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Dress for the occasion: Oh Polly enhances customer search results and increases revenue with Algolia and Shopify Plus.

Algolia has benefited us in not only making search results better and more relevant, but in understanding why they are more relevant and how to make items more prominent and search more helpful.

Lauren Muir

Product Owner @ Oh Polly

Summary

Oh Polly is one of the fastest pure-play online fashion retailers in the UK, bringing fashion-forward women around the world “something a little bit extra.” When it saw a need to improve its search experience — both for customers and its internal teams — it was time for a better solution. It adopted Algolia based on the platform’s performance, functionality and support. Find out how Algolia is helping Oh Polly achieve its CX goals, increasing conversions, click-through-rates, search usage and, ultimately, growing revenue.

Oh Polly
Use case

B2C Ecommerce

Headquarters

Glasgow, United Kingdom

Customer since

since 2023

Key Results (Qualitative)
  • Improved customer experience

  • Faster and more relevant search results

  • Reduced reliance on internal team

  • Strategic and technical support

Key results
  • Search usage increased by 30 to 40%

  • 5% increase in click-through-rates (CTR)

  • 5.4% increase in conversions (CVR)

  • 7.1% increase in revenue

The challenge

  • 1.

    Negative overall search experience.

  • 2.

    Poor technical support.

  • 3.

    Limited accessible customer search data.

The solution

  • 1.

    Algolia Search and a wide range of features.

  • 2.

    Fast and easy implementation (approximately 6 days).

  • 3.

    Deployed on four sites. 

  • 4.

    Integrated with Shopify Plus.

The result

  • 1.

    Faster, more relevant search.

  • 2.

    Reduced internal administration.

  • 3.

    Improved CTR, CVR and customer engagement.

  • 4.

    Search sessions responsible for 20% of revenue.

Founded in 2015, Oh Polly is a fast-growing pure-play ecommerce brand that provides trendy, high-quality clothing to fashion-forward women around the world.

With UK offices in Glasgow, Liverpool, and London, as well as offices in Los Angeles, Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Guangzhou, the company employs more than 1500 people worldwide. 

The online clothier started humbly, as a means for founders Claire Henderson and Mike Branney to raise funds for their Cambodia-based charity The Brannerson Foundation. The co-owners started selling on eBay, and business took off. Community-minded, a portion of Oh Polly’s profits still go to the Foundation, supporting Cambodian children living in poverty. The company sticks to its owners’ values, focusing on ethical supply chains and a commitment to environmental sustainability.

Social media is key to Oh Polly’s success. Since its early days of selling on eBay, Oh Polly adopted a social-first business model, with activity centered around Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. In 2019, it was ranked the fifth most engaged UK clothing retail social media brand, and by 2023 it had a combined following of more than 8 million around the world — selling in almost every corner of the globe.

The company is built on values of empowerment and innovation, presenting itself as the go-to brand for something “a little bit extra.” Its growth has been based on strategic expansion, successful collaborations, and effective influencer partnerships. In recent months that growth has been extraordinary: 45 percent in the past year, with expectations of growing another 35 percent in the coming year.

“Oh Polly’s staff are broken into small, intimate teams, and every employee has a major impact on the organization and the success it has achieved”, says Lauren Muir, Product Owner at Oh Polly. Muir herself plays a crucial role in that success.

“Anything that happens from any customer touch point, from discovering us to buying from us to post-purchase — if anything goes wrong in those customer touchpoints, from a technical perspective, it’s my responsibility to fix.”

In that role, Muir works closely with the Customer Experience team, helping to ensure there are no barriers to using the store and the journey is easy and seamless. 

Of course, optimizing search to improve the customer experience is critical.

The challenge

Correcting a poor search experience

The company’s search platform was an area Muir recognized needed improvement. It was using a search and product discovery platform focused on image search functionality; however, the company was receiving significant negative feedback from both customers and its ecommerce team.

The previous search experience left a lot to be desired. Despite its image search capabilities, it lacked customization and personalization functionality, had slow performance speed, and had a glitchy experience that left customers frequently seeking support. 

The prior solution operated as a “black box” search platform with no dashboards or accessible data that Muir could use to understand the customer journey. It also offered no Instant Search functionality or support for multiple languages and lacked support for real-time updates and indexing.

Perhaps worse, communication and technical support with the vendor was frequently delayed (and sometimes non-existent).

“We did an analysis and decided to stop using our old platform because of bad customer feedback and bad user feedback from our e-comm team here, who said they dreaded using the platform due to its slowness and difficulty to improve,’” Muir noted. “We noted that people weren’t shopping with us because of the image search functionality, one of the key reasons for the search platform, and that’s because our products are so distinct.”

Through research, Oh Polly determined it needed a strong, robust, text-based search engine that improved relevance, provided quick search results and reduced the demand on its internal teams.

Oh Polly needed a new search platform they could implement fast, to quickly get improved results. The ecommerce shop’s development partner, By Association Only (BAO), recommended it investigate Algolia, having worked with the search platform vendor in the past. 

oh polly image 3

The solution

A faster, more relevant search experience

In addition to needing a speedy implementation, Oh Polly had a laundry list of requirements their new search platform would need to meet. Having learned from their previous experience, their new search platform had to:

  • Improve overall search UI with fast, responsive results within an immersive search UI;
  • Improve the relevance of search results, leveraging highly-customized rules and personalization;
  • Utilize AI-based technologies to reduce reliance on team member administration;
  • Get hands-on strategic support and technical guidance to help them optimize search and continually improve; and
  • Be scalable, growing with Oh Polly and helping it to expand internationally.

Algolia checked every box and also had deep integrations with the company’s ecommerce platform Shopify Plus, so Muir moved ahead with deploying the platform. Implementation took only about a week to complete on four websites (Three Oh Polly sites, and a sister site they recently launched.) BAO took the lead on the implementation, Muir says.

“They built everything for us to be ready to just go and plug in Algolia and have overlays and everything — all looking super cool,” she says. “They had the dedicated design and development resources, so they were able to spend time on that while we were getting contracts signed.”

The company has deployed Algolia on its search bar, and on its Tapcart app through a custom screen. The company has adopted nearly the full suite of Algolia features, including InstantSearch, Dynamic Re-ranking, Visual Editor, Query Suggestions, A/B Testing, Shopify Integration, Filters & Facets and Mobile.


Oh Polly image 2

The result

Dressed for UX success

Thanks to Algolia, the company was able to improve its search experience almost instantly and move the search function — originally hidden behind an icon — to a bigger search bar, resulting in a 30 to 40 percent increase in use.

From an internal perspective, employee productivity has improved thanks to reduced administrative time managing iterations on search, as required by their previous solution. Importantly, they are now able to see and address customer data via the Algolia dashboard.

“I, the tech and ecomm teams see the value of Algolia from the user perspective because we used to spend all day, every day on data collection using basically non-existent dashboards,” Muir says. “Because Algolia data is very accessible through its dashboard, there are very clear reasons why things are ranked in the way that they are. It's given us a lot more intricate and detailed product data and information on search results. 

“So, Algolia has benefited us in not only making search results better and more relevant, but in understanding why they are more relevant and how to make items more prominent and search more helpful.”

This increased customer search data, and the analytics performed on it, helps nearly everyone on the Oh Polly team and is being used to better shape the customer journey. Results are being funneled to marketing, who use it to make decisions around launches. Digital teams are using the data for lead generation, and it is helping the development team determine the focus of future campaigns.

“We see search as a form of customer feedback,” Muir says.

She says Algolia’s Dynamic Re-ranking has stood out in how it’s helped the company achieve its goals. “It just takes so much stress away from us thinking about how to optimize individual search results,” she says. “We’ve got a catalog that is not especially diverse — we only sell women’s occasion wear — but that means sometimes our most popular queries have a lot of results. 

“So, it’s difficult to know how to improve those results and move the needle, but with Dynamic Re-Ranking on, it’s taking all the factors we’d consider. I don’t need to stress out and have e-comm check and double-check search term results and change rules. It’s a massive time saver.”

The Algolia team has stood out as well. Where Muir once had problems and pushbacks, she now has a strong relationship with her search vendor and receives exceptional strategic and technical support. 

“It’s very reassuring that if anything does go wrong, the Algolia team is on top of it.”

The overall results from Oh Polly’s move to Algolia have been extremely telling. The company has seen a:

  • 5% increase in click-through-rates (CTR);
  • 5.4% increase in conversions (CVR); and 
  • 7.1% increase in revenue.

A/B Testing of Dynamic Re-ranking found that Algolia helped generate an additional £20k revenue in just the first three days of the testing, says Muir.

She says they have determined that users of their new Algolia-powered search platform convert at 3.5 times the rate of non-searching users and the average purchase revenue per user is 172 percent higher than that from browse. Customer engagement is also 67 percent higher, and the bounce rate is 144 percent lower for customers using search.

Perhaps most importantly, Algolia-powered search is contributing heavily to the bottom line: search is used in approximately 7 percent of sessions, but those sessions are responsible for 20 percent of revenue.

oh polly image 4

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