Archive for month: June, 2013

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Merchandising in the Online Age: Part One Adapting Classic Bricks and Mortar Tactics for the eCommerce Sphere

Business Rules

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merchandising has been around for as long as there have been marketplaces. Both veteran retailers and academic experts have spent countless hours analyzing and honing the best practices for displaying products for maximum sales and profits.

While many of those tried-and-true principles are applicable to the world of online retailing, there are important differences. Understanding those differences, and exploiting the advantages that new technology is bringing to the retail landscape, can make a huge difference in your bottom line.

First, what’s the same: The concept of promoting certain products over others, cross-selling and up-selling are universal, no matter whether you are selling your goods in a corner boutique or an online superstore.

It seems intuitive that eCommerce platforms should simplify these tasks, but in many cases that promise has not been fulfilled. With many eCommerce platforms, cross-sells and upsells often need to be configured on an item-by-item basis, which can translate into an onerous and time-consuming task.

Similarly, the ordering of items on display pages is often based on rudimentary algorithms which assign a static “priority value” to each item. Merchandisers wanting to push certain products to the top of pages have to re-number their priority values – another thankless chore that makes it hard for merchandisers to react quickly to changing market conditions.

Deciding where merchandise should appear on category and subcategory pages is hard-wired in many eCommerce platforms. That wouldn’t be so bad if the retailer only had to configure things once and be done. But inventory is never static – and as products are added or removed, additional time and effort is constantly needed to keep the most attractive products from a merchandising perspective at the forefront.

All of these challenges are multiplied for large and/or highly active retailers.

EasyAsk completely eliminates these issues and delivers solutions that allow merchandisers to react quickly and easily make changes in how products are displayed, upsold and cross-promoted.

For example, using natural language rules a merchandiser can feature specific products by identifying common product attributes and presenting them to the customer in a creative manner, such as “Hot Items” or “Great Values.”

Changing the display order is just as simple. A merchandiser can create and apply a variety of different rules (using plain English) to order products based on any number of attributes, including product attributes such as price, color or brand or operational attributes such as inventory level, popularity and margin.

Cross-sells and upsells are also easily implemented using natural language rules. Let’s say a retailer wants to cross-sell sunglasses with swimwear. With EasyAsk Commerce Studio, the merchandiser would create an event rule for “swimwear” and an action rule for “sunglasses” with a promotion type of “cross sell.” Done. Quite a bit easier than selecting every swimwear item and manually placing sunglasses in the “related products” area!

To entice a customer looking at handbags to consider a premium brand such as Kate Spade handbags, a merchandiser would simply set up an event rule of “NOT Kate Spade handbags” and an action rule of “Kate Spade handbags” with a promotion type of “upsell.” This would ensure that Kate Spade handbags appeared as “Items You Might Be Interested In” on any page where handbags other than Kate Spade were shown.

Classic merchandising techniques such as cross-selling, upselling and product promotions still hold powerful promise for eCommerce retailers. But the ability to quickly react and adapt to changing trends and market condition makes these tactics even more valuable to the bottom line. In our next installment, we’ll look at how to maximize some of the newer merchandising considerations that are unique to the age of internet retailing.

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Metakinetic Helps Andertons Launch E-Commerce Search, Navigation and Merchandising Solution

Published by CatEx

CatEx DCA bronze sponsor Metakinetic and EasyAsk, the natural language search technology and solutions company, have joined forces to plan and implement a new site search, navigation and merchandising service for Andertons, the musicians superstore.

The new service, which replaces the previous third party search software, was  identified by Metakinetic as part of its ongoing strategic ecommerce consultancy provided to Andertons, advising on all aspects of ecommerce to help drive online sales growth for the business.

The solution from EasyAsk has been rapidly deployed as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and empowers Andertons to take control of a single solution for their on-site search, navigation and merchandising functions. Using natural language processing, the service allows Andertons to give its website visitors an easy and intuitive way to navigate the site, helping them to easily find the product for which they are searching.

The EasyAsk solution releases the potential of product data held within product descriptions and names, to provide visitors with results that not only use word, phrase and attribute matching, but that have a real understanding of what the user is searching for. This means visitors can specify constraints such as a budget limit or exclusions such as colour or brand.

Darren Bull, director at Metakinetic and leading the EasyAsk project on behalf of Andertons, says, “It has been refreshing to work with the EasyAsk team – they have listened carefully to Metakinetic’s recommendations and ensured that they are implemented quickly, accurately and efficiently. I’m looking forward to seeing the inevitable uplift in sales following launch.”

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Relevant Search Results: What Does That Really Mean?

relevanceSite search is getting better these days, and with that development comes the assumption that the most “relevant” results should always show up in the first page of the results display.  While that seems like a pretty reasonable expectation, there is actually more to it than meets the eye.

“Relevancy” is actually a loaded term that can have differing meanings depending on how the term is used, and who is using it.  EasyAsk understands that there is a difference between “search relevancy” and “business relevancy,” and allows the merchant to control the results display based on the importance of both of these considerations.

Consider this example:  A customer of a large online retailer is looking for a television. She types “television” into the search field and sees results that include TVs, but also television remote controls, television antennas, and other television-related products. Those results all contain the keyword she entered and are therefore “search relevant.” But are these results displayed optimally from a “business relevancy” perspective?

It’s a common mistake for a search admin to treat this kind of situation as a search issue and attempt to improve the results by restricting the definition of “television” to return only actual televisions and not accessories.  The problem with this approach is twofold: It now makes it harder for the site search function to find accessories for a “TV remote” search, and it doesn’t allow the customer to further navigate to the TV accessories after viewing the actual televisions.

EasyAsk’s technology delivers a different solution. With EasyAsk, the retailer doesn’t need to eliminate results to present the most “relevant” options first. EasyAsk allows customization of how results are displayed through simple “business rules” that weight search results.  Using plain English, the retailer can simply type in rules that will prioritize how the results of the search are displayed.

This gives the retailer complete control and solves a problem common to many site search engines. It also has dramatic implications for merchandising, since items can be prioritized by brand, price, whether they are on sale, etc. We’ll explore that avenue further in a future blog.

But back to relevancy: In many cases it’s very difficult for site search technology to know how business relevant a product is to the search request. A related item such as accessory may be categorized in the same place as the looked-for item, and have many of the same words in the product title, but may actually be quite different from the searched-for item.

The site search is doing its job when it finds every product that corresponds to the searched phrase in the correct product category. Now it’s up to the retailer and the display technology to show that information in such a way that the buyer and seller sees what is appropriate in the top results.

To illustrate with another example, let’s say a customer searches for a gas grill.  Good site search technology should find all of the products related to gas grills — including the grills themselves as well as accessories such as grill covers and grill cooking implements. A merchandiser with a powerful tool like EasyAsk, however, can control how the search results are displayed with a simple business rule that prioritizes non-accessories when showing equally search relevant products.  In this way, a single business rule can have the HDTVs and the gas grills show first for their related searches while also including their equally “search relevant” accessories  further down in the results.

The topic of relevancy in search results is more complex than it initially seems. But with EasyAsk, there is also a simple solution that serves the needs of both the retailer and consumer.

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EasyAsk And Metakinetic Launch E-Commerce Search, Navigation And Merchandising Solution For Andertons

Burlington, MA – 24 June 2013 – Full service ecommerce agency, Metakinetic, and EasyAsk, the natural language search technology and solutions leader, have joined forces to plan and implement a new site search, navigation and merchandising solution for Andertons, the musicians’ No. 1 superstore.

The need for the solution, which replaces the previous 3rd party search software, was  identified by Metakinetic as part of the ongoing strategic ecommerce consultancy that it provides to Andertons, advising on all aspects of ecommerce to help drive online sales growth for the business.

The solution from EasyAsk has been rapidly deployed as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and empowers Andertons to take control of a single solution for their on-site search, navigation and merchandising functions. Using natural language processing, the solution allows Andertons to give its website visitors an easy and intuitive way to navigate the site, helping them to easily find the product for which they are searching.

By tapping into the unstructured data used within the Andertons ecommerce website, the EasyAsk solution releases the potential of product data held within product descriptions and names, to provide visitors with highly relevant results that not only use word, phrase and attribute matching, but that have a real understanding of what the user is searching for. This means that visitors to the site searching who are searching for a blue guitar are not going to miss out on the beautiful Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster in Tropical Turquoise and visitors can specify constraints such as a budget limit or exclusions such as colour or brand.

Lee Anderton, Managing Director of Andertons commented; “We’re very pleased to have found EasyAsk. It is a solution that helps us to improve our product findability to this extent. We now have faceted navigation, which is essential when working with such a large product catalogue.”

Darren Bull, Director at Metakinetic and leading the EasyAsk project on behalf of Andertons, added; “It has been refreshing to work with the EasyAsk team – they have listened carefully to Metakinetic’s recommendations and ensured that they are implemented quickly, accurately and efficiently. I’m looking forward to seeing the inevitable uplift in sales following launch.”

Simon Persse, VP Sales, Europe, EasyAsk concurred; “The speed of deployment and low upfront investment required to deploy EasyAsk Ecommerce Edition, coupled with the many unique capabilities such as our new autocomplete search as you type capability (SAYT) mean we will deliver a step change in usability for Andertons customers, helping them find the right product more easily as well as giving effective control over the search and navigation experience to the Andertons in-house team. We are looking forward to working in partnership with Metakinetic and the Andertons team to support the growth and development of their online channel.

About Andertons

Andertons Music Co. is a family run musical instrument retailer with nearly 50 years of experience serving the music community in the UK. From the Guildford music store and the online musical instrument shop, Andertons offers musicians a huge selection of guitars, amps, drums, pianos, keyboards, synthesizers, recording equipment, PA systems, music accessories and more – all at competitive prices and with a high level of customer service. For more information, please visit www.andertons.co.uk.

About Metakinetic

Metakinetic is a full service ecommerce agency founded in 2005. Based in Wokingham, Berkshire, with a team of 20 specialists, Metakinetic provides creative, technical and marketing services to a wide range of online retailers.

Focusing on quality, support and delivering results, Metakinetic helps its clients increase ecommerce sales and reduce operational costs. Metakinetic has worked with clients that include Daily Mail Shop, River Island, 118 Golf, Sohos, Laverstoke Park Farm and the award-winning sports bra site, LessBounce.

Metakinetic won an ECMOD Ecommerce Supplier of the Year Award, appears on the Recommended Agencies Register (RAR) for achieving a high level of client satisfaction, was ranked 25th largest digital agency in the Wirehive100, and shortlisted for a fast growth award, and has staff members that write for a variety of industry publications, including Econsultancy, Direct Commerce Magazine and Digital Marketing Website, Fourth Source and has been involved in judging the Web Marketing Association’s WebAward.  Metakinetic is also one of the founding companies of Berkshire Digital, a Berkshire-based non-profit community that organises events for businesses interested in all aspects of digital.

Metakinetic is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Google Adwords Certified Partner and a Znode Gold Implementation Partner. For more information please visit www.metakinetic.com.

 

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Andertons Implements New Site Search Solution

Published by Retail Systems

By Karen Moss

Metakinetic, and EasyAsk have joined forces to implement a new site search, navigation and merchandising solution for Andertons.

The need for the solution, which replaces the previous 3rd party search software, was identified by Metakinetic as part of the ongoing strategic e-commerce consultancy that it provides to Andertons, the musicians’ No. 1 superstore.

The solution from EasyAsk, the natural language search technology and solutions leader, has been rapidly deployed as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and empowers Andertons to take control of a single solution for their on-site search, navigation and merchandising functions.

Using natural language processing, the solution allows Andertons to give its website visitors an easy and intuitive way to navigate the site, helping them to easily find the product for which they are searching.

By tapping into the unstructured data used within the Andertons e-commerce website, the EasyAsk solution releases the potential of product data held within product descriptions and names, to provide visitors with highly relevant results that not only use word, phrase and attribute matching, but that have a real understanding of what the user is searching for.

Lee Anderton, managing director of Andertons, says; “We’re very pleased to have found EasyAsk. It is a solution that helps us to improve our product findability to this extent. We now have faceted navigation, which is essential when working with such a large product catalogue.”

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Merchandising Solution for Andertons

Published by Econsultancy

Full service ecommerce agency, Metakinetic, and EasyAsk, the natural language search technology and solutions leader, have joined forces to plan and implement a new site search, navigation and merchandising solution for Andertons, the musicians’ No. 1 superstore.

The need for the solution, which replaces the previous 3rd party search software, was identified by Metakinetic as part of the ongoing strategic ecommerce consultancy that it provides to Andertons, advising on all aspects of ecommerce to help drive online sales growth for the business.

The solution from EasyAsk has been rapidly deployed as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and empowers Andertons to take control of a single solution for their on-site search, navigation and merchandising functions. Using natural language processing, the solution allows Andertons to give its website visitors an easy and intuitive way to navigate the site, helping them to easily find the product for which they are searching.

By tapping into the unstructured data used within the Andertons ecommerce website, the EasyAsk solution releases the potential of product data held within product descriptions and names, to provide visitors with highly relevant results that not only use word, phrase and attribute matching, but that have a real understanding of what the user is searching for. This means that visitors to the site searching who are searching for a blue guitar are not going to miss out on the beautiful Fender Eric Johnson Stratocaster in Tropical Turquoise and visitors can specify constraints such as a budget limit or exclusions such as colour or brand.

Lee Anderton, Managing Director of Andertons commented; “We’re very pleased to have found EasyAsk. It is a solution that helps us to improve our product findability to this extent. We now have faceted navigation, which is essential when working with such a large product catalogue.”

Darren Bull, Director at Metakinetic and leading the EasyAsk project on behalf of Andertons, added; “It has been refreshing to work with the EasyAsk team – they have listened carefully to Metakinetic’s recommendations and ensured that they are implemented quickly, accurately and efficiently. I’m looking forward to seeing the inevitable uplift in sales following launch.”

Simon Persse, VP Sales, Europe, EasyAsk concurred; “The speed of deployment and low upfront investment required to deploy EasyAsk Ecommerce Edition, coupled with the many unique capabilities such as our new autocomplete search as you type capability mean we will deliver a step change in usability for Andertons customers, helping them find the right product more easily as well as giving effective control over the search and navigation experience to the Andertons in-house team. We are looking forward to working in partnership with Metakinetic and the Andertons team to support the growth and development of their online channel.

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Check, please! How Improved Spell Correction Can Make a Difference in Your Bottom Line.

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Not all of us are gifted spellers. Or typists. Add to that the fact that more and more of us are multi-tasking, searching for products and information on the go, using mobile devices with tiny, tiny keypads, and it’s easy to see why it’s important for eCommerce retailers to have search capabilities that understand and correct misspellings. The online shopper sitting leisurely at a desktop computer using a full size qwerty keyboard is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

You may think your website search already offers spelling correction. And it probably does have some basic functionality in that area. But is the spelling correction good enough to deliver the correct results even when the error may not be an obvious misspelling?

Many eCommerce search engines use the equivalent of a pocket dictionary to catch misspellings. This may catch common misspellings of common words, but falls far short when it comes to brand names, industry terms or incorrect part numbers.

EasyAsk uses all the words in your product database as a reference for valid spelling. When it’s unable to get an exact match, a powerful algorithm identifies the closest logical alternative. For example, if a buyer mistypes the word “jeans” as “jeens,” EasyAsk will automatically return results for “jeans.”

But EasyAsk doesn’t stop there. EasyAsk can generate the most likely correction for the misspelling, but also display other possible options as well. To continue the example, perhaps the shopper really meant to type in “teens.” EasyAsk will also deliver that possible alternative – if the client user has chosen to expand the options on their display.  EasyAsk’s spell correction gives the eCommerce site complete control over how expanded the search result is that is presented to the online shopper.

Perhaps the biggest benefit good spell correction makes is to eliminate the No Results page. If your search capability can understand what the likely intent of the user is, it can deliver results even if the term or phrase is entered incorrectly.  Since the number one job of your eCommerce search engine is to make sure results are returned whenever possible, this becomes an extremely important feature.

EasyAsk’s natural language search capabilities can linguistically process an entire search phrase to understand the complete context of the query. Misspellings or not, accurate results are delivered.

Maybe it’s a good thing our fourth grade teachers didn’t know that technology would bring us to the point where we are today – we might all be worse spellers than we already are.

 

 

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Why Doesn’t Anyone Use My Search Box?

An example of a really fancy search box at http://www.truevalue.com/
An example of a really fancy search box at http://www.truevalue.com/

We don’t want to appear rude, but if this is a question you’ve been asking about your eCommerce site, the chances are it’s because it’s no good. Poor or inconsistent search results are a fact of life for all too many online retailers, with damaging results to conversion, sales and profitability. Here are a few of the prime offenders/key culprits that may be driving your customers away from your search box.

No results. Readers of previous EasyAsk blogs will know that we can’t emphasize enough the importance of returning results to a search query. There’s just no excuse for the “No Results” page. If your eCommerce search can understand both the intent of the search and the content of the product catalog, this problem is eliminated.

Irrelevant results. A close second in the worst search practices is the delivery of multiple pages of irrelevant results.  It’s just as frustrating to the customer as the “No Results” page and just as unproductive for the retailer.

Inconsistent results. Chances are your website search sometime delivers and sometimes falls short. But customers have the expectation that your search should work all the time, every time. And the recollection of a poor experience is likely to make more of an impression of that of a smooth transaction.

If your site search has been guilty of any of these bad behaviors, chances are you have trained your customer to ignore your search box. If the customer is determined enough, and your navigation is good enough, they may still click through multiple steps necessary to find the product they are looking for. Alternatively, they may just go to a better site.

What To Do

Natural language search software eliminates all of these missteps by letting shoppers describe what they are seeking in plain English and get back highly tuned results every time they search.  The semantic processing technology can interpret what the customer is looking for and thus always returns the most relevant results. If there is no exact match, the software intelligently returns the closest thing available. By adopting natural language search, both the customer’s experience and the bottom line are greatly improved.

Making the course correction, adopting natural language search, and delivering accurate, relevant search results will delight new and returning customers who use your search function. But if your search box function has been poor in the past, it’s important to let customers know that things have changed and that they can expect an improved experience.

There are several simple steps you can take to regain user confidence in your search box. One of the easiest is to post a banner on the site that asks the shopper to “Try our new, improved search box!” Changing the look and feel or position and size of the search box also draws attention to the fact that something has changed. Make your search box large enough and prominent enough for visitors to easily see it. The top center of the page is generally the best location for visibility and usage.

Another user-friendly approach is to put a leading phrase into the search box instead of a blank space or “enter keyword.” A phrase like “What are you looking for” encourages the shopper to not only use the box, but we specific about what they are hoping to find.

If customers aren’t using your search box, it’s time to take a hard look at the results it is delivering and make a commitment to make a change.

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EasyAsk Takes Autocomplete To The Next Level With Search-as-you-Type, or SayT

Andertons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week at IRCE 2013, EasyAsk unveiled a new way to search for products. The new Search-as-you-Type (SayT) brings shoppers one step closer to getting the right product on the first page. When EasyAsk eCommerce search is powering a site, as you begin to type in the search box, a drop down area opens guiding you with smarter search suggestions, better instant product results with images & also category + attribute guided navigation.

Have you ever been to a commerce website, typed something into the search box and received many pages of results, not showing what you were looking for? SayT fixes that!

Available now, new SayT with navigation is available free to all existing EasyAsk customers, and anyone switching to EasyAsk by September 30, 2013. This feature works with both the cloud based SaaS and installed versions of EasyAsk eCommerce Search.

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IRCE 2013 Come Get Yer Popcorn

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 5.33.01 PMWe’re very excited to be exhibiting at IRCE 2013, going on right now in Chicago from June 4-7. As of now, the show has officially begun with the Opening Reception taking place in the Exhibit Hall.

Wednesday, the Exhibit Hall is open from 9 am to 7 pm and on Thursday from 9 am to 4:15 pm.

EasyAsk will be giving demos and talking about our eCommerce Edition. Please ask us how it’s helped our customers achieve unbelievable decreases in bounce rates, increased use of the search box, and increased conversions, all leading to higher revenue.

If you’re at IRCE, please stop by booth 708. We’re giving away popcorn! You should be able to smell your way to our booth. 😉

Ready to see how EasyAsk's eCommerce solution can help you? Request a demo!