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Site search personalization is such a new development that few retailers have any experience yet that they can discuss. But Jupiter Research`s Peterson says it`s a natural evolution of site search technology combined with web analytics. He predicts it will become more common, considering the trend toward bringing together analytics and search technologies, the latest manifestation of which is web analytics firm WebSideStory`s planned acquisition of Avivo Corp., which operates as site search company Atomz.
"If you have customized results based on priorities like profit margins, inventory or just what sells, the next logical direction is toward customized results based on where a customer came from and what her interests are," Peterson says.
Leaving the site
Another new option for site search, offered by Searchfeed.com and Ace-Installer.com, enables retailers to present sponsored ads along with their site search results. Even if a retailer has limited inventory for searched-for product or category, it can offer sponsored listings as both an information service and a source of revenue. So even if a shopper leaves the retailer`s site by clicking a sponsored ad, the merchant can still earn revenue, the companies say. "We`re now able to offer a paid exit strategy for web sites," says Ace-Installer CEO Andrew Newby.
As site search continues to develop new and better ways to improve the online shopping experience, retailers say they expect to produce more loyal customers. "At the end of the day, that`s what e-commerce is all about--giving customers relevant content and the ability to act on it," Sidders says.
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