Less than three months after deploying an artificial intelligence-driven site search system from Bloomreach, conversion from searches are up 15% for Wickes, a home improvement retailer. The next step is to enable the system to show inspirational content for do-it-yourselfers.

Artificial intelligence is demonstrating its worth quickly for Wickes Building Supplies Ltd., a U.K. home improvement retailer.

Neil Kirkpatrick, digital development manager, Wickes Building Supplies Ltd.

Neil Kirkpatrick, digital development manager, Wickes Building Supplies Ltd.

Less than three months after deploying an AI-driven site search tool from Bloomreach, Wickes.co.uk‘s conversion rate from site search is up 15%, failed searches that return no product results are down 30% and there are 5% fewer exits after a visitor searches the ecommerce site, says Neil Kirkpatrick, the retailer’s digital development manager.

“The first two [results] justify why we brought Bloomreach in,” Kirkpatrick says.

Wickes deployed the Bloomreach Search & Merchandising technology in place of the built-in site search software that came with its ecommerce platform from hybris, part of German software company SAP SE. The previous system “only found products if we told it which search terms were associated with it,” Kirkpatrick says. “The new one is far more intelligent.”

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We want to show them relevant content so they can be sure what the project entails and reassure them they’re buying the right tools for the job.

For example, if someone searches for “red paint,” the old system might have shown pieces of decorative trim painted red or paintbrushes. The new system, Kirkpatrick says, learns over time that the intent of the searcher is to find paint and only shows paint.

Wickes and Bloomreach continue to work to improve the results, he says. For example, personnel from the two companies meet each week to discuss the suggested search terms the software displays when someone enters a search query and continues to refine those results.

Surfacing content in search results

The next step is to show content in search results, a feature Kirkpatrick says should be live in April or May. He says Wickes, which operates more than 230 stores in the United Kingdom, has produced a lot of new content in the past year aimed at helping consumers find inspiration for their home improvement projects as well as information about how to complete the work. “We want to show them relevant content so they can be sure what the project entails and reassure them they’re buying the right tools for the job,” he says.

Wickes is not currently personalizing search results based on the consumer’s browsing or buying behavior, but Kirkpatrick says that’s something the retailer may consider in the future.

Wickes is owned by Travis Perkins plc, a British retailer and distributor of building supplies and home improvement products that is No. 77 in the Digital Commerce 360 Europe 500, which ranks Europe’s largest online retailers.

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Bloomreach provides site search technology for three retailers in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 ranking of North America’s retail leaders in online sales.

Kirkpatrick declined to comment on how much Wickes pays for the Bloomreach Search & Merchandising software. A Bloomreach spokesman says pricing varies based on a variety of factors, including the number of page views, size of a retailer’s catalog and the number of supported languages.

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