June 29, 2006, 12:00 AM

Edwin Watts mines search data to fine-tune merchandising

New site search functionality tracks what’s searched and clicked, then uses the resulting data to rank search results by popularity. 80% of searchers now are clicking through on the top five search results.

Golfers who search online for Ping, Adams or Callaway equipment have lots of company, if what’s searched at the web store of equipment retailer Edwin Watts Golf is indicative of the category overall. Data pulled from the site search function at EdwinWatts.com shows the three manufacturer names rank consistently in the top three to five search terms on the site. What’s more, continuous monitoring of the search box has tracked rising interest in women’s golf equipment, with terms such as “ladies clubs” and “ladies drivers” also among the most popular keywords searched.

Edwin Watts has used the findings on the popularity of various search keywords on the site to improve on-site merchandising, driving a 280% increase in unique searches since implementing Learning Search, a site search product from SLI Systems, and having 80% of customers now clicking through on the top five search results.

The site search function tracks the search terms used by visitors and the corresponding clicked-on items, then uses that data to return search results based on overall popularity. For example, a search on “ladies” on EdwinWatts.com automatically ranks items in the returned search results, placing those with an historically higher click-through rate at the top of the list.

The new site search function has helped Edwin Watts generate higher revenue and build loyalty with its customer base, says David Patterson, Internet director. “We’re able to quickly see how customer preferences can change over the course of just a couple of months, which helps us better market our products to match what people are looking for,” he says.

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