February 26, 2004, 12:00 AM

Searching for products in all the wrong places

Bluefly got a report that its product search was down. The problem was, Bluefly didn’t have a product search function at the time.

How consumers will use web sites is sometimes unpredictable. Ken Seiff, CEO of Bluefly Inc., reported at eTail 2004 in Palm Springs, CA, this week, that he received a call from a board member who reported that Bluefly.com’s product search function was not operating. When Seiff replied that Bluefly.com did not have a product search, the director replied that, nonetheless, his wife had used the function recently and got no results.

Seiff put Bluefly’s tech staff on the case and after talking to the customer and recreating the steps she had performed, they determined that she had entered a search term in the e-mail sign-up box. Case closed--until Seiff decided to investigate the e-mail addresses that customers had entered. In just a six-week period, customers had entered 40,000 search terms in the e-mail sign-up box.

The lesson, Seiff said: “Sometimes a data point of one is important.”

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