Technology allows us to connect with anyone anywhere more easily than ever before, but there’s still something special about face-to-face meetings. The quality of communication is better when you meet someone physically, and that enhanced connection continues long after the in-person meeting.
My theory is that you form a more complete mental model of an individual when you meet them in person and that model improves your future communication, whether it’s on the phone, via email or on a video conference. We see this time and time again when SLI team members visit each other in our global offices, and it’s why I’m excited to be traveling to Seattle next week for our customer summit, SLI Connect.
We held our inaugural customer summit in London earlier this year and it had a wonderful feeling of community. We intend to replicate this in Seattle. SLI Connect will give our customers the opportunity to plan strategies, learn from peers and give direct feedback to members of the SLI executive team.
An Invitation to Connect
We planned SLI Connect to coincide with Shop.org 2014. So, after you’ve networked with thousands of your peers at Shop.org and are teeming with inspiring e-commerce solutions and ideas, you can connect with SLI, face-to-face, to start putting those ideas to work. You’ll have the opportunity to strategize with your customer success manager and account manager on how to increase your online sales. You’ll hear how your peers have done this already and how SLI can help. You’ll be able to give us direct insight into your upcoming priorities and get a sneak peek into our product roadmap.
I hope you can join us for this full day of valuable insights as we continue to build and foster SLI’s growing community of more than 800 e-commerce sites.
Here’s the Who, What, When, Where and How of SLI Connect:
WHO/WHAT: SLI Connect is a day of learning and sharing ways to accelerate your e-commerce strategy and sales through the holiday season and into 2015. The full-day agenda includes:
- E-commerce trends talk with SLI CEO Shaun Ryan and SLI CTO Wayne Munro
- Industry panel with Alicia Fiorletta, editor of Retail Touchpoints
- Retailer presentations with best practices for site search, navigation, SEO, mobile and more:
- Sam Sarullo of Lakeshore Learning talks about how SLI helped Lakeshore increase online sales by 30%
- Lisa Dahlke of Silver Star Brands shares how Silver Star uses SLI to help customers find products from their tens of thousands of SKUs
- Sneak peek into the SLI product roadmap
- Drinks, dining, interactive discussions and plenty of networking
WHEN: Thurs, October 2, 2014 – after Shop.org (kick-off dinner the prior evening of Oct 1)
WHERE: The Hyatt Olive 8 at 1635 8th Ave in downtown Seattle
HOW: Click here to secure your free registration for SLI Connect today!
There is one more celeb Silicon Valley hasn’t seen take the #ALSIceBucketChallenge yet: our very own CEO Shaun Ryan! After Kim K finally responded to her fans to take the challenge this week, Shaun knew he couldn’t let his team down. Thanks again to Nextopia for nominating SLI Systems for this great cause, which raises awareness and funds for ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
As any fearless leader would, Shaun bravely accepted the challenge on behalf of the company. Here is the video for your enjoyment!
As of September 11, the ALSA has received $112 million in Ice Bucket Challenge donations from 3 million donors! To learn more about the challenge and the fight to treat and cure ALS, visit http://www.alsa.org.
Each year, online sales take a bigger slice of the ‘total retail sales’ pie. This year, analyst firm Forrester expects e-commerce sales in the United States to reach $294 billion, a small 9% slice of all sales in the country. That means that 91% of retail sales still occur in brick-and-mortar stores. The question is: can e-commerce do better? Can e-commerce grab a larger slice of that pie by making simple changes? A recent large-scale study on e-commerce search by the Baymard Institute says YES.
“When e-commerce search works, it’s fast, convenient and efficient. It’s no wonder that so many users prefer searching over clicking categories. Unfortunately, our recent study finds that search often doesn’t work very well,” said Christian Holst, Baymard Institute co-founder.
The Baymard Institute found:
- 16% of e-commerce sites do not support searching by product name or model number
- 18% of sites provide no useful results if the product name was off by a single character
- 70% require users to search by the exact jargon for the product type that the site uses, failing to return relevant products for “blow dryer” if “hair dryer” is typed
- Searches with symbols and abbreviations are not supported by 60% of e-commerce sites
- Only 40% of sites have faceted search, despite it being essential to e-commerce search because it is the foundation of contextual filters
Consistent with Baymard Institute findings, our own SLI study conducted last year found that 57% of e-commerce brands were not using their site search data to enhance marketing campaigns. Only 25% of retailers integrated site search data into email marketing campaigns to better customize offers; 27% created SEO landing pages populated with site search results and custom banners; and only 13% took advantage of site search to power mobile search.
It’s also interesting to note that amid generally weak Q2 earnings, the retail giants that announced spikes in e-commerce sales ranked as having excellent site search in Baymard’s search study:
- #2 Wal-Mart global e-commerce grew 24%, heavily contributing to a $3.2 billion increase
- #4 Wayfair, multinational e-retailer, reported a 50% YOY increase to total $574 million
- #5 Sears, multinational department store chain, reported strongest sales came from e-commerce
- #11 Staples, the world’s largest office-supply chain, grew its web sales 8%
- #13 The Home Depot, the largest home improvement retailer in the U.S., increased its online sales 38% to $1 billion
The take-away? The e-commerce industry can do better than 9%. As more e-commerce sites optimize site search, online shopping experiences will improve and e-commerce will gain a greater share of the $1.7 trillion retail pie.
To see how small changes in your site can significantly impact revenue, schedule a demo with an SLI Systems sales director.
This is first in a series of guest blogs where online retailers offer insight into their e-commerce success.
At Chalkfly, providing everything our customers need while making it easy for them to find those products is a fine line we walk. As an office and school supply e-commerce retailer, we sell nearly 60,000 products that range from kitchen goods to office chairs to scratch and sniff stickers (which are still as awesome as they were when you were in third grade).
Given our broad selection of products and the looming presence of some pretty hefty competitors, we knew that great site search would provide us with a critical edge. After implementing SLI Systems, conversion rates increased 30% and average order value increased by 33% for customers who searched our site.
For other retailers looking to simplify the search process for customers – during back to school season and beyond – I’d like to share a few things we’ve learned.
Shorten the Search
Since our robust site inventory is organized into dozens of categories, the parents, teachers and students shopping with us can end up in many corners of our site. To streamline our customer experience, we’ve used historical data and worked with local Parent Teacher Organizations to learn which supplies are most important for which grades. Using this information, we created curated categories and Back to School Kits, organized by grade, that provide refined options for shoppers. These curated kits not only make shopping easier, they also increase our average order value by marketing other, in-demand back to school products to users.
Sweeten the Results
We’ve paired many of our search results, especially within back to school categories, with custom search banners that drive customers to some of our best-selling products. These banners make shopping simpler for customers by placing some of our most popular products right at their fingertips. The SLI functionality that allows us to easily create these banners is a major plus for us because it simplifies search for customers and allows us to put selected products front and center.
When searching for “pencils” customers are presented with an attractive banner that brings them right to one of our best-selling products.
Search is a Gold Mine
At Chalkfly, we use SLI and Google Analytics to monitor the search terms our customers use. This data is chocked full of actionable insight for any e-commerce store. You should always test the top search terms on your site and ask: “Are these the best, most relevant results?” If not, tune those results to increase conversion rates. We analyze the top 50 terms on a weekly basis, and SLI’s reports help us answer several questions:
- What are the popular seasonal products? (e.g. an uptick in searches for “supplies kit” means its time to feature our back to school kits throughout the site)
- What are our highest converting search terms?
- Are customers searching for information that can be answered through our blog? (e.g. queries that start with, “how to…”)
As your customers buy the supplies to start the new school year out right, optimize your search and curated products to ensure they continue shopping in their pj’s instead of “searching” through the aisles at a store.
Lissa Cupp is the CMO of Chalkfly, a Detroit-based e-commerce company that sells offices and school supplies and gives 5% of every purchase to a teacher of your choice. Read today’s press release about Chalkfly here.
Tags: Amazon, Content, conversions, Endeca, FTD, king arthur flour, Target, video
It’s no secret here at SLI that we are arming online retailers with the e-commerce tools they need in the battle against Amazon – and creative content is proving to be a valuable weapon of choice. Many savvy e-commerce retailers use content (videos, blogs, social posts, etc.) to draw shoppers and turn browsers into buyers.
Target is a great example. Target’s e-commerce site now allows shoppers to buy items directly from its blog, A Bullseye View. All a shopper has to do is click a red box (“shop this look”) that hovers over the image of the desired product. Instantly, a box pops up with the item ready to be added to the consumer’s shopping cart.
Creative content is driving sales in a way that it never has before. Converting shoppers into buyers directly on a compelling blog post is what all retailers strive for with their content. While a blog is a pretty traditional form of content, here are two great examples of SLI customers using non-traditional forms of content to ease the shoppers’ path-to-purchase:
1. King Arthur Flour Shares Recipes
Retailer of specialty flours and baking tools King Arthur Flour combines aspects of its community and knowledge base into its site, providing a wealth of searchable recipes, videos and blogs from expert bakers. Visitors can find enticing recipes with high ratings, see that they have been Pinned to Pinterest 1,000+ times, or read reviews from other users who have made those dishes themselves. Since customers can click a link in the recipe to buy ingredients they need from King Arthur Flour, it’s a seamless path-to-purchase for those eager to try the recipe.
Since working with SLI Systems to integrate this recipe content into its e-commerce search (versus its previous use of Endeca), King Arthur Flour has seen its conversion rate jump from 3.7% to nearly 6%.
If you’re an online retailer that sells any kind of food or kitchen product, you’ll want to offer recipes to showcase your expertise and the value of your products. When you create links from your recipes to the products or ingredients needed to complete the recipes, you’ll see the increase in sales.
Online flower delivery retailer FTD uses infographics to drive visitors to its site and help generate sales. When the brand created an infographic using interesting stats about Mother’s Day, it was a nice visual article showing that 76% of moms polled would choose flowers as their gift. It was a popular infographic to share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as millions of sons and daughters considered what to give their moms for Mother’s Day. The infographic not only provided the insight and incentive for buying flowers for mom, but it also linked straight to the FTD site, offering easy access to purchase that Mother’s Day bouquet.
Infographics combine visual appeal with condensed information, making them perfect for grabbing people’s attention and giving them content quickly. They are also nice for the skimmers out there – those of us who are short on time or attention span. Finally, infographics are easy to share. Whether on social media or blogs, infographics are just the kind of content thought leaders love to re-post.
To learn more about how e-commerce sites can increase conversions by creating remarkable content, watch a recorded webinar on this subject or download our free e-book, Use Creative Content to Turn Online Shoppers into Buyers.
As eTail East begins today in Philadelphia, we want to point out some of the highlights we’re looking forward to at this year’s show.
Use Creative and Social Content to Convince Shoppers to Buy
Moderator: Jason Miller, Product Evangelist, SLI Systems
Grand Ballroom C, D – Table 6
August 11, 10:05-11:05 AND 3:10-4:10
At this eTail East Roundtable, SLI Product Evangelist Jason Miller will share examples of leading retailers that increase site conversions by using rich content like videos, blogs, social posts and how-to articles – all integrated into their site search and navigation. He’ll discuss why compelling content helps entice and convince shoppers to convert. Learn and discuss best practices that leading retailers use to create a site experience that turns shoppers into buyers. If you can’t make this session, listen to our on-demand webinar, “Use Creative Content to Turn Shoppers into Buyers.”
To kick off the first night of eTail East in style, SLI Systems is hosting an unforgettable dining experience at Del Frisco’s Steakhouse. We’ll have the privilege of dining in the private Vault Room of Del Frisco’s, located inside what once was the First Philadelphia Bank. If you are a retailer and have not yet reserved a place at the table, you may RSVP here until 2 p.m. EST today.
Wednesday Main Session:
Easy Upgrades to Optimize Holiday Profits
Presenters: Victor Castro, Director of E-commerce, Zachys Wine & Liquor and Tim Callan, CMO, SLI Systems
Grand Ballroom E, F
August 13, 12:50 p.m.
With no time to spare before the 2013 holiday shopping rush, Zachys Wine & Liquor’s Director of E-commerce Victor Castro implemented e-commerce acceleration solutions to the Zachys site and saw an incredible 130% increase in site revenue by the end of the season. In this main-stage presentation, hear from Victor about the solutions he used and how you can optimize your own e-commerce site before Holiday 2014.
Enjoy eTail East!
Tags: #appliancesonline, #learningsearch, #ORIAs, #sitechampion, #sitesearch, #sli, #slisystems, #surfstitch, #usergeneratedseo, eCommerce
Aussie retailers Appliances Online and SurfStitch have been picked as equal winners for ‘Best Pureplay Online Retailer’ at the Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIA).
The annual awards, which recognize the pinnacle of excellence in digital retailing, handed out the top accolade to the joint winners. Both online retailers use SLI Systems’ Learning Search solution that ‘learns’ from past site search activity. It does this by tracking visitors’ search behavior, and then uses that data to deliver the most relevant results. The technology also brings clients’ non-product information (such as user ratings, reviews, social content, blogs and videos) into search to deliver an impressive user experience that compels shoppers to buy.
“It’s a great achievement to win the top award at the ORIAs,” said CEO John Winning for Appliances Online. Since implementing SLI Learning Search, Appliances Online noticed that people who use site search spend twice as much time on site as visitors who don’t use site search. The appliances retailer also witnessed a 20% increase in site revenue.
As well as using SLI Learning Search, SurfStitch also uses SLI Site Champion, which builds upon SLI Learning Search technology to deliver high-quality organic search traffic to sites. It learns from site visitors and dynamically creates SEO-optimized landing pages that are indexed by Google and other Internet search engines, extending the site’s SEO footprint and making more content findable.
Since inception in 2008, SurfStitch has recognized that investing in its e-commerce platform, customer service and engagement is key to offering customers an optimal online shopping experience. Learning Search and Site Champion have eliminated dead-ends for SurfStitch’s customers, as site visitors no longer find themselves lost or stuck looking at products they don’t want. In addition to experiencing a 90% reduction on ‘no results’ pages, average sales are up 15% for SurfStitch and site visitors spend 25% more time browsing. Appliance Online has seen a 20% increase in revenue.
“SLI is committed to offering the world’s leading e-commerce acceleration solutions such as Learning Search and Site Champion. I congratulate our customers Appliances Online and SurfStitch on their achievement in winning this award,” said Shaun Ryan, CEO, SLI Systems. “We are excited to see these two important customers increase customer conversions through the use of our solutions, and to have them recognized for their successes.”
Think again, Amazon. The Fire Phone’s new Firefly feature – an alleged “showrooming on steroids” – may be one more way you drive more shoppers to your site, but it can’t beat the hundreds of thousands of e-commerce sites in the U.S. that are driving visitors to their own websites with incredibly creative content. In fact, more than 40% of marketers report that inbound marketing, such as blogs and social media, demonstrates a positive return on investment for their company.
Using compelling content, smart online retailers like Kidrobot, ReNew Life and Artbeads give customers unique and memorable shopping experiences that create powerful brand loyalty and convince customers to buy. Here’s a peek into how they do it:
1. Kidrobot Goes Social
Designer art toy retailer Kidrobot regularly sees its Instagram posts receive 1,000+ Likes, and many of its YouTube videos have received 10,000+ views. So Kidrobot brought its videos, Instagram photos, Twitter feeds and Facebook content into easy view on the search results pages of its site. Now when shoppers search Kidrobot for a product, they’ll also see Tweets, Instagram posts and other social content related to the product searched.
Social content can certainly motivate shoppers to buy. When Kidrobot integrated its social media content into its search result pages, online orders increased 13%.
When going social, the most important consideration is to leverage it in a way that aligns with the way your customers use it. If you have more fans on Pinterest than Twitter, cater to those users with high-quality photos perfect for pinning.
2. ReNew Life Uses Standout Site Search
One of the latest best practices for site search is an advanced autocomplete function that can suggest search terms, categories and specific products – as soon as shoppers type in the first couple letters of their searches. This type of autocomplete is especially powerful for retailers with products that don’t lend themselves to very specific searches, such as health and wellness retailers that often have users searching for conditions rather than specific products. ReNew Life is a great example. A search for “cleanse” offers up product suggestions for a variety of types of cleanses, along with other popular search terms.
Optimized site search has allowed ReNew Life to grow sales in a big way. The conversion rate for ReNew Life customers who use site search is nearly 10%, more than 4x higher than non-search users.
Implementing content-rich site search is a great way to improve conversions on your e-commerce site. A standout site search can go above and beyond customers’ expectations, building loyalty and driving sales.
Retailer StacksandStacks.com found that a customer who viewed a product video was up to 144% more likely to buy the product. Online shop for beads and jewelry supplies Artbeads.com truly exemplifies the power of how-to videos by showing shoppers exactly how to create stylish jewelry looks with their products. In addition to more than 125 videos on its YouTube channel, Artbeads also incorporates these how-to’s into its e-commerce site, displaying links to the exact products viewers need to purchase to make the pieces shown in the videos.
With rich content integrated into its site search, Artbeads’ conversions from search increased 30% (over a 4-week promo period), while overall site conversions rose 8.6%.
Offering how-to articles, particularly in the form of nicely edited videos, displays your brand’s expert knowledge to users. When shoppers see that your company is an authority in the field, they will return to your site as a reliable resource again and again.
To learn more about how e-commerce sites can increase conversions by creating remarkable content, watch a recorded webinar on this subject or download our free e-book, Use Creative Content to Turn Online Shoppers into Buyers.
Tags: Adore Beauty, e.l.f. Cosmetics
Are you addicted to cosmetics? Hoarding makeup is not uncommon. If you own multiples of eye shadows, lipsticks, blushes and brushes (as I do…), then you’re not alone. Indeed, it’s globally pandemic: according to research by Feel Unique, there are millions of women on the planet who hoard cosmetics. The same research also found women spend more than US$170,000 on makeup in their lifetime — and would rather ditch their man than go without cosmetics. Really! (Can’t say I share that sentiment!)
Pore-refining, firming, lifting, tightening, toning, brightening, whitening, collagen, retinol, vitamin A, vitamin C, aloe vera, lactic acid, glycolic acid, grapefruit seed extract… sound familiar? Of course, all of these processes and ingredients promise women the one thing we’re so desperate to hold on to … eternal youth.
Traditionally, women have bought beauty products offline, visiting their aesthetician at a department store cosmetics counter, pharmacy or specialised cosmetics boutique. Some still do, to get the informed opinion of someone they possibly know and certainly trust.
But that’s changed. Nowadays, consumers can access this information from the comfort of their own home (where, they’re probably wearing a snail slime mask — yes it really exists, I’ve tried it). They can even browse for cosmetics on the go via their tablet or mobile device.
With online beauty e-tailers such as Sephora, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Adore Beauty and Strawberrynet, women can feed their insatiable beauty-beast desire in a matter of minutes. Online beauty retailers are not only price competitive and stock the latest and most coveted beauty products — they also provide a wealth of information in the form of blogs and forums. So instead of talking to one person, who no doubt has some degree of vested interest in the sale (which may, or may not change their view of a product’s suitability), women can get the honest feedback from as many people as reviews they want to read. And often it’s those comments that shape purchasing decisions.
Buying online is also fast.
Beauty e-tailer e.l.f. Cosmetics (which stands for “eyes lips face”), has an intuitive search solution that instantly connects users with the products they’re looking for; in fact, the search “learns” from past site search behaviour by tracking visitors’ aggregate search queries and clickthroughs. What does this mean? That digital shoppers are being presented with the most popular and relevant search results. (So no plugging in “eye shadow” to annoyingly receive results for “mascara”.)
Don’t know exactly what you’re looking for? No need for a breakout. In addition to the user product reviews and popular and relevant searches, online beauty retailers make the shopping process even more stress-free by offering best-sellers, how-to’s, celebrity-inspired looks and video makeup tutorials… as well as a list of all the products required to achieve those looks. Did a new blush colour catch your eye in a magazine, but you can’t recall the product’s name? Not a problem. Sticking with our savvy beauty e-tailer e.l.f. Cosmetics (and yes, I do own quite a few of their products!) allows you to search for the product type, e.g. “blush,” to reveal “as seen in,” which displays cosmetics and skincare that has received press mentions.
I also like e.l.f. Cosmetics’ intuitive product-recommendations engine; this optimises suggested products based on recommendation logic and data learned from past customer behaviour. For example, when a visitor lands on a product details page for a lipstick, they’ll be presented with other products typically bought with that lipstick, such as a lip exfoliator.
Australian-based cosmetics e-tailer Adore Beauty allows visitors to navigate its site by skin type, catering for dry, oily, problem or blemish-prone skin. Shoppers can also search for products by ratings and reviews; this will be important if they only want to consider top-rated products to buy.
Onsite videos demonstrating how to use products also help to humanise the whole digital experience. While it’s not the same as asking the assistant at the counter for tricks in using shaded tones to make your eyes appear larger, you can sit, to your heart’s content, and learn how to apply products you may never have seen before, or products you felt too silly to ask about. You get the benefit of experts, and no one will know — until, of course, they see how well you can shade your eyelids!
So to fellow beauty addicts who haven’t yet tried the online shopping experience, give it a go: chances are, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for!
Though many of us are barely settling into summer, retailers are already touting back-to-school clothes and supplies. This year, the role of e-commerce in back-to-school shopping is bigger than ever. According to a June report by eMarketer, online back-to-school purchases in 2014 will increase 16% over 2013 – a growth rate that’s nearly triple the 5.85% growth rate in overall retail sales.
Smart retailers are optimizing their mobile sites and using more advanced search and navigation technology to capture the growing audience of online back-to-school shoppers.
In mobile shopping experiences of years past, many site visitors would give up out of frustration with the cumbersome navigation. Today, retailers with good mobile-specific sites make it exceptionally easy for customers to shop using smartphones or tablets. These retailers will gain loyalty and carry an advantage into back-to-school shopping and beyond.
Tea Collection is a great example of a mobile site done right. My eight-year-old’s one desire for new clothing is a maxi dress (the kind that “are swirly and go to the floor,” in case you didn’t know). On Tea Collection’s mobile site, I search “Girls 8 maxi dress” and three great options come up – all in the right size. Easy peasy, as a third grader might say.
Advanced Site Search & Navigation
Just as with mobile search, online retailers will win shopper loyalty when they make it easy for visitors to find and buy what they’re looking for. Just as great search is critical to help shoppers find exactly what they want, great navigation is essential to help them browse or narrow down items in a broad category.
I went to Lakeshore Learning’s site knowing that I wanted some type of learning game. I typed “learning game” in the search box, then with 529 search results I was able to narrow down to a few great options by clicking the refinements “mathematics,” “puzzles & games,” “3rd grade” and “top rated.” Yes, The Allowance Game looks like a great way to ease my third grader back into math practice.
Next, visiting Gymboree, I searched for some clothing basics for my 12-year-old, entering “girls uniform navy.” Up popped navy blue cardigans, skirts, pants and hair accessories – I picked what I needed and was on my way through checkout. Done.
It’s Not Always So Easy
Unfortunately, not all e-commerce sites make it so simple for visitors. It’s hard to know the immense value of good search technology until you encounter a site that does it poorly. I thought I might stock up on notebooks, folders and other basic staples at DollarTree.com. But when I searched “notebooks,” the results just showed me filler paper, legal pads and journals. I had to scroll beyond the first 12 results before I saw composition notebooks and spiral bound notebooks. Annoyed with the less streamlined experience, I left the site and decided to pick up these items another time.
Make Sure Shoppers Don’t Lose Patience
As more stores learn how to do search and navigation right, consumers lose patience with retailers who make it more work than fun to do their shopping. Retailers who want to compete effectively need to keep up, and that means looking for the best technology possible for site features like search, navigation, product recommendations and merchandising. Retailers who go with a cheap, basic search function just to check that item off their list are missing the opportunity to delight and retain the customers who are used to better relevancy and a better, faster, more fun shopping experience.