An intelligent search function is an important tool for increasing conversion rates, user-friendliness and customer satisfaction. Today, a potential customer leaves a store in the shortest possible time if he does not find the product he is looking for. zooplus used the Google Search Appliance (GSA) to search for products in its online store until 2012.
Due to the increased configuration and usability requirements at zooplus and the fact that the GSA is not designed for use in eCommerce, zooplus decided to implement a new technology in the store.
Within the scope of a provider analysis, zooplus decided in favor of exorbyte. Veronika Schäfer, Project Manager Onlineshop Development: "Certainly the cost factor played a role in our decision to use exorbyte commerce search in the store in the future. However, exorbyte approached us in a very cooperative manner, and we were very impressed with their preliminary work, such as the data extraction for the product facets.
After a proof of concept, zooplus only had to import the correct data. The front-end customization was provided by exorbyte, and then the solution was already online.
The zooplus customer searches and navigates directly via the search field in the store. To do this, they enter a search term. Colloquialisms, incorrect spelling or synonymous terms should no longer be an obstacle and should still lead to the desired article. ecs calculates the appropriate suggestions in a fraction of a second and displays the matching category for the product.
"In practice, this means that the customer receives matching suggestions for products from the brand manufacturer "Royal Canin", regardless of whether he enters "Roial Kamin" or "Roya Ca"," explains Stefan Schilbach, project developer at exorbyte. "Suggestions" or "auto-completion" is something Google has taught users in recent years. As a result, customers also expect this when searching for products within an online store. However, the technological difference to Google is that ecs only ever suggests hits from products that actually exist – updated on a daily basis.
A lot has also been done on the administrator side. Virtually every function can be comprehensively edited and set in the management console with just a few clicks and managed by multiple users with their own accesses and rights. In addition, comprehensive information about the search behavior of visitors is available in the analytics section, among other things. What is searched for, clicked on, or not found, and how. Knowledge about which search queries lead to no hits and how often can be used for better marketing and merchandising and to expand the product range.
Error tolerance and flexibility make the difference
"What saves us a lot of time in the daily workflow now is the error tolerance, and we have more flexibility through anti-aliases, target pages and a better overview in the backend," says Veronika Schäfer about the improved administration of the solution.
zooplus operates online stores in 25 languages. Here it was important that with ecs 25 individual projects could be set up and the solution could be adapted quickly. In the meantime, zooplus is represented in 30 countries throughout Europe. At this point, for example, the special case "Bulgarian" with Cyrillic characters should be mentioned. Thanks to the language-independent technology, the search works flawlessly here as well.
The continuous improvement and further development of the store is on zooplus' permanent agenda. In the coming years, the company will continue to work on expanding the online store, improving usability, and meeting customer needs. Currently, zooplus has over 3 million active customers and several million search queries a year.
The conversion rate has increased significantly compared to the previous solution. Basically, our expectations were fully met and we would choose exorbyte again at any time. The exchange of experiences and the deep insight into the functionality of the technology of the last four years alone justifies our investment.
// Veronika Schäfer, Project Manager Onlineshop Development, zooplus SE
zooplus was founded in 1999 and is now Europe's leading Internet retailer for pet supplies. Sales totaled EUR 571 million in the 2014 financial year. The business model has already been successfully launched in 28 European countries. zooplus sells products for all major types of pets. The product range includes in particular pet food and accessories such as scratching posts, dog baskets, and toys in all price categories. In addition to a selection of over 8,000 products, zooplus customers also benefit from a wide range of interactive content and community offerings.