Site Search in Focus with Nextopia's Arora
Site search is an integral part of a website for many enterprises - from retailers to information publishers and service providers.
Website Magazine interviewed Sanjay Arora, founder and CEO of Nextopia on why site search is so important, the expectations of business users, the necessary features and where the industry is headed.
WM: Why is it important for websites, and e-commerce websites in particular, to deploy site search functionality?
Arora: There are a few reasons, but the most important reason is simple: it leads to significantly more sales. The effect that enhanced site search functionality has on our customers' bottom line is remarkable, and it produces terrific ROI. Another reason is that it leads to happier customers. If a customer is searching for something on your site, chances are they want to buy it. But when they can't find it, or have to dig through pages of incorrect search results before they find it, they get frustrated and end up going to a site where they can actually find what they're looking for.
WM: What is the typical expectation of companies that use search technology such as that provided by Nextopia?
Arora: Their expectation is that they'll be able to solve the problems that have led them to us, whether it's a simple desire to increase sales, or a more specific issue such as low conversion rates or a high after-search exit rates. You'd be surprised how many companies come to us with problems they think we can't solve, only to see tremendous results after implementing our technology.
WM: Who is Nextopia's ideal client? How many products? What kind of technology? And budget?
Arora: Really, any company with an online store is an ideal client. We have customers with catalogs of millions of SKUs, and customers with only a few hundred of them—both have seen improvements from upgraded search. Our technology can integrate with any of the major e-commerce platforms, making it easy for any e-commerce retailer to add Nextopia to their online store. Our budgets are incredibly flexible, and depend on a myriad of factors—from the size of a customer's catalog, to the number of services and add-ons they feel are best for their needs. Overall, however, we believe that our offerings provide tremendous value and ROI for our customers, and the feedback we get confirms this.
WM: What features should be available in a site search solution such as that provided by Nextopia?
Arora: The most important factor is that your search should be dynamic and automatically adjust to customer behavior. Our system recognizes which items are clicked most often for any given search term, and automatically promotes the most popular items to the top of searches to reflect what customers actually want. Another important feature is to provide a rich, easy-to-use analytics and modification suite to allow for the complete customization of your search results, and an easy overview of which search terms are providing sales and which terms are not. Lastly, features such as autocomplete (with images and fully customizable content pages) and category filter navigation are key to providing customers with the rich shopping experience they have come to expect from today's online retailers.
WM: Do Web users search on mobile and if so, how does it differ from traditional desktop-based search?
Arora: Mobile shopping is definitely on the rise, so it is imperative that online stores not only work on these devices, but are specifically optimized for them. The key is to provide your customers with the best experience possible regardless of their choice of device. The difference between mobile-based search and PC-based search has more to do with the navigation and layout than it does with the underlying technology. You can have all the bells and whistles you want, but if they don't provide a comfortable shopping experience on your mobile device, they actually become a hindrance rather than a selling point. We always design everything with a customer experience focus, and ask ourselves “if I were a shopper, what would I want an online store to look like on my mobile device?”