How to increase sales with a simple search box

Searching on EbayThe vast majority of online stores have the same problem; almost everyone who visits does NOT buy anything. Indeed, 92% of people who visit an online shop have no intention of buying anything. Worse still, of those who choose to buy something and load up their shopping cart, most abandon their intended purchase.  Getting people to buy from your website is a massive struggle.

Well, it’s a problem if your name isn’t Amazon or eBay. They appear to be doing OK in getting people to buy from them. So, what are they doing right that many other e-commerce websites are failing to achieve? The answer can be found in some new research on what people like most about online shops.

In this study, people were asked to rank five elements of a shopping site in order or priority.

Online shopping priorities chart

The most important aspect of a good Internet shopping site was having a search box. Just consider what you do when you go to Amazon. You go straight to the search box (which is top middle of the page) and start typing. If you use Ebay, you do the same. And guess what is top middle of Alibaba (the world’s biggest retail site). Yes, you got it right, there’s a great big search box.

Many online shops favour something known as “the mega menu”. This is a menu that expands, often to fill an entire screen, allowing you to see what is in every corner of the store. That’s  not what Amazon, eBay or Alibaba do. True, they have menus, but they have great big, obvious search boxes all in the same place. Plus these search boxes are in the same place as Facebook’s search box and roughly similar to where Google puts its search box on a Chrome start-up page, for instance.

Most people’s experience of the web is with Google, Facebook and other highly popular sites, such as Amazon, Ebay, Twitter and so on. They all share one thing in common – a search box in almost exactly the same place.

So, when people visit any other website, their natural instinct (based on hours of experience with the most popular sites) is that you get to what you want simply by searching.  If an online shop does not have an obvious central search box, people find it harder to use the site.

Why then do so many retail sites not have a search box? Well, that’s because they are built by retailers. People who work in retail think in “departments”, “categories”, and “product lines”. Many online shops reflect this by forcing you to visit a particular department before you can find what you want. It is as though the retailers are trying to recreate a physical store on the web.

However, that’s not the way people use the Internet. Instead, we tend to search for things because that is what we are used to doing.

People have a strong preference for convenience. It is part of our survival system because the more energy we can conserve, the more we are able to escape from danger. Hence your brain constantly wants you to do things in the simplest and quickest way possible. Search is that solution, so we have a strong tendency towards it.

You can certainly increase your sales by having a search box on your website. It may even help increase conversions too, thereby reducing cart abandonment, because people have a liking for sites that are convenient to use.

Convenience is the first letter of CLICK
C stands for “Convenience” in CLICK – the system I have developed for ensuring that your website sells more products and services online. Find out more at

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Graham Jones
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+
Graham Jones


Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist, professional speaker and author of 32 books who helps businesses understand the online behaviour of their customers
I'll say it again, but online experience means the difference between business and no business. "Consumers quick to… - 2 hours ago
Graham Jones

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