Tag Archive for: natural language

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Is your search scaring off your customers?

No Results, too many results, inconsistency and lack of communication… while there are many reasons for a customer to give up on your eCommerce site’s search the underlying problem is they couldn’t find the products they were searching for. Read More

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Optimizing your eCommerce site for the Holiday Season 6: Navigation Best Practices

The summer is now a distant memory and the impending Holiday season will soon be upon us. Now is the time to act to ensure your eCommerce site is ready. Creating an optimized shopping experience for your customers will be a gift to your business accounts as well as your customers. This blog post is the penultimate in the series that lays out best practices and tips as you prepare your eCommerce site for the biggest commercial period of the year.

Is Navigation important if you have great search?

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Optimizing your eCommerce site for the Holiday Season 5: Creating and Managing Landing Pages

We hope that you have been following our Holiday blog series and making changes to impact your bottom line. Creating an optimized shopping experience for your customers will be a gift to your business accounts as well as your customers. This blog post is the fifth in the series that lays out best practices and tips as you prepare your eCommerce site for the biggest commercial period of the year.

First Impressions

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IRCE: what you missed in Chicago

Outstanding pizza and fireworks at Navy Pier are reason enough to visit Chicago, but the industry’s largest eCommerce event, the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE), didn’t fail to equip and inspire as it held its 14th annual event in the city last month.

The EasyAsk team had a great time attending discussions, presentations, and networking sessions, as well as running a booth in the exhibit hall. We were able to impress visitors with solutions to the challenge that emerged over the 4 days: how to maximize mobile shoppers. Read More

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Retailers are Marketing to more than Five Generations, is your Site-Search Flexible enough to help them all?

The world we know continues to change, and we as a people, are forced to change with it. Sometimes it’s in small ways, like swapping Bell Bottoms for White-Washed jeans, then swapping those for Skinny Jeans. Sometimes it’s in larger ways, like going from hailing a cab on the sidewalk, to ordering an Uber from your bedroom/office/etc. with a touch of a button. Some of us prefer the former, while others have adapted, or were even raised with the latter. It is those inbred traits from our particular generation that make us who we are. The beauty of today’s age is that our technology can handle whichever you prefer.  Can your site-search say the same?
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“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – The Realities of eCommerce Search

Sometimes online shopping in 2015 is a flashback to 1969 when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards sang the above titled song in their album ‘Let It Bleed’. You search for something to buy, but the website doesn’t seem to understand what you are asking for and delivers up stuff you didn’t want. You look at the results and decide to shop elsewhere. Lost customer, website bad.

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Automatic Spell Correction in eCommerce Search Saves you Time and Money

The last thing any visitor wants to see when they perform a search on an eCommerce Site is a page that says “No Results”. As we indicated in our recent whitepaper, Increase Customer Conversion by Boosting Product Findability, misspellings and using different tenses is a very common occurrence by eCommerce shoppers.

To make your site tolerant of misspellings and the like, you have two options: Either manually enter all the various misspellings and whatnot into your search engine, which will take you God-knows-how-long… Or, the better approach, use an eCommerce search engine that offers Automatic Spell Correction and stemming against terms in your product catalog.

This gives you out-of-the-box tolerance of these visitor errors, enabling them to find the right products and keeping them on your site as opposed to going to your competitors.

Watch this one-minute video and see how Coldwater Creek uses EasyAsk’s automatic spell correction to convert more visitors into customers.

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Search and E-Commerce SEO

We often need to educate people on the strong link (no pun intended!) between eCommerce Site Search and SEO. And it is bit disheartening to see the lack of general education in the market on this subject.

Many companies spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to optimize their SEO and adwords spend each year. Yet, if you are using the right e-commerce search engine, many of the answers you need to optimized SEO and adwords might be sitting right in front of you… for free!

The searches customers perform on your site, specifically, the long tail searches, can provide vital information about how customers want to find you on the internet search engines. These searches give you exact places where you can tune your SEO and Adwords to promote these products and give you a leg up on your competition – customers find you and these products faster.

Of course, a critical piece of this is an e-commerce site search engine that delivers accurate long tail searches and offering ways to tune links for optimal SEO. Natural language is the best at delivering long tail, descriptive searches. Also, the e-commerce search engine needs to offer fast, easy to use analytics (you don’t want to be trolling through logs!).

Make these two capabilities a distinctive part of your e-commerce strategy to deliver better SEO and a better customer experience.

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EasyAsk Partners with Explore Consulting to Help Fusion Beads – a NetSuite E-Commerce Site – to Improve Search and Navigation

Partnership offers e-retailing customers, including those of Fusion Beads, improved shopping experience

EasyAsk, the leading provider of natural language solutions and technology, and Explore Consulting, a professional services company that provides innovative technology solutions for managing business data and a cost-effective approach to completely outsourced IT in the cloud, today announced a partnership to deliver natural language e-commerce solutions to retailers using the NetSuite e-commerce platform. Additionally, the companies announced a successful deployment at Fusion Beads (www.fusionbeads.com), an online store offering a wide selection of products and information to the beading community.

“The Fusion Bead deployment is a good example of what the Explore Consulting and EasyAsk partnership is aimed at providing,” says Steve Jones, CEO of Explore Consulting. “The partnership offers all types of e-commerce retailers the most advanced search and navigation and intuitive merchandising tools – cost-effectively and very quickly – especially on the NetSuite platform.”

EasyAsk’s NetSuite integration works from within the NetSuite pages, ensuring that page content is search engine friendly and utilizes the item records in NetSuite accounts to maintain centralization of data. Item attributes are configured in NetSuite and the EasyAsk Business Studio is used to configure search and navigation rules based on the attributes a merchandiser wants to use. EasyAsk is similarly tightly integrated with Magento, as well as other popular e-commerce platforms.

After selecting NetSuite as a new e-commerce platform, Fusion Beads turned to Explore Consulting and EasyAsk because they wanted to make it easier for their customers to navigate the wide range of products offered through their website – more than 50,000 items. Not only does Fusion Beads offer a lot of products, but they also catalog a tremendous amount of product and project data to ensure their customers are getting what they need. With the EasyAsk solution, Fusion Beads can now configure down to the item level the product attributes that should be used for search and navigation from over 600 custom item fields they currently use.

“We turned to NetSuite when the Fusion Beads Website became too large to maintain manually,” said Gunilla Eriksson, Director of Online Operations at Fusion Beads. “Additionally, we needed EasyAsk to help us manage search and navigation with our large product catalog and to display, in parallel, relevant projects ideas to our customers. Now shoppers can own their own search and view projects and products in one page. People love it and we love it. It works so much easier.”

“EasyAsk is very excited about the Explore Consulting partnership and the value we are adding at Fusion Beads,” said Marc Schnabolk, VP of Sales and Business Development at EasyAsk. “Explore will help us deliver the EasyAsk eCommerce search and merchandising solutions throughout the NetSuite user-base – both on-premise or as a service (SaaS). We are offering unique capabilities, including intuitive natural language search, relaxation, spell correction, integrated faceted navigation, easy to use merchandising tools and advanced analytics. EasyAsk and Explore Consulting are perfectly aligned in their vision to help Internet retailers achieve industry-leading conversion rates that dramatically increase e-commerce revenue.”

About Explore Consulting
Based in Bellevue, Wash., Explore Consulting was founded in 2001 and is a professional services company dedicated to providing innovative and cost-effective solutions for their customers’ database and IT systems needs. With a heavy focus on SaaS web-based business systems like NetSuite (NYSE: N) and Amazon Webstore, Explore has developed industry-leading PC and mobile platforms for seamless data integration in the Cloud. Additionally, Explore develops custom solutions ranging from eCommerce web stores that are fully integrated to back-office systems to highly specialized business applications written in Microsoft’s .Net and SQL platforms. Explore was recently ranked among Inc. Magazine’s fastest growing companies for four straight years as well as the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies three years running. Explore Consulting is the largest NetSuite Solution Provider and reseller in the Northwestern United States and was recently named as 2011 NetSuite Partner of the Year, Americas. For more information, visit www.exploreconsulting.com.

About EasyAsk
EasyAsk is radically changing the speed and ease of how people find information through the company’s ground-breaking natural language search software. EasyAsk software products go far beyond traditional search, allowing users to simply ask questions in plain English and receive highly tuned results on demand. The EasyAsk eCommerce Edition uses this unique technology to deliver industry-leading website search, navigation and merchandising solutions that boosts online revenue through increased conversion rates, better customer experience and agile merchandising. EasyAsk Quiri & Business Edition revolutionize enterprise decision-making, moving beyond traditional business intelligence solutions with easy, low-cost deployment and a unique natural language interface that extends access to information anywhere in the organization.

Based in Burlington, Massachusetts, EasyAsk has long been a leader in natural language information analysis and delivery software. Customers such as Coldwater Creek, Lands End, Lillian Vernon, Aramark, TruValue, Siemens, Hartford Hospital, Ceridian, JoAnn Fabrics and Harbor Freight Tools rely on the EasyAsk software products to run their business and e-commerce operations daily.

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Benefits of Semantic Natural Language Search for E-Commerce

BY EasyAsk CEO Craig Bassin

How this paradigm shift will change Web and mobile e-commerce forever

Advancement in communication and technology over the last two decades has been dramatic, and the way people consume information has evolved in parallel. Not long ago, people turned to libraries, dictionaries, reference journals, books, phone books and printed newspapers for insight, but now they simply turn to “The Web.” Answering complex questions used to take hours or days – if we could figure out how to answer them at all. Now we are accustom to executing Internet searches in seconds.

ACCURACY, however, is the issue.

The next step is to provide the correct response on the very first page. To take this next step, we’ll consider some words and phrases that were once outside of mainstream vocabulary, more commonly used in academic and research circles at MIT and Stanford labs – things like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Semantic Search (per Wikipedia: semantic search uses semantics, or the science of meaning in language, to produce highly relevant search results. In most cases, the goal is to deliver the information queried by a user rather than have a user sort through a list of loosely related keyword results.). Search will not evolve without these important concepts because even with all the great digital information available today, it still takes too long for people to find exactly what they’re searching for – whether on the Internet, on their phone, in an e-commerce store, or in a corporate applications like CRM and Business Intelligence.

It is interesting to think about where we started with search boxes – Yahoo, Excite, Netscape, to name but a few, and most recently Google, have all taught us to search using “keywords.” We know that search engines can’t understand the way we speak or think, so we had to adapt our behavior to make use of the services they provide. When we hit the search button, we hope that the algorithms, machines and logic in some distant server farm send us back a bunch of links that we can comb through to find what we are looking for. Search engines essentially provide us a starting point – lists of results – but we still have to manually navigate the final mile. We get streams of results in seconds, but it takes considerably longer to find the right thing, or often we get frustrated and stop looking. Google has learned from user interactions and are now developing semantic capabilities, and WolframAlpha takes it further by computing answers from a knowledge base of curated, structured data but still today ‘search results’ are simply a starting point to begin looking for answers.

Also, semantic search is a great step in the right direction, but it doesn’t have a full understanding of all possible responses. That’s where natural language processing completes the loop, understanding both the searcher’s intent and a deep understanding of the data to deliver the best possible response. Essentially, Semantic search provides understanding of the intent, or context, of the search. Natural Language provides knowledge both of intent AND content.

For the first time, you can have better technology than the search engine giants – who have certainly spotted this trend and are moving in the semantic direction. Recently Google shared its Knowledge Map plans. Jack Menzel, product management director at Google, in a very articulate video, questioned: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if Google could understand that the words that you use when you are doing a search, well they aren’t just words, they refer to real things in the world. That a building is a building, and an animal is an animal and that they are not just random strings of characters, and if we could understand that those words are talking about those real world things, than we could do a better job of getting you the content you want off the web…”

Google is obviously a large company and has the time and resources to integrate changes in stages, especially considering that their revenue model is still based on keyword advertising. You and the e-commerce industry do not have that luxury – we need to act now to improve the Web e-commerce search experience and to accommodate the growing number of mobile e-commerce shoppers.

Given where we are today, understanding the intent of what is being searched for has become a competitive advantage – especially when deployed in e-commerce environments. Understanding intent even helps when shoppers enter only a few keywords, because each single word carries so much value. Natural Language Processing (NLP) use techniques like relevancy, association, disambiguation and many more to understand what a shopper is actually looking for, and can deliver the most relevant options from your product catalog.

Again, semantic search can understand the searcher’s intent, but NLP understands their intent and all possible results, then processes requests and delivers the best possible results. This is an important distinction, especially for e-commerce sites, which need to present the most relevant items, even when search requests don’t match up nicely with what is in your product catalog.

Some general e-commerce industry statistics suggest that 20% of searches are now long-tail searches. A long-tail search is a more descriptive phrase that contains three or more words. It often contains a main concept, which are one or two words in length. For example, “London Olympic t-shirt under $20,” the main concept would be Olympic and the other terms can help us identify the most relevant item with the additional details. Now we can look at t-shirts from the 2012 Olympics in London and not t-shirts from 2008 in Beijing. Cost is yet another filter, but again intent is important. Keyword search will return items with ‘Olympic, t-shirt’, ‘under’ or ‘$20’ (potentially t-shirt underwear) while the searcher intent is to find any shirts under $20.

As an e-commerce retailer, you have to address long-tail searches, otherwise you will miss out on a key source of revenue and likely degrade existing traffic.

Hopefully you are beginning to see some of the benefits semantic natural language search can provide Web-based e-commerce, but more importantly you need to consider how this will support your growth into mobile e-commerce.

Since the iPhone was launched, that small screen has become an important window into the world for most users. Androids and others followed suit and smart phones have become a common entry point into e-commerce. Analysts from research firm Gartner Inc. say the shift from e-commerce to m-commerce will reach something of a tipping point by 2015. According to Gartner’s analysts, mobile applications and social media will account for 50 percent of Web sales by then. Additionally, Gartner said that e-commerce merchants will start offering “context-aware, mobile-based application capabilities that can be accessed via a browser or installed as an application on a phone” at that point. “E-commerce organizations will need to scale up their operations to handle the increased visitation loads resulting from customers not having to wait until they are in front of a PC to obtain answers to questions or place orders,” said Gene Alvarez, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement.
Additionally, because of Siri, Nuance Dragon, Google Voice Search and others, speech is now an integral way we interact with these little devices. As people become more conversational with these devices, the search terms will naturally become more descriptive. Again, with limited screen size and long-tail searches, natural language search functionality will not just be a nice feature; it will be mandatory if you want to provide the most relevant result quickly and efficiently on mobile devices. Imagine connecting to your favorite e-commerce site, hitting the microphone on your smartphone and SPEAKING, ‘ladies blue blouses under $35’ and immediately seeing your results. That’s taking e-commerce mobile.

Natural Language and Semantic Search are concepts you need to become familiar with in the next few months. If you learn how to integrate them properly, you’ll be able to provide your shoppers the right information at the right time to improve conversion rates and drive revenue. Regardless if you do or don’t, your competitors will. So… Where do YOU think your shoppers will turn the next time they pull out their iPhone?

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