April 29, 2010, 11:52 PM

Two types of site search are better than one, retailer says

Two forms of site search bolster average order values for House of Antique Hardware.

With two forms of site search—one based on product keywords and details, the other based on customers’ shopping history—House of Antique Hardware is polishing off some nice average order values, marketing director Bob Treuber says.

The retailer’s e-commerce site, HouseofAntiqueHardware.com, operates on an e-commerce platform from NetSuite Inc. The platform includes a site search function that produces site search results based on product data and search keywords maintained in the retailer’s online product catalog.

But the site search window on HouseofAntiqueHardware.com also shows search results generated by Baynote Inc.’s UseRank social search technology. “We’re using Baynote to supplement the inherent search capability of NetSuite,” Treuber says.

When a shopper searches for “glass knobs,” for example, the NetSuite site search technology will display results of dozens of glass knobs based on the product attributes and keywords stored in the retailer’s product database. But the results will also show many listings based on additional products other shoppers have gone on to view or purchase after searching the site for glass knobs, such as products within other categories like cabinet knobs.

Clicking into the cabinet knobs section presented within the glass knobs results would reveal a product like a  brass and wood drop pull—a hinged handle that can be used to open cabinet doors or drawers or other types of furniture—as well as other types of glass knobs. The idea, Treuber says, is to present a more comprehensive and varied range of products that are likely to interest a shopper—and that a shopper might not have otherwise come across in a basic site search.

Although the combined site search features are coinciding with higher average order values, however, Treuber says he realizes that some of the gains may be related to an improved economy or things like changing seasonal demand. To continue building on the momentum in order values, he adds, the retailer is working with its Omniture Site Catalyst web analytics to test how shoppers respond to site search results stemming from different sets of product data stored in the product catalog. “We’re constantly working to refine the way NetSuite site search results and Baynote social search results work together,” he says.Going forward, Treuber says the retailer may also bring in additional site search features to further complement the NetSuite and Baynote systems. “NetSuite and Baynote work well together, but there are also a lot of other interesting tools out there, and I could see us adding other third-party stuff,” he says.

One possibility, he says, is adding a form of guided navigation. If site search results are showing 15 items, and House of Antique Hardware knows that several are hot sellers during particular seasons, or that some products within those 15 items complement one another, it could use the guided navigation to emphasize the listings of the hot seasonal items and the groups of complementary ones, Treuber says.

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