April 5, 2007, 12:00 AM

Abt Electronics improves site search with Ajax-backed tool

Abt Electronics, a multi-channel retailer of consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, is using a new Ajax-backed search-and-navigation tool to support double-digit growth in online sales, vice president and head of e-commerce Jon Abt says.

Abt Electronics Inc., a multi-channel retailer of consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, is using a new Ajax-backed search-and-navigation tool to support double-digit growth in online sales, vice president Jon Abt says.

With its Ajax-supported Nav site-and-navigation tool from Guidester Inc., Abt Electronics is making it easier for online shoppers to quickly display groups of products that meet their particular requirements, Abt says. Ajax, or asynchronous JavaScript and XML, is a web page development technology that allows for content to appear instantly on without having to wait for new pages to download.

“It can be daunting for customers to choose among all of our products, so this is making it easier for them to make better decisions,” Abt says.

Abt Electronics, No. 171 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, expects double-digit percentage increases in sales online as well as in its single Chicago-area store this year over last year, Abt says, adding that online sales are growing faster than store sales.

The Guidester search-and-navigation technology is helping to compensate for a weak basic site search function built AbtElectronics.com, which was designed and built in-house, he says. “We don’t have robust basic site search capabilities, so Guidester is empowering us to help shoppers find particular products,” Abt says. “We’re getting great feedback from customers who say it’s very helpful.”

A search for “digital cameras” from the Abt Electronics home page, using the site’s basic site search function, for example, produces a list mostly of camera accessory items. But by clicking the “digital cameras” link in the home page navigation bar, a shopper activates the Guidester tool and can search for particular cameras based on features clicked in several multiple-choice windows.

Each click of a multiple-choice option, such as “Intermediate User,” “No more than $400,” “Auto focus” or “Nikon,” instantly changes the selection of cameras displayed.

Guidester, which also offers a non-Ajax version of its search-and-navigation tool, provides its tools free of charge to retailers, says CEO and co-founder Joe Chin. Guidester earns its revenue, which it shares with retailer clients, by selling pay-per-click advertising to the manufacturers whose products appear in the Guidester site-search results. Sponsored listings, identified as “featured matches,” appear at the top of search results and are sorted by a combination of relevancy and pay-per-click price. Shoppers also have the option to re-sort results by price, brand or model, in which case sponsored listings no longer necessarily appear at the top.

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