Product

Grupo Exito’s AI-powered search experience

Sorana Gheorghiade
Sorana Gheorghiade September 21, 2020
Grupo Exito’s AI-powered search experience

Textiles, perishables, electronics, or furniture. If you can name it, Grupo Exito most probably has it. The ongoing profit yielding success of this Latin American retail giant is mainly dependent on its power to adapt to customers’ needs and demands, the latter increasing dramatically over the last pandemic-dominated quarter. VTEX Intelligent Search has provided Exito, since December 2019, with a series of AI-powered capabilities that enhance the customer’s path to purchase, improving user experience and boosting sales.

“Before implementing VTEX Intelligent Search, we saw the search as a black-box where we had no vision of why one product came in the first position and another in the last.”

– Camilo Restrepo, Director of Innovation, Marketing and New Business on Exito Group


How Intelligent a Search can be? 

Laura wants to order a coffee machine off Exito’s website and have it delivered to her door. She goes on the front page and looks up ‘coffee machine’ in the search bar as the search-as-you-type experience anticipates her quest and already suggests a few products, associating coffee with cream, machine, appliances. With VTEX Intelligent Search, the AI-powered search gets specific word associations or synonyms. So even if she were to type, let’s say, espresso, the system would have still retrieved the right product as a result. 

Just as she finishes typing, she clicks on one of the results, filtered by price, deals, top-picks, promotions, and release dates. There are fine-tuning settings concerning the search results criteria that were made to easily create specific merchandising scenarios for the customer. Those pre-built components ease the retailer’s job of managing the search, boosting sales with every session.

Laura’s experience while navigating the Exito’s store is smoothly guided by VTEX Intelligent Search. She finds the right product, moves it to cart, pays, and off it goes! But we know there are two sides to every story. In this case, it’s a win-win for both the customer and the retailer. What the store gains from this implementation are better visibility and more control over the demand for its products: they can now influence how the AI behaves to deliver the best possible results and maximize user experience. 

Moreover, it delivers dynamically-generated navigation pages that include the right filters for the right products. Now you can easily define, rename, and reorganize attributes such as size, color, brand, price, and more. It also keeps track of search terms, their occurrence in orders, categorizing them to spot the most commonly used and the ones without search results. Using the “explained search” feature you can test any term to understand what attributes are influencing its search results and what the actual search result is.

‘You have reached VTEX. Mark speaking. How may I improve your search?’

Every single business is unique in itself and requires an all-encompassing search engine that covers all the search specificities. And this is exactly what makes VTEX Intelligent Search a must-have for e-commerce stores: it assigns weight and prioritizes attributes that can influence the relevance of products looked up by the customer. 

Intelligent search is context-driven, for every customer it assigns different weight and priorities according to their behaviour. AI behaves to deliver the best possible experience to the user while bringing results for the business, irrespective of the business area. From December 2019 to April 2020, the quota of search-session participation grew by a steady 10%, confirming a very positive impact of the newly plugged VTEX Intelligent Search.

In the e-commerce ecosystem, platforms, apps, and other tools are valuable, but it is the numbers that tell us the best story. Moreover, rumour has it the numbers in our story make for a bestseller. The revenue per session is one of the most relevant quantifiable measures to evaluate the success of a search engine: the higher the rev/session with search, the more effective the search application. Exito’s revenue from search with VTEX Intelligent Search tripled on average since its implementation, reaching an all-time peak in February 2020 – right before the pandemic. In the first quarter of 2020, the revenue-to-session ratio was 385% higher than the previous quarter (19Q4) when Exito wasn’t using VTEX Intelligent Search yet. 

Numbers Don’t Lie

Exito has not only seen positive feedback by making the migration from ATG to us, but it has also experienced continuous improvements: the retail group adopted the default search in September last year, which automatically updated to VTEX Intelligent Search in early December only to evolve into an even better version, in January 2020. Understanding shopper intent and returning relevant results is a key capability of the new AI and has been helping Exito in achieving its business goals. 

The combination of increasing participation in sessions and high impact in orders makes the case for an outstanding search conversion rate. This series of updates brought with it, besides more control and monitoring of customer demand and preferences, a 42% increase in the search conversion rate, as opposed to without Intelligent Search. To give you an idea, this is high to the point that sessions with the search were placing 5.6 times more orders than sessions without search orders. A breathtaking number, right? It’s easy maths: the right audience plus the matchy products equals a boost in sales.   

One of the best ways of measuring the Intelligent Search results at Exito is to peek into the revenue share. A 22.4% increase in total sales revenue doesn’t sound bad at all, right? The growth of the first quarter of 2020 emerged from the improvement in the search engine. What is more, during the same timeframe, the sessions with search brought 4.5 times more revenue than the ones without search, which explains why revenue per user visit has escalated so sharply.

In a tech-driven world that’s all about efficiency and utility maximization, VTEX Intelligent Search, as applied by Exito, has yielded the perfect combination of user experience and business results, with positive high impact on orders. This conversion rate has increased for the retailer, displaying how the end-customer is having a better experience with the website as the search mechanism leads him spot-on to the end-game: the purchase.

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