April 29, 2010, 12:17 PM

Product images in site search window boosts conversions for BrickHouse

When online retailer BrickHouse Security added an automated drop-down menu of textual results that appear when shoppers enter terms into its site search window, it boosted conversion rates. But adding product images to the menu broke open the bank, says Ryan Urban, manager of customer acquisition and analytics.

When online retailer BrickHouse Security added an automated drop-down menu of textual results that appear when shoppers enter terms into its site search window, it boosted conversion rates. But adding product images to the menu broke open the bank, says Ryan Urban, manager of customer acquisition and analytics.

“With the product images in the site search drop-down window, we get a 100% lift in conversion rate among shoppers who use site search,” Urban says.

He adds that the conversion rate among site search users increased by 10% when BrickHouse first introduced an earlier version of the automated drop-down menu that only showed text-based product listings. The new version shows an image of the product alongside a text description.

BrickHouse has deployed the AutoComplete site search feature from Nextopia Software Corp., which also provides the retailer’s basic site search function. The AutoComplete system, which Nextopia provides as an on-demand Internet-based application, integrates with a retailer’s product database and order management system. As shoppers enter search terms into the site search window, they automatically trigger a drop-down list of products tied to their search keywords as well as a list of products among the highest sellers in past searches on those terms.

Products in the drop-down list start to appear as soon as a shopper enters the first letter of a search term; the list gets more refined with every additional letter or word entered into the search window. When a customer searches for a GPS-enabled cell phone, for example, entering the letter “G” will instantly produce a list of several products including goggles and glasses as well as GPS products, but entering “GP” or “GPS” instantly changes the list to products related to global positioning systems.

On BrickHouseSecurity.com, about 8% of buyers use site search, and about 25% of that group click among the new image-based search results in the automated drop-down list instead of completing the entry of a search term and clicking the search button, Urban says. This has led to a15% lift in the overall site search conversion rate, he adds.

With total sales this year expected to hit $25 million, such lifts in conversion rates will produce a noticeable hike in sales, Urban says.

Nextopia provides its basic site search application for an annual subscription starting at $995, with the AutoComplete feature an additional $995 per year, according to Nextopia CEO Sanjay Arora. He adds that the AutoComplete feature is also available as a separate application that can work with site search platforms from other vendors.

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