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Q&A with Klevu’s Mairaid Harte

Site search can make or break your ecommerce store, there’s no doubt about it. When done well, it has the power to decrease bounce rates, increase conversions and drive growth. Provide a poor search experience though, and users will be running for your competitors’ hills in a flash.

Someone who knows the ins and outs of site search and its potential is Mairaid Harte, Strategic Partnerships Manager at global product discovery platform Klevu - a solution that’s driving traffic, conversion and loyalty for more than 3,000 leading global brands, including Puma, Yamaha, Callaway, Toys “R” Us, Agent Provocateur, ME + EM, Paul Smith, and Made.com.

Before she hosts her very own Ecommerce Unlocked masterclass next month, we sat down with Mairaid for a chat about product discovery, omnichannel retail and hot ecommerce trends …

To kick us off, please could you tell us a bit about Klevu and the services you provide?

Of course! At Klevu, we believe that AI innovation isn’t the privilege of the chosen few. And that good technology doesn’t need to be complicated or break the bank. We believe that the best way to personalise website experiences is by using the most relevant shopper intent data, from search, to fuel your conversion engine.

The Klevu Product Discovery Suite is an AI-powered solution that helps retailers curate personalised product discovery experiences with minimal effort. Klevu's framework uses state-of-the-art NLP (Natural Language Processing) and AI technology, including AI-powered Smart Search, Smart Category Merchandising, Smart Recommendations, Personalisation and much more.

Retailers that use Klevu typically enjoy a 6x increase in conversion from search, +6% increase in average order value from search, and +15% increase in site-wide ecommerce conversion.

You touched on some of the benefits that retailers using Klevu can enjoy - are there any other advantages for retailers of connecting their customers to relevant products?

Simply put, Klevu drives growth and improves conversion by making every ecommerce experience personal. By connecting customers to relevant products, they are 3-5 times more likely to purchase. More than 30% of online shoppers “bounce” if they can’t quickly and easily find what they are looking for online.

Shopper intent begins the moment shoppers come to a website. Whether they know exactly what they are looking for or are simply browsing, shoppers are in discovery mode and may use a multitude of different discovery avenues to navigate the product they’re looking for. It is essential that no matter what journey the shopper decides to take, whether it be through search, categories or recommendations blocks, you must ensure that the consumer is served the most relevant products and stays highly engaged.

With Klevu’s AI powered discovery suite, you will be able to join the relevancy revolution, decrease bounce rates, increase engagement, and generate growth.

Are there any brands based in the South West of the UK currently enjoying success with Klevu?

Cornish fashion and lifestyle brand Seasalt and agricultural supplies and equipment retailer Mole Valley Farmers are two that spring to mind. We’re actually going to be chatting some more about Seasalt at our Ecommerce Unlocked masterclass, plus their Director of Digital, Tim Ryan, is one of the brand leaders on the line-up for the live panel session!

What's the most important bit of advice you'd give to a bricks-and-mortar retailer who's just starting out with an ecommerce store?

Scaremongering and fanaticism about omnichannel has grown louder over the past decade. The reality is, there are so many channels these days, it’s not commercially viable for many businesses to keep everything seamlessly connected, according to a recent study from Gartner. The shopping journey is more fragmented than ever before, but there is a golden thread of opportunity tied to a great on-site product discovery experience. Making sure that the on-site ecommerce search is set up to handle complex search terms will help customers find items on your online store that they may have seen in real life, in-store, on a friend or in a flash of a story on TikTok or Instagram.

If a shopper tried to make a complex query - such as describing a print or a cut out or price range - on a retailer’s website, 54% of retailers return zero or irrelevant results. Data from Baymard shows that shoppers will abandon a website immediately after a ‘zero results’. That is a huge potential revenue loss for retailers - and such a quick fix too. Curvy, a plus-size lingerie retailer, noticed people used the search bar much like a replacement for an in-store assistant over Covid and quickly saw a dramatic 41% increase in revenue from search after implementing a smarter search solution. It’s worth it, and customers will love being able to find what they are after, whether they saw it in-store, on their friend, or on social media.

We've seen a huge acceleration in the growth of ecommerce as a result of the Covid pandemic. What can retailers do to try and differentiate their brand from the competition in today's market?

Having relevant products, and a rich personalised experience means that shoppers are 3 to 5 times more likely to purchase something that’s relevant. Amazon has given accessibility to many products and provides a reasonable user experience, but technology is enabling others to beat that.

Customers enjoy the breadth of products that Amazon provides, but are starting to go for brands that can provide a personal and rich user experience.

Ultimately, you’ll never be able to take Amazon on toe-to-toe because of the breadth of their offering, but you can emulate and beat them from a user experience perspective.

By giving your customers a really good and frictionless path to purchase, and taking advantage of personalisation technologies that Klevu and others provide, you’ll delight customers and have them return.

A recent product discovery test we conducted as part of Klevu’s eCommerce Discovery Report demonstrated that 56% of all websites failed the product discovery test, representing lost opportunities for conversion.

Are there any ecommerce trends you think we should watch out for during the rest of 2021?

The growing popularity of voice search signals the increase in interest in a virtual experience, with Google reporting that 27% of the online global population is using voice search on mobile. But how do you get that product there in the first place? It comes back to product discovery and search - can you find the product you want within a few clicks or words? Search will remain the first touchpoint, especially for users with any level of intent, who want to find exactly what they are looking for.

You need to have good CX and immersive and beautiful designs that give consumers the ability to visualise the product in the environment they are buying for. Consumers want relevancy, efficient product discovery and a rich brand experience otherwise, they will be looking for a competitor.

Ecommerce Unlocked is fast approaching! What are you most looking forward to about being there on the day?

First and foremost, we’re extremely excited to meet retailers and partners in person - it will be great to share the highs and lows of the last 18 months! It’ll be a fantastic opportunity to reflect on how the pandemic has affected retail, whilst also looking forward and understanding the changing priorities of brands in a post-pandemic world. It will be a day for sharing and learning from one another around how retailers can be increasing conversions, optimising UX, encouraging loyalty and the opportunities for growth in the upcoming year.

As you mentioned earlier, you're hosting a masterclass session alongside Seasalt's Director of Digital, Tim Ryan, all about optimising product discovery. Why should people sign up to your masterclass - what will they learn?

During our fireside chat with Tim, we’ll be discussing the digital transformation that Seasalt has gone through and is still undergoing. Learn how Covid has accelerated the growth of digital for Seasalt, and the technologies they’ve adopted to create a frictionless user experience on-site.

Online shopping provides retailers with so much more data to make better business decisions. Adopting these technologies has enabled Seasalt to harness the power of AI in order to be truly customer-led, whilst simultaneously retaining strategic control to ensure that Google Shopping / email marketing efforts are aligned on-site. Seasalt believes in a customer-centric approach and aims to always showcase to their customers the products they want to see.

Learn more about product discovery at Ecommerce Unlocked!

Masterclasses are open for booking, which means you can save your spot at Klevu’s fireside chat with Seasalt in just a few clicks! Remember, you can only book onto a masterclass if you’ve purchased a ticket to Ecommerce Unlocked - be sure to do this first before selecting your chosen masterclass sessions.