DollarDays Cuts Through the Site Search Thicket with “Natural Language” Technology

The e-commerce site operated by wholesaler and closeout company DollarDays presents a daunting site search challenge. DollarDays sells some 140,000 products spread across 5,000 departments, and the smaller business owners who typically purchase there […] often had to navigate through a thicket of unwanted item[s] before finally finding the desired product[s].

But the e-commerce company says that has changed with the deployment of what it calls “natural language” site search. Software and algorithms provided by EasyAsk enable DollarDays to automatically classify products into categories that better reflect site searches performed by shoppers and return to them results that more closely match what they want to buy.

For instance, before DollarDays began using the technology about a year ago, a shopper typing “blue polo shirt” into the site search box at might be presented with a long list of results that included not only apparel, but Polo cologne or other unrelated blue items, says Marc Joseph, President and CEO of DollarDays. The EasyAsk technology better understands the prime characteristics of the search—in this case, that the shopper is seeking a blue shirt—and returns a more exact set of results; the software classifies products according to such attributes as price, brand, design and patterns. A search conducted today using that same phrase returned five results, all of them for shirts, and only one of which was not obviously blue.

“We’re a one-stop shop for small businesses who buy from us, and we have to get our customers quickly to what they want,” Joseph says. “The natural language search allows our customers to find the exact product in a single click, increasing our customer conversion rates.”

Since installing the software, Joseph says DollarDays has experienced a dramatic increase in the use of the e-commerce site’s search box by shoppers, who are using longer search terms to find products more quickly. He declined to provide details. The software also works to take product attributes such as price and recent arrivals to create new product categories that help DollarDays run better promotions; for instance, the software helps to place items into such categories as “closeouts,” “49¢ or less,” “hot sellers” and “new products.”

For an e-commerce operator such as DollarDays that installs and manages the site search technology on its own, EasyAsk typically charges a one-time licensing fee of $35,000, says John Morrell, the technology provider’s Vice President of Marketing. If EasyAsk manages the technology, fees start at about $600 per month, he says.

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