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Whitcoulls Boosts Online Presence: Advanced Search

News Release 5 March 2008

Whitcoulls Boosts Online Presence With Advanced Search Technology

New Zealand’s largest book seller Whitcoulls, part of the A&R Whitcoulls Group, is looking to increase the number of titles listed on its website to four million over the next quarter, a four fold increase, following its decision to bring their website back in-house.

Justin Boyes, Group Marketing Director with A&R Whitcoulls Group said; ”The internet provides a huge opportunity for Whitcoulls and, on the back on the launch of our new website, we are now looking to become the leading online provider of books in the New Zealand market.”

Whitcoulls uses the SAP IT system to run its business and webshop

“We realised that intelligent search was an essential component if we were going to significantly increase our online inventory. Many New Zealand e-commerce site have a poor search capability and by going with a specialised system, SLI Systems’ Learning Search, we would gain a competitive advantage and have the ability to handle a rapid expanding inventory,” Mr Boyes said.

Learning Search is a hosted site search solution that continually tracks visitors’ aggregate search terms and the corresponding items clicked on, and uses that data to improve the relevance of the site search results. Learning Search, which can index up to five million documents, also gives customers the option to refine the results by category, author or price band, sort them by highest or lowest price, and provides additional related search terms which help users further refine their searches.

SLI Systems’ Learning Search will return the most relevant search results; this helps attract and retain customers, and ultimately increases sales. Studies show that most people search within a site, and also that they expect to find what they’re looking for on the first page of results, or they’ll abandon the site. Learning Search delivers the results people are looking for on the first page 95 percent of the time.

Mr Boyes said, “The decision to adopt the SLI Systems’ solution was made after a 30 day trial of Learning Search which began in late August. We have since seen a marked increase in the number of site visits and online revenue. However, the other important factor was to ensure that our customers experienced the same seamless service with the backing of the Whitcoulls brand online as they would receive in one of our bookshops. This has proven to be the case.

“SLI Systems’ experience offshore was another key factor. The United States e-commerce market is some two years ahead of New Zealand; their market is more mature. Being able to access a solution which has proven itself in the competitive US market meant that we were able to implement the ‘first in class’ search solution and support a New Zealand business at the same time.”

The last 12 months have seen the number of websites SLI runs search services for double to more than 200 websites. Customers include FTD (the 2nd largest flower retailer in the US), Qantas, Tupperware, NBC and the British Treasury. New Zealand clients include Farmers, Dick Smith Electronics, Noel Leeming, the Department of Statistics and Christchurch City Council. Seventy percent of SLI Systems’ revenues are generated in the US market, 20 percent in the UK, and the balance in the Asia Pacific region.

Dr. Shaun Ryan, Chief Executive of SLI Systems said, “The relationship with Whitcoulls has provided tangible benefits from day one. It has enabled them to offer visitors to their site a way to search their online inventory with sub-second retrieval times. As a result, we’re helping them foster greater customer loyalty while maintaining a competitive advantage – two critical measures of success in the e-commerce world.”


About SLI Systems
SLI Systems is the developer of learning-based search technology for corporate Internet sites, e-commerce destinations and consumer Internet portals that Searches, Learns and Improves the user experience.
SLI Systems’ hosted site search solution empowers businesses to enhance customer satisfaction while increasing sales, reducing costs and yielding valuable customer information. Unlike traditional search software, SLI Systems’ patented technology continuously ‘learns’ from the behaviour of visitors over time to deliver more relevant results.
SLI Systems is a privately held company, with offices in Silicon Valley, London and Christchurch, New Zealand. For more information, visit

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