Eastwood Calms Site Search Complaints

The Eastwood Company, a vehicle restoration tools and supplies provider that sells via catalogs and the Web, expects to fuel its online sales after improving the search function on its site. These improvements quickly reduced customer complaints about the search function by 96 percent.

Previously, when customers of Eastwood, Pottstown, PA, searched for products on www.eastwoodco.com, they often could not find the items they wanted. Eastwood was using a legacy search tool that was included with its Web site package.

“Our … search needed to be improved upon, based off of site visitor comments that we received through BizRate, through call-ins and from e-mails that were sent directly to us,” said Nicholas Capinski, e-commerce marketing manager for Eastwood.

Mr. Capinski recognized that poor search was hurting Eastwood's sales.

“If customers are unable to find your products, they are unable to purchase them,” he said.

So, Mr. Capinski was ready to get help when SLI Systems, Cupertino, CA, a provider of on-demand search services for e-commerce sites, approached him to try the company's free Site Feedback tool.

The tool aims to help companies understand the quality of their search functionality based on feedback from customers using the site. The idea is that after a company receives feedback, it may also want to implement SLI's Learning Search technology, which delivers search results based on the popularity of search terms among visitors to the site.

Tupperware, Harry & David and eTronics are among the brands that use SLI's Learning Search.

Eastwood added the Site Feedback tool in late 2005. On the search results page, Eastwood asked users whether they found their search successful. They could click “yes” or “no” and were given the option to provide additional comments. By March, Eastwood received comments from 9,000 visitors.

“Once we had the feedback tool set up, one thing that became apparent [was that] some site visitors were having a difficult time locating products that we carry,” Mr. Capinski said.

Eastwood executives decided to implement Learning Search, with the aim of providing more relevant search results. Shortly after launching the technology, Eastwood realized the 96 percent drop in complaints about the site's search. And because shoppers are finding Eastwood's products more easily, Mr. Capinski expects the site's conversion rate, abandoned-cart rate and repeat online purchases to improve.

While Eastwood executives are working to improve the site's search function, poor search technology damages the reputation and sales of many e-commerce companies, said Shaun Ryan, CEO of SLI Systems.

“When online visitors have trouble searching for items on a site, it frustrates them and spoils their experience, and they often do not return,” he said.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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