March 29, 2006, 12:00 AM

It’s like trying to find a needle in a pile of 60,000 rugs

Rugs Direct asks customers how it can improve their shopping experience. The verdict? Better search and navigation.

It’s good, of course, for retailers to have a wide selection of products from which customers can choose. But if customers are having a hard time finding exactly what they want, that easily can translate into loss of potential sales.

Late last year Rugs Direct surveyed thousands of its customers, asking what kind of enhancements they would like to see on the company’s e-commerce site. The overwhelming answer: Fast and easy search and navigation to enable shoppers to quickly find the precise rug they seek.

“We realized this was our No. 1 issue,” says president Randy Kremer. “It’s fantastic to offer consumers more than 60,000 choices, but if they can’t find the one that’s perfect for their home, we’ve let them down.”

The company, No. 367 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, enlisted online research company ForeSee Results for the customer survey and results analysis. As a result of the research, Rugs Direct has enhanced its web site shopping experience with the launch of a new search and navigation system. The company is using Endeca Technologies Inc.’s InFront guided navigation system. “The InFront program gave us the flexibility to customize our implementation,” Kremer says.

Internal testing shows very positive results, says CEO David Craig. “We’re seeing a huge improvement in search and navigation,” he says. “What once took many clicks or multiple searches customers now can do in two or three guided clicks and find the rug they’re looking for.”

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