One of the biggest benefits omni-channel retailers can offer consumers is ease of finding products. But without a fast, accurate and intuitive site search capability, this benefit quickly becomes theoretical rather than an actual competitive differentiator.
For Irivne, Calif.-based specialty sportswear retailer Tilly’s, which operates 188 stores in 32 states as well as a robust e-commerce site, a legacy site search engine reached the point it was mostly delivering theoretical benefits by mid-2012. Tilly’s discovered the in-house-developed search engine’s shortcomings during an update of its Microsoft .NET enterprise framework.
Feeling the Pain
“Our search became very painful once we were done updating the .NET platform,” recalled Chris Brown, senior e-commerce manager, merchandise and product development of Tilly’s. “After researching search solutions we settled on Oracle Endeca, but the price was higher than we wanted to pay for an in-house solution.”
Among the search features Tilly’s desired were relevant results, consistent and useful navigation, and proven tools for merchandising and product promotion. Ultimately seeking higher search conversion rates and lower bounce rates, Tilly’s determined it preferred Oracle Endeca around the beginning of 2013, and then began investigating different means of making an Endeca deployment affordable. The retailer discovered that by partnering with Chicago-based integrated site search solution provider Thanx Media to provide Endec on a hosted basis, it could obtain the benefits of Endeca and stay within its IT budget.
Bridging the Gap
“Thanx Media’s hosting solution bridged the gap,” said Brown. “We set up feeds to send them our product information and met internally weekly to discuss the pipeline we were setting up.”
Tilly’s began implementing the Thanx Media-hosted version of Endeca in March 2013 and went live in June 2013. Thanx Media captures Tilly’s product data via Web feed and serves it back to them within search results through Endeca.
Reaping the Rewards
“We have higher search volumes,” stated Brown. “They continue to increase as people become more familiar with our new search feature.”
In addition, Brown said conversion rates have risen and bounce rates have fallen since the hosted Endeca implementation. Tilly’s uses the Endeca Experience Manager tool to deliver product images to customers via search. The company also intends to update the search bar currently offered on its site, among other future search plans.
“We are continually adding search attributes and more filter options,” said Brown.