The way customers shop is changing, and this has driven the evolution of eCommerce search technology.

As advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing increase and impact every day activity, traditional processes such as text and keyword searches are not fully meeting the needs and expectations of users.

The advent and integration of technologies such as AI & ML take eCommerce search technology to new levels, here is the next level of eCommerce search technology. Photo by


Customers today are looking for a faster, more intuitive and personalized eCommerce experience, and according to TechTarget this can be accomplished by integrating a search function that leads customers quickly to the products they want, thus more likely to increase sales conversion rates.

In this sense, search engines are the cornerstone of the system, their speed and accuracy can determine the success or failure of an online store.

In this article, we will explain the evolution of eCommerce search and how the rise of visual and voice search is transforming the way consumers find the products they want.

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How has search technology evolved?

Search technology has evolved to make life easier for users, but also to help marketers and businesses reach their audience.

In this short timeline we can see how we got to the search engines of today:

The early 1990s:

HTML gave structure to pages.
Search engines existed in the form of directories or catalogs.
By 1993 WebCrawler is considered the first major search engine, pioneering full-text results.


  • Rankdex arrives in 1996 “the first search engine to use hyperlinks to measure the quality of the websites it indexed”.
  • Ask Jeeves is born, allowing searches based on questions and natural language.
  • In 1997, Google appears, marking a turning point in search technology.


  • Google opens the doors to search engine monetization with Google AdWords, from this moment on, search starts to make sense towards ad relevance, content and audience targeting.

Since 2010, the evolution of search technology can be divided into three major milestones:

  • Semantic search is integrated, for greater understanding of user interest.
  • The evolution of search algorithms around content relevance, prioritizing web pages by the quality of their content, visits and site optimization.
  • The integration of Artificial Intelligence, NLP and ML, paves the way towards a more intuitive, personalized, fast and accurate search technology.

This evolution of search technology goes beyond perfecting text search, it also implies the arrival of new tools such as visual and voice search, as we will see below.

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Visual search

Did you see a garment and want to know where it is currently sold?

To solve this type of problem, there is the visual search. With it you can take a picture of that garment and receive information instantly.

For eCommerce it is possibly the most powerful tool to implement, and one of the best known use cases is that of Forever 21, which after integrating visual search, experienced a 20% increase in sales conversions and in the average value of purchases.

Visual search has several years perfecting and showing its benefits, already by 2018 62% of millennial consumers on the web. Currently, interest in visual search in the U.S. is around 35% in the 18-34 year old demographic, as you can see in the chart:

Source: Statista 2022

The reason for its boom is the ease of performing those searches where the user does not have so much data, also reducing the search time.

How to integrate visual search into eCommerce

Basically, visual search works based on the characteristics of the image, this means that distinctive elements will be important (such as an animal, typography, or color palette) but the quality of the image will also be relevant, and in fact, very important.

Integrating visual search into the store can be complicated or costly, perhaps the best option is to use platforms that do have visual search to link to the brand, this will give you visibility and advantage, other points to consider:

  • Detailed information of each of your products.
  • Optimization of images.
  • Correct use of data to optimize SEO, in this way, the search engine can optimally identify your product.

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Voice Search

Voice search is based on Natural Language Processing (NLP), which means that by using voice search, the system can understand and analyze the user’s query in its natural form, generating accurate and relevant answers.

Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri are the most popular virtual assistants and represent a clear example of what voice search can do for us. These assistants can perform various tasks, such as closing blinds, playing music, assisting with calculations or searches such as locating the nearest Italian restaurant or indicating in which establishments you can get that watch you have been looking for for a long time.

The success of this technology lies in its ease and practicality, which is why it is chosen by U.S. shoppers, as shown in the graph below. For 44% of these shoppers, speed of shopping was the determining factor for using voice assistants, while 33% were looking for a new experience.

Reasons to shop with voice assistants in the U.S. in 2022:

Fuente: Statista 2022

How to integrate voice search into eCommerce

Integrating voice search into an ecommerce site can be a challenge, as not all platforms, devices or search engines handle voice search in the same way.

It is important to keep in mind that while adding a voice search option to the site can be a beneficial solution, it also requires a proper optimization strategy to take full advantage of this feature.

The most difficult would be the structural adaptation, both in terms of content and SEO as well as in the structure of the site itself.

With SEO you can focus on long tail keywords, this due to the conversational nature of voice search, long tail keywords offer more specificity and can be included in titles, descriptions or reviews.

Some time ago, Google explained that in voice searches users seemed to ask for advice, these searches generally include these words:

  • I need
  • I should
  • I can

In this way, although the search is usually simpler and more intuitive, its result ends up being more functional for marketers when they integrate natural language to their website.

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eCommerce Search Technologies and the New Consumer

The digital customer has evolved as much as technology and retail and e-commerce must adapt. Image by Storyset.-

Technology has become a determining factor in commerce worldwide, leading companies to analyze the demographic, behavioral and cultural characteristics that influence consumption patterns and shape a new landscape.

This new scenario requires strategies tailored to different generational segments, as each has a different perspective and buying behaviors. The main drivers of this new consumer profile are millennials and generation Z, but it is also important to consider boomers and generation X, who are also part of active consumers.

Currently, we can speak of a new consumer profile that has developed as a result of the pandemic, totally immersed in technology and isolated. Among its main characteristics, the following stand out:

  • Little patience: from the search process until the purchase is completed, the new consumer will not spend more than 3 clicks.
  • Privacy: the new consumer is concerned about the security and privacy of their information.
  • Omnichannel customer: expects an experience where a company’s systems and channels are integrated and allow a seamless purchase.
  • Price hunters: this new customer uses the advantage of being able to perform several searches simultaneously to compare products and prices, here even payment methods and shipping methods make a difference.
  • Time limit: even if you are going to visit several pages, the search must be fast and effective, the information you are looking for must be just a click away.

What are the challenges of eCommerce search technology for retailers?

Search technologies are driving a transformation in eCommerce, personalizing results based on the user’s needs and experience. This will move beyond one-way communications, where the shopper has only static options, to a dialogue that facilitates smarter recommendations in real time.

In general, the consumer demands fluidity in the different channels they visit, which represents a seamless process without interruptions or loss of information. Therefore, the challenge for retailers will be to integrate voice and visual search technologies into existing digital channels, in addition to the physical one, to provide a seamless experience.

To that end, here are the key challenges that new search technologies present to eCommerce retailers:

  • Adaptation to new search patterns.
  • Integration of search technologies into existing systems.
  • Constant investment for the implementation, maintenance and support of the technology.
  • Adequate infrastructure to enable the implementation of the technology and ensure smooth and uninterrupted operation.
  • Optimization of information, i.e., adapting web content and data so that they can be recognized by search engines.

Ensure that the integration of technological solutions for your company is carried out by professionals, at NULogic we are experts in the implementation and development of ecommerce platforms, we work with Salesforce commerce cloud, Oracle Commerce Cloud and Magento Commerce.