I'm developing an e-comm site for a small retailer that sells specific products related to one type of activity. The whole product list is less then 50 items with three main categories. Are there any stats or research on the usage rates of search bars on small e-commerce sites? I'm assuming most people browse a site like this rather then search a specific item.

I should add that I'm not suggesting we never add it. We are having a discussion about prioritization in building out an agile project and trying to get an MVP for launch. In a list of must have priorities I think this is pretty low on the list for launch. This is an enhancement that could take dev time away from much more important features.

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    Where'd this assumption come from?
    – UXerUIer
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:08
  • @Majo0od it's my assumption based on my browsing habits. That's why I've asked for research/stats. Everyone will point to Amazon or Zappos for e-comm best practice but that's like comparing apples to oranges IMO. Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:13
  • I was merely curious. And why would you say that? Your site is e-commerce and so is theirs. Search is a common pattern in e-commerce because people have something specific in mind, and don't want to have to spend countless hours trying to find it through menus.
    – UXerUIer
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:14
  • There stores selling millions of different products where a boutique store sells a much smaller subset. The function of search bars on Amazon is to avoid a giant menu tree that is unavoidable. On a smaller e-comm site the problem is very different. Finding products or information should be much easier, and faster, through traditional browsing. Even in Amazon's case search can be problematic. This is why there is usually a giant list of filters to apply ect. Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:19
  • Yes, but your boutique isn't carrying only 1 item, or 5. You said 50 items. Anything more than 10, or even less, should have a search. Even if you do have a navigation, you want to make it easier for them to find what they want immediately. Remember too, e-commerce always has friction, and you're trying to minimize that friction as much as possible.
    – UXerUIer
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:21

3 Answers 3


I would argue that sometimes a business doesn't scale its products. K.I.S.S. is a thing. Representing a clear path to finding what you are offering is key. If search does not produce results that beneefit your users - you don't need it. It's a feature for consideration just like any other feature. Test your navigation, test your content, let users tell you if they need a search. If they do, work harder on the the first two things and test again to see if they can find what they are looking for without search.


The answer is, YES

Because, who knows about the small e-commerce site's feature? It means that the site might grow as soon with lot of products and categories. We have to keep in our mind that even though small retail site or small company sites, it should be very scalable in terms of easily accessible and user experience. Rather than using pagination or using scroll to find specific product with naked eye, search bar will help users to get the product they are looking for.

  • I should add that I'm not suggesting we never add it. We are having a discussion about prioritization building out an agile project and trying to get an MVP for launch. In a list of must have priorities I think this is pretty low on the list for launch. Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:11
  • Good, understand that. I am just giving an example of possibly expanding the site content apart from products and other related stuffs. May be the search bar is in low priority now. I strongly believe that you will need that later on. Cheers
    – Vasethvan
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:15
  • I'll just add here that sometimes when I'm showing off a site to someone and I don't have access to my personal bookmarks, I'll need to search for a key term or an example used in some page, because I can't remember how to get to where I was. terms like "Virginia" or "September" may be things that I search for while trying to find something, only to realize I was thinking of another site - and the faster that you can help me realize that, the better. You don't want to give the end user a bad experience from your site and the lack of a search bar can do that. Thankfully, Google helps.
    – Kingrames
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:22
  • @Kingrames - So down the line, you are trying to say that the search is not required without valid reason? Can you make me clear if i am wrong?
    – Vasethvan
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:30
  • As long as the information on the site is easy to find, you're good. Especially if the information is 2-3 clicks away and the path to get there is simple. But once you get past that point, you should consider a search bar and option, or defer the thing to Google like many sites do. As easy as it is to implement, it should be a priority.
    – Kingrames
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 13:32

Agree. Yes, you dont know what a user may be looking for. Phone number, careers, return policy, shipping info, contact info?

Also search logs help tell you whats important and what you need to more easily surface. You can improve ia and design with search knowledge

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