Smart searching boosts DVD sales website

Movie sales website DVD.co.uk has 'strongly increased' the number of searches on its website that convert into sales, following a project implementing a smart search tool from Avail Intelligence.

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TV and film sales website DVD.co.uk has “strongly increased” the number of searches on its website that convert into sales, following the implementation of a smart search tool from Avail Intelligence.

Since the implementation in July, DVD.co.uk says that 40% of searches result in the correct product being placed at the top of the site for the customer, which it described as a "major" improvement from before. It has also increased by over 10% its overall conversion rate from browsing into sales, aided by the Avail software making additional recommendations based on popular related items.

The software tracks customer behaviour on the site in order to highlight more effective suggestions to customers at the top of the page based on their searches. It is also used by other online retailers, including Game.

Steve Graham, managing director at DVD.co.uk, said that before the implementation customers were searching but not locating the products they wanted and the company was losing potential sales.

DVD.co.uk wrote all of its own code using four in-house developers, but despite a number of reworkings of its systems, it said it was still struggling to return relevant results for searches containing abbreviations or unusual characters, like “The O.C.”. The engine also struggled with searches containing common words, would often return inaccurate results. This meant customers would leave the site and look elsewhere for their DVDs.

It said it chose to implement Avail’s Social Search Optimiser software after lengthy discussions and demonstrations with the vendor to prove how DVD.co.uk’s code could be bettered.

“The most difficult part of the project was probably convincing us to do it, as we like to write our own code and have no other third party code running on the website,” said Graham. “But this new system has strongly increased the effectiveness of our search.”

Most sales came from direct searches for products, so improving this had been crucial, Graham explained. But the company had also improved browsing by presenting recommended choices for customers based on popular product combinations recognised by the new system.

The next project for the website is to show products other customers had bought after buying the same item, a copy of the trend set by Amazon, and it may it write its own code for this.

It already uses customer reviews extensively to help keep customers on the site longer and improve satisfaction with products.

Apart from the development team, DVD.co.uk has no in-house IT and instead outsources the maintenance of its Microsoft-based PCs and servers.

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