Searching for Sales

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Searching for Sales

By Christine Zarrello - 05/20/2008
Seventy percent of leading online retailers reported that visitors who used Web site search tools were more likely to transform browsers into buyers, indicates a study by The Aberdeen Group.

According to the study, "Web Site Search: Rev-enue in the Results," retailers using Mercado, Endeca Technologies, SLI Systems and Fast Search & Transfer are as much as 67 percent more effective than retailers that do not use site search as a merchandising tool.

Searchandising, or the convergence of navigation and merchandising functions, allows online shoppers to get to the products they want faster. Searchandising also creates a deeper understanding of customer behavior. This is critical in helping retailers put together appropriate merchandise selections.

"These metrics show that leading companies are thinking about their search tools as a way to serve up products and inextricably link their merchandising processes to their product discovery tool," says John Lovett of the Aberdeen Group in "Online Retailers Flex their Searchandising Muscles."

Standard navigation and dynamic searches are no longer "the norm" in retail. Online retailers want to distinguish themselves. On the searchandising front, retailers are looking for tools that are highly comprehensive and incorporate multiple features. New features that are breaking the mold in searchandising include campaign-specific landing pages, relevant cross-sell offers, suggested searches, synonym support and advanced language capabilities.

The searchandising engine aims to deliver search results that can lead to sales. While primarily used as a pathway for customers to find the items they want as fast as possible, searchandising also provides customers with suggestions on merchandise they may not have not been looking for but could express interest in.

Campaign-Specific Landing
Mercado's Commerce Merchandising Console is a searchandising tool that acts as an on-demand Web application. Retailers have the ability to create, test and refine merchandising rules. A popular feature allows merchandisers and Web/e-mail marketing managers to create campaign-specific landing pages. Mercado's latest release offers Metrics Driven Merchandising features that automate searchandising based on metrics like conversion rate, inventory levels and product freshness.

Personalized Search
ATG Merchandising combines search, merchandising and personalization features. These features help retailers apply merchandising strategies that can personalize search results. ATG Merchandising's advanced searchandising capability permits business users to deliver personalized search results, including relevant cross-sell offers, based on a customer's market segment and individual personal shopping history. The product also helps control search result positioning and exclusion through configurable property weightings.

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.

Keyword Navigation
Nextopia's eComm|Search redirects users to landing pages based on keywords and displays promotional banners based on the keyword searches. Other features include "Did you mean?" suggestions, related product suggestions, advanced search refinements, sorting based on any field and custom thesaurus/synonym matching. Reports generated by the software cover what customers are and are not finding, the most popular search terms, keyword versus revenue performance, purchase trails and "search tail" data.

Search-Triggered Promotions

Fast ImPulse is a search, discovery and merchandising platform that helps online retailers create a personal connection with shoppers. Features include automatic spell check, suggested searches, synonym support and advanced language capabilities. Product navigation, personalized recommendations and sub-second retrieval under all traffic conditions help present the right products in a short amount of time. Fast ImPulse lets retailers create search-triggered promotions based on continuous changes in data such as popularity ratings, inventory, price or margin.