AI-Powered Search vs. Conventional Search: What Shopify Merchants Need To Know

Doki Nguyen
Jun 14, 2024
3 min read

Does the new wave of AI strike and overwhelm you with too much jargon, new terms, algorithms, and a laundry list of new AI tools daily?

The good news is you don’t have to jump on the AI train and use AI for everything on your Shopify store right away. However, adding AI-powered search to your store is essential and should not be delayed.

Let’s join us in a quick lesson about AI-powered search and what are the differences between AI-powered search and “the traditional” - conventional search.

Don’t worry, it’s not another article on the hard-to-understand AI term. This is to compare and contrast the two search methods and provide useful insights for you to effectively implement AI into Shopify search on your store.

What is AI-powered search?

AI-powered search, or AI search, is a search system that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to provide more relevant and accurate search results.

While has many other names like cognitive search or intelligent search, it all does one job: return the highest possible relevant results based on precisely what the user is looking for.

AI-powered search can analyze in-store visitors’ behaviors, search patterns, and other data to provide them with a more personalized and efficient search experience.

boost ai search and discovery

Think of AI-powered search as an in-store genie who can read your mind and know what you like, then lead you to the right product shelf and suggest you the things you might want to put into your cart. You don’t need to know how magic works, but you sure will need to know how to make this genie work for you.

AI-powered search definition

What is conventional search?

Conventional search is the traditional way of searching that relies on exact keyword matches and can often lead to irrelevant search results.

In case you're wondering, exact keyword matches mean that when a visitor types a specific word or phrase into your website’s search bar, the search result will only show products that contain that exact word or phrase in their titles or descriptions.

You look for “red”, and you’ll only receive results with “red”, not any results with other similar words such as “crimson” or “scarlet”. If there’s no “red”, you’ll see no results. That’s it.

A conventional search can be compared to using a metal detector to find a necklace buried underneath. Sometimes, you'll find it immediately. Other times, the detector will buzz but you'll end up finding something else, like a ring. And sometimes, the detector won't buzz at all.

conventional search definition.jpg

Image by pikisupersta on Freepik

Advantages of AI-powered search and conventional search for eCommerce store

Advantages of AI-powered search

Intelligent search technology strengthens eCommerce and Shopify search, making them more powerful and accurate. By understanding the context and intent behind each keyword entered into the search bar, AI-powered search can deliver significantly more accurate and relevant results. This improves the overall user shopping experience on your Shopify store.

Because AI-powered site search helps customers quickly find the products that match their preferences, your Shopify store leaves an impression of a "satisfying shopping experience" for online visitors. They're more likely to buy from you and hence, you'll achieve better conversion rates.

The accuracy and relevance of search results on your store can be improved by using AI technology, leading to a reduction in bounce rate and cart abandonment.

AI-powered search also saves shoppers time by automating the search process with features such as autocomplete search, search suggestions, search synonyms, typo tolerance, and partial search.

Advantages of conventional search

Although the search results are limited and fixed in with the exact matches, conventional search does have a few advantages for eCommerce stores.

For smaller stores or startups without advanced technical expertise, conventional search is easier to implement and maintain and is also more budget-friendly. It is also effective for simple search queries, making it suitable for stores with a small inventory.

However, it’s easier to see that in long term, Shopify stores will need more advanced search requirements, and an easy-to-implement and use search solution. This is where AI technology for Shopify search comes into play.



Limitations of AI-powered search and conventional search

No technology is perfect. The same goes for both conventional search and even the all-new-and-shiny AI technology.

Although conventional search provides basic search functionality for Shopify merchants at a lower price, it has many limitations that can hinder your business revenue.

  • Limited personalization: conventional search relies on exact keyword matches, which means that it cannot provide the same level of personalization as AI-powered search.
  • Limited accuracy: this search function does not take into account a user's search history or behavior, which often leads to misunderstandings of the user's search intent, especially for more complex or ambiguous search queries.
  • With such a low-converting search function, your Shopify store will struggle to convert visitors into customers.
  • Limited insights: clearly, conventional search does not provide the same level of data and insights into customer behavior and search queries as AI-powered search.
  • Limited customization: conventional search provides basic search functionality that may not be customizable or flexible enough to meet the specific needs of a growing Shopify store.

Before implementing AI technology into Shopify search, there are a few limitations that you should be aware of. Don’t sweat over it though, because these limitations can be easily removed (we’ll talk about this later).

  • Higher cost: utilizing AI-powered search on your Shopify store can be more expensive than the cost of conventional search, as it requires additional investment in technology, data acquisition and analysis.
  • Inefficient data quality: the effectiveness of AI-powered search depends on the quality and quantity of customer behavior data collected on your Shopify store. If your store has too low traffic or sales, there might not be enough data for AI machines to learn.
  • Lack of technical expertise: implementing and maintaining AI-powered search requires technical expertise and resources, which may be a challenge for smaller Shopify stores or those without advanced technical knowledge, or no in-house technical team.
  • Complex integration: integrating AI-powered search with other Shopify tools and systems can be a complex process, requiring additional integration and customization.
AI-powered search challenges

Image by fullvector on Freepik

Should you go for AI-powered search to foster your Shopify search?

Has your Shopify search been equipped with powerful AI technology yet?

If not yet, we recommend you act fast. Your competitors out there might already fasten their seat belts and speed up on their AI-powered search game.

Considering the advantages and disadvantages of both types of on-site search mentioned above, it appears that AI-powered search is your new secret weapon in achieving the conversions you're dreaming of.

Having AI search installed on your Shopify store, you’ll have:

  • Scalable conversion growth in long-term (remember, AI is self-learning which means it updates and improves every day without needing your modification).
  • Intelligent-than-ever search recommendations based on accurate customer behavior, preferences, demographics, and so on.
  • Impressive personalization at every touchpoint on the customer shopping journey.
  • Greater customer satisfaction - they’ll love shopping on your Shopify store and will come back for more
  • Optimal conversions resulted from a satisfying shopping experience: shoppers always find what they want, in the shortest time

What factors should Shopify merchants consider before using an AI-powered search tool?

  • Traffic or session volume: stores with high traffic volumes are more likely to benefit from AI-powered search. This is because the AI search needs a larger amount of data to provide more accurate and relevant search results on your website.
  • Inventory with product specifications: stores with a larger inventory and more complex product catalogs as well as specifications can benefit from AI-powered search.

AI search can handle more complex search queries and provide more personalized recommendations based on your store data.

  • Search usage: websites with customers who frequently use the search function is more likely to benefit from AI-powered search, as it can provide personalized recommendations based on search history, purchase history along with other customer behaviors.
  • Budget: AI-powered search can be more expensive than conventional search, so you should consider your budget and the potential return on investment before using it.
  • Technical expertise: implementing and maintaining AI-powered search requires technical expertise and resources. It’s better for you to train your technical team with AI technology knowledge to effectively run this feature on your website.

How can Shopify merchants overcome the challenges of implementing AI-powered search?

Although there are many things to consider regarding applying AI-powered search on your Shopify store, fear not, using AI for Shopify search is not that hard!

Boost AI Search & Discovery is your intelligent choice of AI-powered search!

Using a well-developed third-party app like Boost AI Search & Discovery directly integrates AI-powered search functionality into your store without requiring extensive technical expertise.

Our tool is designed to be user-friendly and easy to set up, making it much simpler for you to get started with AI-powered search.

  • Boost AI search leverages your Shopify search relevance and accuracy to the max level regardless of your industry or store size - no matter how complicated your product specifications are, and no matter what or how customers search on your website
  • Besides AI-powered search, we design 8 different product recommendation types for you to spice up your upsell and cross-selling strategy, expand your shopper’s cart and achieve your new sales breakthrough. Our recommendations are also AI-based.

🔥 Read more on Boost AI Search & Discovery here:

Sneak Peek: What To Expect In The Epic Release Of Boost AI Search & Discovery

  • You don't need to invest time and money into an in-house technical team to enjoy a top-notch AI-powered search feature on your Shopify store. It only takes an app - Boost AI Search & Discovery - and our expert team (who is always available for your request) to implement and maintain the highest performance of AI search on your store.
  • Worry about the expensive AI-powered tool? Here at Boost, we have the mostflexible pricing options for you - especially for small and medium businesses. You only have to pay for what you use, suitable for your store size. Nothing more!

Install Boost NOW to get AI-powered Search and Recommendation ready on your store

Try Free Now

Give Boost AI Search & Discovery a try and your AI search will be on autopilot!

Doki Nguyen
Content Marketing Specialist
June 17, 2024
6 min read