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A commentary on the search industry from a site search vendor's perspective.
Updated: 1 hour 40 min ago

Why You Don’t Need to Brush Your Hair When You Buy Cosmetics

July 21, 2014 - 23:09

Are you addicted to cosmetics? Hoarding makeup is not uncommon. If you own multiples of eye shadows, lipsticks, blushes and brushes (as I do…), then you’re not alone. Indeed, it’s globally pandemic: according to research by Feel Unique, there are millions of women on the planet who hoard cosmetics. The same research also found women spend more than US$170,000 on makeup in their lifetime — and would rather ditch their man than go without cosmetics. Really! (Can’t say I share that sentiment!)

Pore-refining, firming, lifting, tightening, toning, brightening, whitening, collagen, retinol, vitamin A, vitamin C, aloe vera, lactic acid, glycolic acid, grapefruit seed extract… sound familiar? Of course, all of these processes and ingredients promise women the one thing we’re so desperate to hold on to … eternal youth.

Traditionally, women have bought beauty products offline, visiting their aesthetician at a department store cosmetics counter, pharmacy or specialised cosmetics boutique. Some still do, to get the informed opinion of someone they possibly know and certainly trust.

But that’s changed. Nowadays, consumers can access this information from the comfort of their own home (where, they’re probably wearing a snail slime mask — yes it really exists, I’ve tried it). They can even browse for cosmetics on the go via their tablet or mobile device.

With online beauty e-tailers such as Sephorae.l.f. CosmeticsAdore Beauty and Strawberrynet, women can feed their insatiable beauty-beast desire in a matter of minutes. Online beauty retailers are not only price competitive and stock the latest and most coveted beauty products — they also provide a wealth of information in the form of blogs and forums. So instead of talking to one person, who no doubt has some degree of vested interest in the sale (which may, or may not change their view of a product’s suitability), women can get the honest feedback from as many people as reviews they want to read. And often it’s those comments that shape purchasing decisions.

Buying online is also fast.

Beauty e-tailer e.l.f. Cosmetics (which stands for “eyes lips face”), has an intuitive search solution that instantly connects users with the products they’re looking for; in fact, the search “learns” from past site search behaviour by tracking visitors’ aggregate search queries and clickthroughs. What does this mean? That digital shoppers are being presented with the most popular and relevant search results. (So no plugging in “eye shadow” to annoyingly receive results for “mascara”.)

Beauty e-tailer, e.l.f. Cosmetics, “learns” from every visitor’s search. The result is a search function that helps users find exactly what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t know exactly what you’re looking for? No need for a breakout. In addition to the user product reviews and popular and relevant searches, online beauty retailers make the shopping process even more stress-free by offering best-sellers, how-to’s, celebrity-inspired looks and video makeup tutorials… as well as a list of all the products required to achieve those looks. Did a new blush colour catch your eye in a magazine, but you can’t recall the product’s name? Not a problem. Sticking with our savvy beauty e-tailer e.l.f. Cosmetics (and yes, I do own quite a few of their products!) allows you to search for the product type, e.g. “blush,” to reveal “as seen in,” which displays cosmetics and skincare that has received press mentions.

Reviews written by people who’ve previously bought the product help visitors decide what to buy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also like e.l.f. Cosmetics’ intuitive product-recommendations engine; this optimises suggested products based on recommendation logic and data learned from past customer behaviour. For example, when a visitor lands on a product details page for a lipstick, they’ll be presented with other products typically bought with that lipstick, such as a lip exfoliator.

Australia’s Adore Beauty uses video demonstrations to help guide shoppers’ decisions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian-based cosmetics e-tailer Adore Beauty allows visitors to navigate its site by skin type, catering for dry, oily, problem or blemish-prone skin. Shoppers can also search for products by ratings and reviews; this will be important if they only want to consider top-rated products to buy.

Onsite videos demonstrating how to use products also help to humanise the whole digital experience. While it’s not the same as asking the assistant at the counter for tricks in using shaded tones to make your eyes appear larger, you can sit, to your heart’s content, and learn how to apply products you may never have seen before, or products you felt too silly to ask about. You get the benefit of experts, and no one will know — until, of course, they see how well you can shade your eyelids!

So to fellow beauty addicts who haven’t yet tried the online shopping experience, give it a go: chances are, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for!

Technology Makes Back-to-School Shopping Elementary

July 17, 2014 - 17:32

Though many of us are barely settling into summer, retailers are already touting back-to-school clothes and supplies. This year, the role of e-commerce in back-to-school shopping is bigger than ever. According to a June report by eMarketer, online back-to-school purchases in 2014 will increase 16% over 2013 – a growth rate that’s nearly triple the 5.85% growth rate in overall retail sales.

Smart retailers are optimizing their mobile sites and using more advanced search and navigation technology to capture the growing audience of online back-to-school shoppers.

Mobile-Optimized Sites

In mobile shopping experiences of years past, many site visitors would give up out of frustration with the cumbersome navigation. Today, retailers with good mobile-specific sites make it exceptionally easy for customers to shop using smartphones or tablets. These retailers will gain loyalty and carry an advantage into back-to-school shopping and beyond.

Tea Collection is a great example of a mobile site done right. My eight-year-old’s one desire for new clothing is a maxi dress (the kind that “are swirly and go to the floor,” in case you didn’t know). On Tea Collection’s mobile site, I search “Girls 8 maxi dress” and three great options come up – all in the right size. Easy peasy, as a third grader might say.

Advanced Site Search & Navigation

Just as with mobile search, online retailers will win shopper loyalty when they make it easy for visitors to find and buy what they’re looking for. Just as great search is critical to help shoppers find exactly what they want, great navigation is essential to help them browse or narrow down items in a broad category.

I went to Lakeshore Learning’s site knowing that I wanted some type of learning game. I typed “learning game” in the search box, then with 529 search results I was able to narrow down to a few great options by clicking the refinements “mathematics,” “puzzles & games,” “3rd grade” and “top rated.” Yes, The Allowance Game looks like a great way to ease my third grader back into math practice.

Next, visiting Gymboree, I searched for some clothing basics for my 12-year-old, entering “girls uniform navy.” Up popped navy blue cardigans, skirts, pants and hair accessories – I picked what I needed and was on my way through checkout. Done.

It’s Not Always So Easy

Unfortunately, not all e-commerce sites make it so simple for visitors. It’s hard to know the immense value of good search technology until you encounter a site that does it poorly. I thought I might stock up on notebooks, folders and other basic staples at DollarTree.com. But when I searched “notebooks,” the results just showed me filler paper, legal pads and journals. I had to scroll beyond the first 12 results before I saw composition notebooks and spiral bound notebooks. Annoyed with the less streamlined experience, I left the site and decided to pick up these items another time.

Make Sure Shoppers Don’t Lose Patience

As more stores learn how to do search and navigation right, consumers lose patience with retailers who make it more work than fun to do their shopping. Retailers who want to compete effectively need to keep up, and that means looking for the best technology possible for site features like search, navigation, product recommendations and merchandising. Retailers who go with a cheap, basic search function just to check that item off their list are missing the opportunity to delight and retain the customers who are used to better relevancy and a better, faster, more fun shopping experience.

Do Americans Like Soccer? World Cup E-Commerce Data Is Revealing

July 11, 2014 - 19:44

Americans have a love-hate relationship with soccer. Just look at the headlines this week:

  • “The Debate is Over, Americans Love Soccer” (article3),
  • “America’s Favorite National Pastime: Hating Soccer” (Ann Coulter),
  • “World Cup Gives Soccer Momentum” (SFGate),
  • “Future of Soccer: Bright for Our Team, Not the Sport” (CBS),

Because SLI works with 800+ e-commerce vendors globally and can study consumer search behavior online, we are in the unique position to put this debate to rest and learn how the World Cup really affected interest in soccer. Forget opinions and gut feeling, the data don’t lie.

So what did we find? Well, the 2014 World Cup kicked up more than just a sea of Tim Howard fans in the U.S. Increasingly more consumers appear to be interested in soccer and soccer gear. SLI studied consumer search behavior between March 2 and July 9, 2014 and found that for the month of June, soccer-related searches increased by 280% compared to May.

The study was conducted across eight leading international sporting goods and apparel retailers with combined monthly revenue of approximately $500M and analyzed more than 341 million consumer searches to track interest in soccer-related products. The interests of U.S.-based consumers were clear: there were more than 2.2 million soccer related product searches from just these eight e-commerce sites alone.

And that’s not all. Soccer is played year-round in the U.S., but recreational soccer gear tends to be purchased before the fall and spring seasons. We found a boost in online shopping behavior during June for products ranging from soccer cleats, balls, shin guards, gloves and other equipment, demonstrating the country’s increased interest in actually playing the sport.

Additional findings from the study include:

  • June 16th was the peak day for soccer-related shopping in the U.S., the day the U.S. played Ghana.
  • In the U.S., the international teams with most consumer interest are Brazil, followed by Germany, Argentina, and the Netherlands.
    • The most popular search terms, in order, for the U.S. were:
      • Soccer
      • USA Soccer
      • FIFA
      • Nike Soccer

It’s clear that The World Cup U.S. fanfare will continue long after Sunday’s final game. Writer Alan Black of SFGate put it best, “File soccer under American.”

Going Global: It’s About More than Translation

July 2, 2014 - 14:08

Taking your online business into new international markets presents a huge opportunity. Global e-commerce sales have already passed the trillion dollar mark and growth in overseas markets like Asia-Pacific and South America have already surpassed growth in North America.

But expanding your online borders comes with a fair number of challenges. Translating your site into the local language is no easy feat – and it’s just one part of the puzzle. There are many other factors you need to consider to develop an international e-commerce site that appropriately serves the local market.

 

Offer Products in the Correct Language and Currency

When expanding into new global areas, retailers mostly focus on their e-commerce platform and its ability to accommodate visitors from those regions – whether information is offered in the right language and prices reflect the local currency, for example.

Ensure Superior Search Ability in Every Language

But it’s important that retailers don’t ignore site search, which is another critical element for success in a new region. The best search helps visitors find what they want in their language, plus accounts for cultural differences that impact the way shoppers in different countries navigate a site. Shoppers looking for household items on retail sites in Japan and Brazil will likely have different preferences than someone searching for the same items on retail sites in the U.S.

Account for Regional Preferences

That variation in consumer preferences vary by region is also an important aspect to address with search and navigation. Your international visitors will likely jump to another site if they don’t see what they’re most interested in on yours.

Some of SLI’s international clients like Boden (in the UK) and Surfstitch (out of Australia) look to us to help them not only provide adequate language translation support, but also to deliver the items that are relevant to their visitors in different countries.

Next Steps?

We recently announced complete support for seven additional languages, which brings SLI’s language support to cover 14 languages – Arabic, Danish, Dutch, English, French, Indonesian, Italian, German, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish English. With this extensive language support, plus SLI’s flagship Learning Search technology, it’s fairly simple for retailers to get the site search component of their international site working successfully.

Having SLI Systems part of an e-commerce internationalization project can take a huge burden off of a company’s marketing and IT teams. SLI takes care of making sure the relevancy of search results always reflects the most popular items in different regions of the world, which helps with inventory and fulfillment strategies as well.

If you’re thinking about going global and want to meet local language and cultural requirements, be sure you don’t overlook your search and navigation to ensure you maximize your ROI and establish local brand loyalty.

Learn to Entice Shoppers with Great Content

June 25, 2014 - 18:42

Want to drive e-commerce sales, plus bring customers to your site instead of going to competitors’ sites or Amazon? Think content. The creative use of content can give your customers a unique and memorable shopping experience – one that creates powerful brand loyalty and moves customers along the path to purchase.

In our new e-book, “Use Creative Content to Convince Online Shoppers to Buy,” you’ll learn how e-commerce sites can increase conversions by creating remarkable content – social media posts, videos, blogs, infographics and more – and then bringing that content into their search results.

As I explain in today’s post on Ecommerce Outtakes, some online shopping decisions are easy, like finding a new water filter using the replacement number. But many online purchasing decisions – buying clothes, shoes, electronics, toys, etc. – are made through closer scrutiny of product details and non-product content, like Instagram photos of real product users or a how-to video showing what can be done with the product.

Such content can really help convince a browser to click the “Add to Cart” button. Consider this sampling of advice from the e-book:

  • Always add photos to your blog or social media post to catch readers’ attention through visuals as well as content.
  • If you’re an online retailer that sells any kind of food or kitchen product, it is a no-brainer to add a recipe section to your e-commerce site.
  • A standout site search is especially critical for retailers with products that don’t lend themselves to very specific searches.

The new e-book features many more tips, along with success stories of companies who have used content to increase conversions, including e.l.f. Cosmetics, FTD, King Arthur Flour, Kidrobot and others. Click here for a free download.

How to Drive Sales from Popular Search Engines

June 11, 2014 - 15:10

Jason Miller will provide additional insight on this topic at IRCE 2014 at the E-commerce Accelerator Theater, Booth #601. Catch his presentation at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, or at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 12. View other Theater information here.

I recently did a webinar about how online retailers can increase conversions – and lower bounce rates – through dynamic landing page banners. I find this topic very interesting since, in my previous position with Motorcycle Superstore, I had a lot of success using SLI Systems Dynamic Product Banners. What makes this concept highly effective is the use of a learning engine, like SLI Learning Search, to determine what products and content to show in the landing page banners, based on the behavior of previous shoppers.

It’s no surprise that people shop for different items in different ways. It is extremely valuable to have a learning engine that, in real-time, can analyze and aggregate data on how visitors shop your site for various types of products. Rather than making assumptions about how to best present relative products to your customers, you can use all the rich data and user behavior on your site.

For example, through a learning engine you can see which facets people typically select for certain types of searches, as well as what colors are most popular and what items convert at the highest rate. The learning allows the search itself to present results that best match people’s interests and deliver a better more relevant experience. This learning can be applied to on-site merchandising, autocomplete and product recommendations, to name a few.

When it comes to SEO, SEM and landing page optimization, some key performance indicators are conversion rate and bounce rate. The industry average bounce rate for e-commerce sites is generally agreed to be around 34%, though some large e-commerce sites claim bounce rates of less than 10%, according to the Q2 2013 Web-Analytics Benchmark study by ClickTale. (Note: If you happen to have an exceptionally low bounce rate, I suggest you check your analytics tagging, because you may have duplicate site tagging.) Among its many other negative impacts, a high bounce rate will obviously hurt conversion and make your SEM campaigns less cost effective.

Some common reasons why users bounce:

  1. Page content doesn’t match users expectations (this often happens with poorly managed SEM campaigns that aren’t targeted enough)
  2. Poorly designed UI, including sites that don’t properly handle tablets and mobile devices
  3. Site performance (milliseconds matter – users are not willing to wait)
  4. Out of stock or unavailable products

 

A few ways to reduce bounce rate:

  1. Closely monitor your SEM campaigns for relevant landing pages
  2. Use responsive design and a qualified UI team, which can help you optimize user experience on the widest range of devices
  3. Use a high-performance content delivery network such as Akamai to decrease page load times
  4. Take advantage of SLI Dynamic Product Banners, which use advanced learning algorithms to show relevant products on your product pages – even when the current product is unavailable or out of stock

 

As an e-commerce retailer, you may have very little control over what page Google ranks your site for a specific search term. However, you can still drive sales through popular search engines using Dynamic Product Banners to populate landing pages for natural and paid search. This approach has proven very effective for many SLI clients. If you’d like to view my recent webinar to see how e-commerce sites like Wine Enthusiast and others use Dynamic Product Banners, you can get it here.

10 Years of IRCE, and This One Could Be the Best

June 2, 2014 - 19:59

As IRCE prepares for its 10th annual e-commerce conference and exhibition next week (June 10-12), I look forward to my 10th year of attending on behalf of SLI Systems. SLI will have a strong presence at IRCE – we plan to give the thousands of retailers gathering in Chicago the message that the quality of their site search makes an enormous difference in whether shoppers decide to buy or bounce from their site.

To showcase the difference that better search delivers for our clients, we’ve created the E-commerce Accelerator Theater at IRCE. Throughout the show, visitors to the theater (booth #601) will hear representatives from successful e-commerce businesses share how they have increased conversion rates and per-visit value by optimizing their site search. Visit our IRCE 2014 page for a complete schedule of speakers from businesses including Harry & David, Internet Retailer, Silver Star Brands (formerly Miles Kimball), Carolina Rustica, ReNew Life, Steiner Tractor, Zachys Wine & Liquor, JAM Paper and eImprovement.com.

Chicago is a great backdrop for the quality content and excellent networking opportunities that the Internet Retailer and IRCE teams put together each year for the industry’s biggest conference and exhibition. We’re taking advantage of some of Chicago’s best attractions for our retailer-only show events. On Tuesday night, we’ll take retailers out for a fabulous dinner and drinks at Lawry’s Prime Rib Restaurant — space is limited, so RSVP now. On Wednesday night, we’ll serve cocktails and offer an unforgettable experience at Tilt!, for those daring enough to peer out over Chicago at a 30 degree angle, from the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building. Please note that this is not the Chicago observation platform that cracked last week – thankfully. We’ll continue taking RSVPs for these events until space fills up, or until noon on each event day.

One of my favorite parts of IRCE is meeting retailers and sharing how SLI can make a significant impact on the user experience and revenue. If you’d like to schedule a one-on-one meeting with me at IRCE, submit the mini-form on our IRCE page and I’ll make it happen. If you’re missing the show, you don’t have to miss out on the expert advice our sales directors can provide – just sign up for a demo or free site search critique at your convenience.

 

Overcome the Limitations of Solr Search

May 22, 2014 - 17:28

If you’re like the vast majority of online retailers, you will face the need to re-platform at some point. Maybe you’re in the middle of one of these initiatives now, or are about to get started. Or perhaps you recently completed a re-platform. Whatever the case, you may be less than satisfied with the merchandising, indexing and customization capabilities of the default Solr search that comes with your platform.

Thankfully, it’s a cinch to implement an advanced site search that addresses the shortcomings of Solr and integrates quickly and easily with your platform – new or old. Upgrading your search offers your customers a much better experience on your site, which leads to stronger brand loyalty and more sales. Here are a few examples:

e.l.f. Cosmetics, a well-known U.S. consumer brand, experienced disappointing results from the search that came as a default feature of its e-commerce platform. The company knew it had a problem because customers often abandoned the site after conducting a search and the customer service team was tapped out by calls from visitors who couldn’t find what they wanted. Additionally, e.l.f. had a difficult time getting visibility for non-product content like videos and blog posts.

Once e.l.f implemented SLI Learning Search, it was able to take advantage of features like Rich Auto Complete and Learning Recommendations to get more products in front of visitors. The e.l.f. team was also able to offer detailed refinement capabilities to help customers narrow down the field of search results. Plus the new search indexed the educational content the company wanted to showcase.

As a result, e.l.f. saw a 21% increase in per-visit value on its e-commerce site. With SLI powering its mobile commerce site, e.l.f. also saw a 4x higher conversion rate on mobile for site search users.

Thompson & Morgan is one of the UK’s largest seed and plant retailers. This longstanding consumer brand recently re-platformed and decided to try the default Solr search. Unfortunately, the company soon realized that the Solr search was creating a poor user experience, as demonstrated by the negative customer feedback it received. A previous user of SLI Learning Search, the company’s e-commerce team decided a switch back to SLI was necessary to keep customers happy.

According to Clare Dixey, e-commerce manager of Thompson & Morgan, SLI’s implementation with its new platform was swift – the new search was live within six weeks. And the results are significant: the 21% of site visitors using site search now account for 47% of total site revenue, and the conversion rate for site search users is 74% higher than the site average. Plus, the negative customer feedback about the site’s search function has turned to praise.

Dixey attributes the impact on Thompson & Morgan’s business to SLI’s ability to continually improve relevancy through its learning-based approach, as well as the SLI Auto Complete feature, which helps customers with particularly difficult-to-spell product names. Additionally, rich merchandising capabilities allow Dixey’s team to create custom landing pages for specific terms.

Zachys Wine & Liquor is a specialty retailer of high-end wine and spirits. The company recently began a re-platforming initiative and found that its reliance on SLI to power its search has smoothed the transition. The company also uses SLI Rich Auto Complete and refinements to improve the search experience, and gets a traffic boost from the SEO-optimized landing pages created by SLI Site Champion.

These are just a few examples of retailers that were able to use advanced search features to create a more engaging online experience and, in some cases, ease the move to a new platform. Other retailers have even delayed the need to move to a new platform because of the site improvements they were able to achieve with advanced site search. You can read more about the possibility of extending the life of your current platform in the white paper “Site Search vs. Re-platforming.”

If your platform’s default search is causing you unneeded aggravation and lackluster results, perhaps you need an upgrade. With the ROI benefits you can expect, not only will your customers thank you, but your bottom line will, too.

Results Pour In As Zachys Improves E-Commerce Experience

May 8, 2014 - 18:32

Do you have a favorite online store where you shop for specialty items and always find something that fulfills your desires? For lovers of high-end wine and spirits, Zachys Wine & Liquor is a popular destination. Because Zachys’ customers largely know what they’re looking for when they visit the site, they don’t spend lots of time browsing different pages and products. As Zachys’ E-commerce Director Victor Castro explained, customers tend to search, find what they want, and purchase — 1, 2, 3 — which also means if they don’t see something that grabs their interest right away, they’re gone.

Zachys knows the importance of delivering site search results that are right in line with shoppers’ expectations, which is why the company turned to SLI Systems not long ago. Since implementing SLI Learning Search, Zachys has seen 33% more visitors use the search box, and conversion rates and per-visit values for search users are twice those of non-search users.

Zachys also uses SLI Rich Auto Complete and learning-based navigation pages to boost those results, and now sees Rich Auto Complete results producing a 10x higher conversion rate than the site average.

For long-tail search terms that tend to have higher conversion value, Castro’s team uses SLI Site Champion to create dynamic SEO-optimized landing pages. The optimized landing pages get higher rankings in Google and Bing, which drives more high-converting traffic to the site. Another key to Zachys’ online success is the use of extensive refinement options in search results, along with merchandising banners for popular terms.

If you want to learn more about Zachys’ e-commerce success using SLI, read the Chain Store Age article or the press release. And if you need to put in place a strategy for generating higher revenue from search and navigation, similar to what Zachys has done, feel free to reach out to us at discovery@sli-systems.com.

Omnichannel Strategy a Key Focus for 83% of Retailers

April 30, 2014 - 19:23

The SLI Connect end user conference in London recently brought together more than 100 e-commerce thought leaders to discuss best practices, plans for the coming year and SLI’s role in achieving their goals.

During the event, SLI conducted a survey of leading retail brands including Kingfisher, Wickes, Snow+Rock, French Connection and Faberge, exploring their opinions on the importance of, urgency of and correct approach to providing a true omnichannel shopping experience.

As discussed this week in a press release, the survey revealed some interesting findings, including:

  • 83% of brands expect to have an omnichannel strategy in place within 18 months
  • 100% of brands see mobile as a key channel
  • 85% of brands are implementing new technologies to go omnichannel
  • 64% of brands are going omnichannel through repurposed budgets
  • Online-only and offline e-commerce retailers have different understandings of omnichannel, with few online-only brands exploring offline opportunities

Of the channels identified by respondents as the most important to their omnichannel strategy, the answers showed:

  • mobile – 100%
  • tablet – 97%
  • online – 95%
  • bricks-and-mortar – 61%
  • kiosk – 15%

David Kohn, multichannel director for Snow+Rock commented on the research findings, saying: “As a business who has bricks-and-mortar stores as well as online, we see delivering a consistent customer experience through all channels as both our key challenge and our key opportunity. The survey suggests we are not alone in this.”

The survey findings tell us that solution providers like SLI need to continue to focus on helping retail brands adapt their online strategy to multiple channels. Many SLI customers are working with us to streamline their mobile sites. At the same time, we see an increasing number of our clients applying the learning in our search to other areas of their sites – using SLI Learning Recommendations, merchandising banners and customized landing pages, for example. In the next year, we expect to help more clients take advantage of additional channels using our learning technology.

What are you doing to improve your customers’ brand experience across multiple channels? What channels are most important to your business over the next several months? Please share your comments below.

Effective Design Options You May Have Overlooked

April 23, 2014 - 23:10

Earlier this week, eConsultancy posted the article: 25 Effective Design Patterns for E-commerce Site Search Results. The article highlights great examples of search relevancy, site design and refinement options that help smooth customers’ path to find, and purchase, the items they’re looking for.

Five of the e-commerce sites spotlighted in the eConsultancy article are clients of SLI Systems, including Sutton’s Seeds, Abe’s of Maine, Boden, Lovehoney and B&Q. We’ve worked with these companies to implement effective site search solutions, using design options that many retailers overlook.

Abe’s of Maine – Filtered Reviews

Camera and photography retailer Abe’s of Maine stands out because of the way the company highlights reviews within search results. Not only can visitors view reviews in search results, but they can also set filtering options so they can find reviews that discuss aspects of camera equipment that are most relevant to them. Wine Enthusiast is another SLI client that offers the capability of reviews filtering. In both cases, the reviews filtering option gets a lot of use and tends to result in higher conversions.

 

Boden – Effective Use of Refinements

Boden offers a comprehensive set of filtering options, including Category, Sub-category, Top-rated by Age, Top-rated by Size, Price Range, Color and more. The results page also lists search suggestions at the top, offering visitors alternate search terms to try. The Help and Style & Fit tabs across the top give shoppers more options for finding the right items according to personal characteristics like size and shape.

By making these improvements in site search, Boden has increased customer engagement and conversion rates for search. Read more in this Boden case study.


Lovehoney – Capitalizing on Trends

Lovehoney used search to its benefit by recognizing a fast-growing trend among fans of the book “50 Shades of Grey.” Long before the book became a mainstream success, Lovehoney noticed the search term was frequently used on their site. The company immediately capitalized on the emerging trend by creating custom product landing pages for searches related to “50 Shades of Grey.” By reacting quickly, Lovehoney not only boosted sales but also struck a product licensing deal with the “50 Shades” franchise. Now they are the exclusive retailer of the popular branded items. Read more in this Lovehoney case study.

Following Best Practices Leads to Profitability

What’s not discussed in the eConsultancy piece is that effective site search pages often generate higher per-visit and average order values, while reducing bounce rates. After implementing improvements with SLI, Boden’s search users became worth about 215% more per visit than non-site search users. Lovehoney experienced a 16% increase in average revenue per visit.

If your site search solution isn’t improving your e-commerce sales, you might want to take a close look at more examples of search done well. In addition to the examples in the eConsultancy article, you can find more than 20 case studies at sli-systems.com/customers/case-studies.

Do More Selling Within Search: Start Merchandising

April 3, 2014 - 18:58

When I’m shopping for clothes, beautiful, colorful displays tend to catch my attention, as do big “sale” signs. But if I’m shopping for something less personal, like housewares or gardening items, I need signage that makes it clear where I need to go to find what I want. But that’s just me. Other consumers have different preferences – which makes it challenging for merchandisers to figure out how best to compel shoppers to make a purchase.

E-commerce marketers face similar challenges, as they have to understand how best to highlight promotions – on what pages, in what format and with what messages. Search results pages are a prime location for online merchandising, as we explain in the latest edition of the Big Book of Site Search Tips for 2014, available for free download. Once visitors have conducted a search on your site, they’re in the mood to make a purchase, provided they find what they’re seeking and you make it easy to browse through product options. For more effective merchandising, consider bringing these ideas into search:

Override search results (sparingly): While too many overrides can negatively impact the relevancy of search results, it can make sense to do an override when you want to place relevant promotional items at the top of the list – like sales or seasonal items. Online shoppers pay the most attention to the first several results above the fold, after which there’s a steep drop-off in engagement. Take advantage of where their attention is focused. Of course, the products that you push to the top of search results still need to be highly relevant to the search term.

Avoid presenting unrelated cross-sell or up-sell products: Shoppers will distrust search results if they are wildly off-base from their search terms. From their point of view, they’ve used the search box to tell you exactly what they want, and it’s your job to supply it. If you want to promote products that aren’t truly connected to searches, you should do so on other pages such as cart or checkout pages.

Show related searches on content pages: Even if visitors don’t find what they’re looking for within the first several results for their search, they may be encouraged to keep on looking if you offer related searches on content or product detail pages – or they may decide to start a new search. It’s best to create related searches based on keywords or phrases other visitors have used in the past when searching for the same items. Since they’re based on the language of your visitors, they’re a great way to promote related content or products and may also provide SEO benefits.

Create banners related to specific keywords: Keyword-driven banners on search results pages send your visitors the message that they’re seeing the right results for the right products. A banner can also highlight a promotion that’s related to the search, which can either move along the decision to make a purchase (like an extra discount or free-shipping deal), or propel the visitor into related searching (like a banner about products from the same brand).

For more ideas about selling through search, download the 2014 edition of the Big Book of Site Search Tips today.