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What do keyword mCommerce Search & Dinosaurs have in common?

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comic courtesy of Christiann MacAuley (www.stickycomics.com)

 

They’re both extinct.

It’s a pretty good analogy, really. If we set the way-back machine to 2007, there was no mCommerce (eCommerce on a mobile device). Why? Because the mobile devices of the day were not designed to be the computer-in-a-pocket devices that we have today. The very best options in those days were slick flip-phones (like the Razr, I still have a red one sitting in a drawer), PDA’s that doubled as phones (like the Palm Treo my boss had) and, of course, the Blackberry.

In the same universe, eCommerce searches, like all searches, were based on keywords. We were all trained to search in terse terms, knowing that the search engine was not intuitive and could not understand the intent or context of the words we use in normal, everyday language. So we searched based on one or two words and then used navigation to drill down to find what we were really looking for.

But technology evolved, as it always does. First came the iPhone, followed closely by the Android. Here was a game changer, we all rapidly abandoned our formerly beloved cell phones to harness the amazing power of a smartphone. By December 2014, 9 out of 10 (88.9%) mobile subscribers aged 25-34 owned a cellphone and 3 out of 4 (75%) of all mobile subscribers over the age of 13 had one. (source: marketingcharts)

I don’t need to tell you how smart your smartphone really is – you already know that. With the advent of voice technology like Siri and GoogleNow, the next big game changer came in the form of smarter search. We now have the ability to speak to our smartphone the way we speak to another person. For example, if I’m in Boston’s famous North End and I want pizza, I can ask for the best pizza in the North End and get a list of shops – with recommendations. How cool is that?

But what about mCommerce? Here’s a world where search is critical. After all, any shopper coming to your site has the potential to become a buyer. If they found what they were looking for on their first search, there’s a better chance of delighting them and converting them into a buyer.

So, if I want to buy a blue dress, I ask for a blue dress, and if I want that dress in a size 6 for less than $100, then I ask for a blue dress in a size six under $100. Here’s the interesting part, most of the technology that is used to search in eCommerce still uses keywords. Those engines will pick apart my query and return things that have nothing to do with what I asked for. I’ll get lots of blue things, and I’ll get underwear and I’ll even get a message telling me that they can’t find any matches (the dreaded no results page) or worse yet, I will get 10,000 items that are all wrong.

But, there are some technologies available today that understand the true context of my question, and will return results that exactly match what I asked for in the first place.

It’s funny because Google, Bing, Yahoo and IBM’s Watson all use this new natural language technology for their searches, but in the eCommerce world, the obsolete keyword search model still pervades the market. Why? Because it is free and it is embedded in the eCommerce platforms and many eRetailers don’t even know that a better way exists.

If you are an eRetailer you must be asking yourself if a natural language search engine would give you a competitive edge, delight your customers and drive your revenue. The answer is, of course!

When your business is relying on returning the right products, the first time, don’t give it to the dinosaur. Because what do dinosaurs and keyword search have in common? They are both extinct.

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Tacoma Screw Products, an EasyAsk customer, nominated for Internet Retailer Excellence Award at IRCE 2015

Innovative and successful Tacoma Screw competes with W.W. Grainger and others in the B2B E-Commerce Player of the Year category

June 4, 2015 – Burlington, MA – EasyAsk Technologies is pleased to congratulate Tacoma Screw Products on its nomination in the B2B E-Commerce Player of the Year Category at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition 2015 show. Also competing in the category, the other nominees were W.W. Grainger, MSC Industrial Supply Co., Environmental Lights Inc., and Newark element14. The 2015 Internet Retailer Excellence Awards recognize the achievements over the past year of the most innovative and successful eCommerce players who are setting the standards for excellence. Read More

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Internet Retailer Reveals Mobile Commerce Conversion Troubles

Guido Laures, the CTO of Spreadshirt, an e-retailer of print-on-demand apparel and accessories, recently published a revealing article in Internet Retailer on the struggles of e-retailers to convert on their mobile commerce sites and the lost potential revenue as a result.  According to Mr. Laures,

“Every year retailers are inundated with studies that herald mobile breakthroughs, but in reality, very few consumers finalize purchases on a smartphone.”

He cites interesting statistics from m-commerce technology provider Branding Brand that tablets and smartphones generated 53% of the visits to 50 retail sites that Branding Brands tracks in January 2015, but only generated 24% of the total web sales, thereby highlighting the conversion problem.

We have seen similar poor conversion rate statistics from the Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly reports.   In the 4th quarter of 2014 – the prime holiday season – Monetate found the conversion rate on smartphones was only 1.00% percent which is almost ¼ the rate on traditional desktops.

While mobile-friendly responsive designs and easier mobile checkouts are cited as inhibitors to mobile commerce conversion, an overlooked and more dangerous problem is earlier in the shopping process.  Before they can buy, customers first need to find the product they want.  Small screen sizes, clumsy typing and awkward scrolling gestures render traditional search and navigation useless on a smartphone.

The era of voice search is upon us.  Natural language voice-enabled search allows shoppers to freely say to your mobile site or app what they want, like they were speaking to a sales associate.  And in return, the mobile commerce site will show them exactly the products they want.  If they find the products faster, customers will convert more often.  It is that simple.

Only a natural language search solution can give your mobile commerce site the linguistic capabilities to understand the intent of a shopper’s spoken search and translate that to an exact set of products that matches their needs.  A keyword search engine leaves you prone to misunderstanding different words and returning a wide swath of products that will frustrate your shoppers and continue you down the path of poor mobile customer conversion.

Please watch this short video to see a true natural language, voice-enabled search solution in action on a live women’s apparel mobile commerce site.

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Internet Retailer on Reading Shoppers Minds

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Can your e-commerce search solution think and understand like a human? If so, your site turns into virtual sales associate, understanding clearly what customers want and closing the sale.

Internet Retailer has published an article, Reading Shoppers Minds, which explores how e-commerce search solutions have become more human-like for e-retail and mobile commerce. The article highlights how EasyAsk customer The North Face makes their site more human like to help their shoppers.

Natural language is an integral part of making your e-commerce site smarter and more human like. Natural language makes your search box more versatile, expanding the vocabulary your site understands and allowing customers to express what they are looking for in their own words.

Natural language is important in everyday e-commerce, and is IMPERATIVE in mobile commerce. In a mobile environment, your customers will use voice to input their searches, expressing their searches, as one industry analyst put it, “using a free flowing stream of consciousness”, such as: I’m looking for a Michael Kors watch in rose gold and I don’t want to pay more than $300.

Can your e-commerce search find that?

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EasyAsk Voice Shopper Unites Voice and Mobile for a Revolutionary Shopping Experience

E-retailers can easily embed voice-enabled conversational shopping into their m-commerce sites and mobile apps

Highlights

  • EasyAsk introduces EasyAsk Voice Shopper, a revolutionary new mobile commerce search and merchandising solution
  • Q3 2014 statistics from the Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly show that customer conversion rates on mobile devices were only 0.80%, much lower than the 2.78% customer conversion rate for on traditional desktop PCs.
  • EasyAsk Voice Shopper creates a new paradigm for mobile shopping by allowing customers to have a conversation with a mobile commerce site or app, just like speaking with a sales associate.
  • Having evolved from over 15 years of natural language research and development, the EasyAsk conversational search engine powers the conversation with the customer, combining an understanding of the shopper’s intent with the deep knowledge of retailer’s products and merchandising objectives to deliver the right products

National Retail Federation, The Big Show, New York, NY, USA – January 12, 2015 –EasyAsk (www.easyask.com), the leading provider of e-commerce search solutions for e-retail, mobile commerce and B2B commerce, today announced EasyAsk Voice Shopper, an intuitive, conversational voice search solution for mobile commerce sites and native apps. EasyAsk Voice Shopper enables customers to interact with a mobile commerce site or app using their voice to find the right products quickly and easily for fast, easy customer conversion.

According to Forrester Research, mobile commerce will surpass $293 billion in sales by 2018, comprising 54% of the total U.S. e-commerce, and surpassing desktop web commerce sales. Yet, the Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly from Q3 2014 showed that customer conversion rates on mobile devices were only 0.80%, much lower than the 2.78% customer conversion rate for on traditional desktop PCs. The limited screen real estate and clumsy thumbpads make it hard for shoppers to interact with mobile commerce sites or apps to find the products they want, hindering customer conversion.

EasyAsk Voice Shopper creates a new paradigm for mobile shopping by allowing customers to have a conversation with a mobile commerce site or app, just like speaking with a sales associate. Having evolved from over 15 years of natural language research and development, the EasyAsk conversational search engine powers the conversation with the customer, combining an understanding of the shopper’s intent with the deep knowledge of retailer’s products and merchandising objectives to deliver the right products.

The EasyAsk Voice Shopper allows customers to ask for products or services using any style – explicit names, categories or sub-categories, virtual categories or product concepts, long-tail searches, and full sentences. The request can have terms or attributes in any order, allowing the customer to freely speak their search in their own words.

In addition, EasyAsk Voice Shopper offers unique conversational features such as:

  • Voice refinements which allow a customer to narrow search results with their voice rather than using a touchscreen menu,
  • The ability to interrogate search results and offer ways to provide better results such as cases where there are no results or few results,
  • Customized, conversational responses for interactive feedback to the customer and the ability to offer additional product or search options.

A video demonstration of EasyAsk Voice Shopper can be viewed at https://www.easyask.com/products/mobile/.

EasyAsk Voice Shopper is part of the EasyAsk E-Commerce Search and Merchandising product family, which delivers a harmonious omni-channel (mobile, web, and in-store) customer experience which is optimized for different devices (mobile, tablet and desktop).

“Traditional shopping methods such as navigation or keyword search simply will not be tolerated by consumers on mobile devices, impeding conversion and m-commerce sales,” said Craig Bassin, EasyAsk CEO. “EasyAsk Voice Shopper delivers a new paradigm for mobile shopping by engaging customers in a conversation and helping them find products faster and easier. Retailers will need an interactive voice mobile customer experience such as this to effectively compete in the new mobile commerce world.”

Voice has now become the interaction method of choice on mobile devices. Major mobile and e-commerce leaders such as Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are making voice the centerpiece of the mobile user experience. According to the October, 2014 Google Mobile Voice Study, 85% of adults and 89% of teens now believe voice search to be the future for mobile.

EasyAsk Voice Shopper works on both tablets and mobile smartphones. It supports mobile commerce sites on any mobile device, and mobile commerce apps on iOS and Android devices. EasyAsk Voice Shopper works with built in voice translation services on mobile devices.

Existing EasyAsk customers can extend their existing search services to use the Voice Shopper with no additional effort. Leading e-retailers such as True Value Hardware, The North Face, JJill, Lamps Plus, Anna’s Linens, Boscov’s, Travers Tool, Journey’s and AlphaBroder have mobile optimized m-commerce sites powered by EasyAsk that support voice search today.

About EasyAsk

EasyAsk is the leading provider of e-commerce site search, navigation and merchandising solutions for e-retail, mobile commerce and B2B commerce. EasyAsk products go far beyond traditional site search, allowing customers to ask for products like interacting with a sales associate and getting exactly what they want. EasyAsk Voice Shopper enables e-retailers to support voice shopping, allowing visitors to converse with a mobile commerce site or app by speaking to their mobile device. Customers that use the EasyAsk software see a tremendous boost in online revenue through increased conversion rates, improved customer experience and agile merchandising. Based in Burlington, Massachusetts, with offices in Europe, the EasyAsk solutions are used by leading e-retailers and e-commerce sites such as The North Face, Anna’s Linens, Journey’s, Aramark, JJill, True Value, Andertons Music and Sonic Sense. For further information please visit www.easyask.com.

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MOBILE COMMERCE DAILY – How The North Face Uses Voice Search to Drive M-Commerce Sales

From the Mobile Commerce Daily magazine:

Outdoor gear and apparel retailer The North Face continues to see strong results from its use of natural language and voice-enabled search, helping its sites across mobile and desktop in several European counties to deliver a 35 percent increase in search conversion rate and 24 percent increase in revenue from search.

As mobile use continues to grow, consumers are increasingly looking for streamlined on-site search experiences from their smartphone, which natural language and voice capabilities can provide. The North Face introduced the enhanced search capabilities on its sites in the United States and Canada in late 2012 and to the European sites in the summer of 2013.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the Mobile Commerce Daily.

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Search Usability

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A recent study by the Baymard Institute, an independent web research institute with a focus on e-commerce usability and optimization, found that many of the top 50 U.S. e-commerce sites are lacking essential e-commerce search capabilities which is hindering current online sales.  EasyAsk, the leader in e-commerce and mobile search, is making freely available two unique reports:

  • an excerpt from the Baymard Insitute report Deconstructing E-commerce Search – The 12 Query Types
  • the EasyAsk white paper, Improving E-Commerce Search to Meet the Needs of the Modern Shopper.

To receive your free copy of these informative reports, please click the download button below.

 

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Mobile Commerce Daily: Amazon Voice Search Leads the Way in M-Commerce Despite Flawed Experience

Amazon Voice Search Leads the Way in M-Commerce Despite Flawed Experience

This article in Mobile Commerce Daily examines the new release of Amazon’s iPhone mobile app, and its new feature: Voice Search.  In the article, EasyAsk’s John Morrell comments on the user experience with the Amazon Voice Search.

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Amazon Voice Search: It’s the Search Engine That Matters

Amazon released a new version of its’ iPhone app (version 4.3.0) that contained a very interesting new feature – Search with your Voice. When you open up the app and tap the search box, you can then tap the Voice button and enter your search by voice. Very nicely done!

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But some are questioning the true capability of Amazon’s voice search, as reported in this article in the mobile commerce daily. The real question is: what’s behind that search? In the end, voice search is only as good as the search engine behind it. I tried two searches with the Amazon app to see how good it was.

The batteries in my wireless home phone set had recently gone out (the phone is old) and I am looking for a new home phone. My current Panasonic model had served me well, so I was looking for a new Panasonic model. So, for my first search, I tried “Panasonic wireless home phone.” The voice interface translated my voice request well. But the results left me somewhat confused. I received 5,391 results! The first 3 were Panasonic phones, but then there were headsets and AT&T home phones mixed in. The results were not highly relevant.

Then I decided to try a conversational style search – “I’m looking for a Panasonic wireless home phone.” The results were not even close to being relevant. They included a USB charger, iPhone cases, and headsets, finally followed by a couple Panasonic phones.

The ability to interact conversationally with the mobile phone user is a core design philosophy of a good voice interface, as depicted by this Information Week article. Without relevant results and conversational interaction, users will not fully trust the interface or find it engaging.

Any EasyAsk customer has voice search capability built-in. But EasyAsk takes it to the next level with highly precise and accurate results, and the ability to have conversational search, as shown by this video.

With mobile commerce conversion rates lower than those of a standard e-commerce site, it is the engaging voice search capability powered by conversational search that will increase your m-commerce conversion rates.

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EasyAsk Helps Oya Costumes Convert Shoppers Into Buyers During Critical Halloween Season

EasyAsk site search, navigation and merchandising gives shoppers on Oya Costumes conversational search to easily find products and convert swiftly

Burlington, MA – October 14, 2014 – With Halloween fast approaching, the number of shoppers on the Oya Costumes e-commerce sites grows daily, reaching peaks for the year. Up to 70% of the annual online revenue for Oya Costumes lies in the balance during the critical Halloween season, making customer conversion incredibly important.

Oya Costumes uses EasyAsk, the leading provider of e-commerce site search, navigation and merchandising solutions for e-retail, mobile commerce and B2B commerce. EasyAsk products offer engaging conversational search which has unprecedented accuracy and precision, putting the right products on the first page every time. EasyAsk voice mobile search gives freedom of speech to shoppers on mobile commerce sites, allowing them to search by speaking to their mobile device.

Oya Costumes is Canada’s finest internet costume business selling fun, costumes, hats, makeup, decor, masks, shoes and lots more. The company has sold products online for 10 years and operates 3 different sites powered by EasyAsk – a U.S. English site, a Canadian English site, and a French Canadian site. The Oya Costumes sites run on the NetSuite Ecommerce platform.

Oya Costumers offers over 6,000 products on its’ e-commerce sites. In 2014 Oya Costumes added over 1,500 new costume designs, many licensed from new licensors over a large number of new themes and characters. This created a big challenge for the online merchandising team. Shoppers needed to find products in many different ways – by character, theme, licensee, category, size, color and more.

A recent e-commerce search usability benchmark study by the Baymard Institute [1] showed that 54% of the top 50 U.S. e-commerce sites did not support “thematic searches” (searches around themes or concepts) and 50% did not support “relational searches” (searches using terms that are related to the items). With EasyAsk, Oya Costumes offers search with the utmost flexibility, supporting searches using themes (“1970s women’s disco costume”) and terms related to items such as various characters (“Princess Elsa from Frozen costume”).

“The very nature of our products and the various ways shoppers try to find the right product makes our business very unique and challenges our online team,” said Faten Hodroge, owner and President of Oya Costumes. “In order to best service our customers, we have to offer search with extreme flexibility that allows shoppers to find the products they are seeking in their own way.”

EasyAsk’s ability to support more sophisticated search terms and ease in adding search synonyms played an important role in Oya Costumes getting the new and existing products onto their site and giving shoppers an easy search experience and richer site navigation. EasyAsk’s integration with NetSuite Ecommerce made the EasyAsk rollout swift and immediately adds new search capabilities as additional products are added to the Oya Costumes NetSuite catalog.

Oya Costumes sites are in two different languages – English and French – and support two different currencies – U.S. dollars and Canadian dollars. EasyAsk’s internationalization support and its’ multi-currency capability played a strong role in Oya Costumes selecting EasyAsk for their e-commerce sites.

The Oya Costumes site relies heavily on navigation powered by EasyAsk. “We were pleasantly surprised to find out our left column navigation, implemented by EasyAsk, is heavily used by our online customers,” said Faten Hodroge. One extremely helpful feature is that EasyAsk allows customers to filter their search by size, color, type and other attributes. This makes it possible for customers to easily find what they are looking for.”

Additional unique characteristics of the Oya Costumes site powered by EasyAsk include:

  • Search suggestions provided in the search box speed the search process and are powered directly by the deep EasyAsk search analytics
  • The search tolerates mis-spellings for a friendlier shopping experience based on EasyAsk’s automatic spell correction capabilities
  • Shoppers are always returned products and “no-results” searches are virtually eliminated due to the search term relaxation capability of EasyAsk
  • The Oya Costumes merchandising team can quickly promote products based on operational data such as sales (e.g. top sellers) via the easy to use EasyAsk Commerce Studio

“EasyAsk has surpassed our expectations and allowed us to deliver a wonderful online shopping experience for our customers,” added Faten Hodroge. “The EasyAsk team has been highly proactive in servicing our needs and ensuring our success.”

[1] – E-Commerce Search Usability, Exploring the Customer’s Search Experience, a study performed by the Baymard Institute, publication date of May 29, 2014

About EasyAsk

EasyAsk is the leading provider of e-commerce site search, navigation and merchandising solutions for e-retail, mobile commerce and B2B commerce. EasyAsk products go far beyond traditional site search, delivering unprecedented accuracy and precision to deliver the right products on the first page every time. EasyAsk voice mobile search gives freedom of speech to shoppers on mobile commerce sites, allowing them to search by speaking to their mobile device. Customers that use the EasyAsk software see a tremendous boost in online revenue through increased conversion rates, improved customer experience and agile merchandising. Based in Burlington, Massachusetts, with offices in Europe, the EasyAsk solutions are used by leading e-retailers and e-commerce sites such as The North Face, Samsonite, Anna’s Linens, Journey’s, Aramark, JJill, True Value, Andertons Music and Sonic Sense.

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