At SLI Systems, we’re proud of our 13-year history of providing high-quality learning-based site search, and our status as the leading SaaS-based site search provider to the Internet Retailer Top 1,000. We’re also proud of our culture of ongoing innovation, which has led us to expand our solutions to include learning-based navigation, recommendations, user-generated SEO, mobile search and an array of merchandising tools and analytics. To communicate our commitment to meet the expanding needs of e-commerce retailers around the world, today we launch our new brand identity.
Seen in this photo with CEO Shaun Ryan, the new SLI Systems logo and tag line embody our mission to accelerate e-commerce by connecting shoppers with the products they are most likely to buy. As mentioned in today’s press release, the ‘S-like’ symbol in the new logo represents a shopper’s seamless path to purchase. The interwoven elements reflect the customer collaboration that is core to SLI’s ongoing success and the success of our customers. The color palate considers the nuances of cultures across the five continents where SLI operates. We believe the logo enhances our already-strong brand recognition among the world’s leading e-commerce businesses.
As you see our new identity carried out on our web site, ads, tradeshow graphics, etc., I hope you’ll take a fresh look at what SLI has to offer – solutions that are proven to deliver e-commerce results, like the 30% increase in site revenue Lakeshore Learning experienced after implementing a range of SLI solutions, or the 10% sales lift Boden saw after implementing SLI Dynamic Product Banners.
We timed the launch of our new brand to coincide with several important events in the next week, including Shop.org 2014 in Seattle Sep. 29 – Oct., the SLI Connect customer summit in Seattle on Oct. 2, and the E-Commerce Expo in London Oct. 1-2. If you’re not joining us at any of these events, I hope you’ll browse the rich array of on-demand webinars, e-books and case studies available on our website at sli-systems.com, or connect with us on social media. We look forward to hearing from you!
Nothing softens the summer’s end and back-to-school blues like a little retail therapy. According to eMarketer, online shoppers spent more than $50 billion during the 2014 back-to-school shopping season, which represents a 16% gain from $43.3 billion in 2013. Sixteen percent!
A key aspect of the back-to-school shopping blitz is of course school supply shopping – and purchasing materials online is becoming more and more convenient for time-strapped families and teachers.
To uncover the most highly sought after school supplies driving unprecedented online sales for the 2014-2015 school year, SLI’s data team analyzed more than 33 million searches conducted between June 1 and August 22, 2014. We looked at three popular U.S. online retailers selling office and school supplies, including instructional materials. These e-commerce retailers are SLI customers that use our site search software to ensure thousands of products are easy for educators, parents, and office managers alike, to find and purchase.
Our analysis revealed that teachers and parents were busy readying classrooms, supply kits, and bookshelves with a variety of materials, from charts to stickers. The most popular items searched for were “chart pocket” at 96,000+ searches, “magnet” with 88,800+ searches, and “calendar” with close to 76,000 searches. Trailing down the top 20 list, we saw that “pencils” garnered 40,800 searches and “Dr. Seuss” more than 32,000.
Common Core Materials
A not too surprising discovery among the site search data analyses was the volume of interest around the term “Common Core,” indicating that many teachers – and possibly parents as well – searched for materials related to the mandated, yet controversial standard.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an educational initiative in the U.S., currently adopted by 44 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, that details what students in K-12 grades should know in English, history, social studies, science and mathematics at the end of each grade. It seeks to establish consistent educational standards across the states and ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter college programs or the workforce.
Our data analysis revealed that during the back-to-school season, there were more than 72,000 searches for “Common Core.” Digging deeper into the numbers, we found:
- Top Five States – Site searches originated most from CA (with nearly 3x that of the next state), followed by NY, IL, and FL with between 4,200 to nearly 5,000 searches each, and then GA with 3,000+ searches.
- Top Five Grades – While 75% of the searches conducted for “Common Core” did not include a specific grade, “Common Core + 2nd grade” garnered the most interest with 4,500+ searches, followed by 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, which averaged 3,300 searches each. First grade saw just shy of 2,000 searches.
A value add of SLI is that we provide online retail retailers with insight regarding the products consumers are seeking. Accordingly, vendors know which products to stock and can promote those items consumers are most likely to buy. And through our easy-to-use search, consumers can readily find the merchandise they desire and get recommendations on related products that they may have overlooked, leading to a truly rewarding shopping experience.
Visit our library of best-practice case studies to see how SLI helps leading e-commerce retailers accelerate sales by connecting shoppers with the products they’re most likely to buy.
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.