Spell check, Auto Correct, Error Tolerance – How important is it for Site Search at your Magento store?

Posted on November 22, 2017 by


Any Search product for e-commerce at a bare minimum will provide an autocorrect or spell check feature, even though they do not provide analytics to determine what is trending at your store. Is it because Spelling correction is more important that data analytics of your search data? Absolutely not.

Purpose of Spell check

Like a human, a spell check feature is enabled to ensure that when a visitor types/asks for an erroneous search term (Chrestmas, Skerts, Phenes) or a correct search term (Chrestmas, Skirts, Phones), the search engine shows them the same results.

Hygiene factors

Like any product you purchase, there are certain bare minimum requirements for a Search product to qualify as one. Spelling correction is one of them, along with features like keyword stemming, Dynamic Filters and Live Catalog Updates. We call them hygiene factors, cause as retailers you would have thought about these requirements and would have integrated the same if your time permitted at the least amount of time & cost. You should not pay extra, just for these features in a Search product.

Development effort

If you are a small e-commerce store, you can integrate an open source spell check library readily available online, to meet these hygiene factors. At Tagalys we do not boast about our spell check feature, cause it is very subjective to determine how much of revenue increased at our customers, because of a spelling correction.  We also feel that with the predictive suggestions, we provide in our search product, it leaves little room for error, as visitors tend to choose from suggestions than type a full search term. We also feel that customers who want to use Tagalys ONLY for our spell check feature, are probably early in their journey as online retailers, not understanding that spell check will not change their bottom line.

Business Impact

We have read from sources on how spell check has to potential to increase revenue up to $3M. This might be a bit stretched. This is because of a few reasons,

  1. Less than 2% of overall search terms require a spell check
  2. Many “No results” pages happen as visitors search for compounded words as separate words e.g., Mens Wear, Polka Dot, Strap Less etc., No spell check library in the world including that of Amazon.com, can detect and convert search results for compounded & uncompounded words into the same search results. There are other ways to address this and spell check is not one of them.
  3. In order for a Spell check engine to add $3M in revenue, you have to assume the visitors who made the spelling mistake will not buy or search again for the same term in the correct spelling. Then, you need to have around 600K searches with typos a month, converting at 5% with $100 per transaction, to hit this mark. This also means that assuming 2% of your search terms are erroneous, you will need to have close to 30M searches a month for this benefit to be worth $3M.

Verdict

Spell check is a hygiene factor for the search product at your e-commerce store. It should NOT be a show stopper or a key decision influencer, If you are anywhere near the 1m searches a month, your decision on a good search product should be around how it analyzes data & how the analysis of search data can improve search conversion.

You can learn more about Search from Tagalys at https://www.tagalys.com/products/e-commerce-site-search/


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