Meet Neil Thomas, SLI’s New Chief Revenue Officer, President North America

Posted by , December 9th, 2014 at 3:45 pm PST
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Neil Thomas knows what it takes to grow a world-leading Software as a Service (SaaS) company. In his previous role as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales of cloud-based business analytics firm Adaptive Insights, Thomas grew the company’s sales team from five to 150 and its customer base from launch to thousands of enterprises in 80+ countries. This success followed a near twenty-year track record for establishing, developing and continuously improving global sales teams.

The UK-born Thomas says, “SLI’s success in expanding beyond its home market of New Zealand, recruiting world-leading brands as customers and growing around the world, particularly in the UK and the United States, is no mean feat.

“This says to me that SLI has a product that is attractive, wanted and needed. It also shows that we have an organisation that is able to deliver solutions successfully in different economic and cultural environments. I think the secret of this achievement has been the commitment of the SLI team to customer success and delivering excellent service.”

“SLI is well positioned to ride the next wave in e-commerce. Retailers and business-to-business websites worldwide are increasingly looking for solutions that ensure their websites serve up the products and services consumers are seeking in a timely, efficient and appealing way.”

SLI CEO Shaun Ryan says, “Neil has led a sales organization through the type of growth that we intend to achieve over the next few years. This expertise and experience will further accelerate SLI’s growth. We are delighted to have him on board.



SLI CEO Honoured

Posted by , December 9th, 2014 at 3:44 pm PST
Categories: Site Search | No Comments »

SLI Systems CEO Dr. Shaun Ryan and his brother and co-founder Dr. Grant Ryan were named “2014 New Zealand Engineering Entrepreneurs of the Year” at the New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards. This accolade is one of the 10 awards SLI received this year.


Holding awards: Grant 2nd from left, Shaun in the middle

The 10 awards SLI received during 2014 are:

  1. New Zealand Engineering Entrepreneurs of the Year at the New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards
  2. Silver place in the Most Customer Friendly Company of the Year category for the Best in Biz Awards 2014, the only independent business awards program judged by U.S. press and industry analysts
  3. 2014 Customer Engagement Awards Retail TouchPoints – SLI customer Lakeshore Learning was awarded Gold in the Analytics category for measured results driving new market revenue using SLI Systems. Lakeshore joined 12 U.S. merchants, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Lowe’s and Sears.
  4. Best Technology Solution award at the ECMOD Direct Commerce Supplier of the Year Awards as voted by UK retailers
  5. Best Product at eCommerce Awards for Excellence 2014
  6. SLI customer Wine Enthusiast won The Search Agency’s Stars of Search award
  7. SLI customer Wine Enthusiast won Retail TouchPoints Channel Innovation Award
  8. Highly Commended Online Technology Vendor of the Year at the UK’s Retail Systems Awards 2014
  9. SLI customers Appliances Online and SurfStitch won Australia’s Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIA)
  10. SLI customer Appliances Online won Customer Experience of the Year at World Retail Awards Paris



SLI Reports on Halloween and Thanksgiving Shopping Trends

Posted by , December 9th, 2014 at 3:43 pm PST
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SLI’s capabilities to deliver insights into online shopping during Halloween and Thanksgiving is receiving exposure in global news outlets such as Forbes and CNN Money. The company studied 2014’s most popular Halloween costumes with Frozen leading the pack.  Also, the company studied recent U.S. shopping behavior and found Cyber Monday (Dec. 1) saw nearly 30% more online shopping activity than any other shopping day during the 2014 Thanksgiving-to-Cyber Monday holiday timeframe.

2014 Most Popular Movie Theme Costumes PeakHolidayShopping_2014-low



Major Corporations Endorse SLI

Posted by , December 9th, 2014 at 3:37 pm PST
Categories: merchandising, Navigation, Reviews, Rich Auto Complete, SEO, Site Search | No Comments »

Hear in a recent video testimonial how U.S. gourmet food and gifting company Harry & David saw a US$437,000 increase in 2014 sales after implementing SLI’s Site Champion™. Other recent video testimonials include the U.K.’s largest mail order seed company Thompson & Morgan and the U.K.’s number one winter sports apparel and equipment retailer Snow + Rock.

Cameron Gabriel
E-commerce Manager
Harry & David

Clare Dixey
E-commerce Manager
Thompson & Morgan

David Kohn
Head of Multichannel



SLI CEO Confident of Long-Term Growth Prospects

Posted by , December 9th, 2014 at 10:31 am PST
Categories: Site Search | No Comments »

Shaun Ryan, CEO of SLI SystemsWelcome to the first edition of our new bi-annual investor newsletter. In this newsletter we plan to provide updates on the company and its customers along with the deeper information you need to fully understand SLI’s market. This time I’ll kick it off with an overview of the e-commerce market and where we believe it’s going.

Our Market

When SLI started business in 2001, the e-commerce industry was in its infancy and the market opportunity for our site search solutions was relatively small. Today that market has matured, vastly expanding the opportunity for our services to improve the bottom line for online retailers around the globe.

Worldwide business-to-consumer e-commerce sales are expected to increase 20% this year to reach US$1.5 trillion, according to eMarketer, with a compound annual growth rate of 17% between 2012 and 2017. RJ Metrics projects that 110,000 English-language e-commerce sites do business today. We believe that only a small portion of these sites have sophisticated site search capabilities in place. SLI is well positioned to capitalize on this global e-commerce growth. We have the people, processes and technologies to service a large number of retailers globally.

With this continued growth the online retail market is moving toward more personalized experiences for individual shoppers. By providing each individual shopper with a specific, tailored experience, websites are able to further improve the customer experience and ultimately sales. SLI is well positioned to be a leader in this personalization trend. Our products are all built on patented technology that allows the website to “learn” from each individual shopping trip and to use the discovered information to present shoppers with an online experience that results in higher sales for the retailer.

Our Offerings

SLI offers Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions to provide websites with site search, navigation, product recommendations, and user-generated Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SLI solutions increase the top line for e-commerce sites by making it easier for their customers to find what they are looking for and therefore easier to purchase. And this year our opportunity to help retailers improve business has just increased with the introduction of our two newest products – SLI Learning Recommendations™ and SLI Dynamic Product Banners™.

Learning Recommendations, an extension of the company’s foundational product SLI Learning Search™, displays highly relevant product recommendations in different areas of websites. Because the product automatically learns based on previous shoppers’ behaviour, Learning Recommendations can display the products that are likely to succeed in driving incremental sales for the retailer.

Dynamic Product Banners reduce bounce rates by showing related products to visitors arriving on product pages from Internet searches. By presenting shoppers with alternatives that are proven relevant to the products they have chosen to view, Dynamic Product Banners increases conversion rates and hence revenue from those people coming from search engines such as Google.

And we have the results to prove it. For example, U.S. educational products retailer Lakeshore Learning saw a 30% increase in revenue on its e-commerce site after implementing SLI solutions. Chemist Direct, the UK’s leading online pharmacy, experienced a conversion rate improvement of 175% and a search average order value increase of 196%.

PressRelease-ARROur Progress

We passed a significant milestone of a year and a half as a publicly-listed company and we are proud of our achievements during that time. Over this period we continued to build on our strong record of sequential growth. Annualised recurring revenue (ARR1) – our key measure of financial performance – rose 29.4% in the year to 30 June 2014.

We have expanded our client portfolio with some exciting names this year including Battery Mart, LakeShore Learning, Exclusively Wedding in the U.S.; Brazilian pharmacy store Ultrafarma; Bathstore, Paul Smith, Jigsaw, Claire’s Accessories and Eason in the UK; and Kathmandu in Australia. These customers join names such as Fabergé, Sports Authority, World Soccer Shop, Harrods, plus many others.

We are excited about having Neil Thomas join SLI as Chief Revenue Officer and President of North America. Make sure you read our article on Neil in this edition.

We are also enthusiastic about the holiday season and the role SLI solutions will play in this critical time for retail. Our focus in the coming year is to ensure that the significant investments we have made in the business continue to deliver long-term value. We remain confident we can achieve these goals.


1Annualised Recurring Revenue (ARR) is calculated based on the subscription revenue generated from the existing customer base in the reference month and then annualised. ARR is calculated based on the exchange rates at that time. When ARR is presented for a historical time series all points are calculated on a constant currency basis.




Optimize Your Search Merchandising for the Holidays

Posted by , September 17th, 2013 at 11:01 am PST
Categories: Analytics, merchandising, Related Search, SEO, Site Search | No Comments »
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As an eCommerce professional, you’ve likely been preparing for the holiday shopping season for months – deciding which products to feature, planning orders and organizing marketing campaigns. Retailers predict an 11-20% rise in holiday spending for 2013, with eCommerce and mobile driving much of the growth (Retail TouchPoints, Aug. 12). While the opportunity is great, so is the challenge of making your products stand out. Here are some thoughts on how you can use search merchandising tactics to ensure your holiday campaigns are effective.

Get Insight from your Site Search Data

The first step in successful search merchandising is to look at your site search data for real-time insight into users’ behavior. Review the queries that shoppers type into your search box, along with your site analytics. Which searches are most popular? Do shoppers want a product you don’t have? Are they seeing “no results pages” because they search using different language than you use on your site? Do they move from your results pages to a purchase, or do they jump away from your site without buying?

If you gather such insights from your search data now, you’ll have time to make improvements well before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you don’t already have an advanced site search provider, engaging in such services now can give you the extra set of hands and tools you’ll need to be agile in response to holiday trends.

Use the Right Tools at the Right Time

The second step of a successful search merchandising plan is to know which tools can make the most impact, and how to use them. A couple of my favorite tools for holiday merchandising are landing pages and gift finders.

  • Landing Pages for Holiday Products: In most cases a relevant search results page is the best page to show your visitors when they type in a search term. However in some cases you want to have more control over their experience and a specialized landing page may be the right tool. For seasonal specials, simply create a web page with your top holiday merchandise and set the page to load when visitors type certain words like Holiday, Christmas or Hanukkah into the search box. Assign a dedicated URL to your holiday landing page, and then use it in holiday email campaigns and advertising. Not only does this promote your holiday specials, but it gives you a trackable link in your Google Analytics so you can gauge the success of the campaign.
  • Gift Finders: Gift Finders are another way to generate more sales revenue around the holidays. Set up refinements that allow someone to define a set of criteria for a gift – e.g. price, occasion, recipient type and gift type – then see a list of the products that match those criteria. Promote your gift finder on your home page or by using a landing page with a PPC link for email and ad campaigns. When done correctly, it can be a useful tool that increases users’ likelihood of buying from your site. Read more about gift finders in this blog from SLI Systems Co-Founder Geoff Brash.

Branding banners, ribbon overlays and integration of social media are other merchandising tools that can improve the odds of holiday shopper conversion. These and a dozen other tools are covered in the new white paper “Using Site Search Data to Improve Merchandising,” which is a free download from the SLI Systems website.

Lastly, be sure your site search provider offers proper merchandising controls for your site so you can quickly test and easily refine the presentation of promotional messages, products and content on your search and navigation pages. Such agility will help you compete for consumers’ spending money during the holidays and beyond.


Customer Success: Natural Wellbeing

Posted by , September 17th, 2013 at 11:00 am PST
Categories: Navigation, Refinements, Related Search, Rich Auto Complete, SEO, Site Search | No Comments »
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Natural Wellbeing is a site rich with reports, reviews and expert advice about the holistic and natural wellness products they offer. Such quality content can really help move shoppers through purchase decisions – especially for a natural health products site, where first-time buyers can be skeptical. But in order to be useful, the content has to be easily searchable and relevant to the needs of each individual buyer.

When Natural Wellbeing signed with SLI Systems in 2009, I saw a great opportunity to help them bring their rich content into their site search capability. They had a blog, an active social media presence, and a wiki with well-written descriptions of every herbal ingredient that their certified therapists use. But none of these resources were tied to the search results page. We worked closely with them to implement a number of changes.

One change was to create a tabbed format to include relevant blogs, wiki content and Facebook content onto each search results page. In the below screen shot, you can see that a search for “sleep” now shows 44 related product results on the product tab, and there are additional tabs for accessing related blogs (1), wiki articles (36) and Facebook posts (62).

refinement_screenshot_11Sep13We also created a set of refinements for them (see the left column in the above screen shot), where users can narrow down the search results by rating, price range, brand, category or subcategory. For example, if a user wants to look at only formulas that contain blends of different herbs and doesn’t want to spend more than $20, they can click the $10 – $20 range in Price Range and Formulas in Subcategory. This narrows the number of product results from 44 to 25, as shown below. From that point, the user may want to look at ratings and read more about the products to decide which they want to purchase.

Since SLI’s site search continually learns and improves, the relevancy of search results improves over time. Natural Wellbeing realizes the benefit of letting SLI’s learning search do its work – it frees them from having to constantly tune results, allowing them to focus on other priorities in their business.

Both Natural Wellbeing and its sister site Pet Wellbeing also use SLI’s Site Champion product, which keeps improving SEO without any work on their part. Site Champion uses visitors’ site behavior to automatically create optimized landing pages that are indexed by Google and other Internet search engines.

In March of this year, I worked with them to add SLI’s Rich Auto Complete, which auto-displays product listings and images based on what users are typing in the search box. Since users can click on these products directly from the search box, the feature shortens the path from searching to buying, which creates a better user experience and improves conversions. Since adding Rich Auto Complete, the sites have received significantly higher page views, search users and search result clicks.

Now I’m working on ways we can help with their push for growth. I heard what they’re doing with email marketing, for example and showed them the types of custom templates and landing pages we can create for those campaigns. I’ve let them know what’s working well for others and have developed solutions that will help them achieve their current goals. It is through casual and interactive conversation that we come up with solutions that make a real impact.  Being an extension of our customers’ team is what I and all SLI Customer Success Managers strive for.


SaaS vs. On-Premise Solutions

Posted by , August 6th, 2013 at 10:00 am PST
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One of the most frequently asked questions when evaluating site search solutions is why a SaaS-based solution is better than on-premise. The reasoning may follow that with on-premise, you pay for software once, instead of monthly service fees. But while having a one-time payment for a software package may seem like the most logical and cost-effective solution, it can actually end up costing more in the long run.

On-premise software solutions require an extraordinary investment not only for the up-front financial costs, but also in ramp-up time, education, support and maintenance. Typically the software will be full of features that cater to all the different uses, but many of these won’t be used by one individual customer. Additionally, on-premise software is generally slower to upgrade, with typically six or twelve month release cycles. SaaS solutions provide an answer to many of these issues, giving users more time and flexibility to support other business priorities.

Harness Deep Knowledge and Experience

When you sign on with a SaaS solution, you’re not getting a piece of software and a general 1-800 customer service number – you’re getting a consultative group of industry specialists, dedicated to helping you achieve your goal. SaaS companies earn their money by having you as a long term customer – so they are financially incented to make sure you are happy and continue to use their software. SaaS companies can see how their software is being used, which helps build their knowledge of best practices. Since service is a key component of the model, you’ll find that SaaS companies have deep technical knowledge and provide value through excellent support, recommendations on industry best practices or specific features that will make your unique site shine.

Faster Ramp-Up Time

Going with a SaaS-based solution means you’ll also take advantage of faster deployment and ramp-up times. Your IT staff won’t have to invest the time and money to become experts at installing and maintaining their software. Technology, as well as customer preferences, is constantly changing. You’ll find SaaS teams to be agile in implementing new or complex features so you can quickly adjust to shifting demands. By adopting a SaaS solution, you can keep your in-house team focused on your most important daily priorities, and let a dedicated team of specialized engineers support your SaaS operations and maintenance.

You’ll also avoid long ramp-up times spent in internal training and resources. Once implemented, you’ll receive tutorials and ongoing customer support for all of your teams. The bottom line is this: your new capabilities will be up and running more quickly, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time (not to mention headaches).

Continuous Innovation & Customization

Another great benefit of going with SaaS is that all customers receive regular, automatic access to the most up-to-date features and products. As new features, products or improvements are created, the technology is shared across all users. The best solutions’ features can also be tailored to meet your site’s specific needs, for a streamlined experience that isn’t one-size-fits-all. Often, these ongoing upgrades are available at no added cost. You avoid the hassle of later purchases and updates of traditional software licenses, as you trade one-time convenience with ongoing support, recommendations and continuously-improved technology.

Redundancy & Scalability

It’s also important to keep the stability of your software in mind. When your core business depends on whether your site is up and functional, it’s imperative that your site doesn’t fail. Make sure your SaaS provider has a network of multiple data centers and redundant server architecture to ensure that your site will continue to run smoothly even during high web traffic spikes or natural disasters. There is a high chance that your SaaS provider will have more sophisticated, redundant systems than you could ever afford.

Round-the-Clock Customer Support

If your SaaS supplier is a global company then they will have support people based around the world. One of the biggest benefits we see is the ability to provide outstanding customer service and guidance. Knowing that you have personalized attention from your customer support representative and a full team of engineers supporting your eCommerce needs around the clock gives you peace of mind and allows you to focus on other important projects.

The benefits of SaaS vs. software-based site search are clear, which is why I strongly believe in SLI Systems’ approach to providing the best site search, navigation and SEO solution for your eCommerce business. For the third year in a row, SLI was named the #1 SaaS Site Search provider to the top 500 online businesses as ranked by Internet Retailer, and a leading site search provider to the top 1,000 online retailers.


The Growing Global Need for Great Site Search

Posted by , June 19th, 2013 at 3:33 pm PST
Categories: Mobile, Navigation, Site Search | No Comments »
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Every day we see how introducing great site search is one of the easiest and quickest ways to turn more visitors into buyers. Earlier this month our customers were telling their stories at IRCE 2013 in Chicago. These are businesses like Samuels Jewelers, which doubled the per-visit value of their site search users after implementing changes that make search results more relevant. And Party Supplies Delivered, which increased their conversions by 203% after switching from their platform’s default search to advanced search.

Al Gore’s keynote address was about the international opportunities that abound for eCommerce – an industry that is growing 15 percent each year, even during a period of global economic stress. “You need to think global,” he said, pointing out that the number of Apple iOS and Android devices activated in the U.S. was surpassed in January by those activated in China. The economic balance is shifting and we need to accept, and anticipate, change.

We spoke with many online retailers who haven’t yet optimized their site’s search and navigation, and his keynote hit home. As eCommerce grows internationally, SLI plays a pivotal role in providing the tools that enable the best shopping experiences for customers around the world. Whether for large online retailers with multiple international sites or family-owned businesses, we work to provide the best products, resources and customer service, so that all of our customers can focus on what matters most to them – their business.

Seizing the Opportunity with IPO, Expansion

As a company that has an established customer base spanning five continents, we understand the global opportunity. Brazil is one of our most recent, and fastest-growing markets, adding to our strong presence in the United States, the UK and Australia. We are working with some of the top Brazilian online retailers to improve their search and navigation, both on web and mobile sites. We are also starting to work with our first Japanese partners and customers.

The vast opportunity for further international expansion is one of the reasons SLI Systems decided to raise capital through its IPO on the New Zealand Exchange on May 31, 2013. It has been an exciting time for SLI’s founders and investors as we’ve watched shares rise since the original offer of NZ$1.50. You can hear more about our story in this June 4 interview.

We’ll use the investment to fuel sales, marketing and customer support as well as innovation, as we grow our engineering and product development teams. This will build on our tradition of bringing our customers the ongoing feature and product developments they need to make their eCommerce sites the most successful in an increasingly competitive marketplace. We believe that innovation and measured growth are the secrets of global success.

Today’s online shoppers are starting to see gorgeous magazine-like sites tailored for mobile browsing, interactive tools that aid decision making, and the convergence of social and editorial to create highly-personalized shopping experiences. More and more of our customers are eager to work with us to integrate these features into their site search and navigation. As technology advances and global opportunities continue to expand, we anticipate and remain at the leading edge of the many innovations in eCommerce yet to come.


CSM of the Month: Mark Lawson on Analysys Mason

Posted by , June 19th, 2013 at 3:26 pm PST
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This article is part of our monthly “CSM of the Month” feature, in which an SLI Systems Customer Success Manager discusses a current client example.

One of the more interesting projects I’ve been involved in recently is with Analysys Mason, a research and consulting firm who provide detailed articles to their global client base on all issues that relate to the telecoms, media and technology (TMT) sectors. While a large percentage of SLI’s customers are online retailers, we also work with publishing sites like Analysys Mason, the New England Journal of Medicine and

Analysys Mason is a great example of how SLI’s site search and navigation technology helps publishing sites improve the user experience and increase the number of page views per visitor. In fact, since implementing SLI they have seen a 21% increase in page views and a 24% increase in unique page views. The average time on site has also increased.

One of the reasons for these improvements is that SLI’s page load times are much faster than Analysys Mason’s previous search. This allows users to more quickly find the articles they’re looking for and leads to an overall better user experience.

Analysys Mason has a vast Knowledge Centre of research articles it has prepared. When I first started working with Analysys Mason, one of their unique needs was to show each user a different set of results based on their specific subscription IDs. This allowed them to have different tiers of subscribers – those with a free account who have more limited access to research, and those paid subscribers who have full access. Now that SLI brings back the correct results for each user based on their login credentials, Analysys Mason is able to make the tiered subscription model work for them.\

In the below screen shot, you can see how the Knowledge Centre appears to those who are not logged in. In the left-hand column, the radio buttons under the Access section allow you to refine results based on free or paid content. In the results section, articles that are limited to logged in users display the note Subscription Required.


Analysys Mason also uses SLI’s synonyms tool for search, as it has helped them to expand their vocabulary without having to edit the content database. As an example, a search for ‘MEA’ will pull up results for Middle East and Africa, even if the acronym MEA does not show up in the article title or summary.

By tracking the search terms used on its site through SLI, Analysys Mason is also able to pinpoint specific trends in searches. These analytics allow them to improve upon results for poor search phrases, as well as to know what research papers people are looking for.

Analysys Mason is also very pleased with the search suggestions that automatically appear under each product. This feature is powered by SLI’s Learning Search technology, which directs a user to a related set of results if they can’t find the article they are looking for straight away.

Anyone who has searched for articles on a publishing site knows the frustration of finding nonrelevant results, as well as the satisfaction of finding exactly what you were looking for. I’m happy to work with Analysys Mason to ensure that their customers have a great search experience and spend more and more time on their site.