Author Archive for: Matt

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Travers Tools Sees Staggering Numbers With Switch to Natural Language Search

 

Way back in 1924, Travers Tool co., Inc. began serving the metalworking community with tools and industrial supplies. Back in the late 1990’s, Travers joined the rest of the modern world by starting an eCommerce site to take orders online. The internet was a different game back then, and with the vast amount of products Travers offers, their site struggled to keep up.

But in 2010, Travers looked for a change and switched to EasyAsk for their eCommerce Site Search.

“We really wanted to increase our percentage of online business. It was in the low teens and we wanted to get it up to at least 30 percent and eventually over 50,” Travers Tool president Bruce Zolot said.

With well over 100,000 products, Travers needed an eCommerce Site Search that could integrate seamlessly and reduce the time it takes to find the right product, even with long-tail searches.

Enter EasyAsk, a Natural Language search and merchandising software that delivers rapid, intuitive search results, using plain English.  Travers was looking for a solution that would tightly integrate with its backend system for pricing and inventory availability, as well as return accurate results for a complex search in under five seconds.

“We decided to go with a best-of-breed search application and that was EasyAsk.  Choosing EasyAsk also meant we could go to market much more quickly, “ Zolot said.

The results were better than expected. Travers has seen a 12 percent increase in average order sizes, a six percent increase in orders per day, and an eight percent decrease in time spent searching on their eCommerce site.

“EasyAsk lets customers search our site the way they want and not waste time learning how to search,” Zolot concludes. “We can use all the data attributes we’ve collected about our products and provide a very precise, guided navigation.”

EasyAsk accommodated Travers Tool’s large product catalogue, and while the catalogue continues to grow, EasyAsk continues to provide rapid, high-performance indexing and search.

Want similar findability for your eCommerce site? Contact us at 781-402-5641 or visit our website www.easyask.com

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EasyAsk Offers Replacement Program for Google Commerce Customers

Free Implementation offered to the first FIVE companies to contact EasyAsk

With the revealing of Google ending their Google Commerce Search at the end of 2013, EasyAsk is offering a way to simplify the lives of Google Commerce Customers by offering a replacement program.  The program provides these customers with improved eCommerce Site Search, Navigation and Merchandising.  These replacements will help Google Commerce Customers keep and in most cases, increase their conversion rates, resulting in higher revenue and increased profits.

Over the last year or so, the search industry has undergone enormous changes as Natural Language/Semantic Search has proven to be more advanced than Keyword Search. Companies like IBM (Watson), Apple (Siri), and Google’s Internet Search (Semantic Search), have all deployed smarter search algorithms that don’t rely on keyword search.

EasyAsk has lead the industry since 2001 in providing the fastest, most accurate search results for online shoppers.  Using Natural Language technology to understand the entire intent and context of the search request. the results are dramatically more accurate search results and significantly higher conversion rates, which lead to increased revenues and profits.

EasyAsk customers include well-known brands such as The North Face, Lands’ End, True Value Hardware and many more.  And EasyAsk is platform agnostic, deployed on any eCommerce environment, including Websphere Commerce, Magento, Netsuite SuiteCommerce, and others.

To take advantage of EasyAsk’s Google Commerce Search Replacement Program, please call 781-402-5641 or register on our website.

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EasyAsk’s NRF Big Show Debut and An Interesting Rumor

EasyAsk recently made its debut appearance at NRF’s 102nd Annual Convention & EXPO at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. With over 25,000 attendees, the EasyAsk team was quite busy to say the least.  oe25bj0j4ruoag79d8wb

While at the show, EasyAsk bumped into a few current customers who swung by the booth to say hi. (Keith Barnes at Lands’ End, and Clark Linstone at Lamps Plus).

We also heard a rumor that Google is abandoning Google Commerce Search at the end of 2013.  People told us they are not taking on any new customers, and will not be supporting their search solution for online businesses beyond the years’ end.

If this rumor is true, it means companies like GNC, Panasonic, Forever 21 and others will need to find someone else to take care of their search capabilities.

We hope they’ll consider EasyAsk, as we have an awesome natural language site search, navigation and merchandising solution that has helped our customers significantly increase conversions on their websites, and generate a ton more money.

We reached out to Google, but have not heard back. If anyone out there has heard directly from Google, we’d love to get confirmation that it is true.

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Mobile eCommerce Site Search Tips

 

Mobile shoppers and mobile devices are drastically different than traditional online eCommerce scenarios.  Mobile shoppers typically have less time to browse, screen sizes are tiny in comparison, keyboards and eCommerce navigation are awkward and voice-enabled features are becoming more common.  Here are a few things to consider while building your mobile eCommerce site.

Search is King
The limitations on mobile devices prioritize search on mobile eCommerce sites.  Faceted navigation and browsing just don’t cut it.  Shoppers want to see what they are looking for quickly and the search box is the fastest path to purchase.  You should assume that the vast majority of your mobile eCommerce shoppers will interact with your search box before making a purchase.  How can you make it easier for them to get to your search box and enter what they are looking for?

Accurate results
The importance of eCommerce site search in mobile environments means that the search box must produce accurate, relevant results, even when shoppers enter partial or complex queries.  You need a backend system that understands shopper intent and that can showcase the most relevant items from your product catalogue.  Quality trumps quantity – mobile shoppers are much less likely to scroll through pages of results.  Results need to be displayed clearly, with uniform images ranked by relevancy.

Voice enabled
Most new phones, including the iPhone and Androids, are voice enabled and your shoppers are becoming much more comfortable speaking to their devices, as they would a personal assistant. People can now click a microphone button on their mobile devices to enter text into your search box and this is leading to more naturally spoken, descriptive queries.

Remember: Mobile DEMANDS great eCommerce site search.  Consider natural language processing solutions, which automatically understand shopper intent and match queries to the most relevant items in your product catalogue.  Natural language and semantic solutions are vastly better at understanding longer, more descriptive queries, like those spoken into voice-enabled devices.  If you are not able to upgrade from keyword to natural language or semantic search, make sure you tune your system as best as possible – adding all relevant synonyms, common misspellings, as well as commonly associated terms and product descriptions for each item in your catalogue. Also frequently review your site’s analytics to see how people are searching, which will help you improve your site’s results over time.

Do you have additional mobile eCommerce site search tips to share?  Drop them in the comments below or Tweet us with #EasyAsk.

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Building the Best Search Box

A search box should be like a friendly sales associate – engaging shoppers and directing them to exactly what they are looking for.  Search is the most important eCommerce navigation tool on your site.  It should be easy to find and available from all pages.  Below are a few basic things to consider:

Size of box and buttons
In general, boxes and buttons should be large and rectangular. Creative shapes may look nice, but can hurt you when it conflicts with expectations, as shoppers scan sites quickly and are accustomed to corners.

Make sure the search box is long enough to accommodate more descriptive search terms and phrases.  The submit button should also be large enough to click on in a hurry.

Think about a complimentary or bright color scheme to help the box and button jump off the page.  Also be sure to label the button “search” or “find” instead of something more ambiguous like “go.”

Position
Always place your eCommerce site search box at the top of each page – right, left or center. Make sure it stands out from other boxes.  Subscription or other promotional boxes can create confusion if they are not clearly differentiated. You may want to consider placing other box-like promotions at mid-page or lower.

Suggestive search box
Add a phrase to your search box like “what are you looking for?” A conversational question or phrase will lead to more descriptive searches, which will produce more accurate results.  Conversely, a search box that says “product number” will suggest to shoppers that you want succinct model number versus a conversational phrase.  Shorter eCommerce site search phrases may not have enough information to match to all the relevant items in your product catalogue.

Remember: the search box is the most valuable real estate on your site. Your eCommerce merchandising and eCommerce searchandising strategies will fail if shoppers can’t find and properly utilize your search box.  Spend the time and effort upfront to get it right.

Do you have additional search box tips to share?  Drop them in the comments below or Tweet us with #EasyAsk.

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If Your Search Box Was a Personal Shopper, Would You Fire It?

 

In the world of online shopping, your site search box is like your personal shopper.  You know, like the ones who ask you, “How may I help you?” when you walk into a department store.

In the real world, if you’re asked that, you’re going to tell them how they can help you.  But in the eCommerce world, most of the sites you go to can’t help you the way a personal shopper can. Why?  Because of Keyword Search limitations, and the fact that most people don’t know what’s possible with their eCommerce Site Search.

In the early days of the Internet, way back in 1995, the Keyword attribute was popularized by search engines like AltaVista.  But even as early as 1997, which was 15 years ago, they discovered keyword search was unreliable.  But people still continue to use it!  Why?

Yahoo! and Google…

If you use a long-tailed search (i.e. “Women’s black long-sleeved dresses”), the chances of your search returning the right product, are very slim. And now you’re reduced to clicking through page after page to try and find what you want. Or, if you’re like me, you leave the site altogether.

Let’s flip it around and compare it to real life. What if you told a personal shopper that you wanted a “Women’s black long-sleeved dress,” and she returned with long-sleeve shirts, coats, jackets, short-sleeve dresses, strapless dresses, etc. You would look at her like she’s… how do I put this nicely?… AN IDIOT. Because you made it clear you what you wanted and she didn’t understand you.

You wouldn’t accept this in real life, so why are you accepting this with eCommerce websites? Because you’re used to it? That’s just ridiculous, especially when your eCommerce Site Search has the ability to understand the entire intent and context of your request.

If you’re using the right technology…

Natural Language/Semantic Search has been around for years, but has not gained steam until fairly recently with IBM Watson and Siri on the iPhone. It’s a SMARTER and FASTER search than Keyword, and can understand long-tail searches, price constraints, and synonyms.  Flip-flops, sandals, thongs, slippers are all the same thing, you know it, I know it, your search box should know it.

It’s time to stop accepting below-average as the norm. Upgrade your eCommerce Site Search to a Natural Language Engine. EasyAsk has done wonders with companies Large (Lands’ End) and small (Schuler Shoes).

Take a look for yourself and see what can be accomplished with the right Searchandising tool.

 

 

 

 

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Record-Breaking Cyber Monday Delivers Important Message to Retailers

Avoid “No Results” Page and Increase Conversion Rates with these 4 Tips:

Cyber Monday sales were stellar, with some of the largest U.S. retailers seeing a 30 percent increase from last year, according to Smarter Commerce.  Research firm ComScore Inc. (SCOR) says that Monday spending reached a record $1.46 billion!  Some retailers were punished however, as sites with poor eCommerce site search lost customers due to the dreaded “no results” page.  Mobile shoppers, who accounted for 18 percent of Monday’s retail traffic, are a major percentage of that group who left, as mobile devices offer cramped screens and clumsy navigation.

Here are four tips you can apply to avoid the “no results” page to improve conversion rates and ensure you capture your share of this holiday season’s online and mobile sales.

Auto complete and spell correction
Show your shoppers full search terms as they type, so they can pick and click.  And automatically correct or compensate for your customers’ typos to provide the most meaningful results.

Relax Long-Tail Searches
Many “No Results” pages are the result of long-tail searches, such as “Men’s black Ferragamo loafers.” The worst thing an Internet retailer can do is return a “No Results” page because the visitor will just jump to another site to find what they’re looking for. A good site search and merchandising solution will “relax” out words to find something close to what the buyer is looking for. In the example above, if the retailer doesn’t carry Ferragamo brand, they can show “men’s black loafers”. The best search-relaxation systems recognize concepts, like understanding that “black” is a color and “loafers” is a category. With this understanding, a top-notch site search solution can prioritize which concept to drop first.

Explain why there are No Results and offer solutions
The most frustrating “No Results” pages don’t indicate why nothing is displayed.  Use this space to tell them why the search failed and give them options and instructions on how to continue their search.  Many sites offer a list of popular searches or popular brands offered and, if possible, personal assistance via phone or chat.

Provide a rich, mobile eCommerce solution
There are new mobile eCommerce solutions that enable Smartphone users to just hit the microphone button and speak directly into the search-box.  The very best eCommerce solutions provide this, transforming iPhones, Androids and Window’s Phones into a fully functional eCommerce shopping experience.

These are just a few tips you should consider implementing within your eCommerce software solution to mitigate the “No Results” page.  What other ideas do you have to improve your site search results? Let us know in the comments section, or Tweet them to us with #EasyAsk.

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Google joining IBM, Apple and EasyAsk? Pigs fly! News at 11…

 

(Message from the CEO of EasyAsk, Craig Bassin)

Looks like this is the beginning of the end for keyword search.  You’ve probably seen a number of articles discussing Google’s shift to ‘semantic search’.  Anyone understand what that REALLY means?  First, the definition of ‘semantic search’ is an understanding of the ‘intent’, or meaning, of the search, rather than just matching the keywords.

Now why would the undisputed 800-pound gorilla of keyword search, change course at this late date?  Conventional wisdom says they were forced to take a hard look after Apple launched Siri.  The timing sure seems to reinforce the fact that they’ve been playing with semantic search for some time, but needed to make a marketing splash now.

So, why change?  Well, obviously it’s a BETTER way to search and they had to, or they wouldn’t have!  I mean, really, Google acknowledging the limitations of keyword search?

Quoting from Paul Demery’s recent article (to read it, click here) about Google’s adoption of semantic search in Internet Retailer, ‘“Semantic search should allow Google as well as other search engines to better understand the true user intent of a search query,” says Kevin Lee, CEO of search marketing firm Didit.

Also, quoting from the same article: “Every day, we’re improving our ability to give you the best answers to your questions as quickly as possible,” Amit Singhal, Google’s head of search technology, said in a blog post. “In doing so, we convert raw data into knowledge for millions of users around the world. But our ability to deliver this experience is a function of our understanding your question and also truly understanding all the data that’s out there. And right now, our understanding is pretty darn limited. Ask us for ‘the 10 deepest lakes in the U.S,’ and we’ll give you decent results based on those keywords, but not necessarily because we understand what depth is or what a lake is.”

Now, understanding ‘intent’ AND ‘content’ is something that is at the very core of who EasyAsk is and how EasyAsk searches.  It’s the idea that, in an e-commerce setting, you can search for ‘men’s dress shirts under $30’ or ‘ladies red pumps size 6’ and get EXACTLY what you’re looking for.  Natural language understands the semantics involved in the search.  We understand the ‘intent’ of the question, we understand the ‘content’ of the data.  In adopting a new ‘semantic’ architecture Google will start to understand the ‘intent’ piece as well.

Now, who else searches this way?  How about Microsoft’s Bing, IBM’s Watson, obviously Apple’s Siri.

Now which of these companies can help you improve your e-commerce site?

None of them.

OK, but what about the other e-commerce search providers.  You probably know a few of them.  Endeca, SLI, Adobe, SOLR.

No, no, no and no.  Strictly keyword search.  Old news. Yesterday’s tech.

So we want to be the first to welcome Google.  We like them, use them all the time for internet search, along with Bing.  But when it comes to e-commerce search, folks, EasyAsk is leading the way.  Let us show you how.

It’s what we do.

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Why It’s Cool to be a Cool Vendor

 

With EasyAsk being acknowledged as a Cool Vendor for 2012, I figured it would be a good idea to give you some insight into why it’s cool.  So let’s take a look at a couple of past winners.

In 2011, Bazaarvoice was acknowledged as a Cool Vendor.  Bazaarvoice is a multinational internet marketing company that specializes in user-generated content through customer reviews.  It has become one of the largest social marketing companies in the world, with over 500 customers including: Best Buy, Macy’s, Costco., and Home Depot.  Bazaarvoice recently went public in February of 2012, and their present market cap is just under $1 Billion! Pretty cool . . .

Also in 2011, Instagram was acknowledged as a Cool Vendor. Instagram is a free photo-sharing program for social networking services. You’ll find photos all over Twitter and Facebook that are launched through Instagram. In fact, this program, which was only launched in October of 2010, was recently (April of 2012) acquired by Facebook for $1 Billion in cash and stock. With over 30 million accounts, you can see why the social media giant wanted to snatch them up.  Very cool!

Previously Splunk was named a Cool Vender. Splunk, according to their site “makes machine data accessible, usable and valuable to everyone.” And as of April 2012, they are the first Big Data company to go public, with over 3,500 customers in more than 75 countries.  That’s cool on a global scale . . .

Another former recipient, SugarCRM, is the fastest growing CRM provider on the planet, and was selected in 2011 as an IBM Global Alliance Partner for Cloud Services. They launched their own convention, SugarCon in 2007, and it is a show that has garnered more and more attendance as the years go by.  They also happen to be a partner of EasyAsk.  Now that’s beyond Cool, it’s Ice Cold…

In 2010, Jigsaw was acknowledged as a Cool Vendor. Jigsaw is a prospecting tool used by sales professionals, marketers and recruiters to get fresh and accurate sales leads and business contact information.  With a directory of more than 30 million business contacts, Jigsaw has quickly proven to be a very useful asset.  So much so, that Salesforce.com acquired them for $142 million.  I’ve used it myself countless times to get accurate contact information. SalesForce, hmm? … cool.

And now it’s our turn.  EasyAsk, the leader in Natural Language technology, being acknowledged as 2012 Cool Vendor.

EasyAsk recognized that Natural Language goes beyond the limits of Keyword. (something Google is now discovering, by the way)  And we have used this technology to help over 300 customers, applying it to e-commerce, business data and have recently used it to design Quiri, a Voice-Enabled Natural Language mobile app for Corporate Data.  Imagine Apple’s Siri, but for business.  It’s that easy and that revolutionary.

So… Why is it cool to be a Cool Vendor?  Well, one of the best ways to predict the future is to look at the past. With companies like the ones mentioned above, EasyAsk has certainly found itself in some cool company. To read more about EasyAsk becoming a Cool Vendor, click here or here.

One thing is for sure.  We think Gartner has excellent vision and is pretty cool!

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EasyAsk Brings Intelligence and Control Lucene/Solr Can’t Touch

Lucene/Solr is great for developers that enjoy tinkering with code as if it’s DNA and you’re working on the Captain America Super-Soldier Serum. But what if you don’t have the time or resources? What if you’re a company that cannot afford the manpower or hours needed to work on the open-source, Java-based search library? What if… what you need is a rich, mature product with the most accurate search engine on the planet?

Apache Lucene, for those who are unclear on the difference, is the library and Apache Solr is a layer of code on top of Lucene that turns it into a search platform, adding management and website APIs that are tailored for e-commerce. With Lucene/Solr you get a basic search engine, that requires a large IT staff or an army of consultants. It takes a lot of time, experience and troubleshooting to get the results you’re hoping for.

But let’s say you’ve outgrown the basic search functionality, or get frustrated having to build everything you need. And you’ve noticed how the e-commerce community has shifted to mobile sites with voice-recognition, and the abilities of open-source seem more and more limited. So wouldn’t you be tired of continuing to compete with every other e-commerce company that is trying to do the same thing with the same keyword-hampered technology? Why wouldn’t you want to stand out from the pack?

Where Lucene/Solr falls short, EasyAsk excels.

Companies like IBM, Magento, NetSuite, Infor and more have partnered with EasyAsk for a reason. The powerful Natural Language search-box and easy-to-use merchandising tools allow you to perform tasks a keyword-based software (Lucene/Solr) can’t even dream of. The intuitive site-search, dynamic navigation, and merchandising software utilizes Natural Language to increase conversion rates. It understands the intent of the search and delivers faster, more accurate results than keyword or navigation-driven softwares. The limitations you find with Lucene/Solr are simply not found with EasyAsk.

From understanding numeric units, to intelligent term relaxation, to merchandising capabilities like: Cross-Sell/Up-Sell promotions, EasyAsk has proven to bring something to the table that Lucene and Solr just can’t touch. Not to mention with EasyAsk you’re a step ahead of the game.

Take a quick look around and see which direction the technological world is headed. IBM’s Watson, Apple’s Siri, Nuance’s Dragon-Go, Panasonic’s Smart-TVs, and many more have all made the jump to a Natural Language Processing engine. It’s just a smarter way to connect with your customers.

And EasyAsk has been a leader in Natural Language for over a decade.

For example, on an EasyAsk-powered site, you can use your iPhone 4S or Android to verbally search for products on their mobile-sites. And thanks to the natural language engine that powers EasyAsk, they’ll find exactly what they’re looking for. Go to Lands’ End’s site on your phone, type-in or speak a product you’d like to see and a price constraint (i.e. Black Sleeveless Dresses for under $100) and see for yourself how powerful EasyAsk is. You’re not going to find that functionality with an open-source, keyword-based software.

Also the EasyAsk Commerce Studio puts the power back in the hands of the merchandiser. Want to add a new brand for your site, or cross-sell a couple of items? No problem, it literally takes a minute. To see what I’m talking about click here.

Look, if you want to keep trying to reinvent the wheel, go right ahead. But if you’re tired of sputtering in a Model-T and you’d rather upgrade to a search that’s better, the wave of the future, comes with merchandising capabilities that Lucene/Solr just can’t match, come take a look at EasyAsk, the Search That Means Business.

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