After implementing a backend tagging tool related to its site search, CostumeBox reduces the time it takes to populate a collection page of products by more than four hours.

Shoppers come to with a purpose: To search for the costume they need for a party and purchase it, says Vanessa Vumbaca, digital content manager at the Australian-based costume merchant and party supplies merchant.

And that means its search bar gets a lot of use. In fact, 57% of CostumeBox’s revenue stems from a shopper using the search bar. Plus, shoppers who use the search have 1.2-times higher average order value compared with a shopper who purchases without using the search bar, such as arriving at the product detail page from search results or using the homepage navigation features, Vumbaca says. So the results from the search bar are key to the merchant’s success.

CostumeBox has about 60,000 SKUs, 20,000-30,000 of which are in stock at any time. When the merchant adds a new product to its site, it ensures it has the correct tags in the backend. That makes the product appear with various filters a shopper might indicate and show up for specific and broad searches.

For example, if a shopper types in “Top Gun,” costumes related to that movie appear, as well as costumes tagged with “fighter pilot” and “military” labels.

Using search tags to merchandise collection pages

The retailer also uses these tags to help populate the hundreds of “collections” it has of products  For example, on the homepage navigation menu, shoppers can click on “themes,” then “movies and television” and then select from dozens of options to find all of the costumes related to a specific program.


Merchandising these collection pages used to be a manual process that took four to five hours, Vumbaca says. After CostumeBox started using a tool in 2020 from its search vendor Searchspring, the retailer could now merchandise that page within a few minutes, she says.

“It saves so much time for us,” Vumbaca says.

“We don’t have to spend time getting in there moving products one by one,” she adds.

The time savings go to further improving its search results. For example, Vumbaca pulls reports on search results pages with low conversion rates, high bounce rates or zero search results to determine any issues.  If a page has a bounce rate of about 60%, which Vumbaca says is high for the merchant, she will go on the site herself, type in the query and see if she can determine why a results page isn’t producing the results that resonate with shoppers. Perhaps the merchandise the search is reproducing is relevant and it needs to pull in different tags to that search query.


Shoppers misspell products in CostumeBox’s site search

Or, a shopper could have a misspelling, which is a common issue.

“Character names can be tricky,” Vumbaca says. “You would be surprised how many ways you can spell ‘Britney Spears.’”

So if CostumeBox sees a shopper typing “Brittany Spears,” it can then put that in the backend as a synonym for “Britney Spears” so costumes related to the pop singer will still show up even if shoppers misspell her name.

The merchant also uses this backend synonyms feature to tie together related costumes. For example, if a shopper types in “Lara Croft,” or “Tomb Raider,” the same costumes appear in search results.


The search bar also is a good way for the merchant to determine which new costumes to add to its site.

The retailer considers if shoppers are continually searching for a particular costume for a long period of time, and not if there is a high volume of searches in a short period, Vumbaca says. For example, CostumeBox added costumes related to the movie The Matrix, the television series Squid Game and the Lara Croft costume from “Tomb Raider” after shoppers continually typed these searches into its search bar for months. In contrast, if shoppers only searched for Squid Game for two weeks and then those searchers dried up, it would not look to add that costume, she says.

For the most part, online retailers seem to be doing a good job of providing relevant search results to shoppers. In a Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights survey of 1,107 online shoppers in October 2022 , only 18% of shoppers said they were recently frustrated from on-site search results that returned poor results. A more common complaint, for 27% of online shoppers, is search results that include out-of-stock products.


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