delivers healthy growth with Google Commerce Search

5/24/2011 11:33:00 AM

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Editors note: is America’s largest and fastest growing, accredited online pharmacy, which boasts an inventory of over 4,000 unique prescription drugs. The company was recently featured in Consumer Reports as one of the top drugstores in the United States. We’ve invited today’s guest blogger, Marston Alfred, Director of E-commerce at, to share why HealthWarehouse implemented Google Commerce Search. To read more, download the case study.

HealthWarehouse isn’t your typical pharmacy. Instead of physical stores, we rely on a website where we sell and ship medications to tens of thousands of customers throughout the country. And while an online-only presence allows us to save on typical infrastructure and personnel costs, it also presents some unique challenges.

From the beginning, implementing quality e-commerce search was critical to our business. Medication names are complicated and difficult for pharmacists to spell – let alone the consumer (amlodipine benazepril as an example) – so it’s necessary that we have a search and navigation experience that can interpret customer intent as well as a pharmacist could. But as we quickly found, e-commerce search can be very complicated.

To tackle the search problem we evaluated several third-party e-commerce solutions, but these providers would have required us to manually register thousands of common medication misspellings and synonyms – which wasn’t feasible or scalable, and would have required constant fine-tuning. Providing relevant results for our audience was also an issue. In search, our customers demand the expertise and intuition of a pharmacist, and you can imagine how this would be difficult to provide without reams of historical data related to medicine and our business. Enter Google.

Google Commerce Search utilizes the same underlying spellchecker and thesaurus of (tried and tested on over one billion queries across every imaginable category each day) to automate the display of results on retail websites. Google Commerce Search uses these signals to provide a search and discovery solution that performs phenomenally out-of-the-box, and only gets better the more people use it.

We implemented Google Commerce Search, and results for complicated prescription names were instantly more accurate, providing a 40% decrease in call-center volume (literally overnight). Clearly, visitors are now finding and discovering products much better on their own. In line with this unexpected drop in customer support calls, actual searches increased 85%, unique visitors and page views doubled, and conversions rose 19%. Search became a much more valuable component of our website.

Switching to Google Commerce Search not only increased our revenues, but also allowed us to focus and scale our core business (which, believe it or not is affordable medication and not IT). More importantly, Google’s search and navigation solution has significantly improved product discovery, putting affordable medication into the hands of more people.