Top tier eCommerce platforms like Magento and Websphere Commerce are optimized to provide an array of services to help you deliver an excellent eCommerce site. These services includes a shopping cart, content management system, product catalog management, customer relationship management, order management and more.
They also offer basic keyword search and many offer an advanced search option based on Solr, a popular open source project. However, Solr may not be the right answer for many eCommerce companies. It’s difficult to administer, requiring development resources for basic administration as well as creating rules for navigation, sorting and merchandising. Solr also lacks support for some of the most important site search features, like actionable customer analytics. Solr’s inability to manage spell-correction and stemming means admins have to enter all the various word forms into the system manually, increasing the burden of maintaining it.
For companies just starting out in eCommerce or those with a limited number of products that are easy to find and navigate, the site search functionality that comes with your eCommerce platform may be adequate. But, at what point does the business outgrow those capabilities? When any of the following occur:
- The number of products you offer on your site grows
- The variances of the products (a.k.a. SKUs and attributes) grows
- The ways in which you want to describe product options in your navigation become more variable – different price ranges, different sizes or colors, etc.
- The ways in which you want to merchandise your products gets more sophisticated – fast changing promotions, cross-sells, up-sells, etc.
The changes in product characteristics sneak up on online businesses very quickly. The business grows rapidly, new products and variances are added to meet that growth, and suddenly the product catalog becomes unwieldy and products become difficult to find and merchandise on the site. At this point, the business has outgrown the search, navigation and merchandising functionality that comes with your eCommerce platform – even with upgraded options, like Solr.
Need more information to help you figure out whether it’s time to integrate a better site search, navigation and merchandising solution with your eCommerce platform? Schedule a demo with our team and we’ll be happy to tell you all about it.