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The Step2 Company Improves E-commerce Results with Learning Search from SLI Systems

Learning-based Hosted Site Search Generates Average Order Size and Conversion Rate Increases, Provides Four-times ROI

SAN JOSE, CA – August 30, 2010 When parents shop for products for their kids, they demand lots of upfront information about age-appropriateness, safety, and quality. With these customer requirements in mind, The Step2 Company, maker of toys and play-sets for preschoolers and toddlers, chose SLI Systems for site search, improving customers’ ability to find and compare everything from playhouses to water tables to art easels.

Before using SLI Systems’ Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) learning-based search and navigation solutions, Step2, whose products are also available for purchase from toy and housewares stores, was using a homegrown site search solution. “Our previous site search provided only basic searching capability, and did not help guide visitors through their searches or allow for misspellings or alternate spellings,” said Tena Crock, Step2’s online marketing director. For instance, even a simple search term such as “sandbox,” a product that Step2 carries, would yield zero results if the site visitor typed “sand box” as two words.

To offer a richer and more user-friendly searching experience, the Streetsboro, Ohio-based company implemented Learning Search, a hosted site search solution that improves the relevance of results by tracking aggregate search queries and click-throughs, and using that data to deliver results based on popularity. Relevant searches are especially key for Step2, since site visitors often do heavy research before buying products for their children, Crock said.

“Our site traffic had been increasing at an annual rate of 40 to 50 percent, with e-commerce business showing strong growth as well,” Crock said. “We needed a site search solution that would allow us to become the definitive source of information about our products, since online shoppers as well as people in stores come to our site to do research before making a purchase. SLI Systems has dramatically improved the effectiveness of our site search, leading to larger orders and happier customers.”

Step2’s investment in Learning Search quickly paid for itself. “The return on investment was four to one – it was obvious that our visitors were finding what they needed, and converting at a higher rate,” Crock said.

Step2’s web analytics data indicates that visitors who use site search are 2.5 times more likely to make a purchase than visitors who don’t use search. In addition, the number of visitors who exit Step2’s site from site search pages is 14% lower than from other pages on the site.

Learning Search has also helped Step2 respond more effectively to customer needs. For instance, information about frequent searches for products that Step2 does not carry is given to the company’s research and development team for future product development. In the future, Step2 will use search queries performed on discontinued products as a way to communicate with their visitors via the company blog. The Step2 team can discuss these decisions and suggest alternate products. The blog posts are indexed by the site search, so customers can find them when shopping for the products that are no longer available and possibly find something else that suits their needs.

“These customer insights help us drive business in ways that go beyond simply improving conversions,” said Crock. “They’re part of the added value that SLI Systems brings to our customers as they shop on our site.”

SLI’s Learning Search is a hosted site search solution that continually “learns” from ongoing site search activity, improving relevance of search results and reducing the time it takes users to find what they need. By tracking every query and click-through, Learning Search ranks results based on what’s most popular and delivers results people are looking for on the first page 95% of the time. SLI’s site search solution is shown to improve the overall customer experience, and generate increases in conversions, number of page views and average order size, among other key performance indicators.

About SLI Systems

SLI Systems is the leading developer of Software-as-a-Service learning-based search and navigation solutions for corporate Internet sites, content publishers, e-commerce destinations and consumer Internet portals that Searches, Learns and Improves the user experience. SLI Systems’ SaaS-based site search and user-generated SEO solutions empower businesses to enhance customer satisfaction while increasing sales, reducing costs and yielding valuable customer information. Unlike traditional search software, SLI Systems’ patented technology continuously “learns” from the behavior of visitors over time to deliver more relevant results. SLI Systems is a privately held company, with offices in Silicon Valley, London, and Christchurch, New Zealand. For more information, visit www.sli-systems.com, or see the company’s blog at blog.sli-systems.com.