But losses mount for the home furnishings e-retailer that went public in October.
Marketing company figures someone looking for sports bottles will be inclined to click on the URL sportsbottleworld.com. Company also takes advantage of many features offered by its site search provider to close the deal.
If a URL like walmart.com says to Internet users “we’ve got everything,” what does sportsbottleworld.com say? “We like to think they’ll think that’s the best link to click on because these people are obviously specialists in it,” says Pat Riley, webmaster for Sandia Marketing LLC.
Sandia sells imprinted items like sports bottles, mugs and pens through eights sites-one umbrella site and seven others with such domain names as drinkwarecentral.com, golfpromoproducts.com and realestatepromoproducts.com. Those domain names are particularly important because the web-only merchant gets virtually all its business through pay-per-click advertising. Riley figures the specialized domain names help his sites stand out from the crowd.
The results from sportsbottleworld.com seem to suggest the strategy is working. It is the second most profitable of the seven sites even though it has the fewest SKUs-89, a number that is about to go up to more than 150. Others of the Sandia sites have more than 1,200 SKUs, Riley says.
Riley has also spent a lot of time drilling into the options offered by his hosted site search provider, PicoSearch, to improve the chances that site searches will turn into sales.
Riley believes a search results page should be a mini-catalog. Using PicoSearch’s technology, his search results include a photo of the product, a description from the product catalog, the price printed in red for visibility, and only lastly all the listings that include the term searched for, the kind of contextual listings that search engines produce.
He likes that PicoSearch lets him exclude certain information from search results. For instance, he wants search results to come only from product pages, and not from pages that describe the company or how to establish credit. Parts of a page can also be screened from the search function, such as the phrase “click to enlarge” a photo. If the search function picked up the word click in that phrase it would return every product when a visitor searched for a pen with a clicker, Riley says.
Sandia sells mainly to businesses and to organizations like schools, churches and sports teams that want items imprinted with their logos. That makes it hard to compare Sandia’s conversion rates with those from web sites that sell to consumers. But Riley believes the site search strategy is producing results, as conversions range from one sale per 68 visitors on the most productive site to one per more than 200. The average purchase is around $800.