I knew working with Lakeshore Learning would be interesting because we were supplying them with our full suite of products – Learning Search, Learning Navigation, Rich Auto Complete and Site Champion, and it all needed to be done before the holiday rush.

Luckily, I was working with Sam Sarullo, their VP of eCommerce who is very experienced, has clear business priorities and knows what he wants, so we got right to work. Additionally, he had a cross-functional team of developers, merchandisers and marketers to keep the process running smoothly. We had a firm goal to get the project completed before the holiday shopping rush.

Lakeshore Learning sells a variety of educational toys, games and materials. Their two main customer segments are teachers and parents. While teachers shop in summer and beginning of the school year, this time of year is when parents shop for holiday presents.

They came to us because they wanted to increase their conversions, and felt that the best way to start was to better organize and display their products and strengthen the site’s search. Lakeshore Learning has done a lot of testing and knows what works well with their target client segments, all of whom want a straightforward user interface, but tend to search the site in different ways.

We created refinements that targeted both sets of customers based on their preferred search methods – teachers can search by grade level, while parents can search by age range. We are building out a very rich set of features for their Learning Navigation and refinements, which are unique and are raising the bar for industry standards. This is very exciting!

Within our learning navigation and learning search pages, we customized two features specifically for Lakeshore Learning – the first was to have two columns of refinements side by side, which helped shorten the length of the navigation bar. Second, we modified the refinement options so if a product isn’t available within the remaining refinements, the price, age or grade refinement remains visible but cannot be selected. This informs visitors that the refinement is available but there are no products that match that specification.

Although we had a lot to do during our integration, working with Lakeshore Learning was great because their team is very responsive – when you ask for something, they respond right away. They also have someone in-house that maintains their data feed, which is one of the best I’ve seen – it’s well-organized and very clean. The core of our search starts with the data feed, and their attention to detail helps us return better search results.

I’ve enjoyed working with their team throughout the integration; they think outside the box in how they get users to view the product, drive traffic to the site and market specific search pages for maximum value. We all pulled together and were able to get the site launched in advance of the holidays, and they’ve already started to see increased organic search referrals from our Site Champion product and very good initial search results. As a CSM, I take pride in ensuring our clients have a good experience and see great results.