Discussing Searchandising With Vermont Teddy Bear's Bill Cronin
The Vermont Teddy Bear Co., the parent company to Vermont Teddy Bear, PajamaGram, TastyGram and Calyx Flowers, announced earlier this year that it's getting higher sales and more satisfied customers since instituting a new searchandising solution on its sites.
A combination of search and merchandising, the e-commerce term searchandising describes using the search function on an e-commerce site to promote products when users search for certain keywords or phrases. The practice is similar to the merchandising a retail store does for upselling, cross-selling or promoting specific merchandise.
Bill Cronin: When I took over e-commerce at Vermont Teddy Bear, we were using a mix of platforms. None of them offered an exceptional e-commerce-oriented search experience. For instance, a search for "roses" wasn't picking up the numerous items with roses on our Calyx Flowers site, and our customers were complaining about the disconnects. I knew a better search would increase conversions. I had worked on several advanced searches in previous jobs, and they had proven very successful.
BC: Since deploying SLI Systems [the searchandising solution provider Vermont Teddy Bear chose for its site], we have seen an increase in traffic to all three of our sites and have improved customer service because site visitors can now easily find what they're looking for. We have also been able to implement better search analytics through Google Analytics, [which offers a tool that tracks site search activity]. Customers who use search on our sites convert 50 [percent] to 100 percent better than those who don't.
BC: One tip is to make sure to do your homework and make sure you choose the right vendor for your needs. We looked at several site search vendors before deciding on SLI Systems. We also looked at online retailers' sites that we admired and worked to determine what search solutions they were using.
Also, make sure to have relevant data ready to export, so you can see how well the company can work with your data and how quickly it can be imported. Upon deciding to work with SLI, the company created a prototype for us in a matter of days without much intervention -- a key reason for this was because we had our data ready to go.
Finally, start small: We implemented SLI on the Vermont Teddy Bear site first and were impressed enough with the results to add the search tools to two of our other sites, PajamaGram and Calyx Flowers, soon thereafter.