January 3, 2007, 12:00 AM

FootSmart.com makes a New Year’s resolution for better site search

To make FootSmart.com more competitive in 2007, Benchmark Brands Inc. plans on making a number of technology upgrades. High on the list is reorganizing the site’s internal search function and adding customer and product reviews, says CEO Alan Beychok.

To make FootSmart.com more competitive in 2007, Benchmark Brands Inc. plans on making a number of technology upgrades. High on the list is reorganizing the site’s internal search function.

Benchmark, No. 216 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, will begin working with Celebros, its site search vendor, to expedite search and improve product organization.

Benchmark, which expects web sales to grow by about 40% in 2006, competes as a niche retailer against bigger online competitors such as Zappos.com, No. 34 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites. With better site search, Benchmark expects customers to be able to search and find a broader array of information in a minimal amount of clicks. Today, FootSmart.com shoppers can use a shoe finder tool on the home page and search by key word and item number. But the goal for 2007 is implementing faster and deeper site search.

“This year we are going to improve product organization because to us it’s all about search,” says Benchmark president and CEO Alan Beychok. “We are going to fine tune site search and look at a different topology.”

Online footwear sales are growing nearly 15% annually and will become a $5.5 billion market by 2010, according to Forrester Research Inc. But the market is also attracting new and bigger competitors such as Gap Inc., which launched PiperLime.com, a web shoe store, in October.

To stay competitive, Benchmark will improve site search within six to seven months and plans to add product and customer reviews. “The competition is intensifying and there are a lot of big players in this space,” Beychok says. “We’re looking at what’s going to continue our success.”

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