August 26, 2009, 12:00 AM

Bakeware retailer achieves sweet results with a new site search system

Wilton Brands, which operates an e-commerce site for bakeware, baking books and related products at Wilton.com, has increased repeat visitors by 50% and reduced abandonment of its search results page by 35% with a new analytics-backed site search.

Wilton Brands Inc., a developer,wholesaler and retailer of bakeware and related products, has increased repeat online visitors by 50% and reduced abandonment of its search results page by 35% with a new site search application on its e-commerce site, Wilton.com.

The Omniture SiteSearch application from analytics vendor Omniture Inc. helped Wilton categorize its extensive range of online content of baking ideas, recipes, tips and techniques for making desserts. Wilton.com offers thousands of pages of content, but before deploying SiteSearch, many of its on-site searches had produced no results, creating a major problem for the retailer, says Eric Erwin, executive vice president of marketing and product development.

Wilton, formerly known as Wilton Products Inc., decided recently to replace its in-house search program with Omniture SiteSearch in an effort to easily categorize content and products and deliver the right information to visitors more quickly.

"Null searches were a significant problem on our old site and search results were not well-categorized, which frustrated even our most loyal online visitors," Erwin says. "The search results page abandonment rate on our old site hovered at a high 20% so we decided to take action. Many vendors we evaluated were proficient in product search, but factoring in our large amount of content as well and making it all easily searchable proved to be a challenge for everyone but Omniture."

For example, one of the site`s most popular searches is for "graduation," which is associated with as many as 5,000 pages of content. Using the new SiteSearch program, Wilton was able to group graduation-related content under categories such as Products, Ideas, `How To` articles, Recipes, Techniques and Forum postings, so visitors could quickly find what they wanted.

In addition, Wilton integrated SiteSearch with its web analytics service to help serve up more relevant results. For instance, previously if someone searched for ‘baby shower,’ Wilton.com may have shown as many as 100 results, but by integrating analytics, the company can now rank the most popular or highest-converting ‘baby shower’ content and products higher up on the results page, which leads visitors to more applicable information more quickly, Erwin says.

"From our perspective, we know visitors are now more engaged and are finding what they need because we see more visitors printing recipes and ideas than ever before,” Erwin says. “We`re satisfying more visitors, which leads them to come back again because they know they will find what they are looking for."

Wilton worked with its marketing agency, Shay Digital, to review more than 20 site search applications before settling on SiteSearch, which among other things uses algorithms to determine the most relevant search results for particular search terms, Erwin says. As shoppers search for products and groups of products, print out lists to take to stores, or place items into online shopping carts products and purchase them, the SiteSearch system continually learns the most appropriate groupings of products to present in search results, he adds.

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