Archive for month: July, 2013

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Getting the Most from Your Search Box

There are a number of simple steps you can take to make sure your search box is working efficiently to help drive conversion. Size and placement on the page are two of the most important. You want visitors to your search function to connect quickly and efficiently to the products they are most likely to buy.

The first step in doing this is to make sure the box is easily seen and that its function is immediately apparent. It almost goes without saying that no one should have to search for the search box. Yet many e-Commerce sites, in a misguided effort to maximize page real estate, make the search box so small it is hardly noticeable. Similarly, many sites make the assumption that the visitor will know what its intended usage is. Don’t assume anything. Let the visitor know exactly what to do.

The brief video below gives you a few specific search box tips that can improve your conversion rate.

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EasyAsk Search-as-you-Type: A Closer Look

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Earlier this summer, EasyAsk unveiled a powerful new tool in its search arsenal. Search-as-you-Type (SayT) is a major enhancement that brings customers one step closer to immediately finding the product they want. We thought it was worth taking a closer look at the product and how it works.

We’re all pretty familiar with the idea of auto-complete when using our computers or mobile devices. You begin typing in a word or phrase, and get immediate suggestions for completing your entry.

SayT goes way further. In addition to offering word suggestions based on your partial entry, SayT presents product results and targeted category and attribute suggestions that automatically update as a shopper scrolls through the search suggestions.

A few highlights:

Smarter Search Suggestions: Intelligent search suggestions and product results are returned with refinements as the shopper types, eliminating the problem of too many results and irrelevant results. SayT not only improves the shopper experience, it decreases the time to shopping cart and checkout.

Instant Product Results: As the user types, SayT examines the input, sends it to the server for suggestion generation, then presents the results to the user – all in an instant. SayT provides immediate feedback to the shopper who can see the products their search would return while they are typing. It doesn’t get any faster than that.

Product Images: SayT allows shoppers to see images of the actual products as well as the search results descriptions. The product images that match the search can be displayed below the suggestions and be instantly clicked through to the product page.

Customizable Results: What the shopper using SayT sees is completely under the control of the retailer.  You can customize what types of content to display, how it is shown, and where the information is displayed. The site manager can even market specific offers to shoppers instantly while they are typing. In short, it’s a merchandiser’s dream come true.

Guided Navigation: As the search results and images come up, the user can press an arrow key to highlight one of the suggested products.  The products and navigation for that selection are then shown.

But a picture is worth a thousand words. The screen shot above shows a sample scenario of a shopper who has typed “purs” into the search box. Our shopper has then used the arrow key to navigate to the suggestion of “leather purses,” which has brought up images and description of the best products matching that search.

At this point, she can click on a product and go straight to its product page, click on a navigation choice and see those results (brown leather purses, for example), or click the suggestion of “leather purses” to see all the results and navigation for that selection, or continue typing to see further suggestions and refinements.

It’s simple, intuitive and fast.

SayT is available at no additional cost to all current EasyAsk customers, whether using the cloud-based SaaS or the installed version of EasyAsk eCommerce Search. A new customer incentive program includes SayT free of charge with all purchases of EasyAsk eCommerce Edition by September 30, 2013.

 

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When Small Is Beautiful: Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Avis

The eCommerce world is large, complex and fraught with both danger and the opportunity to open new markets and increase sales. The stakes are high, and companies want to make sure they are making all the right choices along the way. Those are some of the reasons why retailers choose to work with the industry’s largest vendors. They are also some of the very same reasons why many select smaller partners to accomplish their goals.

In the world of online retail, bigger isn’t always better.

Large vendors and technology providers often tout their global footprint, number of employees and financial size in their corporate profiles. All of these are potentially good things, but not necessarily relevant to delivering the best solution to a customer.

Etailinsights recently offered some food for thought on why bigger isn’t always better. We think they’re right on the mark and have a few more ideas to add to the discussion.

Innovation. Many smaller technology vendors can spot a product opportunity or a common customer issue and design solutions far more quickly and with less bureaucracy than their larger counterparts. They can adapt to changing market conditions rapidly, and aren’t left trying to sell last decade’s solution in 2013.

Specialization. Smaller partners don’t have to try to be all things to all people. In many cases, they have a niche – a certain specialty product or a specific market type or size they service best. All of their focus goes into providing the best possible customer solutions for those audiences

Attention. As Etailinsights points out, there’s little doubt that smaller vendors often excel when it comes to personal service and attention.  Resources can be quickly shifted to address clients’ needs.

Cost Effectiveness. The smaller vendor usually does not need to support a global sales force or multiple offices around the world. Product development, sales and management are often under one roof, which not only translates into less cost to the end user, but also sparks greater innovation (see above).

When it comes to search technology for today’s eCommerce retailer, we like to think EasyAsk delivers the best of both worlds. We’re innovators in the field of natural language search, allowing users to simply ask questions in plain English and receive highly tuned results. That specialty focus and unique technology have helped drive some of the highest conversion rates in the industry. Yet our mainstream approach means we integrate seamlessly with eCommerce sites from some of the biggest names in the industry, including Magento and Netsuite.

Those of us of a certain age may remember a tag line which Avis Rental Cars famously launched in the 1960s. It not only gave Avis a memorable brand promise, it also it summarizes in a nutshell why it’s often a smart move to take a look at the smaller vendor: “We Try Harder.”

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Merchandising in the Online Age: Part Two Making the Most of the Online Environment

shoe-and-sock-cross-sell-mainWhile classic merchandising techniques such as cross-selling and up-selling remain important in today’s retail environment, eCommerce has brought many changes to the world of merchandising. There are new merchandising tools and analytics and algorithmic display techniques. Sales influencers have also changed dramatically with the increased importance of social media and customer reviews.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that while most bricks and mortar merchandising is designed to promote certain products for a fixed period of time, online merchandising operates in real time, and can be changed immediately depending on customer behavior.

Leveraged correctly, and with the right tools, these changes hold the promise of an effective, agile merchandising environment. Let’s take a look at how to make that happen.

Unlike many eCommerce platforms, EasyAsk was designed with the merchandiser in mind. Using information from the product catalog, and based on the products a visitor is looking at, merchandisers can configure truly dynamic merchandising programs.

And while most platform merchandising tools allow very limited data to drive merchandising, EasyAsk allows merchandisers to enter any number of fields or attributes, and can even derive attributes for specific promotions. Operational attributes, such as sales data, product margin or inventory level can also be used to drive merchandising efforts.

Product promotions can be displayed in a number of different locations on an eCommerce site using EasyAsk. Landing pages, product detail pages and the shopping cart are all options for cross-sells, upsells and promotions.

Banner ads are the online equivalent of promotional store signage, but with greater functionality. The banner can link to any group of products which the merchandiser can create through a natural language search query.  So a banner ad promoting “The Season’s Hottest Shoes” could execute an EasyAsk rule for “5 best-selling pumps.”

Landing pages can also be configured to show products based on dynamic, natural language rules.

Smart merchandisers are already using social media and product reviews to better position products and increase sales. In addition to reaching customers with sale and promotional information via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, retailers are leveraging customer feedback, product reviews and Facebook “Likes” to drive sales. EasyAsk makes it simple to raise and/or promote products based on reviews, stars or “Likes” using natural language rules.

For example, a merchandiser could use product review data to group products and display specific items at the top of the page. A plain English rule, “lawnmowers rated 4 stars or higher” would create a group of “4-Star Lawnmowers” for the customer to shop. Or a rule “top 5 rated televisions” would find and present the most highly rated TVs, honing the customer’s search and bringing the sale closer.

With buyers increasingly interested in purchaser feedback, this becomes an extremely powerful merchandising tool.

EasyAsk Commerce Studio makes it easy for merchandisers to take advantage of the promise of online merchandising by making it easy to define, maintain, and manage merchandising programs.

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