Apparel retailer Saint Bernard can easily raise or lower specific products on category pages based on trends, inventory and other factors.

Saint Bernard sells 10,000 ski apparel and outwear items from 250 brands, and chief operating officer Charlie Goyer knows that putting just the right product in front of website visitors is a key to conversion.

His e-commerce team is now easily able to adjust the products that appear on category pages by such factors as newness, what customers are viewing, inventory levels and price.

That made it easy, for example, to modify what consumers see when they use site navigation to explore men’s jackets by clicking on the Apparel tab in the left navigation column and then Jackets and Outerwear. The way products are categorized in the retailer’s Magento Community Edition e-commerce platform, category pages were prominently showing ski jackets. But Goyer and his colleagues didn’t think that’s what most customers were looking for when they took that navigation path.

“We think that when you search under Apparel you’ll want to see street coats,” Goyer says.

Using search technology provider SearchSpring’s merchandising tool, Saint Bernard’s e-commerce team was able quickly to boost certain brands and depress others, moving ski jackets down so that they no longer appeared on the first page of category results for men’s jackets. “It took two minutes,” Goyer said.

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Being able to control what shoppers see on category pages has had a significant impact on the results at SaintBernard.com, the e-commerce site of the ski and outerwear retailer that sells about $7 million online per year. The retailer also operates five bricks-and-mortar stores in Texas.

Since Aug. 1, sitewide conversion is up 35% over last year, Goyer says. And since Saint Bernard started using the SearchSpring merchandising tool in September 2016, the number of items per order has increased 10%  and average order value is 20% higher.

Goyer says SearchSpring is especially valuable for Saint Bernard, because his 10-person e-commerce team doesn’t have the time to manually adjust what appears on category pages.

“Now we are able to easily go in and quickly make these pages look good,” he says. “It took very little training to get people up to speed on this. This is something we’ve been seeking for six years, and we’re super-happy to have it.” The results, he says, make the monthly fee of $2,000 a worthwhile investment.

SearchSpring last week introduced an updated version of its Relevancy Suite that extends the kind of product-boosting features Saint Bernard uses to modify site search results and category pages. The new release also allows retailers to raise or lower product pages based on how the consumer searches, either by product type or product attributes.

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“Pink summer dress” would be an example of a search by product type. SearchSpring says its technology can identify that the consumer is searching for a dress and would not give preference to pink summer shorts, for example, despite the similar decriptors of “pink” and “summer.”

As an example of an attribute-based search, SearchSpring cites “black iPhone 7,” and says consumers entering a phrase like that typically know exactly what they want and are close to conversion. In such cases, SearchSpring would match results directly against such product attribute data as name, brand and SKU to feature exactly the product the consumer seeks.

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