October 27, 2004, 12:00 AM

Which site problem can be the most costly – and the most easily fixed

Poorly-performing site search is one of the biggest missed opportunities for e-commerce sites, says analytics provider Coremetrics Inc.

When web analytics deliver bad news to e-retailers, it’s often along the lines of how site problems are interfering with traffic or conversions. But one of the biggest issues uncovered by analytics at e-commerce sites – poorly-performing site search -- is also one of the problems most easily fixed, web analytics Coremetrics Inc. vice president of product management John Squire tells Internet Retailer.

Site search that isn’t up to the task may represent one of a site’s most expensive missed opportunities, Squire says. “We are seeing a large number of both our clients and the prospects we’re going to haven’t had good analytics around on-site search, like how much of their onsite sales is actually attributable to people using onsite search, and is that changing over time,” he says.

But metrics on site search performance are becoming increasingly important as consumers` search habits evolve, Squire contends, adding that what’s happening with web search also affects site search use. “Google, MSN and Yahoo are all promoting search,” he says, noting that search is a moneymaker for all three. “More people are used to using search on the web to find the news or product they are looking for, so when they come to a site, we are seeing higher usage of on-site search.”

Squire adds that site search is an easy feature to fix. E-retailers with analytics in place can use them to identify highly searched terms that are producing low search results or low revenue, and make the needed alterations. “You can see a dramatic increase in revenue then,” he adds.

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