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Algolia becomes a key ingredient in global kitchen appliance leader’s ecommerce stack

The Algolia search feature is a fundamental part of the foundation for many of the experiences that we're investing in now and that we're planning for in the future. And working with the Algolia team has been a smooth ride. We don’t have issues we need to escalate and that itself is a differentiator.

Tal Ball

Global CTO @ Breville Group

Summary

Popular around the world for its premium kitchen appliances, Breville is on a mission to transform its digital customer journey — helping consumers navigate the many choices and decisions that lead them to not just the right machines but the outcomes they want. Find out how Algolia has helped the company improve customer experiences, and increase stickiness and conversions, all while reducing the amount of work for its technology team.

Breville
Use case

B2C Ecommerce

Headquarters

Sydney, Australia

Customer since

since 2020

Features used

Algolia Search, Rules, Personalization, Custom Ranking, Filters & Facets

Key results
  • 1 in 5 Algolia search users make online purchase

  • Enhanced customer journeys powered by Search

  • Improved conversions and attachment rates

  • Tech team refocused on higher value activities

  • Strong integration with ecommerce stack including Adobe Experience Manager and commercetools

The challenge

  • Cumbersome existing search platform

  • Help customers access new digital content

  • Reduce engineering team time on search

The solution

  • Full-featured search platform

  • Quick and easy implementation

  • Rules and personalization for unique experiences

  • Faceted search combining products and content

The result

  • Enhanced customer journeys powered by Search

  • Improved conversions and attachment rates

  • Tech team refocused on higher value activities

  • Strong integration with ecommerce stack including Adobe Experience Manager and commercetools

Breville Group has been brewing up innovative and carefully designed kitchen appliances globally for decades.

Founded in Sydney, Australia in 1932 as a radio manufacturer, the company moved its attention to kitchen appliances in the ’60s and now boasts an iconic global brand that delivers highly innovative products to more than 70 countries around the world. It achieves this through its focus on customer insights, designing premium appliances aimed at helping people do things easier or that they never thought possible in their kitchens.

In addition to customers around the globe, Breville’s teams, especially around technology, are distributed in every corner of the world. From Vancouver, Canada, Breville’s global Chief Technology Officer, Tal Ball is responsible for helping accelerate growth and bring those highly innovative products to the world while getting closer to its customers.

“We are consumer-focused; that’s at the heart of everything we’re doing,” he says. Those consumers are reached through retailers of all sizes, as well as directly through Breville’s own websites and digital channels.

In addition to selling its traditional kitchen appliances and accessories, Breville’s digital experience also includes subscription services (such as Beanz.com, on which customers subscribe to coffee), and its Joule brand of connected smart appliances. 

Its analytics and data science team help the company understand the customer, from what they are cooking for dinner to what content they’re consuming. Targeting the “mass premium” market, Breville’s customer journey can be a long and complicated one as consumers take their time to make the right decision.

Breville image 1

The challenge

Cumbersome and inflexible search

Prior to deploying Algolia, the company was building its own search capabilities using open source Solr but found it too demanding on the engineering resources.

“We were spending most of our engineering bandwidth on the ‘care and feeding’ of search, since we were managing it ourselves. And that didn’t allow for enough focus on the actual consumer experiences we were trying to create,” Ball says.

“By moving up the stack to Algolia, we were able to redirect those engineering efforts into things that were much more impactful from a consumer standpoint.”

The company was at the same time investing heavily towards creating more customer-facing inspirational content, such as recipes mapped to appliances, but making it easily accessible with its existing search capabilities would be cumbersome and require a significant investment.

“Our needs for search were increasing fairly substantially, but we weren’t able to realistically service them without creating an Algolia-like company ourselves, which seemed a bit counter-productive since Algolia already existed,” Ball quips. 

Breville image 2

The solution

Improving the ecommerce stack

The Breville technical services team began to search for a solution that could improve their search capabilities and set them up to transform their ecommerce business beyond that.

After conducting several POCs while investigating search vendors, Algolia emerged as the vendor of choice “fairly quickly.” Ball says Algolia stood out due to its straightforwardness and ease of implementation, important factors given the goal of reducing the engineering team’s burden around managing search.

“One of the things that caused Algolia to stand out in that process was that it was very easy. It's kind of an over-the-weekend kind of concept of playing with it and coming in the next morning and feeling like we had a pretty good handle on how it was going to work, and how it was going to fit with the rest of our stack.”

The initial implementation was fast, even as the company simultaneously implemented several major changes to its tech stack, including Algolia integrations with a new Adobe Experience Manager front-end and commercetools for their ecommerce engine. Since then, the team has continuously iterated upon its work adding new Algolia features and add-ons.

Even early on, several Algolia features and capabilities contributed to the selection, including its ability to dynamically boost results and multi-language capabilities. A must-have for any customer-facing element of its stack, Algolia’s multi-language capabilities help Breville operate across the many countries it is in today, with new ones added rapidly.

The company has moved from what was a more generic experience where, if the customer knew exactly what they were looking for they could easily find it, to a cleaner, more sophisticated best-of-breed ecommerce experiences — all thanks to Algolia, and other improvements to the tech stack, like Adobe Experience Manager and commercetools and a shift to a microservices approach that better serves the customer.

“But now this is a step in the direction that we're moving our entire digital experience capabilities,” Ball says. “Where, instead, we're working with the consumer to achieve an overall experience as opposed to just buying a piece of equipment. And so that shift toward being a more end-to-end solution for the consumer is a direction that we're strategically investing in.”

He adds that search capability is fundamental to this shift.


Breville image 3

The result

Compelling consumer experiences

Breville’s Algolia-powered search capabilities have allowed it to take advantage of its growing, large investments in content creation, as well as improve customer experiences and steer them, on-the-fly, to relevant products and solutions.

“It’s a bit more streamlined, but we haven’t made the team smaller, we’ve just been able to use the team to do more useful stuff. That’s been the big benefit of Algolia from an engineering standpoint,” Ball says.

“Algolia enabled us to redirect our team that was on search in such a way that they could develop really compelling consumer experiences as opposed to just working on the blocking and tackling for basic search.”

As the company adds new features, such as a recent addition of a new search panel implementation that created a dramatic jump in conversions. “We’ve been delighted every time we try to implement the next capability that it pretty much works the way we thought it would,” Ball says.

Algolia’s capabilities line up with what the company is trying to achieve as it attempts to blend different types of content together to provide the choices that consumers want to help them make decisions, from what coffee machine is right for them to what kinds of beans to purchase for it. 

“There can be an overwhelming amount of content to get through, and a lot of different choices the consumer would need to work through. With Algolia, we were able to structure the journey of making those choices in a way that hopefully will feel natural and easy to the consumer and avoid overwhelming them with too many things to think about or choose between.”

Using dynamic boosting and triggering capabilities, he says, helps to guide the consumer along their journey easier than a simple basic search would, by showing only the content they need when they need it.

While Algolia helped Breville introduce new customer-facing capabilities to improve the search experience, such as typeahead search, many of the exciting things the company has been able to do are behind the scenes, such as smarter indexing.

In addition to the “day-to-day benefits” experienced by the switch to Algolia, it’s also helping the company implement some more advanced improvements in customer experience.

For instance, Breville uses Algolia to power several customer quizzes to aid them in making better, more informed choices. A prime example is the quiz the company has created to help guide its customers to coffee beans with a taste profile they’ll enjoy by asking common questions to help inform their selection of beans on the company’s Beanz.com subscription website.

Search has also helped with the creation of other consumer experiences and marketing opportunities, such as the company’s new Coffee Essentials bundles, which combine a coffee machine, coffee subscription, accessories, and training — all based on customer decisions, all powered by Algolia.

“That’s led to a pretty high attachment rate,” Ball says, as significant numbers of consumers going to the site for a machine adopt to purchase a bundle. “We think of it as a solution, where the consumer was trying to get to the actual cup of coffee and not just the machine.”

Breville image 4


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