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What are search-based Applications?

A search-based application is an app that uses a search engine as its core infrastructure to find and present information from different data sources. 

With a search-based application (SBA), users can enter a keyword or phrase to access different types of data in disparate locations, whether it’s structured, semi-structured, or unstructured. SBA connectors will pull, aggregate, normalize, and present the data in a user-friendly format, even for information from different back-end systems.


How search-based applications are used

SBAs support a variety of use cases across different industries. Some important applications include:

Customer service

SBAs can be powerful tools for customer service representatives. Whether used in modern call centers or in-person support desks, SBAs aggregate information from an array of databases to equip customer service reps with information to quickly address customer questions and concerns. For instance, if a customer calls a travel agent with a last-minute travel request, the agent can use an SBA to quickly find information on numerous flights from a variety of airlines to answer their question in real time. 


SBAs are often used to retrieve relevant product information for online shoppers. Online retailers can use SBAs to deliver lightning-fast, highly relevant results for shoppers’ queries. 

Take a fashion website, for example, where users are searching for a wide variety of products across different categories. When the user searches for jeans, the SBA collects results from Calvin Klein, Levi’s, True Religion, and other brands. And if built on a robust search engine, the SBA can recommend related searches, similar products, and even blog content about the latest trends. This delivers a more personalized search experience, enables cross-selling and up-selling, and enhances the overall customer experience. 

Real estate

Both realtors and potential home buyers can benefit from search-based applications when researching real estate properties. SBAs can consolidate results from a variety of common sources for a more comprehensive view of the property. These sources might include different real estate websites, municipality data (for information about schools, parks, etc.), and nearby transportation options; this information, presented in one user-friendly place, gives users all the pertinent information they need to make housing decisions. 

Enterprise Search capabilities

The distributed nature of today’s data landscape means organizations can store information internally, externally, on-premises, in the cloud, or in different geographic regions. An SBA can provide uniform search results from all these places. As a result, consumers can search large business websites and get quick results, no matter where the data is stored. 


How search-based applications and Search-as-a-Service work together

A search-as-a-service tool provides the necessary search engine backbone for an SBA. 

The best search as a service tools are not only ready to use out-of-the-box, but also deeply customizable. This allows you to hit the ground running with great search, while continuously tweaking, testing, and improving your own ranking factors based on business needs. 

Search-as-a service tools prioritize reliable infrastructure to prevent downtime and have the capacity to scale with the growth of your SBA. They are also a great base upon which to build an SBA because the provider handles upkeep and management of the search engine itself. With search as a service, you get the benefit of the search providers’ continuous innovation, without tying up your own developer resources along the way. Your developer team need only focus on fine-tuning your SBA, not laying the groundwork for the basic design of the search engine.

For Flexport, a global shipping logistics company, providing the capabilities to let customers quickly track shipments was crucial to improving their user experience. Leveraging the power of a search as a service tool, their application enables users around the world to reliably search multiple indexes for shipment information. Flexport’s search application supports 4 million searches a month with a 3 millisecond average search time. With a search as a service backbone, Flexport’s app grants customers robust visibility into the supply chain, greatly improving the customer experience in the process.


Algolia and search-based applications

Search as a service tools like Algolia are key to capitalizing on the business value of SBAs. They let organizations reap the benefits of these technologies without worrying about the underlying maintenance, hardware, and expertise required to consistently use them. Rapid and personalized search built on a reliable distributed search network caters to virtually any use case.

Watch our demo today to see how Algolia can enable uncomparable search for your own website!

About the author
Elliott Gluck

Senior Product Marketing Manager


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