Altitude Sports is squeezing 50% more revenue out of its search bar after updating the technology that powers it.
The Canada-based outdoor technical clothing retailer wanted to ensure that it could handle the increased traffic to its site and maximize revenue on Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving, and the Boxing Day, which is Dec. 26 and celebrated in Canada and the United Kingdom. In November 2015 Altitude Sports updated its site search box technology, says co-CEO Maxime Dubois. The retailer upgraded its site navigation to use search technology provider SearchSpring from the standard search technology that came with its Magento e-commerce platform.
The search results improved in several ways, including finding more accurate results in both English and French. Because 90% of the retailer’s sales are from Canadian consumers, having more than proficient French search results was important, Dubois says.
The search bar also did a better job figuring out what a mistyped word means in both French and English, and improved at matching synonyms, such as “slicker,” “shell” and “rain jacket,” with the appropriate products, says Mark Smith, Altitude Sports’ relationship marketing manager.
A year after it implemented the technology, Altitude Sports found that 14% of its web visitors used the search bar and accounted for 30% of the site’s revenue, up from the previous year when 13% of shoppers used the search box and accounted for 23% of the revenue, Dubois says. To date, 13.6% of website visitors use the search box and account for 35% of sales on the site, he adds. Altitude Sports also operates a store in Quebec.
“People who search now convert better and have bigger cart values than searchers on the previous site,” Dubois says.
The new search structure also provides Altitude Sports with a back-end dashboard that it can easily access. For example, instead of having an IT employee pull a data report, the retailer can easily look up what consumers are searching for and adjust to trends. For example, if many shoppers are searching for a brand on its site that it doesn’t have, Altitude Sports would consider carrying it. The retailer has roughly 32,000 SKUs on average and during its peak winter season carries 50,000 SKUs, Smith says.
The search technology also learns over time and adjusts results based on purchase history. For example, if a certain North Face jacket converts better than other North Face jackets, the search results will list that jacket first in results when a shopper searches for that brand, Dubois says.
Overall, site traffic has increased 63%, unique visitors have increased 35% and conversion has remained flat a year after implementing the new search technology, Dubois says.
“I know it’s not sexy to say we kept the stable conversion,” but maintaining its conversion rate is notable with such increased traffic, Dubois says. He would not disclose Altitude Sports’ conversion rate.
It took about five months to deploy the new functionality. SearchSpring’s clients on average pay $1,500 per month for the platform, and integration costs typically start at $1,000, SearchSpring says. Dubois says Altitude Sports’ costs for the technology are close to that.
The retailer has since replatformed its e-commerce site to use Shopify, but still continues to use SearchSpring, Dubois says.
The retailer wouldn’t disclose its annual sales but Dubois says it processes a little more than 190,000 orders in its fiscal 2016 year, which ended March 31 2017. Altitude Sports has one physical store and the majority of its sales are online, Dubois says.