Marine Depot Experiences 11% Revenue Boost With Improved Search Capabilities

Having exceptional search capabilities is vital to success for any retailer with an e-Commerce site. In order for consumers to find the products they want, web sites need to tout optimized search software that guarantees visitors will have a seamless and successful shopping experience.

Marine Depot, an online retailer of aquarium equipment, nutrition and supplements, has achieved an 11% improvement in revenue since implementing solutions from on-demand site search software provider SLI Systems. The online retailer has been a SLI Learning Search, SLI Site Champion and SLI Rich Auto Complete user since February 2012.

Since implementing the SLI solutions, Marine Depot has not only increased revenue, but also decreased web site bounce rate by 68%. Additionally, the eTailer has seen a boost in transactions (4%) and average order value (7%).


Prior to working with SLI Systems, Marine Depot collected insights from customers that used the web site’s search functionality to find products. After hearing negative feedback regarding the efficiency of the search software, the retailer decided it was necessary to seek out more robust third-party search solutions.

“There was a clear complaint from customers in that they couldn’t find what they were looking for,” said Jeff Johnston, Head of Marketing at Marine Depot. “If you searched for a product that had an acronym like A.R.M., you might search for a variation and it wouldn’t show up even though we had it, or maybe it would show up on page two. We were constantly having to Band-Aid the search and it was just getting to the point where it was becoming unmanageable.”

After rolling out the SLI solutions, Marine Depot has made a series of simple changes to improve the user experience, such as adding flags next to products that are on sale. The eTailer also plans to flag new products to give them more visibility on the site, according to Johnston.

Making Search More Interactive

As an extension of its improved search capabilities, Marine Depot has added a video tab to the e-Commerce site, which has increased total video views and subscribers. The page includes short video clips and how-to guides designed to educate users about aquarium products. The company also is looking to integrate a separate knowledge base into the e-Commerce site. The knowledge base includes nine years of content and educational blogs, which allows consumers to submit equipment-related questions to a team of experts.

“Internally, we’re migrating the knowledge base into a new blog engine that will live within the frame of the store for a more seamless reading-to-shopping experience,” Johnston said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Once that migration is complete, we’re going to have SLI be able to retrieve those search results. Like the video tab, if someone searches for aquarium filters, finally we’ll be able to serve that nine years of content for people that are looking for it.”

Modifications have been, and will continue to be made to the e-Commerce site on an ongoing basis, according to Johnston. Marine Depot, in conjunction with SLI, is optimizing search through numerous testing methods. For one test, the retailer made the search box larger so it was easier to find. At the end of the test, there was more than 80% confidence in the bigger box. Although the Marine Depot team was happy with the results, they didn’t feel it was convincing enough to judge long-term success. As a result, the team is currently undergoing a follow-up test to compare the original search box with three new variations.

“The variations all are larger, but each is a little different in some way,” Johnston explained. “One has popular search terms inside the search box. Another has popular search terms and will show an item number inside the search box. The search button says ‘go’ instead of ‘search.’ The final variation shows popular search terms under the search box as links. The goal, in addition to testing a larger search box, is to see if a more suggestive search box would lead to more revenue and confidence in our test results.”

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