May 2, 2012, 11:35 AM

A ‘floating’ search bar boosts sales for American Bridal

Shoppers never lose site of the site search tool, which also displays discounts.

Lead Photo

A shot of the floating search bar, at top above the products.

Adding a “floating search bar” to the American Bridal e-commerce site has led to increased revenue, average order values and conversions from consumers using site search, the e-retailer says.

A floating search bar is pretty much what it sounds like: As a consumer scrolls down the web page, the bar containing the box for site search—in this case, shaded a soft purple tone that wouldn’t be out of place at a wedding—remains at the top, like an object floating near the surface of a lake. Within its left half, the bar also displays discount offers—for American Bridal today, 10% off orders of $75 or more, and 20% off orders of more than $150. The site search box, along the right-hand side of the bar, works as one expects: Entering a phrase into it, such as “coffee,” takes the shopper to the relevant product page­—in this case, wedding-themed coffee mugs and packets.

The wedding-goods e-retailer, which focuses on party favors and is part of XO Group Inc., installed the new search bar in November, just before the holiday shopping season. The decision was driven in part by the tendency of shoppers who use site search at AmericanBridal.com to convert at a rate four times greater than for other shoppers and to place orders whose average values are 20% higher, says Jon Hawkins, senior e-commerce manager at XO Group. “So we looked for new ways to get even more of our visitors to use site search and get even stronger results,” he says.

The installation of the floating box came after the e-retailer tested other potential site search improvements, including enlarging the box and painting it with bold colors. But the new box gave the best results, says American Bridal and its site search vendor, SLI Systems: revenue per visit increased 34%, average order value jumped 24% and conversion rates for pages shopped via site search increased 8.75%. “Those results showed us that our visitors find the floating search box helpful, not intrusive,” Hawkins says.

American Bridal installed the tool itself, via the popular web programming language JavaScript, says Terry Costa, SLI’s vice president of marketing. The new tool is included in the monthly fee that American Bridal pays to SLI. The vendor says that one other e-commerce operator, electronics supply retailer Markertek.com, is also using the floating search box.

XO Group, which used to be called The Knot Inc., is No. 352 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

At the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012, Chris Reighley, director of e-commerce for Totes-Isotoner, will speak in a session entitled “Refining site search to meet your company’s needs.

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