April 29, 2004, 12:00 AM

Deep analysis of search terms can turn up new merchandising opportunities

In-depth analysis of customers’ site search results often reveal ideas for cross-merchandising opportunities.

In-depth analysis of customers’ site search terms often reveals ideas for cross-merchandising opportunities, Adam Turinas, vice president of web design firm Organic Inc., tells InternetRetailer.com. “You can find surprising things that people are looking for,” he says.

But online retailers need to dig further then they are today into the site search results to uncover and analyze new merchandising opportunities, Turinas adds. Too often, he says, retailers will analyze only the top five or so items appearing in search results to try to identify hot products to be heavily merchandised.

But a look further down the search results list can reveal unexpected opportunities. For example, he says, a look at the top 20 search results might reveal that pens frequently appear along with gift-related items. “Then you realize that pens could be more important to your merchandising strategy, and you could merchandise them more in gift areas of your site or in home-page gift promotions,” he says. “We’ve seen this kind of merchandising efforts lead to better sales and conversion rates.”

Analyzing customers’ site search results more thoroughly, Turinas adds, helps retailers to better focus on a broader range of merchandise known to be important to their customers. “It really helps prioritize merchandise in a way that a retailer otherwise wouldn’t have merchandised,” he says.

Turinas adds that retailers can do much of their search analysis with spreadsheets, though many also use web site analytics tools from vendors like WebTrends, WebSideStory and Coremetrics that provide for more graphical viewing of data. Regardless of the tools used to look at data, he adds, the most important step regarding merchandising lessons is to dig deep and look for unexpected product connections. “The challenge is not using the tool, it’s the analysis technique,” he says.


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