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What is retail search?

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We all know one of the keys to selling a product is making it visible to shoppers in the first place. However, with the shopper going back and forth between the online store and the physical store, its path to purchase has become more complex and unpredictable than ever.

One thing is certain, if you want to sell your products, you need to step up your visibility on the online shelf and therefore win at retail search.

What is retail search?

Retail search is simply search marketing activated in the eRetailer platform that drives traffic to the brand or the product pages hosted by the eRetailer. It includes multiple tools, such as sponsored products or headline search ads, which amplify the visibility of brands assortments on the online shelf.

 example of headline ad at Amazon 07.07.18
Example of a headline search ad at Amazon.com on 07.07.18

Why is retail search so important?

  1. Retail search drives immediate conversions. Indeed, retail search increases your product’s visibility on the online shelf when shoppers are actively looking for your category or related ones.
  2. Retail search influences your brands’ online and offline sales.

Retailer.com have become the first go-to platform for shoppers looking for product information (even ahead of traditional search engines such as Google*). Hence, you want to make sure your products are visible on search result pages of eRetailer platforms.

Besides, online search doesn’t only influence online sales, but also offline sales. Research shows that a staggering 81% of shoppers research products online before making a purchase either online or in a physical store**. This results in 56% of total sales across categories influenced by online search***.

  1. Paid retail search helps you make up for the natural ranking performance achieved by your products on the retailer search results pages, on which you have a limited influence.

So with so many factors being influenced by online search results on the Retailer.com, you can’t afford not to pay attention to retail search performance for your products.

How does retail search work?

Retail search is essentially a combination of search engine optimization and paid advertisements. If you are a brand manager, trade marketing manager, sales, or key account manager, you need to make sure your product is visible on any online platform that sells your product’s categories, exactly like you would do in a physical store.

You can accomplish this in two ways:

First, improve your product’s organic ranking. You can do this by adjusting your product’s name and description so they match shopper-relevant keywords, which will affect your product’s search result placements on any platform.

How much adjustment you’ll need depends on the retail platform, and its search optimization algorithm as some require more processes than others. With eContent matching the right targeted keywords, your product will show higher in search results, bringing customers face to face with your product much faster.

Although your product’s organic ranking is important, it plays only one part in your product’s retail search performance. To make sure your product is visible on eRetailer platforms, you will need to invest in paid retail search. Other Retail Digital Media tools such as ads, banners, and sidebars can also play a crucial role in helping shoppers see your product right away.

In short, organic ranking shows your product’s findability, while paid retail search improves your product’s visibility wherever it matters, in or outside your category.

Together, they influence your product’s overall retail search performance.

Make retail search work for you.

So, we know products that show higher in search results tend to sell more. But the best part? Products that sell more tend to show higher in search results. The more you invest in your product’s retail search performance, the more you will benefit from this so-called “flywheel effect.”

To start, you need to make retail search a part of your eBusiness agenda.

Authors: Alexia André, Jordane Beller


At the eBusiness Institute, we have been studying the Retail Digital Media  space since 2015.  Get in touch  to know more and leverage this opportunity as a competitive advantage for your company



*Bloomreach study – US, September 2016

** GE Capital Retail Bank, Second annual Major Purchase Shopper Study, 2013

***Deloitte “the new digital divide 2016, USA, Statistica eCommerce figures, 2017, Global


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