10/25/07

Site search functionality keeps digging deeper into searchandising

Site search is taking on more dimensions, such as “SKU sensitivity” that lets shoppers request a particular color or size when searching for a shirt or other product, says Progress Software.

Paul Demery , Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Consumers` expectations about the quality of the online shopping experience keep rising, and the providers of site search technology keep refining search and navigation functionality to keep up with that demand. Many of the newer developments in site search are further builds on the blend of search and merchandising, according to Don Harris, EasyAsk product manager at search, navigation and merchandising vendor Progress Software Corp.

Under a concept the company calls “carve outs,” online retailers using EasyAsk can automatically lift a selection of listings out of relevant search results, according to their own business objectives, and feature the grouped items in the display of site search results, Harris says. For example, a retailer might want to flag the new products among the results listings, or the products that can be shipped in time to arrive by a certain date, such as Christmas.

Progress’s EasyAsk also has fine-tuned search results by SKU sensitivity, Harris adds. That is the ability to return search results on products that have multiple SKUs-such as a shirt that comes in small, medium and large, as well as multiple colors for each size-that can incorporate information on the particular status of each SKU. For example, a SKU-sensitive search for a women’s shirt in “small” returns results that show only the color swatches that apply to that size of shirt.

One more trend that is refining site search is functionality that gives sites the ability to redirect customers` searches when a site doesn’t have what the shopper is searching for, Harris notes. For example, if a shopper searches for the brand “Bolle,” but the retailer doesn’t carry it, site search equipped to redirect will return results showing the polarized sunglasses the retailer does carry rather than returning no results. According to Progress, the key to a successful use of this search application is not just automatically redirecting the shopper to the available alternatives, but also letting shoppers know why they are not viewing exactly what they had searched for.

Topics:

business, Information science, Online shopping, Stock-keeping unit, Web search engine

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