March 15, 2013, 11:04 AM

Dynamically changing site displays helps an e-retailer grow sales 20%

Fashion retailer Nicole Farhi boosts conversions and lowers bounce rate with software from Locayta.

Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Lead Photo

Fashion and lifestyle retailer Nicole Farhi, which sells online and in a handful of stores across the United Kingdom, grew its e-commercerevenue 20% after improving site search and implementing an automated merchandising program, says William North, e-commerce manager. The sales boost resulted from a 56% increase in conversions and a 30% increase in the number of online transactions since the retailer added the technology six months ago, he says.

Nicole Farhi uses software from vendor Locayta Ltd. for three main aspects of site search and merchandising—creating special landing pages, showing pertinent search results even when shoppers misspell search terms and dynamically creating merchandising displays, North says.

The retailer began using the platform to create custom, searchable categories for marketing campaigns or information not typically thought of as a product, he says. For example, a “delivery” category on the site now allows customers searching for “shipping” to land on a page with all the retailer’s delivery details, he says. Before, that search would lead to “no results.” Nicole Farhi can also use custom categories to create landing pages for shoppers coming to the site through a particular e-mail so that, for example, a message about Easter outfits could lead to an Easter category page.

“It’s all about getting users to what they’re looking for and saving them a few steps,” North says. Locayta’s software allows North and Nicole Farhi’s two other e-commerce staffers to drag and drop elements into custom category pages and preview them without any technical support, he says.

At the same time, Nicole Farhi also took advantage of Locayta’s site search technology to improve the results customers see when they mistype or describe an item using terms other than those the retailer thought of. “If they misspell ‘jakcets,’ it gives them jackets anyway,” North says. Before, if customers typed gibberish into the search box, it would return “no results,” but now it has an “oops” message that suggests options the shopper may have been seeking instead, he says.

Helping shoppers find the items they want has reduced bounce rates, or the percentage of visitors who view only one site page and leave, by 27%, and increased the average length of a site visit by 5%, he says.

In addition, Nicole Farhi uses Locayta’s Freestyle Merchandising software to update the product display on web pages dynamically, according to parameters the retailer sets. For example, Nicole Farhi can select certain product categories, like new collections or current best-sellers, and set ranges for factors like price points, the amount of products in stock and sales margins, North says. Then the software takes those settings and creates an optimal display for each visitor related to his or her browsing behavior, he says. A shopper who views a pink cotton sport jacket, for example, might see similarly priced products that other shoppers who considered the pink jacket also viewed. The “freestyle” term refers to the fact that the system updates every 15 minutes based on activity—for example, a new product might suddenly bump up into the “best-selling” range and thereafter start appearing in home page displays, North says.

“Anything that improves the relevancy and timeliness of online offers is highly prized by consumers,” says Paula Rosenblum, an analyst and managing partner at research and advisory firm Retail Systems Research LLC. “Given the current barrage of e-mails, re-targeting offers and overall media overload, retailers can expect happy and more loyal customers with a curated offering.”

Locayta delivers its technology over the Internet in a software-as-a-service model, starting at $1,000 per month and increasing in negotiated amounts based on a client’s size and needs, the company says. Nicole Farhi pays a share of revenue on top of the base price of the Locayta software, North says, though he declines to give the software’s exact cost.

Locayta, which has offices in London and Culver City, CA, has two clients in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Europe guide to e-retailers, apparel merchant Boohoo.com and general merchandiser Tesco Stores. 

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