When is an online search tool not just an online search tool?
When it’s a future-proofed, data-driven, experiential solution that improves the user journey and delivers wide-reaching business benefits for its creator.
Panasonic Industrial Devices North America offers a formidable (and vast) range of products. In fact, many solutions sold by Fortune 500 companies around the world are powered by its components. From the smallest chips to giant HD displays, its technology helps world-leading manufacturers build world-class solutions.
But with this scale came a challenge.
How could Panasonic Industrial Devices help customers, partners, resellers, engineers and internal sales teams find online product and application information quickly and easily, without requiring specific, in-depth product knowledge?
Equally importantly, how could Panasonic ensure potential customers weren’t exposed to competitor products during their online searching?
The answer lay in the development of a ground-breaking Parametric search engine.
“Search has always been a big part of user journeys on our sites,” explains Sandy Jaouen, Panasonic Industrial Devices’ Group Manager of Strategic Marketing. “But previous search tools demanded strong product knowledge if users were to find what they were looking for. Part numbers, keywords, product names – they were all needed in the search for the right outcome.
“Without that detail, users could reach dead ends, where the wrong answer was presented to them. We knew there had to be a better way.”
It was at this point that Panasonic Industrial Devices initiated a project with long-time partner Proctor + Stevenson – a UK-based full-service marketing agency specialising in online systems and applications.
It all began with a PIM
“The road to a solution began with Proctor + Stevenson building a Product Information Management (PIM) system for us,” continues Sandy. “Taking a data feed directly from Panasonic’s manufacturing plant in Japan, accessed via an API, this allowed all product data to be managed far more effectively, incorporating and enhancing an existing daily inventory which is added to directly by distributors.
“Within the PIM, we identified 3,500 product attributes which could be used in search. To create more manageable parameters, our team isolated and ranked the top 25 products from 16 different categories. This created a structure on which the search engine could be built, and one which is future-proofed, as the structure is inherently designed for organic growth.
“By associating attributes and specification to these key products, and then offering intuitive drop-down criteria for selection, we created a tool that’s far faster, simpler and more accurate than anything site users have experienced previously. Critically, it allows visitors to search quickly for multiple components within the same board, rather than isolated products. In this way, they’re able to find everything they need from Panasonic, rather than looking across a myriad of potential suppliers, with all the complexity and additional cost that incurs.
“Combining super-charged convenience with a far more comprehensive view of our product range, we’ve achieved a huge leap forward in customer experience. And thanks to Proctor + Stevenson’s responsive design, the search engine is optimised for any device, including desktops, tablets and smartphones, providing easy access to business-critical product information, no matter where the visitor might be.
“To say the Parametric search engine is lightning-fast is no empty boast. Users can now get to the detail they need, right away, across more than 122,000 part numbers! This level of digital service puts us ahead of the game in our sector. No competitor offers a comparable Parametric search tool, and certainly none can match the convenience or breadth of information our site users (customers, distributors and internal sales teams) now enjoy.”