November 16, 2010, 1:44 PM

More than half of top e-retailers personalize search results

Research says best-in-class e-retailers invest in site search to match customer expectations.

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56% of top e-retailers say they deliver personalized search results, new research reveals. E-retailers say the primary reasons for personalizing search based on past purchase history or customer segment behavior are to satisfy customers’ rapidly changing expectations to get more relevant results from search queries (60%) and to deliver on their expectation for a satisfactory shopping experience (47%).

The findings come from Aberdeen Group’s Retail E-Commerce Search report, which was published last month and measured the performances of 94 e-retailers. The study segmented e-retailers into three groups based on three key performance indicators: increased year-over-year order value, net profit margin and average conversion rate. The study categorized the highest-performing e-retailers as best in class; the middle performers as average and the bottom-performing e-retailers as laggard. 44% of average performers and 15% of laggards personalize search results based on customer or customer segment purchase history.

It found that 73% of the top-performing sites have employees that dedicate time to ensuring the accuracy of search results, compared with 62% of average and 32% of laggard performers. Best-in-class performers also more often use technology to enhance search results. For example, 67% of best-in-class performers use natural language processing tools, compared with 33% of average performers and 5% of laggard performers. Best-in-class e-retailers also utilize web analytics, mixed media search, relevance ranking and segmentation tools at a higher rate than lesser-performing e-retailers, the research says.

The tools and internal processes appear to help save top performers time. Best-in-class retailers spend an average of 5.2 hours per week on search management, compared with 6.5 hours for all other retailers, the report says.

Top-performing e-retailers also do more with the search information they get. 73% have a process to disseminate results from search to relevant departments throughout the organization, such as marketing and merchandising. 32% of all other retailers surveyed had such a process in place.


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