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STUDY: Search supports Boden growth

By Retail Technology | Friday July 26 2013

UK-based international clothing retailer uses self-learning search software to improve customer experience and conversion rates

British fashion retailer Boden wanted to ensure that it’s online shopping experience was fun, fast, and visually appealing. It also wanted to mirror the experience of browsing its mail-order catalogue.

To achieve this, it needed to ensure that its online search process minimised confusion, offered ideas for mixing and matching different pieces and made it simple to provide customers with exactly what they are looking for. 

Paul Knutton, Boden e-commerce manager, said the company knew that effective and easy-to-use site search has a direct impact on revenue. 

“When site search works well, people who use it buy more, they stay on our sites longer and they convert at a higher rate,” he said. “Site search is as important to us as layout and design and shopping carts when it comes to crafting the online experience.”

Searching out the right partner

The Boden team chose Learning Search from SLI Systems for its site search during a re-launch in 2006, originally as a stopgap until they could engineer their own solution. But they soon realised however that the power of Learning Search to deliver more accurate and relevant results for customers by “learning” from past site search activity and tracking visitors’ search queries and clickthroughs meant an improvement in the overall customer experience and, therefore, an improvement in overall return on investment (ROI).

Site search users convert 1.77 times more often than the site average and spend 21% more, while visitors who use the search box are worth more than 215% more per-visit than the site average. Moreover, product page views increase by 31% for site search users and search engine optimisation (SEO) landing page merchandising banners deliver 10% sales lift.

Knutton recognised that the SLI solution was a better option than trying to design the search in-house, which would have been a complex and time-intensive task. “This wasn’t just a decision about technology, although Learning Search certainly had all of the essentials we needed, such as merchandising and customisability, and fast and easy implementation,” he said. “We realised right away that the experts at SLI could respond to any request we had during implementation and beyond – and this has never changed in our seven years of working together.” 

Boosting investment returns

SLI’s full-service approach led Boden to deploy additional SLI site search products and features. The retailer now uses ‘rich auto complete,’ which automatically shows suggested search terms and related product images as soon as a visitor types the first few letters into the search box. “The product images give our customers an instant visual cue, guiding them to the best item for their search”, Knutton explained. Use of this feature has resulted in a 31.3% increase in product page views, a 1.8% increase in average order value and 2.25% more order confirmation page views. 

Boden also used Learning Search to deliver search refinements to help people find exactly what they are looking for. Visitors can click a number of boxes next to standard categories like age range, body shape, gender, style, size, colour, and type of clothing (e.g. knitwear, tops & t-shirts, accessories), and see only results that are a perfect match for all their selections. The retailer also offers refinement options that integrate user ratings and reviews, such as top rated by age, height, shape and size.

It has also taken advantage the search system’s organic search merchandising banners, which populate SEO product landing pages with site search-driven banners showcasing suggested popular items that match the search term. These banners significantly increase the value from organic search traffic to product pages, resulting in a nearly 11% increase in orders and an almost 10% increase in conversions.

Boden has seen its site search become an ever-increasing component of its online business. “By gaining insights about how our customers search for and talk about our products, we can constantly improve the online shopping experience and better merchandise our collections,” said Knutton. “SLI Systems’ technology and knowledge of best practices have helped us develop e-commerce and mobile commerce sites that respond to customer needs in an ideal way – and our improved conversion rates and page views are proof of this.”

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