A-Z Guide To Product Discovery In E-commerce Stores

Ellie Ho
Jun 7, 2024
3 min read

As the online shopping competition gets fiercer and fiercer, a frictionless experience on-site will be the winning factor for E-commerce brands. Besides a fast-to-load website with user-friendly UI/UX, product discovery is what merchants should focus on and optimize to provide a top-notch customer experience.

Offline, shoppers can easily scan through the whole store for self-discovery. Or they can also ask the store assistant for help. Product discovery in E-commerce stores, on the other hand, is not that simple.

Yes, shoppers can browse through the website pages, which sounds similar to self-discovery in physical stores. However, it takes much more time, let alone many products buried on page 2, page 3, and so on.

Yes, shoppers can “ask" the site search. Still, a machine is not as good as a human in terms of query understanding and keyword matching. An extensive search usability research found that 71% of sites had issues with “product type" search queries because they couldn't understand synonyms or near-identical words.

These are just a few examples of how online product discovery can be a nuisance for shoppers and an absolutely big missed opportunity for merchants.

What Is Product Discovery In Online Stores By The Way?

Simply speaking, product discovery is the process of finding products that meet your needs and preferences. In e-commerce, product discovery is crucial to the customer experience and plays a significant role in the success of an online store. It is the first interaction customers have with a brand, and can greatly impact their perception of the brand and the likelihood to make a purchase.

product discovery in ecommerce store

The traditional method of product discovery was browsing through a physical store, but with the rise of e-commerce, customers now have access to a vast array of products at their fingertips. Online shopping has brought a lot of conveniences, but it has also made product discovery more challenging for customers. The abundance of options and lack of physical interaction can lead to decision fatigue and dissatisfaction with the shopping experience.

This is where e-commerce stores can step in to create an optimized product discovery experience for their customers. By doing so, stores can increase customer engagement, build trust and ultimately drive sales.

In other words, product discovery in cyberspace embraces optimization in customers’ touch points like site search, site navigation, product filtering, product recommendation, merchandising, and so on.

Striking Numbers About Online Products Discovery

An in-depth study carried out by Baymard reveals some bad news regarding the current state of online products discovery:

  • Search support is so poor that 31% of all product-finding tasks ended in vain when users tried using search.
  • A staggering 70% of site search engines are unable to return accurate or relevant results for synonyms for the product type. To get the desired results, shoppers have to use the exact same language and terminology as the website instead of their natural, preferred language.
  • 34% of the sites don’t return useful results when users search for a model number or misspell just a single character in a product title.
  • Only 43% of the study's benchmark sites offer all of the key filter types
  • 91% of sites don’t explain their industry-specific filters at all.
  • 75% of sites in it’s e-commerce UX benchmark fall victim to overcategorization and thereby limit users’ ability to find relevant products.
  • Sites with subpar product list usability had abandonment rates of 67-90%, whereas those with a slightly improved toolset saw only 17-33% abandonment for users searching for the same type of product.
product listing page is important for discovery

How To Take Product Discovery On Your Online Stores To The Next Level

Here are a few strategies e-commerce stores can implement to improve product discovery for their customers.


Personalization is the cornerstone of a successful e-commerce experience. By leveraging customer data, online stores can offer customized recommendations based on past purchases, browsing history, and other relevant factors. Through personalization, customers can save valuable time by only viewing products that are aligned with their interests and needs, leading to a more streamlined and pleasurable shopping experience.

personalized product discovery experience

A personalized shopping experience is a contributing factor to an optimal product discovery experience. (Source: Duke University)

Product Filtering

Filtering options allow customers to narrow down their search by product attributes such as price, brand, color, size, and more. This helps customers quickly find the products they are looking for and reduces the time spent searching for products. Therefore, it is a powerful tool for e-commerce merchants looking to enhance the customer experience and increase sales.

In today's competitive e-commerce landscape, it's more important than ever for merchants to optimize product filtering to ensure a positive customer experience. Here are five ways to optimize product filtering for product discovery in e-commerce stores:

Offer Clear and Consistent Filtering Options

It's crucial to offer clear and consistent filtering options to ensure a positive customer experience. Make sure that the filter categories you offer are relevant to the products you sell, and that they're easy to understand. Keep the filtering options simple and straightforward to minimize confusion and ensure that customers can quickly find the products they're interested in.

Provide Accurate Product Information

To ensure accurate product filtering, it's important to provide accurate product information. This includes product details, specifications, and images. Make sure that all products are properly categorized and that the information you provide is up-to-date and accurate. This will ensure that customers receive relevant and accurate results when filtering products.

product filter assists online discovery

The product count on the filter changes when new options are ticked.

Make Filter Options Visible and Accessible

Make sure that your filtering options are easily accessible to customers. Place them in a prominent location on your site, and consider adding a filter button or menu for quick access. By making filtering options visible and accessible, you'll make it easier for customers to find what they're looking for and increase the chances of a sale.

Allow Customers to Sort and Filter Products

Allow customers to sort and filter products based on multiple criteria, such as price, brand, or category. This will give customers the flexibility to find products that best meet their needs, and it will also make it easier for customers to compare products and find the best options.

product filter and sorting options on product listing pages

Continuously Monitor and Improve Product Filtering

Continuously monitor and improve your product filtering options to ensure they're effective and relevant. Track customer behavior and use data analytics to identify areas where improvements can be made. Regularly update your filtering options to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

Search Functionality

Effective search functionality is essential for an e-commerce store. Customers should be able to easily find products by entering keywords, product names, or even by scanning product images. A well-designed search bar should provide autocomplete suggestions, correct spelling suggestions, and the ability to filter results.

As an e-commerce merchant, you understand the importance of providing an easy and convenient shopping experience for your customers. One of the key components to achieving this is a well-designed search functionality. A search bar on your website allows customers to quickly find the products they are looking for, making it an essential tool for product discovery. In this article, we will explore the importance of search functionality and provide five ways to optimize it for product discovery in your e-commerce store.

Relevant search results

The first step to optimizing your search functionality is to ensure that customers receive relevant results when they search for a product. This means that your search algorithm should be able to accurately match keywords to product names, descriptions, and other relevant information.

Auto-complete and suggestion features

Auto-complete and suggestion features can help customers quickly find the products they are looking for by offering suggestions based on the search terms they have entered. This can greatly improve the user experience and save customers time.

autocomplete makes product discovery easier

Search Filters

Another way to optimize your search functionality is to include search filters that allow customers to refine their results based on product attributes such as price, color, and size. This helps customers quickly find products that meet their specific needs and requirements.

Mobile Optimization

With more and more customers shopping on mobile devices, it is important to ensure that your search functionality is optimized for mobile. This includes a responsive design that is easy to use on smaller screens, as well as fast load times.

search with filters assist online product discovery

Customer feedback

Finally, it is important to seek feedback from your customers to determine what they like and dislike about your search functionality. This information can be used to make improvements and further optimize your search functionality for product discovery.

feedback for site search suggestions

Youtube shows a quick report/feedback for the search predictions.

High-Quality Product Images And Product Videos

A picture is worth a thousand words, and in e-commerce, high-quality product images are worth a thousand sales. Product images are the main way customers interact with products online, so it's important to make sure they are clear, detailed, and represent the product accurately.

Product videos are an effective way to provide customers with a visual representation of a product, showcasing its features and benefits. Videos can also provide customers with a more engaging and interactive experience, making it easier for them to understand and appreciate the product.

product images on collection pages miole home

Products of the same category on Miole Home are taken with the same style and quality. This makes it easy for shoppers to quickly compare items right at first sight.

User-Generated Content And Social Proof

User-generated content, such as product reviews and ratings, can be a valuable source of information for customers during their product discovery journey. It provides an unbiased perspective on the product, which can help build trust and increase the likelihood of a purchase.

Social proof is the idea that people are influenced by the actions and opinions of others. By displaying the number of people who have purchased a product, or the number of positive reviews, e-commerce stores can leverage social proof to increase the perceived value of a product and drive sales.

Top Shopify Apps To Make Your Online Product Discovery Better

Shopify is a popular eCommerce platform that offers a range of apps to improve product discovery. With so many options available to merchants, we’ll help you save some time with these top 5 Shopify apps. Our criteria for selection are:

  • Usability
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Customer pool
  • Our own experience

Boost Product Filter & Search

This app improves product discovery by allowing customers to filter products based on attributes such as price, size, color, and more. It also includes a search function that helps customers find what they're looking for quickly and easily. All the examples mentioned above are from Shopify stores that are using Boost.

Leverage holiday sales with Boost

Wiser - Product Recommendations

Wiser uses machine learning algorithms to suggest products based on customers' past purchases and browsing behavior. It helps customers discover new products they might be interested in and increases the chances of making a sale.

Good news: Boost will soon release recommendation features. Try it free now and stay tuned for the next big launch!

Product Reviews & UGC

In terms of product reviews, there are quite a few excellent apps you can try, for example, Judge.me, Loox, Stamped.io, Ali Reviews, Yotpo. Depending on your budget, your strategy, and your other apps, you can choose the most suitable ones. Check out our detailed evaluation of the popular product reviews app on Shopify here.

Avada Trust Badge, Sale Pop-up

Pop-up windows are a great way to draw customers' attention to specific products and promotions or create a sense of urgency. This Avada app allows you to create pop-ups, countdown timers, announcement bars, free shipping bars, and so on.

Smartviewer: Quick View

This app allows customers to view product details and make purchases without leaving the product page. It makes the purchasing process faster and more convenient for customers, increasing the chances of making a sale.

Before You Leave

In conclusion, product discovery is a critical aspect of the customer experience in e-commerce stores. By providing a personalized, efficient, and engaging shopping experience, stores can increase customer engagement, build trust, and ultimately drive sales. To achieve this, e-commerce stores should implement strategies such as personalization, product filtering, search functionality, high-quality product images, user-generated content, product videos, and social proof. By doing so, they can provide customers with a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience.

Ellie Ho
Content Marketing Specialist
June 17, 2024
7 min read