to use the off the shelf solutions search solutions and usually which comes in “plug and play format” or widely known as extension.
We researched so many search solution for Magento CMS but didn’t find the right solution until someone recommended to try Sphinx search. It is a combination of 3 different modules, Search Autocomplete, Search Spell-correction and Advanced Sphinx search Pro.
In their own word:
The search mechanism uses the advanced search technology Sphinx, which provides a highly relevant results in a fraction of a second. Sphinx is an open source search engine that significantly improves the relevance (quality) and the speed of search. Your visitors find the products that they are looking for. Using a s Sphinx earch engine increases conversion of visitors who are looking for something to customers by more than 50%.
Here are some screenshots from them:
So if you are in search for a search solution for your Magento store, don’t waste your time with other search extension, go for this one.