On-site Search in eCommerce – Review of the 8 Leading Retailers Selling in Canada

On site search in ecommerce feature blog

On-site Search in eCommerce – Review of the 8 Leading Retailers Selling in Canada

How many clicks to find a pot of gold? The search for the elusive red kettle

We all obsess about search engine marketing and search engine optimization, but we often don’t pay appropriate attention to the on-site search in e-commerce. You practically waste your time and money by spending on advertising to drive traffic to the store if the visitors cannot find an available product easily. It is similar to a physical store that is fully stocked, but no one knows how to find where the products on the shelves are. Onsite search helps put products on virtual shelves in a clear and organized manner.

The on-site search is the small box usually found at the top of the page that lets a user type in what they want to find. It is similar to Google but is limited only to the site that the user is on.

About 30% of e-commerce visitors use on-site search, and they tend to be in a much more advanced stage in the purchase process than someone who just wanders through the site navigation. In fact, visitors using site search are twice more likely to convert than those that don’t. (1)


76% of customers say the most important factor in a website’s design is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want” (2)

Visitors converted at 4.63% versus the websites’ average of 2.77%, which is 1.8 times more effective. Consequently, visitors using search contributed 13.8% of the revenues.(3)

Online search is a really old functionality that remains untamable. Having a good search is one of the most important featured to optimize on your site. It is not a mystery but requires time and effort. If you have to choose to improve only one thing on your site, then you should optimize your search.

This brief study is reviewing the on-site search of the following eCommerce retailers: Amazon, Sears, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, The Bay, Canadian Tire, Best Buy, and Kitchen Stuff Plus

We did a quick study of the current state of the on-site search at the 8 leading retail brands that sell online in Canada. We did a simple experiment to test the search functionality.

I started looking for a red kettle and then tried to narrow my search:

My search criteria are:

  • Electric Kettle
  • Red
  • 7L
  • Under $75 dollars
  • Reviews-nice to have

Below are the screenshots of the search results pages for each of the 8 brands.

Bed Bath and Beyond – Bedbathandbeyond.ca

On site search in ecommerce Bed Bath and beyond

Hudson’s Bay – TheBay.com

On site search in ecommerce blog Hudson Bay The Bay

Canadian Tire – canadiantire.ca

On site search in ecommerce blog Canadian Tirel

Best Buy – bestbuy.ca

On site search in ecommerce blog Canadian Tirel

Kitchen Stuff Plus – kitchenstuffplus.com

On site search in ecommerce blog Kitchen Important

Definition for evaluation

Number of results – number of results that gets returned on the page is reasonable and clearly visible, allows to be narrowed further.

Reviews – available right on the search page and most products have reviews

Filters – clear filters that allow narrowing down the search to desired outcome

Relevancy – results that get returned are relevant to the search terms entered

Box Placement – prominent location, even on mobile

Speed – page loads within seconds

Auto Complete –when you start typing the search box stars populating suggestions, similar to Google

Correction – provide results close to the misspelled entry. For example, entering “kettle” will return results for kettles

Results Page Quality – easy to understand results that properly displayed, if no results the page provides suggestion on how to improve search term

Criteria Amazon Sears Walmart Bed Bath and Beyond The Bay Canadian Tire Best buy Kitchen Stuff Plus
1 Number of results 9 4 6 8 1 6 7 2
2 Reviews 9 5 5 5 6 5 5 4
3 Filters 6 7 6 8 3 7 8 7
4 Relevancy 10 4 5 6 5 10 10 0
5 Box Placement 9 7 6 9 4 9 9 3
6 Speed 9 6 7 7 3 7 8 6
7 Auto Complete 8 9 6 8 4 2 8 5
8 Correction 10 7 7 8 5 2 8 6
9 Results Page quality 6 8 8 8 4 7 7 6
10 Navigation 7 7 7 7 4 8 8 6
Final Mark 8.3 6.4 6.3 7.4 3.9 6.3 7.8 4.5
Points Legend
0 Worst
1 Very Poor
2 Poor
3 Significantly below average
4 Below Average
5 Average
6 Above Average
7 Significantly above average
8 Good
9 Very Good
10 Best

Innovative Findings

Bed Bath and Beyond

Auto-complete shows popular categories


Very nice visual display of categories headings

Canadian Tire

Very prominent search box with big and very visible auto-suggestion results


Here are some of the recommendations to consider when you implement the on-site search in eCommerce.

  • Use analytics to determine which search terms are most commonly used and what words are being misspelled and redirect them to the right pages
  • Test the on-site search engine for relevancy. Do not show jewelry when people look for kettles
  • Use examples and auto completion
  • Try and avoid the page with 0 results. If the page returns no results for whatever reason include tips and suggestion to improving search results
  • Make sure there is enough product information once the search results are returned
  • Make sure that product images are clear when visible in small scale
  • Make sure that product pages are optimized and contain all the necessary information to make a purchase. (improving search without fixing the product pages is not enough to promote sales)
  • Consider to use a more intelligent search engine that utilizes the natural language processing if you have a large catalog of many product categories and variants. This approach would help to avoid a situation when a shopper types “organic baby food” and gets in return all the baby products, all the organic products, and all the food products.

Let search be easy, fast and relevant!

Anna Battrick

Anna Battrick is Eradium’s Director of Ecommerce Services, has an extensive background in retail marketing and project management. With over 10 years of managing complex projects from inception to completion while always maintaining “it can be done” spirit. The world of retail is not only a professional interest but also a personal hobby which lets Anna see the other side of retail, from a shopper perspective. This helps create engaging marketing programs that speak personally to the shoppers interests and engage them in a conversation.

To start a dialog about your next eCommerce initiative