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Industry’s First “State of Search and Discovery” Report Uncovers How Organizations Derive Value from Site Search

500 business and technical leaders share insights into financial benefits, technical challenges, and best practices for site search

Algolia, the leading Search and Discovery platform, launched the industry’s first “State of Search and Discovery” report. The findings reveal best practices for an integrated approach to site search and critical insights into what high quality site search looks like, as well as potential pitfalls behind particular search-related investments.

Conducted by ONR, the survey polled 500 professionals with knowledge of their organization’s site search strategy to help understand the current state of Search and Discovery. More than 75% of respondents worked for organizations with over 1,000 employees and greater than $200 million in annual revenue. With companies relying on search more than ever before, the report discusses factors that go into creating a successful site search experience that drives better business and financial outcomes.

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“These findings come at a critical time, as retailers adapt to the new normal and in the short term prepare for holiday season shopping,” said Jason Ten-Pow, president and CEO, ONR. “In the face of both economic and health & safety challenges, as consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels to find the products and answers they are looking for, a website’s search tool is often the first place they go. This survey provides insights for decision makers who are looking to improve their site search capabilities in 2021 and beyond.”

Summary of key survey findings:

High quality search drives financial success when optimized for consumers and business users.

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  • The survey identified the top three factors that contribute to a quality search experience as:
    • Fast and easy search
    • Highly relevant, customized, and organized search results
    • Effortless optimization for digital teams, merchandisers, and other business users to control site search with minimal reliance on the IT team
  • Organizations with high quality site search reported more than 4x the rate of high financial success of search. Ease of optimizing search for non-technical teams is the most strongly correlated factor.
  • Consumers of high quality site search are 3.4x more likely to convert, click, subscribe, or take other actions desired by the business.

Organizations realize the value of quality site search — and are increasing their investments.

  • In 2019, 59% of organizations increased total spend on site search, with 58% reporting they invested more than $500k across technology tools and headcount.
  • In the next 12 months, 79% expect site search investment to increase even more.
  • Organizations that spent more than $500k and consider their search as high quality are more than twice as likely to report their investment as a success.

Companies must strategically invest in search, as extra features and more people don’t always translate to higher financial returns.

  • While respondents reported roughly equal dollar investment for site search tools built in-house and third-party tools, success rates differed. Only 60% of organizations using site search built in-house reported average-to-high financial success, compared to almost 73% of companies that use third-party tools.
  • While larger teams are more likely to see higher financial success from site search with 44% of large engineering teams with seven or more people reporting high search success overall, this number dwindles to 27% for site search built in-house.
  • While third-party tools see a continued increase in success as they add search functionality, site search tools built in-house don’t see higher financial returns after the first 3-4 features.

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“The findings from the ‘State of Search and Discovery’ survey show that while investment in site search does lead to success, it should be done strategically,” said Ashley Stirrup, CMO, Algolia. “An integrated approach where tech and business work together leads to better financial outcomes. In the coming years, organizations must invest in high quality search that not only appeals to their customers, but serves the needs of the internal team who builds, manages, and optimizes site search based on insights into consumer behavior.”

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