Unlocking the True Value (and Cost) of Site Search and Merchandising for Your Business
By Kait Spong
Apr 26, 2022
13 min read
Unlocking the True Value (and Cost) of Site Search and Merchandising for Your Business
Table of Contents
When you’re looking up a restaurant menu or an intended purchase online, what is one of the pieces of information that you seek out with conscious intent? If you said price, then we appreciate your honesty. Whether we want to admit it or not, money matters, especially when it boils down to your business spend. After all, you need a return on investment (ROI) when purchasing new technology tools if you’re going to be a profitable business.
And yet, a lot of technology vendors tend to avoid the cost question out of concern that there are too many variables involved or a competitor will see it. But it’s simply not in anyone’s best interest to bypass these hard-hitting questions while discussing products and services. In fact, it’s critical for your business to understand what it can expect when evaluating a commerce search solution, especially when it comes to price, and it’s a tech vendor’s job to provide that very information.
With all the technologies available on the market — from project management and collaboration apps to data visualization and workflow automation — your business has hundreds of ways to allocate your e-commerce budget to grow revenue. Ultimately, it can really become a never-ending guessing game as to where to devote your dollars.
More often than not, innovation projects that are intended to improve a company’s internal processes and customer experiences (CX) fail because spend isn’t allocated to the tool with the most potential. So, how can you tell if site search should be at the top of your list of on-site experience improvements? Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of site search, its cost, and where your business currently stands to figure out the answer.
What Do the Benefits of Investing in Site Search Look Like?
There are a lot of factors to consider when investing in new technology. While we don’t want to start answering a question by asking more of them, a few more might arise while purchasing new tech, including: How are business operations impacted without this technology solution? Is there enough employee and/or leadership buy-in? What does the cost and time for training look like? And of course, you’ll also have to decide if the investment works within your innovation budget.
When evaluating the worth of any investment, it’s best to examine the benefits of the tools or services before even broaching the topic of cost. Your business’ decision-makers need to wrap their collective mind around the potential of leveraging search technology.
Here are the capabilities that a true search solution can achieve to boost revenue:
- Improves conversions - Your search bar will understand which products your customers are trying to find, pick items to show from your catalog, rank them in the most enticing order based on the keywords used, and remove any possible dead ends in the process.
- Enhances CX for site visitors - Nothing frustrates consumers more than irrelevant or null results. This means your search bar needs to do more of the heavy lifting, instead of relying on customers to refine their search queries. A solution built specifically for commerce can refine the customer experience on all levels, starting with product discovery.
- Provides the ability to personalize experiences at the search query level - In-store or online, customers are clamoring for personalized experiences more than ever before. Search and merchandising technology will rank results based on customer behavior data and search relevance. To learn more about how a combination of both can increase revenue, check out our all-new interactive guide.
- Automates tasks for your team members - Since the pandemic, many companies have been concerned with labor gaps. Because certain search solutions rely on “cocktail rules” that consist of small, manual fixes, merchandisers are left with endless possibilities to evolve their search bar. Too much manual work can do more harm than good, and might negatively impact your search bar’s effectiveness, however. You’ll need a winning combination of manual and automated capabilities for all of your business needs.
- Pay for what you need and scale the package once you grow - What’s the point of paying for every single part of a solution if you don’t use all of it? Invest in the modules you need now and grow your package whenever it feels necessary to reevaluate your next steps. Pay for what you use, not what you’ll hope to use.
Not only are you increasing organic traffic, new revenue streams, and revenue per visit (at least 5 to 10%, according to our research) when evolving your search strategy, but you’re also fine-tuning operational efficiencies and reducing costs in the process. In terms of time saved, e-commerce teams spent 30-50% fewer hours diagnosing issues, finding insights, and personalizing results by simply using a search and merchandising solution, which was proven across dozens of validated A/B tests. If these benefits are in line with your long-term business goals, then we can explore the costs associated with implementation.
How Much Does It Cost to Implement Smart Site Search?
It’s the moment that everyone (presumably) has been waiting for — the price. While we wish the answer about cost could be as simple as a flat rate, software subscriptions aren’t priced in such a way, and honestly, it ends up being the best-case scenario for you, the customer. Now, your team doesn’t have to worry about a big, upfront price tag for a bunch of tools that you’ll never use.
These days, businesses will find many technology vendors offer scalable packages that include different modules. So, pricing for a site search and merchandising tool varies based on usage, complexity, and other factors. After all is said and done, it all amounts to what you want out of your investment.
Starting packages are perfect for brands looking to upgrade their product discovery experience and typically include search and merchandising APIs, semantic understanding, performance and query-based rankings, and manual and auto-generated synonyms. Costs for these starting packages typically begin around $35K and increase as you scale up.
As your business grows, and your usage and need for new capabilities increase, take your strategy up a notch with features like recommendations and pathways. With it, your team can put their online merchandising strategies to the test with a ranking algorithm that personalizes experiences based on customer segments. Of course, it will come at an extra cost of $10K to $20K+ — again, it all depends on the package and your business needs.
It’s important to keep in mind that these costs are only the starting point, and your business will have to account for API capacity (i.e., your catalog size and usage) and page views in the final licensing cost. If your API usage is higher, you will inevitably pay more for licensing. The same applies to page views. For instance, small businesses with a limited catalog might only need 250,000 to 500,000 API calls per month, adding $15K to $17K on top of their package access fee. You can scale these API calls well above 750K, but the more you add, the more you should expect to pay.
Finally, any other add-ons — like enhanced support, custom integrations, or additional training — will contribute to the final cost. The numbers will vary, depending on the services rendered and the format they’re presented in. If you opt in for more training sessions on the product, for example, you’ll pay a different fee for on-demand training than you would for a virtual live or an in-person training. These variables mean that it could cost you anywhere from $500 to $18K for additional training. The perk of this pricing model is its flexibility, and it ensures that your business will get the most out of your investment.
Is There a Way to Quickly and Easily Self-assess Your Search Bar?
Site search is beneficial to your prospects and team members, but the thought of evaluating your search bar might feel overwhelming. Where do you start, and what should you evaluate? To make this process more approachable, our Discovery product experts at Bloomreach have put together a comprehensive checklist, so you can truly see how your site’s search experience measures up in today’s market.
From search relevance and semantic understanding to personalization, you’ll have a better grasp of which aspects your site search needs to improve CX, increase online revenue, and establish brand loyalty. If you’re eager to get started, take a look at the full checklist.
For those itching to take the analysis of their search bar a bit further, Bloomreach has also made it possible to calculate the potential ROI you’ll gain after implementing our Discovery offering. All you have to do is answer four simple questions, and you might be shocked at just how much revenue you’re missing out on without fully tapping into search technology. For more information on our Discovery product or pricing, contact us for a demo today.