May 14, 2003, 12:00 AM

At Gardeners.com, growing their own pays off

Analytics from WebSideStory show Gardeners.com’s homegrown site search function beats an outsourced solution with higher conversions and more sales.

Gardeners.com looked at outsourcing its site search function to an outside provider, but the application of web analytics showed it could grow better site search functionality on its own. The e-commerce site of Burlington, VT-based multi-channel retailer Gardener’s Supply Co. used the HitBox Commerce tool of analytics service WebSideStory Inc. in comparing its internally written site search function to an outsource solution it was trying out. In the comparison, the homegrown site search engine delivered higher conversions and more sales.

That prompted the company to re-implement its internally developed site search function. Results from the analytics tool clearly showed which search engine function produced the better return on investment, says Jeff Govoni, director of e-commerce at Gardeners.com. “It gave us real-time feedback on which search engine generated the most revenue and which products and brands each one sold,” he says. Besides measuring search engine effectiveness, Gardeners.com used HitBox to optimize product placement, streamline navigation and eliminate bottlenecks from the purchase path.

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