Merchandising and Management
This post is part 2 of a two part series.
In Part I of this blog post, we discussed the numerous benefits e-commerce search technology can provide for your customer, which directly translate to increased conversion and sales for your business.
In addition to providing the customer with an improved shopping experience, effective e-commerce search also gives you, the retailer, a veritable treasure trove of information regarding what visitors are looking for and what visitors like.
The predictive value of this information gives senior management insights to make important decisions about likely areas for future sales growth. The immediacy and richness of the information lets the merchandising team capitalize quickly and efficiently on opportunities for successful merchandising efforts and inventory forecasting.
The best search platforms allow merchandising managers to not only capture data but put it to work with simple-to-use tools to generate effective promotions and offers. A search platform that supports natural language processing gives merchandisers the ability to easily create and manage offers using plain English, without requiring support from the web or IT teams. Merchandisers can add, change or eliminate promotions quickly as market conditions shift.
Data gathered by an effective search platform also provides analytic information which allows for continuous improvement of the search function and eliminates inefficiencies. Among the analytics you should look for in an e-commerce search engine are:
- An easy-to-read, high level dashboard that provides at-a-glance metrics and information on how the search environment is performing
- Detailed reports that show top visitor searches and clicks, zero result searches and problematic search terms
- Actionable links that allow the user to immediately address any issues uncovered in the reports
- Natural language query ability to provide easy access to the comprehensive information generated by the search engine and the ability to generate ad hoc reports
Insight provided by search analytics on customer demand or trends can guide critical decisions on offline processes such as inventory, product line expansion and in-store promotions. A few examples:
- A high search volume and/or conversion on a specific product can help determine the need to order additional stock
- High volume search results with low conversion can signal the need to consider a price reduction or make adjustments to other facets of the product’s merchandising
- Searches for products not carried on the e-commerce site signal potential demand and create suggestions for profitable additions to the product line
A good e-commerce search and merchandising platform delivers benefits that are both numerous and wide-ranging. They include improved conversion rates, better customer experience leading to stronger loyalty, agile promotions and merchandising, and improved accuracy and efficiency in product ordering. Most importantly, all of these increase e-commerce revenues and generate ROI on your search technology.
Not all e-commerce search engines are the same. Whether you purchase on-premise software or SaaS, the product must deliver on the benefits promised and provide a low cost of ownership and operation. When shopping for an e-commerce search platform, it’s critical to do your homework. Keeping the guidelines and recommendations outlined in this two-part blog in mind will go a long way towards making a good and profitable decision.