How a Halloween e-retailer finds more revenue with smarter search
Halloween costume and party supplies e-retailer BuySeasons implements Reflektion’s site search personalization tool and scares up higher conversion rates and revenue per customer.
When 60% of annual business comes in a single month, it’s important to make sure shoppers who visit your site are spending money while there.
“Most customers visit our site three to four times before they purchase and that’s it, we’ll see them again next year,” says Eric Kirkhofer, chief operating officer at online costume and party supplies retailer BuySeasons Inc., which owns and operates Halloween costume sites BuyCostumes.com and CostumeExpress.com.
Increasing competition in recent years has taken a chunk out of BuySeasons’ business, Kirkhofer says.
Spending on Halloween tends to increase one year and decrease the next: U.S. consumer spending this year is expected to reach $8.48 billion, an all-time high, up 21.5% from $6.98 billion in 2015, according to the National Retail Federation. Spending was $7.48 billion in 2014, $7.08 billion in 2013, $8.08 billion in 2012 and $6.98 billion in 2011, according to the NRF.
BuySeasons has been selling online for 16 years but noticed a downward trend recently. From 2012-15, conversion rates and revenue per visitor declined 30-40%, he says. With that in mind, he wanted to make improvements to his site to get those shoppers who visited the company’s sites to buy, and he realized the sites needed to do a better job of helping shoppers find what they wanted.
“You really have to drive customer engagement and reduce the bounce rate in order to drive the sale,” he says. BuySeasons’ existing site search wasn’t doing a good enough job.
Kirkhofer says until recently BuySeasons had not invested much in improving search results.
“(We had) no intelligent search or anything. We had a segmentation model but we just don’t get enough repeat visitors,” he says. Intelligent search tools capture customer data in the form of click tracks and browsing behavior to adapt search tools to deliver personalized results.
To improve search and boost revenue, Kirkhofer turned last year to personalization vendor Reflektion to improve personalizing its search results for BuySeasons’ shoppers. To integrate the new tool BuySeasons integrateda line of code onto its site.
Reflektion’s tool marries a shopper’s history with data that shows which products are popular with adults or kids, depending on who that shopper is shopping for, to produce search results that are better tailored to the individual shopper.
“We have to be able to offer something a little different,” he says. “Part of that is selection and with selection comes a good recommendation model so that people can get engaged and they see things that make sense and they keep clicking versus bouncing out of the site without making a purchase.”
BuySeasons began A/B testing the Reflektion tool in July 2015 for a trial that was supposed to last 60 days. The tool proved so successful in improving conversion rates and revenue per visitor that Kirkhofer says he stopped the test after 40 days and signed up for an annual subscription. Since incorporating the tool, Kirkhofer says he’s seen an increase of 20-21% in both conversion rates and revenue per visitor.
Kirkhofer says he is especially impressed with the tool’s ability to change recommendations on the fly.
“If you look at kids’ costumes for 4-5 clicks and you switch over to adult costumes, (the tool) going to learn that you’re making that switch over to adult,” he says. “It has a heavy emphasis on recent history. That’s important because if you think about how segmentation models work, they place a customer into a segment based on a series of visits.”