SLI signals new site-search directions for e-commerce

Search engine developer SLI Systems explores new ways to deliver targeted e-commerce search results.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) search engine technology company SLI Systems is exploring new ways to deliver targeted search results to customers of its e-commerce clients and for sharing customisation data between websites.

Speaking at the company's half-year results announcement on Tuesday, SLI's chief executive, Shaun Ryan, said the company had filed patents covering the potential new directions.

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Shaun Ryan

The filings, he told ZDNet, cover a broad range of ideas to answer problems with current site searches. One of these is that retailers only have limited data, based mostly on their isolated interactions with customers rather than their broader shopping behaviours and preferences.

"Our idea is to allow people to say who they are shopping for," Ryan said. "They can put information in about those people, and it will help tailor the search result."

For example, if you are searching for a "shirt" on an e-commerce site, the results you want will be different if you are searching for yourself or for, say, your daughter.

Those results can then be taken across retailers using SLI's software, so customers would only have to input the details once.

The key things SLI wants to establish are, firstly, whether retailers are interested (they appear to be) and whether shoppers will willingly participate. Ryan said the company is looking to run early beta tests to trial the new models.

The new approach could see a change in SLI's business to create a direct relationship with end customers for the first time, Ryan said.

New Zealand-based SLI is also exploring other features such as customer wishlists, email alerts, and more.

The company told investors that its annualised run rate rose 34 percent to NZ$28.9 million in the half year to December 31, 2014, from NZ$21.6 million in the last 12 months.

Half-year operating revenue rose 26 percent to NZ$13.3 million from NZ$10.6 million for the previous comparable period.

Increased investment, however, saw SLI's loss for the period increase from NZ$2.6 million to NZ$4 million.

SLI's core technology includes a search engine that learns from a customer's activities and preferences on-site to deliver more relevant search results and a product called Site Champion, which delivers user-generated search engine optimisation.

Ryan founded search technology company Global Brain in 1998, funded by his chicken-farming father, and sold it two years later to NBCi for NZ$32 million. Unfortunately, shareholders were paid in stock, which promptly lost most of its value after the dotcom crash.

Ryan subsequently bought the intellectual property back and launched SLI Systems, which was listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange in May 2013.

Disclosure: Rob O'Neill is a minor shareholder of SLI Systems.