April 1, 2009, 12:00 AM

Sponsored Supplement: Site search: The versatile merchandising tool

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“Nextopia-powered site search results were converting at such a higher rate for our customers when compared to their overall site that our customers started replacing their navigation links with the results provided by our search navigation product offering,” says Arora. “By doing so, our customers instantly saw increased conversions.”

Site search keywords can also be applied to organic search campaigns. Site search keywords and search strings can provide insights into how shoppers describe products and what terms they are most likely to enter into an Internet search engine, such as Google. Retailers can incorporate these keywords and phrases throughout their sites so they are visible to search engine spiders.

“It’s a way to drive more site traffic by adopting the language used by shoppers when conducting a product search,” Ryan says. “This language can even be applied to offline ads so they resonate more with shoppers.”

Don’t forget to measure ROI

While advances in site search have made the technology more dazzling, retailers still heavily weight return on investment in the purchase decision. An important ROI metric is the rate of conversion between shoppers that use site search and those that don’t. “If there is not a significantly higher conversion rate, then site search needs to be reevaluated,” Arora says.

Other ROI metrics include measuring the decline in customer calls to the contact center and overall complaints about site performance. Retailers can also use site search to improve productivity in the call center by training agents to use site search to direct customers to the appropriate page.

“There is lot more that goes into calculating the ROI on site search than just increased conversions,” Ryan says.

On-demand search applications for which retailers pay a monthly subscription fee and eliminate upfront implementation costs can further improve ROI. Nextopia and SLI both offer on-demand applications. “On-demand is a more cost effective model in this economic climate,” Ryan says.

Given the rapid advancement of site search technology, retailers that don’t keep pace will risk losing a key point of differentiation with shoppers. “Dynamic site search and navigation is more than just delivering results,” Arora says. “It is about delivering the right results to shoppers to enrich the shopping experience and increase conversions.”

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