Why do First Impressions on Your eCommerce Site Matter? [How to Use Autocomplete to Increase ROI]


Implementing an advanced autocomplete is crucial for eCommerce stores. Wanna know why? Stick with us and find out.

How it all started

Autocomplete, technically “Google Suggest”, or simply put ‘word completion’ was invented by Kevin Gibbs, passionate technical leader and innovator, Co-Founder, and CEO of Quip. 

In 2004, Gibbs launched the project after personally creating the backlist of left-out words. The list included inappropriate terms that should not appear to users before they finish their query.

Besides the search engine, autocomplete found its use in web browsers, email programs, source code editors, database query tools, word processors, and command-line interpreters. Also, it became a part of standalone tools like Shorthand (Autoreplace) and Context Completion, and it keeps helping physically impaired people increase their typing speed, which was the original purpose of autocomplete.

An integral part of an advanced eCommerce site search

Autocomplete represents the first interaction with the search on the website. It helps shop owners merchandise desired products and suggestions, funnel their shoppers, and display the most relevant search, which enables a shorter way toward desired products.

In the image below, you can see how Autocomplete can look even before your customer starts typing the first letter of their search query.

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An Example of Autocomplete Box, Fashion&Friends Website

The most important thing about Autocomplete is the possibility to easily customize it based on your specific needs. In other words, you can choose the products and categories that you want your shoppers to see as soon as they click on the search bar. Also, you can adjust the design of the autocomplete box to fit your web store’s design, display or hide product information (images, regular price, discount price), and the like.

Athena Search is a platform that provides all that and much more. Within a separate Dashboard, you can work miracles in order to provide the best user experience and the fastest and most relevant search results to your loyal customers.

Athena Search Autocomplete

Athena Search is a SaaS-based enterprise search solution made to boost profits and conversions of eCommerce stores, and at the same time create a unique user experience that turns visitors into loyal customers. The first step towards reaching these goals is adjusting Athena Search Autocomplete to meet your specific requirements.

And here’s how the true power starts to unleash.

  • Even before the customer interacts with the search, the search bar placeholder displays animated search suggestions.
  • The search bar displays the results even before the customer has typed the keyword in. It is triggered when the customer clicks on the search field and it comes into focus. This functionality is called First-click Results.
  • Products stay in focus. On the right-hand side, you can see a section that displays popular products.
  • On the left side, there are other sections, such as popular searches and personalized recent searches (soon).
  • While the customer is typing, the search results are being displayed right there, inside of the same autocomplete box where the First-click Results have been displayed.
  • Autocomplete is completely customizable.
  • It matches the design of the website.
  • You can adjust it to display images, prices, product category images, and product category parents.
  • No results on the chosen keyword will display the text stating that there are no results. Instead, it will still display the First-click Suggestion results.
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An Example of Well-filtered Search Results

Now, let’s explore these in greater detail.

Search Suggestions

An interactive and intuitive way of giving a hint to the customer of what is available. You can add suggestions manually from the dashboard or automatically (soon)

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An Example of Interactive Search Suggestions

This feature is great for new customers that are not that familiar with the website. Suggestions could display brands, hints for keyword redirects, hints for their ability to search by size, color, brand, category, SKU, and more!

Coming soon:

  • Automatic Search Suggestions
  • A shortcut for the customer to use the suggestion as their keyword input

First Click

First click trending products are automatically being displayed based on their popularity. But, Athena Search administrators can go one step further! They can pin their desired products at the top of the first-click trending products list. By doing so, they are boosting the desired products and increasing their exposure to customers

Administrators can easily do this through an intuitive Athena Search dashboard simply by finding their desired product and clicking “Add”. On the right-hand side, the added products will appear, and simply by dragging and dropping, the products can be arranged.

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Athena Search First Click Settings

Autocomplete Sections

Autocomplete consists of sections that can be automatic or custom. The most common setup would be the one with 5 sections. Three sections would be displayed completely automatically and they would display products, product categories, and popular searches.

You can use custom sections for other content such as brands, manufacturers, blogs, editorials, FAQs, and other important links. In the screenshot below, you can see that brands have been created as custom sections. The purpose of this is to take advantage of the custom section’s functionality that displays custom images. In this case, the brand image is displayed, which helps customers visually and enables them to find their favorite brands more easily.

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An Example of Autocomplete Sections

Other use cases:

  • You can display blog posts with their own thumbnail
  • The FAQ section with the links to your most common questions
  • Important links such as login, registration, returns, legal, and the like

Promo Banners

Merchants use banners to visually point out a product, brand, marketing campaign, category, or something similar. Also, you can hyperlink a banner to its landing page.

You can display promo banners in autocomplete:

  • Always – when any keyword is typed in
  • On search term – only when a specific keyword is typed in
  • Only on the first-click suggestions
  • Always & on First Click

The position of the banner can be top or bottom. Our research has brought us to the conclusion that this is the best way to display a banner that is well-visible on all display types and sizes.

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Athena Search Banner Type Settings

An example of a promo banner:

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Guess Promo Banner on the Fashion&Friends Website

Search Tabs

This very handy feature is available for Athena Search Autocomplete. With it, customers can easily differentiate product results through categories. That is especially important since you can use the same keyword for different outputs. 

For example, when customers type in ‘shoes’, instead of seeing all shoes from the website they would be able to easily and quickly select their preferred gender. Retailers often use this functionality to differentiate products intended for women, men, and children.

Other use cases are sales, outlets, new brands for multi-brand stores, new seasons, and similar. Meaning, if there is another tab, ‘New In’ for example – the keyword would display search results only for new products on the website when the tab is selected. This can be very useful for retailers since a new season usually has the highest prices.

Note that even when there are multiple tabs, if there are no results in a tab it will disappear thus providing the best experience to customers.

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An Example of Search Tabs on the Fashion&Friends Website

Other Autocomplete Features

We’ve already explained the most important features. But, Autocomplete has other features as well that you can use as a one-time setup or further fine-tuning of the search experience.

Popular Products Section

Popular products or trending products are displayed automatically depending on several parameters such as the number of exact name searches, the number of times the product has been displayed, the number of clicks on the product, and more.

Exclude Categories

Categories exclude features that you can use in order to hide unwanted categories from being displayed in the autocomplete. You can also hide duplicates, for example, some categories such as brands that are already displayed through the custom section.

Autocomplete Layouts

By default, Athena Search supports two types of layouts. Layout 1 has products in focus on one side and other sections on the other side. Layout 2 displays sections one below the other.

Depending on the site design, you can adjust both layouts. On smaller screens, i.e., on mobile devices, layout 1 also takes the layout 2 positionings of the sections.

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Athena Search Autocomplete Layout Styles

Intrigued by Athena Search? Read more about its other key features.

Wrapping it all up

Which site search are you currently using? Are you satisfied with the results?

If you want to increase your store’s conversion and the overall ROI, you should definitely try Athena Search.

Need more information about Athena Search features? Schedule a free demo and feel the true power of an advanced, AI-powered site search.


Miloš Zlatanović, CTO and Đurđica Ilić, Content Writer





Fashion&Friends Website

Athena Search Website

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