In an effort to improve the customer experience and support worldwide marketing initiatives, Samsung Electronics began a redesign of 60 of its regional, public Web sites. A key requirement of the project was to improve search functionality to provide viewers with highly customized results. Samsung replaced its Autonomy Ultraseek–based search with FAST enterprise search. Now, Samsung is able to provide customers with highly customized results, such as products listed according to regional sales priorities. Customers also receive more accurate search results when trying to locate product information and software drivers—so much so, that Samsung reports a near 20 percent increase in the number of visitors who click through from search results to internal pages. The improved search enhances site performance and, with better technical support, is easier to maintain than the previous solution.
Samsung Electronics, part of the Samsung Group, is one of the world’s major electronics companies. It specializes in digital appliances and media, semiconductors, memory, and system integration. The company promotes its consumer products, including televisions, mobile phones, digital cameras, and appliances, from its public-facing Web site, www.samsung.com, which provides access to 60 country-based sites, offered in native languages.
||Since implementing FAST, the rate at which users click through the search results to internal pages has increased approximately 20 percent…. [W]ith FAST, we are giving customers the results they are looking for.
In 2009, the company initiated a redesign of these 60 regional sites. Through the redesign, Samsung wanted to improve the customer experience from a visual and navigational perspective, and also to enhance the site’s search services to support the sales and marketing initiatives of each country or region. It also wanted to meet the demands of customers who have grown accustomed to the sophisticated capabilities of Web sites in the era of Web 2.0.
Jang Woo-suk, Engineer at Samsung SDS, a subsidiary of Samsung Group that provides IT services to Samsung Electronics, says, “Samsung.com provides services in the native languages of 60 sites worldwide, but each country’s search requirements are different, because search is driven by marketing strategies that are unique to each country.” For example, explains Jang, when a customer searches the Korea site using the keyword “cellular phone,” the company’s Omnia product should be the first search resulted listed, while the BlackJack product should be the first result returned to a user on the U.S. site. Samsung relied on search technology from Ultraseek, which was acquired by Autonomy after Samsung deployed it. “With Ultraseek, we had a hard time producing customized results to meet our marketing requirements,” Jang says.
Samsung also wanted to improve user satisfaction by returning more accurate search results for customers. “Most of the customers who conduct searches on Samsung.com are looking for software downloads and drivers for products. If the search results don’t help them find what they need, they switch to other search sites, such as Google, or they make inquiries via e-mail or to our call center,” Jang says. “We wanted to make the process more convenient for them by minimizing the steps it takes to find information. But again, with the Ultraseek solution, it wasn’t easy to provide customized, effective search results.”
Samsung found it difficult to maintain and support the Autonomy Ultraseek solution, because mergers and acquisitions had resulted in organizational restructuring, making locating effective technical support a challenge.Solution
As part of its global Web site redesign, Samsung decided to replace its Autonomy Ultraseek search technology. Prior to evaluating other search solutions, the company decided that the chosen platform had to deliver three primary capabilities: efficient customization, multilanguage support, and superior technical support.
In its initial evaluation, Samsung found three solutions that met the company’s basic requirements: the FAST Enterprise Search Platform from Microsoft, enterprise search from Endeca, and the IDOL platform from Autonomy. Samsung then conducted a closer analysis in which it created a criteria matrix and scored each product against a range of key factors. From the scoring, Samsung determined that the FAST Enterprise Search Platform was the best choice.
|Figure 1. Search results page on Samsung.com|
In addition, Samsung had firsthand experience with the FAST technology, because it had relied on it to power search on its employee intranet. Jang says, “FAST Enterprise Search solution had already proven its value to our very large intranet site. This fact weighed heavily in our decision to use the technology to improve the search experience on Samsung.com.”
During the second half of 2009, Samsung SDS began to integrate the FAST enterprise search technology into Samsung.com. With FAST, Samsung site administrators in each country or region can dynamically adjust the search results to align with the sales and marketing initiatives of each respective region. When users conduct search through the FAST Enterprise Search Platform, the site database is accessed less frequently than in the previous solution, thus minimizing the search query load on Web server resources.
Samsung chose its U.S.-based Web site to be the first site on which it would implement the technology, because the site was scheduled to be re-launched on September 1, 2009. Samsung then proceeded to deploy FAST enterprise search to the other 60 worldwide sites in an order determined by each site’s market significance. Benefits
Using the FAST Enterprise Search Platform as the search engine to power customers’ queries on Samsung.com, Samsung has made it easier for regional site administrators to customize search results to support strategic initiatives. It has also improved user satisfaction by delivering more helpful search results and faster performance. With this solution, Samsung is able to provide intelligent search results in an increasingly complex environment where content is changed and updated frequently.
Simplified Search Result Customization
Samsung site administrators find that with the FAST Enterprise Search Platform, they can much more easily deliver search results that are customized to support regional sales and marketing initiatives. Now, administrators can prioritize the results that a customer sees to reflect market-specific sales objectives. For example, if a customer enters “o” in the search box, the search engine predicts that the keyword will be the Samsung mobile phone called Omnia and will display page links to the product. When a user clicks on a suggested result such as “omnia,” the search engine will automatically display additional recommended results on the product page, which includes content that has been frequently searched (Figure 1).
|Figure 2. Visual search results on Samsung.com|
“Automated keyword completion, visual search results, and optimization of other search results can be customized to the requirements of each market,” says Jang. “After deploying the FAST Enterprise Search Platform, site administrators in the United States and China were able to adjust search-related settings to create desired results. They also received very positive feedback from customers who said that their search experience was helpful and productive.”
Higher User Satisfaction
In an era of sophisticated, highly interactive Web 2.0 sites and applications that often include robust search functions, Samsung has been able to use FAST enterprise search technology to meet the requirements of increasingly savvy customers. For users who are accustomed to search on other sites, such as Google.com, the search capabilities of the former Samsung.com sites could come across as lacking in functionality. Jang says, “Since implementing FAST, the rate at which users click through the search results to the interior pages has increased approximately 20 percent. This is proof that with FAST, we are giving customers the results they are looking for.”
Better Performance, Better Support
Since implementing FAST enterprise search technology, Samsung has seen an improvement in site performance. “The previous search engine over-taxed the site database. The engine occupied 50 percent of the available hardware resources, and this degraded performance of other services,” Jang says. “Now, the situation is completely different. With the deployment of the FAST Enterprise Search Platform, search engine activities do not constrain database operations. The search engine accesses and burdens the database far less than ever before, which results in much better performance on Samsung.com sites.” In contrast with its experience with Autonomy Ultraseek, where finding convenient, helpful technical support was a challenge, Samsung receives superior customer support from FAST.
Foundation for Intelligent Search
Through its deployment of the FAST Enterprise Search Platform, Samsung SDS has laid the foundation for providing intelligent search services.
“Samsung.com has accumulated a great deal of content and has built intricate relationships among interlinked sites. It’s a complex environment,” says Jang. “FAST enterprise search technology makes it easier for site administrators to customize search results and to provide a great search experience to customers. We need to be equipped with an intelligent search platform to accommodate the rapid rate of changes on our Web sites. For example, if information about a new product is posted on the site, the search engine should be able to take into consideration certain parameters, like product category and popularity of results, without requiring a manual input and automatically provide links to related content. FAST Enterprise Search Platform is the foundation of intelligent search for Samsung.com sites.”
As Samsung continues to develop its search experience, the company is also considering expanding its use of visual search on the site, which is enabled by FAST technology (Figure 2). By using FAST, developers can create visual search with easier customization and finer control. Jang says, “One of the most surprising, advantageous site features for users is visual search. As users type search words in the search window, real-time images of related products are displayed. We plan to make the visual search function even more powerful in the future.”
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