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July 10, 2008

Customer Facing Search: 7 eCommerce Friendly Search Engines

eCommerce Search: Specialized Customer Facing Search

Lots of vendors offer search, but as some vendors try to expand deeper into the Enterprise Search market, others are targeting customer facing direct-revenue producing systems.  They are looking to power either B2C or B2B sites.

These vendors are likely to pop up for one of three reasons:

  1. Market Leader
  2. Smaller player but with heavy focus / track record for powering commerce with search
  3. Have technology directly targeted at eCommerce, with special results ranking or up-sell product suggestion engine, etc

And then there are the vendors you would think would be there... but we're not seeing so much of ...

Main eCommerce Search Vendors on the Radar

Some you've heard of, some you probably haven't....

Endeca, the standard bearer (often with using a partner such as Brulant)

FAST Impulse, direct response to Endeca

Dieselpoint, fast core, adding UI components, released OpenPipeline initiative

Mercado, lots of admin UI

ATG in Mass., smaller, seems IBM focused

SLI systems, totally hosted, appeals to less techie

Bay Note, does commerce suggestions

Some Generic Engines / Vendors we're not Including here, yet ...

Autonomy IDOL doesn't have a specific eCommerce offering to compete with Endeca like how FAST has their FAST ImPulse.

Same for Google, a fine engine, we're even a partner, we're just not encountering them in heavy eCommerce situations.  We have seen some companies use a high end eCommerce engine for their customer facing business, and then use a Google box for their Intranet / Enterprise content.

IBM has several fulltext search engines, and of course offers the WebSphere eCommerce platform, but it's unclear which fulltext engine folks are using with their commerce platform, and we're not hearing strong stories yet. They had bought iPhrase some time back (renamed "Discovery Edition), and we had been impressed with what we saw at the time, but now IBM doesn't talk about it as much, showing other search technology at tradeshows.  There's some basic search in some of the WebSphere commerce stuff, but the rest of the story still seems cloudy...

Same for Oracle, obviously they power eCommerce all over the place, and do have search, but we're not hearing about a precise product bundle in this hybrid space.

Same for Microsoft.  They've bought FAST now, so technically FAST ImPulse counts in Microsoft's column now, but aside from that, what tight eCommerce / Fulltext search bundle will they offer?

Don't Forget About the Search Analytics / Business Intelligence (BI) Benefits

Even if you only had 20 pages on your public site, a search box would still show you what's on the mind of your sites' visitors; you can see exactly what they're searching for.  This is even more valuable for eCommerce related search.  Don't just think about the user experience, which is of course incredibly important, but also look for solutions that let you monitor search and purchase activity and the performance of various promotional programs.  Our own SearchTrack product also provides cross-vendor search analytics.

Let us know who you're looking at to power your eCommerce site!


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Doing business online requires a different approach from normal, off-line retail sales. The Internet has specific rules that merchants must take into account, especially when payment processing is involved. I have used Payvision for all of my Ecommerce Solutions needs.
Thanks Lilly!

Funnelback (www.funnelback.com) also has a full featured e-commerce search product available as both a hosted service (SaaS) and a software product. It includes clustering and categorisation features in the base package. You can see Funnelback in operation at www.careerone.com.au and shop.abc.net.au.

A couple of quick corrections:

Describing ATG is "IBM focused" is a bit odd. ATG is an enterprise software vendor that provides a complete suite of applications for online commerce and customer service. The product suite includes a feature-rich natural language search engine that is tightly integrated into the commerce platform. ATG and IBM compete heavily in the commerce market. ATG's search engine is definitely not "IBM focused".

Baynote is not a search engine provider. Baynote is an online recommendation engine that claims to, among other things, provide search results optimization by analyzing the behavior and purchasing patterns of visitors based on their searches and recommend relevant content in connection with search results for new searches. Baynote does not provide its own search engine.

Disclaimer: ATG is also a hosted recommendation vendor and competes with Baynote in this market. But I think the characterization of Baynote's search optimization features above is unbiased and based on publicly available information from Baynote's web site.

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