CruiserCustomizing’s Tammie McKenzie on On-site Search

The motorcyclists who frequent the CruiserCustomizing sites expect performance. So when the on-site search tool wasn’t firing on all cylinders, the Livermore, Calif.-based e-tailer of motorcycle parts and accessories decided it was time for a tune-up.

In October 2008, CruiserCustomizing hired search service provider SLI Systems of Cupertino, Calif. By April, CruiserCustomizing noticed that the new feature was driving up results on its five sites:,,, and

In October, 14 percent of visitors used on-site search, and by April, 28 percent were plugging in keywords. In October, 14 percent of on-site sales were attributed to search; in April, that number grew to 58 percent. Of those who use the on-site search option, 2 percent more convert than those who don’t. And those who do convert after using the on-site search have 10 percent larger orders than those who don’t use the option.

Tammie McKenzie, CruiserCustomizing’s director of marketing, says the new on-site search capabilities are now a good complement to the company’s already optimized search engine optimization. (“We come up first [in search engine rankings] almost every time for just about every product that’s on our Web site.”)

Target Marketing: What prompted CruiserCustomizing to want to improve its on-site search on its five e-commerce sites?
Tammie McKenzie: … Our search vendor that we were using before SLI didn’t have any intelligence built in to [its solution]. So we were having to, based on gut and best guess, manually rank search results and, of course, sales trends. But … we now have the learning search functionality which automatically, based on people’s behavior on the Web site, pushes certain products up in the rankings.

TM: Why are people who search on the CruiserCustomizing sites more likely not only to buy, but to buy more than those who don’t use on-site search?
TM: I do believe because it gives them the ability to drill down to the exact product selection that they’re looking for. So let’s say they’re coming from an e-mail campaign or a pay-per-click landing page and they get a specific set of results, based on some advertising that they’ve been served. Immediately, they’re seeing a large product set with facets along the side … and so they can immediately say, “OK. I ride a Honda Shadow and I’m looking for this particular brand of exhaust and I want this color and I’m looking for this price range.”

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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