For eBags, the Denver-based online retailer of purses, luggage, and other types of bags and accessories, on-site search is mission-critical to improving conversions.
"One of our advantages is that we have 520 brands and 36,000 bags-from backpacks to handbags to luggage to laptop cases," says Peter Cobb, the firm's co-founder and SVP of marketing. But that largesse also presents a navigation challenge for marketers and shoppers. "The complexities of that are, how do you quickly get them to find their perfect bag ... How do you narrow that down from 36,000 to five or 10 and eventually that one perfect bag that they fall in love with and will purchase?" he asks.
eBags has been working with the Cambridge, Mass.-based information access software firm Endeca to blend search technology with merchandising to leverage the best aspects of retail shopping with the power of the Web. Here, Cobb discusses how "searchandising" tactics have helped eBags maximize the value of its site traffic.
Target Marketing: How does your on-site search help visitors quickly find the product(s) they seek?
Peter Cobb: We try and, obviously, think in terms of the shopper. We have a whole series of subcategories or even areas that are not specific to product. [For example,] it may be if you're looking for a piece of carry-on luggage, [we'll ask,] "What type of airline do you fly?" Because we'll show you the carry-ons that are approved by those airlines.
So there are two sides to this:
1) What type of product are you looking for? We've really spent a lot of time with our site architecture ... with subcategories, and then even within subcategories there are various filters.
2) Then kind of on the other side, we try to implement some user[-focused merchandising] ... In the case of handbags, we'll have designer handbags. We'll have On the Street, where we showcase new, up-and-coming designers. We'll also have casual styles ... It all gets down to how we think the customer will visit our storefront and what they'll be thinking about and looking at.