For eCommerce sites with large catalogs, a powerful search function isn’t just a nice-to-have—it’s critical. Recently, our Vice President of Digital, Graham Lubie, joined a webinar with BigCommerce, Klevu, and Kaiser Willys to discuss the necessity of implementing effective search tools. [Here is a link to the Webinar]. With over 40% of Kaiser Willys’ buyers using search during their journey, it’s clear that robust search capabilities are crucial for large e-commerce sites.

Small eCommerce sites with limited product assortments might thrive with simple category navigation, but large-scale merchants face unique challenges that make a robust search function not just beneficial, but essential. Before we review the specific advantages of strong search capabilities, let’s first explore why sites with extensive product catalogs have a greater need for efficient search functionality.

Why Large Catalogs Demand Powerful Search

E-commerce sites with large catalogs face several challenges that their smaller counterparts do not:

  1. Information Overload: With thousands or even millions of products, customers can easily feel overwhelmed. Without an efficient way to narrow down options, they may abandon their site visit out of frustration.
  2. Diverse Product Range: Large catalogs often span multiple categories and subcategories. A customer looking for a specific item may not know which category to browse, making traditional navigation cumbersome.
  3. Inventory Dynamics: Large catalogs are often more dynamic, with new products added regularly. Search helps surface these new items that may not yet have a designated category or promotional space on the site.
  4. Specificity of Customer Needs: With a vast array of products, customers often have very specific requirements. A powerful search function can help them find exactly what they need, down to particular specifications or features. This is very true for Kaiser Willys; many of their customers know exactly what they are looking for and do a search by part number.
  5. Time Efficiency: Browsing through an extensive catalog is time-consuming. Search provides a shortcut, allowing customers to quickly find what they are looking for without extensive navigation.

Given these unique challenges, let’s explore the top 5 reasons for why a powerful search function is crucial for e-commerce sites with large catalogs.

1. Enhanced User Experience

An effective search function serves as the cornerstone of a positive user experience for sites with extensive product offerings. When customers can quickly locate what they are looking for, it leads to:

  • Reduced bounce rates
  • Higher likelihood of purchase

For merchants with large catalogs, an intuitive search feature acts as a virtual sales assistant, guiding customers efficiently through the vast array of products.

2. Increased Conversion Rates

There is a direct correlation between effective search functionality and higher conversion rates. When customers can find products quickly, they are more likely to make a purchase. Consider these statistics:

  • Site search users convert at 1.8 times the rate of non-search users
  • On average, 30% of e-commerce site visitors use the search box (this is higher for Kaiser Willys)
  • Search users contribute up to 40% of revenue

For large catalog merchants, optimizing search can significantly boost bottom-line results.

3. Data-Driven Insights

A well-implemented search function provides valuable data on customer behavior and preferences. This information can inform:

  • Inventory decisions
  • Marketing strategies
  • Product development

By analyzing search queries, merchants can understand what customers are looking for, even if those products are not currently offered, opening up new opportunities for growth.

4. Personalization Opportunities

Advanced search algorithms can offer personalized results based on a user’s browsing history, purchase behavior, and preferences. This level of customization can:

  • Increase average order value
  • Improve customer loyalty
  • Enhance the overall shopping experience

For merchants with extensive catalogs, personalization through search can help customers navigate through vast product selections more effectively.

5. Mobile Optimization

With the growing prevalence of mobile shopping, a strong search function is more important than ever. On smaller screens, browsing through large catalogs can be cumbersome. An efficient search feature allows mobile users to quickly find and purchase products, capturing sales that might otherwise be lost due to frustration or time constraints.


For eCommerce merchants with large catalogs, investing in a robust, intelligent search function is not just an option—it is a necessity. It enhances user experience, drives conversions, provides valuable insights, enables personalization, optimizes for mobile, and offers a competitive edge. If your search function isn’t performing up to par, we can help. Contact us today to elevate your search capabilities and unlock your site’s full potential.