Internet Retailer - 13th July 2015
Since refining the search function, Discount Wholesale’s web sales have increased 168%.
A new site search function has helped drive online sales growth at Discount Wholesale, the wholesaling arm of Poundworld Retail Ltd., says Helen Everitt, head of e-commerce at Poundworld. Since refining site search, the company has seen a 168% increase in online revenue, she says.
Clients of the West Yorkshire, United Kingdom-based company range from small business owners to The Co-operative Group, which is made up of several retail businesses, to the retail bookstore chain WH Smith PLC. Discount Wholesale is on course to do 75% of its sales online this year, or $11.5 million out of $15.4 million. That’s about the same percentage as in 2014, when the web accounted for $8.1 million of $10.7 million in sales, Everitt says.
Delivering accurate search results has been key to keeping online sales strong, she says. 50% of the company’s online revenue is generated from visitors using the site search function to find a product, she notes.
In May 2014, Discount Wholesale determined that the site search function built into its Etail Systems e-commerce platform wasn't providing customers what they needed. Customers of Discount Wholesale needed a more refined search tool to help Discount Wholesale’s 25,000 registered users sort through its more than 4,000 products on Discount-Wholesale.co.uk, Everitt says. Because the wholesaler has such diverse customers and product lines—items range from baby products to first aid kits—customers were often clicking several times through the standard navigation to find the exact product they needed, she adds.
“The requirements for search and how they would find products are very diverse, and we needed to make the site navigation as strong as it could be,” Everitt says. “If the customer owned a pet shop and is only interested in pet supplies, then the search tool had to be absolutely spot on.”
The new system, SLI Learning Search from SLI Systems Inc., Everitt says, is designed to produce accurate search results for commonly misspelled terms, auto-complete search terms as customers begin to enter them, and tweak search results so Discount Wholesale can display its most popular products at the top of search pages. If a customer searches for “Disney” on Discount-Wholesale.co.uk, for example, listings of products related to The Walt Disney Co.’s popular Marvel movies and recently released “Frozen” movie rank highly, Everitt says.