Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

Celebros successfully completes full extension and code review with the Magento ECG group

September 27, 2012

Magento Expert Consulting Group’s rigorous review process cements Celebros’ position as the industry leader in site search, merchandizing and navigation conversion technologies.

Celebros, Inc., the leading provider of site search, merchandizing and conversion technologies for online retailers, announced today that it has successfully completed a rigorous full Magento extension and full code review by ECG, Magento’s highly respected Expert Consulting Group.

A successful ECG review is the result of a rigorous audit process that demonstrates how the Celebros technology has attained the highest level of code design, product reliability and durability. Magento ECG review also ensures that Celebros conversion technologies conform to stringent code standards and offer customers a single, seamless service for their Magento code.

“Magento is the fastest growing eCommerce platform in the world,” said Jeffrey Tower, USA General Manager for Celebros. “Magento’s ECG successful review represents yet another big step forward in Celebros’ efforts to equip Magento (online) retailers with the best possible site search and conversion technologies tools.”

Since 2000, Celebros has transformed eCommerce with intelligent, concept-based semantic site search for online stores. Leveraging the most advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, Celebros’ new ConversionPro V8 equip e-commerce merchants with the needed tools to generate additional revenue by converting more site visitors into satisfied customers.

Currently, Celebros technology plays an important role in the success of more than 1,200 eCommerce sites headquartered around the world. Celebros clients include InternetRetailer Top 100/500 companies from a range of industry segments, revenue and catalog sizes – many of which directly benefit from Celebros’ close and ongoing partnership with Magento.

Tower added, “Going forward, we anticipate Celebros’ relationship with Magento to grow and create additional opportunities for both companies.  As online retailing continues to evolve, we look forward to helping Magento clients and other eCommerce companies achieve significant sales growth through the deployment of conversion-focused site solutions.”

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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SITE SEARCH

July 15, 2012

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SITE SEARCH

I write this as somebody who has been involved in e-commerce and specifically site search for a number of years now, but my background was in retail on the front line. I have sat on the fitting stool, stood behind the cash register, done meet and greet at the door, been an overworked assistant store manager then run operations like Best Buy and left the industry as a field based regional executive. So I can offer a personal relevant perspective to those of you who are exploring the online channel.

Your online store may have been up and running for a decent period of time now and yes you are generating sales. Let’s face it you have paid enough to designers, integrators and digital agencies so you know it looks the part. You may also have paid out to those agencies offering to get you traffic, you have been optimized, modified, tagged and analyzed. To quote the Field Of Dreams “if you build it – they will come”, so, you have built it, they have come and yet they are not spending money, they are not converting into paying customers in the same way that somebody who made the effort to visit your bricks and mortar store is.

 

The reason for this is simple, either they found what they wanted but had an objection to buying it, (be it product, service or price ) OR they couldn’t find what they were looking for or even see something they wanted that was on your stock file. And that is OUR problem because that’s what we do. We can serve the customer with search results that are relevant to their enquiry and we can show them additional items that complement the item they are buying to increase your average order size. We can also merchandize your store so that your long tail is being constantly displayed; your best margin products get prominence (because we care for your bottom line) and requests for products your shop doesn’t carry are met with a suitable alternative. To round this off and keep it very simple – we have the best set of tools to enable you to reach record conversion and customer satisfaction numbers.

To put this in a real world perspective let me draw you an analogy:

You have just opened your finest high street flagship store, you have spent a fortune on the building, fixtures and fittings, your buyers have sourced the finest inventory at amazing prices, you have advertised in the national papers on TV and radio. The customers are queuing out the door but when they come in they are just not going to the checkouts. The problem is there is no staff on the floor, or the one staff member there can’t understand what the customer is asking for or is “ignorant” of what’s in stock and when he gets asked he just sulkily says you don’t carry products fitting the customer’s request and all but sends them next door. There is no information about the products anywhere (such as sizes, prices or colors) so nobody can find anything. The windows aren’t dressed so passing traffic won’t enter. There are no floor stacks to act as an impulse purchase, things are priced but the great offers aren’t highlighted and on top of all this the security cameras are off and the managers are in the cafeteria so no one is watching the customer behavior.

 

Now let’s see that scenario with a Celebros team in store:

Customers are met at the door, and politely asked what they are looking for. Then the smart multi-lingual assistant who understands true meaning behind any inquiry (in any language) walks the customer to the correct department, takes them down the right aisle, stops at the correct shelf and points to the most relevant item the customer is most likely to place in their basket. This item comes with all relevant attributes requested by the shopper (color, size, etc.).

On top of this as the customer is being escorted across the store various relevant offers pop up indicating famous brands or popular items in that department, items on sale and a free delivery service. When the item goes in the basket the assistant shows the customer relevant items they might also like, not just batteries or accessories, but items other people have historically bought with the same item.

So now you have a sales floor manager on a one to one basis for every customer, who is also recording what they touched, how long they read the label for, whether they turned it over and read the back, he follows them round the store and notes how long it takes to walk down each aisle, everything they did in fact whilst in the store. Being a gifted floor manager, he remembers this information and will use it for other customers who demonstrate the same behavior.

Sounds better, doesn’t it? This is what Celebros can do for you.

Visit our site for more details on our new ConversionPro V8 suite of conversion technologies including our best of breed award winning Semantic Site Search technology.

 

About The Author- Nick Dryer is the Celebros Sales Manager for all territories other than the Americas. Prior to this position he worked as Customer Relations Manager for companies such as Apple and Mio, after spending over 20 years in the UK Retail sector with companies such as The Link, PC World and Russell and Bromley.

 

 

How Celebros Beat Google To The Future

March 18, 2012

by Ofer Alt

Earlier today, I noticed a LinkedIn post that read: “Google Gives Search a Refresh.”    Naturally, being an avid user of almost all things Google, I clicked on the link and was somewhat amazed by the article’s title: “With Semantic Search, Google Eyes Competitors.”

Google is, by and large, a text based search engine with semantic search capabilities that delivers rather good results based on keywords entered into the search box.  In an interview with Computerworld, Google Fellow Amit Singhal described how Google “is working to give its search engine a better understanding of the words used in queries.”   He explained that Google’s ability to deliver this experience is just a function of how the search engine understands the question, and also “truly understanding all the data that’s out there. And right now, our understanding is pretty darn limited.”

Singhal continued to describe what he sees as “the next generation of search” based on “how humans understand the world.”  In other words, Google is planning a complete overhaul of its search engine, which will, as Singhal sees it, take them into ‘the future of search.’   As it stands now, he explained, when a user enters a query, “we cross our fingers and hope there’s a Web page out there with the answer.”

Naturally, I thought “Really?  Google??  And then I asked myself this:  Has Google been “misleading” users with false or irrelevant information because of its inability to actually understand the true intent behind the users query?”

Why is it my business to ask this question?

Because site search is my business. And because my company, Celebros, has been providing “the next generation of search” for the past 12 years.

As the recognized global leader in site-search, merchandizing and conversion technologies for online retailers, Celebros owns 2 patents and has built its platform entirely on “semantic search” technologies that are powered by our 250 natural language processing (NLP) smart algorithms patents.

Not only has Celebros beaten Google to “the future” by at least 12 years with the fastest (average response times of 0.05 seconds or less) most powerful semantic conversion technologies engine for e-commerce merchants, our patented technology is available in seven foreign languages!

Yes, I admit that our technologies are used by e-commerce websites across the globe vs. the “traditional” content sites but shouldn’t feeding your browsers relevant and correct results be of top priority, I mean isn’t that what search and service is all about?

Since early 2000, Celebros has been empowering e-commerce merchants around the world with powerful semantic based conversion technologies which allow visitors and customers’ to find the products they want using their own natural language and unique terms, “based on how humans understand the world” to quote Singhal.

In essence, we provide a bridge between human language and the merchants’ product catalog.  At Celebros, we like to say that people are not droids.  There is no one specific way to search.

Let me give you an example.

Suppose you are a consumer in the market for a brand new white Japanese car.  You begin your search like most people, on Google.com.  You type the following query in your natural human language,  “White Japanese Cars.”  But instead of getting relevant, organic results based on your natural query such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda etc. you are shown all kinds of irrelevant links, such as “Why do the Japanese love white cars;” and “Why are so many cars in Japan white?”

This is a perfect example of the error common to text based search, and the way Google currently “services” its customers.

Not convinced? Let me give you another example. Let’s say you are about to get engaged and you are looking for that perfect pink diamond ring you know she loves.  The only problem is that you have a limited budget.  How do you convey your rather simple request on the website in the same way that you would ask a human salesperson?  It’s simple!

With Celebros’ semantic based conversion technologies, a consumer can go to a website and enter into the search bar: “white mens addidas shoes size 13,” and be served with the exact results the customers was expecting.  Now that is relevancy!  No wonder our customers see their average conversions increase 300 – 800%.  Note, we even misspelled the brand name (adidas).

But don’t just take my word for it:  Try it yourself by going to www.roadrunnersports.com and entering the above query.

Celebros has taken this natural semantic language approach and successfully incorporated the technology into 13 different conversion technologies for e-commerce merchants.  Among them are site search, guided navigation, predictive merchandizing, cross-sell and product recommendations, product finders, rich advanced auto-complete, analytics and more.

I could not have said it any better than Dan Olds, analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group.  “By adding semantic algorithms to the process, the results should be more suited to answering the questions people are actually asking, rather than just delivering keyword matches. The process should also reduce user frustration and “search fatigue.”

Olds’ last point is extremely important.   “Reducing user frustration and search fatigue” is something every e-retailer wants to avoid at all costs.

If you look at the analytics chart below, you’ll see how semantic search keeps a customer engaged – in other words – how it reduces frustration and search fatigue.  Specifically, this represents a live customer who used the semantic site search feature on a site that is equipped with Celebros Conversion Pro V8 suite of conversion technologies.

The two sections, “Visits without site search” and “Visits with site search” tell two very different stories. It is obvious to even the novice that the “visits with site search” segment produces a much greater overall user experience by drastically reducing the bounce rate (users leaving the site) and increasing the time spent on the site by a factor of 3.  Also, in this analytics snapshot, the average amount of pages the visitor viewed per visit, jumped from a mere 5.21 to just over 15

I guess all that is left to say to Google at this point is this:

Welcome to the (present) future.

Measurable Value – What the Long Tail Really Means to Online Stores

February 16, 2012

 

An article by Ofer Alt, CEO Celebros.com

At Celebros, we’ve built our reputation on delivering outstanding, measurable value to customers. Our Site Search solution helps customers maximize revenue by properly servicing the “Long Tail,” a source of often missed revenue.

Most e-retailers understand that their Top Search Queries (often called Top Search Terms) need to be validated to show relevant search results.  They tend to check the Top 20 or Top 50 search terms frequently and make manual adjustments to show relevant search results.

There is a better way to maximize this hidden source of revenue. By reviewing and optimizing  the full list of Top Search Queries, the information would become more accessible.  But it also a cost-prohibitive and daunting job.

So what’s the best way to maximize revenue? By using an intelligent site search engine, one that understands human language, map a visitor’s request  and find the available product in the store’s catalog.  Intelligent search will also recommend a similar item if the brand/category/item is not available.

Let me illustrate with the results one of our customers shared with us.  (visitors using over 15,000 search terms)

• Site Search traffic contributed to $72,200 per month

• The Top 50 search queries generated $6,100 p/m (only 8.5% of revenues!)

– meaning that 91.5% of the revenues were generated by the Long Tail!

• The Top 250 search queries generated $14,600 p/m (only 20.2% of revenues)

• The Top 500 search queries generated $23,200 p/m (only 32.1% of revenues)

This tells us that even if the retailer did an excellent job making sure that the Top 50 search terms show good results (assuming these don’t change on a daily/weekly basis (a wrong assumption) ), then the retailer has theoretically maximized only 5 to10% of revenue.

At Celebros, our solutions maximize the Long Tail by applying intelligent Semantic Search and conversion technologies. Therefore, every search term is analyzed and relevant, and accurate results are presented without the need to manually test and configure the information.

 

Ofer A.

First in Its Italian Ecommerce Class…CHL

March 24, 2010

To continue on with our interview series, we are speaking with Marco Forlai, the Web Marketing Specialist from CHL, a successful computer and electronics retailer in Italy, as well as the first-ever Italian ecommerce site. 

Marco, could you please give us a brief summary on CHL?

CHL was born in 1993 in Florence as one the first Italian computer shops. In the same year it started its online activity on BBS, giving  users the possibility to consult the catalogue and order products. In 1995 CHL gave birth to the first true Italian ecommerce site, www.chl.it.  These were the very first years of the internet era and the company had to make strong technology investments to implement what is commonly used now.  The core business of the company was, and still is, the sale of computer parts and the possibility to order personal computers choosing the internal components from a big variety of products.  We gave birth to “Dr. Orange”, a web application which guides the user in the process of choosing components to project a pc.

In 2000, CHL entered into the Italian stock exchange market and became the first Italian ecommerce player.  From here we’ve been developing more and more web functionality while the community was growing, reaching more than 1,500,000 users.  Over the years we’ve been extending the variety of products on our catalogue.  Today we have about 22,000 items by 900 different brands. We’re selling products from 22 categories like Computer, Electronics, Photography, Telephone devices, Home appliances, Jewelry and so on.

We have now more than 1,000 physical shops all around Italy where customers can pick and pay for their orders online.

How do you feel about your growth over the past year?  Do you find your sales to be strongly dictated by Technology and Electronic industry trends?

Our sales are always influenced from technological trends, there have been times in which top sellers were home personal computers, in the last two years we’ve seen the explosion of LCD TVs, notebook and smartphones.  We’re just experiencing a strong interest in the new phone devices, I think this will influence our way to use internet in general. Let’s say that every technological innovation has been strongly influencing the behavior of our customers and, consequently, our business. We’ve been constantly growing during the years, some years less than others due also to growing competition in Italian ecommerce.

Do you feel that the state of the economy has had any impact on your shoppers and therefore on your sales performance? 

Sure, recession has had a strong impact on our sales performances, people have less money to spend, less tendency to buy.  The increase in shipping costs also reduced the advantages of buying online.

What are the challenges CHL faces at the moment? 

Finding a new competitive supplier, optimize the logistic chain, open new physical order and delivery centers all over Italy.  Moreover, we’re continuously working to enable better web usability.  One of the main goals is to make users find what they’re looking for, it’s hard to categorize and cluster over 20,000 items from 1,000 brands.  We’re also working to establish new partnerships in terms of web visibility and mainly to always offer new services to our customers like, for example, satellite connectivity, mobile services, and so on.  We’re now focusing on IT infrastructure improvements with  particular attention to the internet highways, driving our traffic on optical fibers to reduce the long response times due to internet congestion.

Have you learned from the success and/or failures of other sites that you admire/do not admire?

There are several sites in Italy which are doing good work.  We always compare our work with theirs.  In these last years we’ve seen how important is to have a small and flexible organization, we all have to act like low cost air companies. Strong competition and reduced product margins made it necessary to reduce costs everywhere possible. We learned that we always have to be careful in investments motivated by international analyses.  The Italian market, like many others, has its own trends and often what is a success in the world doesn’t work here.  Amazon has always been our ecommerce model and we try to learn from its success.  I also like buy.com and the particular business model of krillion.com.

Do you feel like you have an edge over your competitors?/What do you feel sets you apart from your competitors?

There are several aspects I think set us apart from our competitors, the information richness of our product details pages, customer reviews from over 10 years, our big community, computer configurations and production.  Furthermore, we offer many services to our customers we can deliver thanks to our shops net all over the territory.

You have been a long time customer of Celebros.   How did you come to work with Celebros and how do you feel it is going?

We met Celebros in 2006.  We had been working for several years to implement a search solution built internally without particularly good results. During the growth of our business, with so many products from many different brands, a good search solution became essential for our success. When we met Celebros for the first time, we immediately saw the power of their organization and their software.  We were a little frightened though to abandon our software and entrust the whole search process to a foreign company.   However, after 4 years, I can say it’s been one of our best decisions, absolutely no problem due to the company’s distance and what astonished us was that since the first day we went online, our sales increased immediately.  We started to sell more and sold many products that we didn’t even know we had in our product catalog.  Helping the user to find what he’s looking for is essential when there are too many products to show.  I think Celebros has been and still is one of the best partnerships ever in CHL’s history.

What are some other technologies on your site that you feel contribute to your success?

I think “Dr. Orange” and “Wizard”, tools to create personal computers, are something unique, at least in Italy. We’ve also been one of the first Italian companies to manage all the processes through the internet.  Oracle databases are central in our architecture.

What are some new developments that you are trying out this year and what expectations do you have?

We’re going to enter the magical world of mobile apps.  There are huge mobile communities waiting for new apps, we hope to be ready soon and be able to bring ecommerce, store locator and new ideas to this upcoming navigator.  Mobile micro payments are really interesting too, we’re investigating on how this could help our business.  In Italy there are 50 millions potential new users, and 1.5 million are already equipped and active on smartphones.  Social networks gave a strong impulse in the growth of these reality, a new world surely to be observed and understood.

Thank you, Marco, for your time.  This has been great!

Thank you!

The Beauty of Ecommerce

February 23, 2010

Celebros is looking to do a series of interviews with its customers and partners to gain better insight into the best practices of ecommerce that we can share.  To kick off our series, we are speaking with Dr. Eisinger, from Beautynet.de, a leading luxury perfume online retailer in Germany.

To begin, Dr. Eisinger, would you be able to please give us a brief summary on Beautynet?

Yes, Beautynet was established 11 years ago in 1999.  We are exclusively an online store that sells premium perfume brands, also known as “perfumeries”.  You may also obtain a small assortment of our perfumes at select hair salons in Germany.  60% of our customers are women and 40% are men. 

How do you feel about your growth over the past year?  Do you find your sales to be strongly dictated by beauty trends?

 2009 was a very good year for us and we showed considerable growth from 2008. Regarding our sales, I believe our business, in addition to the beauty/perfume industry as a whole is very much dictated by the release of new products.  20-30% of our sales are generated through new product sales; hence as long as there are new products, we shall be in good shape.

Do you feel that the state of the economy has had any impact on your shoppers and therefore on your sales performance? 

No, I don’t think so.  Beautynet, as well as the entire perfume industry was not really affected by the economic crisis.  These are products that people are buying year round.  I know for Christmas, we had sales on our perfume that did well and our shoppers were still buying. 

What are the challenges that face Beautynet at the moment?  What do you look to accomplish in 2010?

Well, our biggest challenge as mentioned before is making sure that there are enough new products to ensure successful sales and maintain the growth of our business, and the growth of the industry. 

Regarding technology, we are now looking into buying a new shop system.  I am quite sure we will buy Magento based on client recommendations, as we were told and have observed that it has good support and is more innovative than other solutions we examined.  It offers a lot in area of templates and web design.  Additionally, we are also looking to add a pay via invoice feature with the company SIT-Pay, which we currently do not provide. 

Shoppers are only able to pay via credit card or Prepay at the moment. The new mechanism reduces collection risks on our side and eliminates the need from the user to input credit card details – still a blocking factor for online shopping.  We tested it already on Christmas and will now implement it by the end of February.

Have you learned from the successes or failures of other sites that you admire or perhaps your competitors’ sites?

Yah, our biggest competitor is Douglass.  They have 65% of the German beauty market.  They are not very innovative but have abundant and perfect images (advertising materials) of the products they sell, which they are able to get directly from the supplier.

Do you know how much people are using comparison shopping between Beautynet and Douglass?

I think you do have a bit of that.  One big difference I notice though between Beautynet and Douglass is that we carry quite a lot more products.  Now after Christmas we are building up our product catalogue, but overall during the year we usually have more to choose from than what Douglass offers.  I know people here usually say that they want to buy everything in one go, so we have the advantage there because they can come to our site and find the majority of what they need when it come to perfume.

Amazon too is a strong competitor. At their site you can buy everything you had on your list all together from every goods category.  I believe it is also a trust issue with Amazon.  Many people are more comfortable shopping with Amazon because they feel more secure with their purchase.

Are you able to compete with the shipping prices of Amazon

Not really. But I don’t think this is where we have a problem.  It’s more the trust in security as discussed previously.

Where do you do most of your advertising?

We try to be on most of the comparison sites (provide data feed to Google and others).  We have more than 10,000 affiliates.  We have also collaborated with women’s magazines such as Women’s Day, where we use a lot of coupons.  Coupons are also distributed via e-mail marketing campaigns, for example on Christmas and Mother’s Day.  Additionally, coupons are distributed when customers provide data on the Beautynet site. 

Are you also using analytics to check which affiliates are converting better?

Yes, Google analytics.  It does not provide all possible reports but for us, this is good enough.

You have been a long time customer of Celebros.  How did you come to work with Celebros and how do you feel it is going?

Beautynet has definitely benefitted from Celebros services over the years.  I find that the monthly analytics-based reports are most valuable and help in the never-ending process of optimizing our site, especially with a frequent high intake of new products!  It also greatly facilitates our ability to regularly monitor our search.  There has repeatedly been an excellent reaction to our requests from the Celebros team. 

Do you use customer reviews?

No we do not have customer reviews though we should have.  It is on our list for 2010 to add this to our site.

What are you using for e-mail marketing?

We have our own software. 

Are you using reminders so that they can subscribe when something new comes in?

No, but customers that bought a lot of a certain brand that is going out of stock, receives an e-mail to inform them of the new product we have chosen to replace it.

Do you use recommendations? 

Yes, we have cross-selling.  At the moment we do it just by hand.  This is a big thing for us and we have to do it all manually.  This creates a lot of work for us at the moment. 

Okay, on that note, I would like to thank you very much for your time.  I certainly have learned a lot here from what you have shared with us.  I wish you and Beautynet much more continued success.

Thank you, it was a pleasure.


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