February 2, 2006, 12:00 AM

FurnitureFind doubles conversions with new site search

FurnitureFind.com launched search and navigation from Endeca and saw calls to its contact center drop as customers found needed product information on the site. With customers who do call now more ready to buy, conversions jumped.

A good site search application is enough to help customers find some categories of products on web sites – but FurnitureFind.com is finding that for its category, search and navigation works better. “We wanted to be able to not only show all the sofas we had on our site for example, but also to display the attributes we have in our data set about the sofas as well, so people could refine their search,” director of web services Cory Nielsen tells InternetRetailer.com. Five months ago, it replaced its existing hosted site search solution with guided search and navigation software from Endeca Technologies Inc. and saw online conversion double, he says.

But the new tool produced something of a scare for FurnitureFind on day one of the rollout, until the company placed the results it saw initially in context, Nielsen adds. Most of FurnitureFind’s sales are transacted at its call center after shoppers browse and research on the site, making the site, though fully e-commerce enabled since 2004, primarily a source of lead generation. Each call or e-mail is considered a lead, and within a day of implementing the new site search tool, those leads dropped dramatically in volume.

“It was a monumental shift,” says Nielsen. But after analysis, it was clear this represented good news. FurnitureFind determined that many of the leads it had previously received were for basic questions – questions for which answers could now be found easily on the site. “We saw an increase in conversions. Even though the leads went down, the people that did call were more ready to buy. They were able to find the answers they wanted,” Nielsen says.

Nielsen, who is speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition June 5-7 in Chicago on “Making Sense of Online Shopping Malls,” adds that improving site search also helped the web site become a more useful tool for call center agents, who were more easily able to walk callers through making choices from the material presented online.

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