When Endeca was founded in 1999, their mission was to bring search to e-commerce and other applications without having to reinvent the wheel every time. This core platform still exists today, but 10 years later, shortly before being acquired by Oracle, Endeca expanded the scope of their mission to include certain aspects of content management. Currently, Endeca is composed of two complementary products: Information Access Platform (for product search) and Experience Manager (for layout management); together they provide a dynamic solution for managing all of the content on your catalog pages. This document discusses what is gained by utilizing Experience Manager in conjunction with the Information Access Platform and Oracle ATG Web Commerce.
At its core, Experience Manager is a layout management tool, which allows a business user to quickly transform a page by not only changing the content that appears on the site, but also where the content is displayed, how it is displayed and the template in which it is displayed. Furthermore, the business user can choose to vary any of these elements to show different content to specific groups of users at certain times. Experience Manager provides four key advantages: decreased time-to-market, increased customer interaction, increased flexibility and decreased cost.
One of the reasons Experience Manager is powerful is that it’s simplistic enough to be used efficiently with very little technical training. A business user can envision an idea for a new promotion, select from a set of custom templates (similar to a newspaper layout template,) and fill the template with a variety of custom cartridges. The cartridges could add static text and copy to the site; they could dynamically present a listing of the 5 best selling products; or they could include an entire search results list – the possibilities are numerous.
Before Experience Manager, building these pages would have required enlisting the support of IT or at least require integrating a search system with a content management system. With Experience Manager, new pages can be assembled in minutes. In addition, a business user can deploy these pages without having to wonder when the next code release cycle would have the pages go live. All of this adds up to increased revenue from getting the new ideas out in the public’s awareness faster than ever before.
Increased Customer Interaction
The web is changing to become more responsive to users because everything is becoming data-driven. The approach of presenting different content to different users based on their profiles and behaviors is not unique to the Facebooks and Google of the world, and more and more retailers are picking up on the trend. Retailers have an increasing desire to be able to communicate different ideas to different users based on what they know about the shopper. With Experience Manager, you can take this concept several steps further. Not only can you vary the content you present to the shopper, as with simple A/B testing, but you can vary the entire layout or even present different products to different shoppers.
As an example, consider a clothing retailer that knows the gender of its registered users. The issue the retailer is dealing with is that men are searching for “boots” and being shown women’s boots for the first several pages of search results. This is resulting in lost sales because the shopper gets frustrated and goes to another site. With Experience Manager, this gender data could be used to boost the ranking of all items in the Men’s section to the top of the search results whenever the shopper has identified himself as a male in his profile.
Business users always have more ideas for driving increased revenue through a website than they (or their IT department) have time to implement. Therefore, when building tools for business users, you need to not only consider how to empower them the greatest, but you must also always be considering how to make things easier for them to maintain. These two goals are often in conflict, as the more options you give a business user for customizing the site, generally, the more you are giving them to maintain.
Experience Manager does an excellent job of allowing the business user to do very powerful and specific things without requiring them to manage everything on the site specifically. It accomplishes this with the use of its targeting system – Experience Manager can be targeted to specific pages, customer segments, and times of day, or any combination of these.
As an example, a business could craft a specific page for search terms related to Valentine’s Day. This page could present promotional messages, boost popular items to the top of the search list and change the layout of the page to be Valentine’s themed. Experience Manager not only allows you to build this page, but it allows you to target it to specific audiences and to automatically take effect during the week preceding February 14th. Increased flexibility without increased overhead results in more initiatives being deployed while generating additional revenue.
The true beauty of Experience Manager is that in each of the scenarios listed above, the business is able to accomplish the task without direct IT involvement. This not only allows the business to complete their tasks in less time, but it frees up the IT staff to complete other tasks. With Experience Manager, the right components for the site simply need to be developed up front; components can be reused across the site in varied templates and in varied, configurable ways.
Overall, Experience Manager provides a canvas for your business users. It can be used in a lot of different ways, provided the site is developed with the right templates and components. With all of its features, it is tightly integrated with search, making its use pervasive across the store catalog. Experience Manager is not going to drive any additional revenue by itself, but it empowers your users to build the site they need and get the greatest amount of revenue out of your e-commerce platform.