April 13, 2011, 3:31 PM

Review-based navigation helps boost site search for AbesofMaine.com

Consumer reviews give shoppers new options to search for products.

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Electronics e-retailer AbesofMaine.com knew it was sitting atop a mountain of valuable data in the form of consumer-generated reviews. It incorporated those reviews into site search and navigation, and now 20% of site search users choose to sort search results based on what other people think.

Abe’s of Maine incorporates review-based navigation at the sub-category level. A consumer browsing the 101 flat-panel TVs the e-retailer sells can open a horizontal window at the top of the results page labeled “click to browse by user feedback.” The consumer can then sort the results by user rating, user type, best uses and best features. This enables a TV shopper to sort reviews so they can see the most highly rated televisions that consumers cited as being “easy to set up,” for example.

Sarah Marcus, marketing director at electronics e-retailer AbesofMaine.com, says its site search vendor, SLI Systems, and its review vendor, PowerReviews, approached her about seven months ago with an integration tool that would incorporate consumer review data into search.

“It was a no-brainer,” she says. “User reviews and consumer content are the best ways to sell a product or seal a deal.”

Marcus says PowerReviews didn’t charge any significant fee to turn on the feature and that its increased search volume remains within the range defined by its SLI contract, so adding the feature hasn’t really cost AbesofMaine.com anything.

“We feel that the increased engagement rate of users with our search tool works to our benefit and would be worth a cost anyway,” she says. “It has more people using the tools we have, engaging with our brand and with each other.”

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