A customer comes to your website, they know exactly what they’re looking for so they use your search bar. What happens next? In a minute I’ll explain the 2 scenarios that will follow and how choosing the right one will explode your sales. But first here’s why search is important.

Research has shown that on average whopping 2-5% of visitors on an eCommerce site use the search function. Now you might be thinking that 2-5% isn’t significant enough to care about, but bare with me for 2 minutes and you’ll be surprised.

You see, its not about the volume of people, but more the intent of the people using your search bar.

For example, if you ran a sporting goods store, and someone searched for ‘nike white tennis shoes size 11’, they would be a pretty qualified prospect who knows exactly what they’re looking for.

From our 12 years experience managing Google Adwords campaigns I can confidently tell you that when a prospect knows exactly what they’re looking for, they are over 500% more likely to buy than someone simply searching for ‘nike shoes’.

This means that the ‘small’ 2-5% of your buyers who use your search are the most qualified and likely to buy of all your viewers. So simply by nurturing them and giving them the best on-site search possible, you can see your sales dramatically increase. So don’t you agree that it’s worth learning and investing a bit of time and money into getting your search in the best health possible?

Now, back to the original question.

When a customer comes to your site and use your search bar to find the exact product they are looking for, what happens?

Well there are 2 scenarios that will follow.

The first scenario– if you’re like most eCommerce stores, then your customer will get a bunch of results that are utterly rubbish and have no meaning to your customer. The data is unorganized, it’s too broad, and it simply has no use. As a result your customer figures they can’t find what they’re after, so they leave and you make no money.

The second scenario is that you have Solr or Sphinx search installed. This time when your customer hits the search button, they are instantly shown the exact products that they are looking for, and as a result make a purchase.

As you can see, these are 2 very different scenario’s. And as you learnt earlier, by having an effective on-page search function you can increase conversion rates of those users by up to 50%

So how do you fix your search and get the best results possible? And how do you ensure that your customers find what they are looking for?

Well if you’re already using Magento Community then you’ll know that their default search is riddled with errors, so the only option is to upgrade to a more solid search platform.

The good news is that Sphinx search provides a fantastic solution for merchants using Community.

Sphinx search provides you with more accuracy within your results quicker. For example, if your searcher doesn’t know how to spell what they are looking for, Sphinx will show a product selection based on the letters they have entered – Much like Google does.

Plus it features search spelling correction, auto complete and the ability to add advanced weightings to particular brands so you can ‘skew’ your search in a way that suits your business.

All that is required to install Sphinx is the Sphinx Search Ultimate extension and a server module.

Once the code level is sorted, it does then require it to be configured and calibrated according to your exact website and products, however the result is a fantastically versatile and accurate search on your website.

The second option is Solr Search. Now it’s very difficult to compare Sphinx and Solr directly because Sphinx is a great solution for Magento community, where Solr comes out of the box ready to install with Magento Enterprise.

Solr does has very much the same features as Sphinx does, however if you’re making the wise investment and upgrading to Magento Enterprise, you’ll find it is commonly a part of your build.

This level of stability with Solr + Enterprise gives you a sensational search experience without any risk of extension conflicts. There are many other features of magento enterprise that you can read all about.


As you can see, having a accurate, reliable and effective search module is essential for all eCommerce stores looking to grow.


Question of the day: Do you use a third party search provider & how has it impacted your sales?