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Why does SearchSpring’s integration take so long?

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When coming aboard, many of our customers wonder why we ask for more time than our competitors to get SearchSpring up and running. Why is that and what are the benefits?

Why does our integration take longer than others?

From a technical standpoint, our integration style and philosophy is a bit different than our competitors. The simplest way to explain this, is that we do most of the work before we go live, while most of our competitors prefer to handle most of this after you go live. We do our best to uncover any and all surprises before going live on your site rather than after.

What work are we doing during those few weeks before we launch?

  • Understanding your needs: We discuss what functionality you want and need.
  • Understanding your shoppers: We review your Google Analytics data to understand how they are search and navigating your store.
  • Extracting your code (HTML, CSS, etc.).
  • Replacing your code: Line-by-line, we comb through your code and replace many parts of it. During this process, we retain all functionality and existing business logic (pricing logic, swatches, etc).
  • Audit data and design: We ensure that we haven’t made mistakes and that the products work as intended.
  • Training & consultation: We show you how to best make use of SearchSpring and make suggestions to you to improve your store.

By comparison our competitors either: a) don’t assist in any of the set-up work (plugins), or b) do some or all of this work after you go live (quick install solution). Why might it be a bad idea to do this work after you go live? More detail is provided in-depth in this article.

Understanding your needs

Before we can get started, we have to understand precisely what you need. Every customer is very different and have vastly different expectations and functional requirements. For example, it is best practice to eliminate redundancy in filter data, such as duplicate color options (blue, BLUE, navy, etc.). However, we have had customers that absolutely needed to retain this specificity.

Understanding the needs of your shoppers

In order to provide you with a solution that works to our standards, we do a lot of preliminary work to understand them. One of the ways we do this is by spending a few hours examining Google Analytics history to learn how they navigate your site. For example, we find out what your most popular search terms are. This will help us tune the search engine later.

Extracting your code

This part is pretty simple. We extract the code that exists on your website. This doesn’t take long.

Replacing your code

Now we need to comb through your code, line-by-line, finding all of the areas where our code needs to replace yours. This is a very detail oriented and time-consuming process. It takes many man hours to find all of those areas where code needs to be replaced.

Replacing that code is not always as simple as pasting something from one of our libraries. We have to design brand new code to be used in place of yours. In most cases, we have to design brand new UI elements that don’t exist on your store already. For example, if you don’t already have autocomplete, we have to design something that will match your store. This design may go through multiple revisions depending on how well you like what we come up with.

Audit data and design

When we’re finished with our preliminary data and design, we go through a round of audits. This involves testing hundreds of searches, finding relevancy issues, and fixing them. This is where consultation comes in.

Training & consultation

Throughout our initial setup process, we almost always find data, design and logic issues that have the potential to inhibit your store’s performance. We make suggestions on layout and design changes, data and data process changes, and more. For example, if you are a fashion retailer with many variations of the color blue on your product data (blu, BLUE, blue, navy), we would probably suggest standardizing this data to make it easier for your shoppers. In other cases, we may create new data fields to improve your relevancy without adjusting the front end title and description. This is important for some brands.

Look here for a technical breakdown of our integration timeline.

What are the benefits of this integration style?

Since we take our time to customize and tune our solution before you go live, you’ll see a number of important benefits.

  • A completed design that matches your store
  • Search, navigation, and merchandising that works perfectly on day 1
  • Time savings for your staff

A completed design that matches your store

Solutions that are able to get you up and running more quickly typically use design templates. That means that parts of your store that are new (autocomplete) won’t be an exact match for what you already have. Rather than have your store look disjointed or broken, we take extra time up-front to design something special, just for you.

Search, navigation, and merchandising that works perfectly on day 1

Solutions that don’t audit and customize their solution for your store will have relevance and functionality issues when you go live. Often times, this can be fixed, but depending on the provider, you may have to find and fix these issues on your own.

Time and cost savings for you

Getting all of this design and data customization done up front always results in time savings after all is said and done. While we do all of the design and data work for you, many other solutions leave that work in your hands after you go live. If you don’t have an in-house developer, you may have to hire one to do this work for you, and that could be expensive.

The benefits and drawbacks of these integration styles are explained in greater depth here.