February 15, 2007, 12:00 AM

REI turns to better site search to improve customer experience

Recreational Equipment Inc., which grew web sales 39% in 2006 to $195 million, will implement a faster and more sophisticated site search program this spring. “We are improving the customer experience,” says vice president of e-commerce Brad Brown.

The application from Mercado Software will enable REI, No. 74 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, to offer more effective site search, including better guided navigation. For example, customers will be able to see more “top seller” results on the pages returned with a query.

“We are improving the customer experience,” says vice president of e-commerce Brad Brown.

The site search program is expected to be in place by May or June and will feature dynamic browsing, which enables visitors to view products in a way that mimics how shoppers view products in a store or when flipping through the pages of a catalog. A dynamic browser will be presented to an REI shopper with a collection of best-selling products to browse. The shopper can then click on a product picture and view that item and related merchandise.

“The new program will return deeper and richer results,” says Brown, who also is speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 4-7 in San Jose, in a session June 6, 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., titled Why Retail Stores Can`t Put Up Web Stores and Forget Them.

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