Optimizing Your Web Site – The Importance Of Internal Search

Part 1 – What is “Internal Search”?

It’s shocking that businesses optimizing a web site for business-to-business commerce don’t optimize for their own internal search! That’s often because they overlook or underestimate the role of internal search causing lost sales and opportunities. People searching with misspellings, synonyms, hyphenation or spacing errors are not taken to the appropriate product pages. 

In an unscientific survey of the OP industry, it was found that 90% of distributors do not use all the functionality that they already have in their eCommerce and back office systems.  And quite honestly, the 90% is probably low.

As more and more business moves to the web for all the reasons we’re very familiar with, the importance of your customer (and potential customer) easily finding the product they’re looking for could not be more important.  Coupled with the importance of finding the right product is making sure that YOUR preferred product is showcased and is the “end cap” item.  Location, location, location - isn’t just a real estate idiom.

So why are businesses in this industry not leveraging the technology that they have in place?  There are many reasons beyond the typical “we need more training” reasons.  Some of these reasons include:

o   Turnover – you’ve had new employees replace some key positions and the knowledge transfer from old staff to new staff has been less than ideal.  If you explore the trickle down effect of best practices related to your technical capabilities, you will find an ineffective means of exploiting system capabilities.

o   Reduced staff – All businesses are much more efficient than they were 5 or 10 years ago.  Competition is driving frivolous cost out of the channel – now we’re getting into cutting muscle.  The bottom line is your staff is performing more tasks than they were in the past – and they don’t have extra time to focus on learning new capabilities, instead trying to leverage third party vendors that have expertise.  Clearly, nobody knows your business better than you do – leveraging technology to match your business proposition is key.

o   Aversion to cost – expenditures on non-core business needs are viewed with a skeptical eye.  Leveraging external resources must be cost justified and are often not explored as the costs are viewed as non-essential.  This aversion to cost puts your company in a position where it may not be exploiting the very capabilities that are already in place.

o   Indifference – the worst of the causes.  Some businesses are so focused on day-to-day activities that strategic causes are lost in the fog.  Or worse than that, technology is something that is considered as a means to an end, not something that is focused on as a key component in doing business – basically just making ends meet.

This lack of focus on internal capabilities causes problems that affect your businesses sales and profitability.  Sometimes we lose sight of the forest because there are too many trees.    The subsequent articles on this topic will examine how poor search and unranked search results create lost business for your company and steps you can take to better use this very important capability.

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