What Can the Search Tool Do?
How to get the search tool is one thing. What you can do with it is another.
Will the search solution make your day-to-day easier or will it cause new issues? Can you tweak performance? How? Is it difficult to make changes and optimize?
If you have a dedicated dev team you’ll have one set of needs, while another store with a dedicated merchandising team will have different requirements.
Is the search solution built more for one team structure vs the other, or is it a one size fits all? Is a one size fits all optimal, or is that even possible?
How you will use the search tool and who it’s built for should be at the top of your list. Get the tool that’s made for your way of doing things. It shouldn’t force you to change how you operate for the worse.
How Automated is the Automation and What Settings Can You Set?
How much does the search tool do on its own? How much are you responsible for?
If it’s fully automated, and you want that, are all settings globally set?
If they’re global, are the settings the same for you as they will be for someone making 300% less revenue, 1/10th your SKU count, 20% of your traffic volume, in a completely different industry, with a team 1/5th your size?
Maybe, the tool is automated but gives you control to modify settings. How much control? Do you know the optimal settings for your store? How much time and effort will it take for you to trial and error those settings?
None of this is to say you shouldn’t do it, but can you?
If so, great.
If not, make sure you’re actually getting a search solution optimized for your needs. If you need expert help, make sure it’s included.
And what about after integration. What happens with your day-to-day?
- Can you optimize to make the search tool better?
- Does the tool give you the appropriate data to make those types of moves or is it a guessing game?
- Is your team technically proficient enough to make those optimizations?
- Do you have the bandwidth to do so?
- Do you even want to do so?
Some stores have the team knowledge, the bandwidth, and the expertise to fully utilize a robust search tool on their own. Other stores can quickly drown with an identical solution.
Make sure the search solution you get matches your team’s technical proficiency and bandwidth. Ensure the search tool you implement can actually be used the way you want and need.
What Happens to Merchandising Campaigns?
Along the same lines of losing your data equity, what happens to any merchandising campaigns you’ve set up?
Let’s back up a few steps. Does your current search solution offer merchandising control? Do you need merchandising moving forward? If so, what level of control do you need?
That alone will scratch off several search providers from the list of options.
If you currently have merchandising, and you have a campaign strategy implemented, how much work would it take to move those campaigns to the new search tool?
If site search settings are different between search providers, merchandising controls will be even more different.
Ensure merchandising being offered is compatible with your way of doing business. At the very least, make sure the differences are not going to limit your ability to create, monitor, and optimize your merchandising in the future.
For example, if you’re accustomed to boosting your highest margin products to the top of product results, can you afford to lose that functionality?
You will probably have to change a few things moving forward. Just make sure you’re not throwing out the baby with the bathwater – meaning, don’t force yourself to re-learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to merchandising.
How Easy is it to Learn the New Software?
Can the search tool do what you need it to do or does it require hacks and complex processes to get there?
Can you continue to do what you’ve been doing on your own or do you have to create a support ticket to make simple changes?
Do you prefer to have the search provider make changes or your team?
Do you get adequate training on the new search tool or are you thrown into the deep-end and expected to swim on your own? Can you swim?
It seems simple, but it’s often overshadowed by flashy features. How simple is the search tool to learn and use? Is it robust enough to do what you need or is it too much?
As mentioned before, some tools are built for stores that have teams of merchandisers, developers, and other staff. Other tools are built to be left on auto-pilot with little to no management needed.
If you have teams, don’t get something that limits their ability to perform their tasks. If you’re leaner, don’t get a tool that is unmanageable – regardless of flashy features and ROI numbers shown in a demo.
If it doesn’t fit, then it’s not going to work.
Do You Get Support When Things Go Wrong?
It’s inevitable. Something will go wrong. It won’t be anyone’s fault, but a problem is going to happen to your store.
What happens then?
Maybe your next marketing campaign blows up and you get 100x’s the expected engagement. Not a bad problem at all. It’s awesome. Unless something breaks.
Is your team savvy enough? Do you need to get on the phone with an expert?
What does the problem to resolution look like?
Make sure the search tool you have integrated gives you the control and support you need.