February 5, 2004, 12:00 AM

The market moves toward search and browse, says Forrester analyst

“We are starting to see more sites that understand that searching and browsing are not separate things,” says Forrester Research analyst Paul Sonderegger. “They’re wholly compatible methods for finding what you’re looking for.”

The market for site search technology is moving to search and browse, Paul Sonderegger, analyst with Forrester Research Inc., tells InternetRetailer.com. “We are starting to see more sites that understand that searching and browsing are not separate things,” he says. “They’re wholly compatible methods for finding what you’re looking for.”

In three years, most technology vendors have shifted focus from returning a set of search results to creating a multi-faceted interface in which retailers can present merchandise they want to promote and consumers can narrow their selections.

In spite of some high profile announcements recently by search-and-browse vendors about clients they’ve signed, the notion has yet to catch on with most retailers. Sonderegger says the delay stems partly from earlier search technology companies that “promised the stars and only delivered the moon” and the fact that search is only one item on a list of projects that most retail web sites need to accomplish. In addition, he notes, search is such an integral part of activity at a retail web site that search ends up as part of content management challenges as well. “Results are always wrapped up in a larger activity,” he says.

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