Curate search results with merchandising tools
Bloomreach provides a collection of merchandising tools to curate search results. Let's take a look at two major ones: synonyms and ranking. Ranking is often called boost and bury.
At a high level, only add high-quality synonyms that are brand-agnostic. Here are some guidelines.
Generic to brand
shoes => adidas
Unless you are absolutely certain that the brand name only carries the generic term, this synonym pair fails. Since Adidas carries products other than shoes, this synonym fails.
Terms with multiple meanings
notebook => laptop
Don't equate terms that have multiple or ambiguous meanings. In this example, the synonym fails because "notebook" is a common term for business journals and three-ring binders, as well as laptops.
Categories to subcategories
jewelry => ring
Synonyms that point to a subcategory work well. In the example, the shopper types ring and Bloomreach takes that shopper to the Ring subcategory, which is nested in the Jewelry category.
However, don't create a synonym that equates a subcategory with category, such as ring:jewelry. You lose the focus of the subcategory search by pulling in results for the broader category. In the example of ring:jewelry, the shopper's results are full of irrelevant products like bracelets and earrings.
Brand to generic
samsung => television
Don't dilute the branded term by pulling in a generic term. In this example, the synonym fails because "television" pulls in other brands like Sony, not just Samsung.
shrt => shirt
Synonyms that correct common typos and spelling errors improve the quality of search results.
However, don't create a synonym that changes a correct spelling to an incorrect spelling, such as shirt:shrt. This kind of synonym doesn't improve recall because it only works if your product feed is misspelled the same way.
Examples of good synonyms
kids <=> children
tv <=> television
hat <=> sombrero
makeup => lipstick
Examples of poor synonyms
koby tv => samsung tv, rca tv
gear => hoodies, jersey, helmet
headphones <=> bose
cocktail dress => dresses
Be sure to tag synonyms with their properties. For example if you are adding a synonym like women:ladies, it's an actual synonym so it doesn't need any tags. But if you are adding jewelry:ring, then add a tag like category:product in one of the columns. These tags are useful because you generally want to add all ring products to jewelry query results.
What do I do if a synonym doesn't belong?
You can reject derived synonyms that don't make sense for products. If there's a direct synonym that doesn't make sense, then you can modify the rule that created it.
Boost and bury
If you want, you can increase search quality by setting some rules to give prominence to specific products and to products that fit certain descriptions or attributes. You can also lower the prominence of products and attributes. These rules are called ranking rules, and raising prominence is called boosting. When you boost a product or a set of products with certain attributes, you bring those items to the top of search results. Lowering prominence is called burying, which moves those items to the bottom of search results. You can also limit certain search queries to show only products and attributes that you specify. Or you can remove certain products and attributes altogether from search results.
Shouldn't my team handle curation rather than algorithms?
If you want, you can help Bloomreach Search and Merchandising by setting some rules to give prominence to specific products and to products that fit certain descriptions or attributes. You can also lower the prominence of products and attributes. These rules are called ranking rules, and raising prominence is called boosting. When you boost a product or a set of products with certain attributes, you bring those items to the top of search results. Lowering prominence is called burying, which moves those items to the bottom of search results. You can also limit certain search queries to show only products and attributes that you specify. Or you can remove certain products and attributes altogether from search results.
What you can't do manually is understand each shopper's queries within the context of their recent search and browse behavior. You simply can't manually optimize individual search experiences for an entire site: writing rules for personas isn't a scalable way to understand and act on each searcher's intent.
Whether you want a primarily automated solution or a blend of automation and curation, Search and Merchandising gives you and your team the flexibility and power to focus on high value strategic initiatives, letting Search and Merchandising optimize search recall and rankings at scale.
Why do I need to manually boost and bury products?
You don't have to make any manual adjustments to the way Bloomreach Search and Merchandising ranks products in search results. Without needing you to create any rules, Search and Merchandising is always refining the order of products to keep content relevant for your customers.
But manually creating rules allows you to directly influence the results for particular search terms or categories. By altering the rank of an item, you can cause it to appear near the top or near the bottom of search results. For example, Fabulous Face sells cosmetics, and its merchandising team decides that sheer is the trendy lipstick formulation. Vivian is a merchandiser, and she manually alters the ranking of the Fabulous Face's sheer lipstick to appear at the top of all search results for lipstick. She also decides to move her company's full coverage lipstick to appear at the bottom of these results.
Can I manually rank all of the products in all search results?
The volume of items that can appear in search results is too vast for manual ranking. Manual ranking is for specific situations, such as promotions or to correct rankings that you don't like. Bloomreach Personalization automatically ranks users' search results using its own engine and algorithms. The Bloomreach engine accounts for the quick changes in how users request items and even the terms they use to refer to items. It's not humanly possible to manually sequence search results in response to every user search.
You can also influence the sequence of search results by updating Search and Merchandising's thesaurus, which in turns enhances the text relevance of search queries.