Searches That Sell

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Searches That Sell

By Dori Saltzman - 04/02/2007

As competition for online sales continues to heat up, retailers need every advantage to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Standardized navigation and dynamic searches are no longer technologies retailers can use to pull ahead of the pack; instead they're essential to just staying in the race. New methods of navigation and site search that meld searching with merchandising, also known as searchandising, may be one way for online retailers to gain a competitive edge.

The main goal of searchandising is to deliver search results that are most likely to lead to sales. Searchandising uses site search to deliver on two key objectives: 1. Get customers to the items they want as fast as possible, and 2. Offer customers items they may not have been looking for, but will interest them, nevertheless.

Fine Tuning Search Results
The upgraded EasyAsk 9.6 has 20 new features. Some of the new features are: fly-over navigation, in which product search and browse results are displayed with less typing and reduced number of mouse clicks. Desired products are displayed as the user is typing or holding the mouse over an item; expanded SKU-level processing provides the capability to search the individual product and multiple SKU levels simultaneously; enhanced relevancy tuning and management provides retailers with new tuning options such as phrase matching, column weighting/ranking and value-based relevancy.

Browse While Searching
Endeca's Guided Navigation incorporates dynamic merchandising into its system. The search engine allows customers to refine their searches using browsing techniques and refine their browsing by searching, thereby supporting every path to merchandise possible. Business goals including sales, margin and inventory directly influence relevance ranking. Dynamic merchandising features include: cross- and up-selling, "stores within stores" and landing page optimization.

On-Demand Searchandising
WebSideStory Search (formerly Atomz), is an on-demand site search system. Retailers can control search relevancy and rankings using SKU, brand, price, ratings, top sellers, margin statistics and inventory level. Other features include keyword-driven landing pages, "Did you mean?" suggestions, broadened query management, dictionary and thesaurus support and standard reporting. Extended services available include: Active Ranking which sorts search relevancy by Web site behavioral data, Active Promotions which integrates keyword-driven promotions into search results and Active Browsing which offers "clickless browsing."

Multiple Navigation Pathways
Learning Search, from SLI Systems, is a managed site search service featuring merchandising and search/navigation capability. Rules-based merchandising promotes, highlights and adjusts product position within search results based on pre-defined rules. Keyword-driven features include custom landing pages and cross-sell/up-sell promotional banners. The Learning navigation software automatically generates navigational pages allowing users to refine their browsing via multiple paths (manufacturer, category, price range, size). Analytic reports are available indicating what visitors are looking for, what visitors are and are not finding and category-based reporting providing insights into search behavior within specific sections of the Web site.

Keyword-Driven Navigation
Nextopia's eComm|Search merchandising include such capabilities as: The ability to feature any SKU at the top of results based on any logic, redirect users to any landing page based on keyword and display promotional banners based on keyword search. Other features include: Fuzzy matching, "Did you mean?" suggestions, related product suggestions, advance search refinements, sorting based on any field and custom thesaurus/synonym matching. Reports generated by the software include: What customers are and are not finding, most popular search terms, keyword vs. revenue performance, purchase trails and "search tail" data.

Conceptual Query Analysis
Qwiser Salesperson from Celebros relies on conceptual query analysis, rather than text-based searches. Qwiser analyzes the query concept rather than the words as queries can vary widely by clarity, description and spelling. General queries are automatically refined by presenting customers with relevant photographs. As the shopper continues to refine his search, the selections are analyzed and lead to new sets of ranked results tailored to the shopper's previous choices. The software also incorporates thesaurus capability. The Salesperson Desktop (SPD) component of the software allows retailers to determine the relevancy ranking of products, create new product categories and initiate campaigns, such as, cross-sells, special sales, or related product offerings.

Weighted Relevance
Dieselpoint Search 3.5.8 features natural relevance ranking as well as forced ranking in which first items in a relevance-ranked list are predetermined based on specific keywords. In addition, relevance can be weighted by field so that keywords that appear in specific fields receive higher ranking. The Recommender Engine provides "most popular" results based on click or purchase data. Retailers can cross- and up-sell by displaying complementary or higher margin substitute items along with the search results.