“Natural language” now accounts for more than half of online car searches

“Natural language” online car search is now being used in more than half of instances where it is offered by dealers, new data from iVendi shows.

The technology – which was introduced by the company in 2021 – allows users to employ everyday phrases in place of traditional drop down menus. Currently, it is used to make more than 800,000 consumer searches every month.

Rob Severs, senior VP of product and insight at iVendi, said: “When we first offered this product, which we call intuitive search, it was chosen by about a third of car buyers but in 2022, for the first time, the figure was more than half at 51%. It continues to account for more than 50% of searches made this year.

“We believe it is a much superior way of finding the car your need. Instead of being restricted to the menus offered in old school filter search, you can express your needs in natural language – such as ‘blue large petrol SUV’ or ‘economical family hatchback with lane assist’ and the technology will deliver appropriate results.

“In technical terms, this is something called a ‘long tail’ search that consists of four words or more and normally includes vocabulary indicating information about lifestyle and other keywords, not just vehicle make and model.

“It gets customers to a selection of cars likely to meet their needs faster and more effectively, and that is the reason why we are seeing usage grow at a really quite dramatic rate. Of course, enhanced speed and relevance also increase the likelihood of making a purchase while long tail searches are widely recognised as having a much higher rate of sales conversion than comparatively simple searches.”

He said that long tail, natural language phrases entered by customers – which are increasingly spoken as well as typed using a suitable device – were continually examined and updated by iVendi to ensure relevant results were delivered.

“A good example of this is electric vehicles. We’ve worked hard to ensure that the words that our search engine recognises will closely match consumer use of the same language when it comes to phrases such as ‘long range’ and ‘medium range’.

“There is a whole series of additional points around this, such as buyers looking for ULEZ compliant vehicles. Consumer use of language can change surprisingly quickly and we work hard to ensure that we stay on top of buying trends.”

Intuitive search is included in several products within iVendi’s online range.

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