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Not to mention the fact that manipulating search results can take time a retailer doesn’t have, and possibly lead to error, Au says. “There’s a lot of manual labor in terms of maintenance if you want to gear results toward something like profit margin,” he explains. “Prices change, especially in the consumer electronics industry. So then you have to go back and check the rules you set to make sure that a product previously with a high profit margin doesn’t keep coming up if the prices change.”
Au does concede there are some very specific cases where altering search results can be helpful; for example, showing the latest products when a searcher is looking for a discontinued product. There’s no point in displaying an empty page that says “No Products Found.”
And MacDonald says sometimes a retailer has to use site search to help out in times of need-like receiving one million too many yellow plastic weighted rubber ducks. MacDonald and company inserted a special rule in the system to float these duckies to the top of results for most rubber duck searches.
“But you don’t want to manipulate results much,” MacDonald cautions. “Yes, site search is a merchandising tool, but you have to show shoppers what they need to see; you don’t want to hinder their experience.”
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