Lamps Plus Gives Customers a Searchlight, Online and Off
Like so many of his cataloging colleagues, Dennis Swanson, president and owner of multichannel merchant Lamps Plus, originally thought his company’s Web site would serve customers only as an information portal. With 44 retail stores, Swanson figured customers would browse for lighting products online, but then buy them in his stores. Yet buy online they did.
Still, Swanson suspected that the number of online orders would increase if customers could more easily navigate through his site’s 4,000 SKUs.
The clincher came when he put a group of in-store sales reps online to offer live customer help. Sales doubled after a month. He realized the site was missing an important in-store element.
“When customers walk into a store, a good sales technique is to ask them what they’re looking for,” Swanson explains. “In an online environment, you have to emulate that process.”
So he went on the hunt for a good search solution.
From Retail to Online and Back Again
Swanson did his homework and implemented a search and navigation platform from solutions provider EasyAsk. Rather than simply matching a customer’s search query, EasyAsk results offer other product attributes the customer can use to refine his or her browsing.
To determine the most effective attributes to offer, Lamps Plus’ Webmaster spent some time with EasyAsk, testing a set of attributes fed to them by Swanson and his merchandising team. The collaborators found, interestingly enough, that broader search cues yielded better results than more narrow ones.
Swanson gives an example: Previously, if a customer had entered “bronze table lamp” into the search field on
lampsplus.com, about 400 results appeared.
But after implementing EasyAsk, the same query brings up additional attributes, such as name brand, price range and style, from which customers can drill down to find specific products that suit their tastes. Swanson notes this is exactly the process carried out by salespeople in Lamps Plus’ retail stores.