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Internal Search Overhaul Gives Gardening Retailer Higher Conversions
Image Credit  Alison Christine Creative Commons license

Internal Search Overhaul Gives Gardening Retailer Higher Conversions

Thompson & Morgan has sold seeds, plants, bulbs and gardening supplies since 1855, through catalogues and major garden centre chains in the UK and Europe. The company recently restored SLI Learning Search on its e-commerce site to enhance the search functionality offered on the new platform. 


Having the right site search is critical for Thompson & Morgan to enable customers to find the right products they want to buy quickly and efficiently, according to Clare Dixey, group e-commerce manager.

“The unique names of many gardening products can be hard to spell correctly, and our previous search often turned up ‘no results’ or poor results when the exact right term wasn’t used,” she said.

A key search feature for Thompson & Morgan is SLI’s Auto Complete, given the hard-to-spell product names.

“Offering visitors search suggestions as they begin typing in a keyword is really important in helping them finding the right product more easily, and improving the overall experience,” said Dixey.


SLI Learning Search continually improves search relevancy through intelligence gathered from visitors’ search queries and clickthroughs, helping visitors to Thompson & Morgan’s site more easily find and purchase what they are looking for.

According to Dixey, the results speak for themselves:  Only 21% of site visitors use the search box yet are generating 47% of the total site revenue. Additionally, SLI’s site search conversion rate is 74% higher than the site average; the average order value for search users is 30% higher than the site average; and the bounce rate for site search users is 45% lower than the site average.
Another unique benefit of SLI search is the powerful merchandising capability it provides, she said. “When users search for a specific term, we can send them to a specific landing page, plus show promotional and merchandising banners which meet particular criteria. We also have the ability to change the order of results, which is useful when we want to highlight a product that’s been in the news or want to offer a special promotion.”

One of Dixey’s goals was to enable visitors to choose multiple facets at once to refine searches. For example, a customer might want a perennial plant that is easy to grow, with pink flowers that blossom between July and August. Working closely with the SLI team, they created the Garden Plant Finder, a unique feature in online gardening retail and a valuable tool that helps customers narrow down the types of results they want to see.

Thompson & Morgan also uses Site Champion, SLI’s user-generated SEO solution. Site Champion drives traffic and revenue to the site by using popular customer search terms to create optimised landing pages in the major search engines.

“Site Champion really complements the SEO activities that we do in-house. It drives a lot more referrals for non-brand traffic to our site, which then converts to sales,” said Dixey. “For every online retailing challenge we’ve faced, SLI always come up with a solution. The best thing about SLI is that it’s a results engine that we don’t really have to touch – it’s brilliant in terms of resources,” she said.


  • Bounce rate that is 45% lower than the site average. 
  • Thompson & Morgan saw a conversion rate (CVR) for SLI search users 74% above site average CVR
  • 21% of visitors used SLI Search which generates 47% of site revenue
  •  30% higher average order value when using SLI search
  • Site search bounce rate was 45% lower than site average
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