Why do I run a search technology company? This is a great question that I get asked all the time, especially by those who know I previously ran a successful ecommerce company. The answer is quite simple. When I ran an ecommerce company, we had a home-built ecommerce system. We built the shopping cart, CMS, order manager, CRM, warehouse management, and everything else in between. We built it all because in 2005, ecommerce platforms didn’t really exist (I don’t really count Yahoo Stores as a platform). However, the one thing we tried and failed to build was a search and merchandising system, it was the only thing we bought.
I built a site search engine in 2005 and then rebuilt it around 2009. It was probably 2011 or 2012 when I realized we needed to outsource this key piece of software, that it was just too difficult for a retailer of our size to build it ourselves. Therein lies the birth of me and search technology.
While buying different search providers over the years, I became well-versed in what the core features were. After selling my company and moving on, I ended up as Head of Product at the search provider, GroupBy. I was very technical. When I used “I” earlier, it was because I personally had been developing our product. Sometime right around buying a search product, we added a team of developers.
Fast forward to today, I am at Searchspring because I still firmly believe that search is the single most important feature of any website. Search converts at 6-9x the levels of non-search sessions. When we look at merchandising – which is another important aspect of any website – I see the search technology that powers merchandising and personalization as the single most important thing you could invest in. I want to run a company that can provide that product and support.
If there was one suggestion I would give anyone running a website today, it would be to make sure you invest in a search and merchandising platform and, even more importantly, actively manage it. These aren’t set and forget tools, the difference between good and great is very small. Those actively managing their top 1000 searches, versus their top 100, and creating holistic merchandising campaigns that surface the best products will be the winners. Those who either don’t invest or set it and forget it, will not gain the full value that can be derived.
Writing that last paragraph just made me think about a future blog post – lookout for an article on tips for search tuning and merchandising that I have personally tried. Still not a marketing piece about our product, scout’s honor.