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Gem and Jewelry marketplace polishes its search experience with Algolia

It's the ability to handle huge data sets and narrow them down really quickly. That’s where the value of Algolia comes in.

Ross Sedawie

COO @ Live Platforms

Summary

When Australian specialty auction and marketplace provider Live Platforms started to outgrow its existing in-house developed Search solution, it needed to find one that could scale, was fast and could help it improve both customer and seller experiences. The gemstone, jewelry and collectible marketplace supplier turned to Algolia for the Search and Personalization functionality needed to create brilliant experiences through fast results and increased relevance.

Alltrails
Use case

B2C Ecommerce

Headquarters

Queensland, Australia

Customer since

since 2022

Feature usage

Instant Search, Personalization, Facets & Filters

Key results
  • Easy to implement and use

  • Improved seller-buyer rapport through Personalization

  • Fast, relevant search results

Key numbers
  • Able to handle 300,000+ individual items

  • 32% increase in session duration

  • 16% more individual item views

The challenges

  • 1.

    Slow and complex existing search platform

  • 2.

    Couldn’t scale to handle increasing product listings

  • 3.

    Expensive to manage and maintain search

The solution

  • 1.

    Quick and easy implementation

  • 2.

    Personalization to build customer-seller relationship

  • 3.

    Able to handle 300,000 (and growing) item listings

  • 4.

    Easy to use for sellers

The result

  • 1.

    Improved customer engagement

  • 2.

    Faster, more relevant search results

  • 3.

    Able to quickly scale with ease

  • 4.

    Customer-centric navigation

Live Platforms of Queensland, Australia, is a software company that builds and maintains auction websites for high-end collectibles, from opals to precious and semi-precious gemstones, to jewelry to coins and bullion. 

Its five different websites — four of which are global, and one that’s focused exclusively on the Australian market — serve more than 900 miners, gem cutters, jewelers, and collectors who have, to date, sold more than 1.7 million pieces to those seeking their goods. 

The concept for the company was sparked 20 years ago when its CEO and founder Wayne Sedawie, was cutting opals on the Australian Gold Coast and came up with the idea of selling them online. Efforts to use sites like eBay didn’t meet Sedawie’s needs, so he decided to create his own digital marketplace for opals, supporting the industry’s move online. In 2004, Opal Auctions was founded, followed soon by Jewelry Auctioned, Coins Auctioned and Gem Rock Auctions in 2007. 

“He created a marketplace and brought the industry with him,” says Ross Sedawie, COO of Live Platforms (and Wayne’s nephew.)

The company, a combination of opal miners and tech experts, has a synergistic focus on the success of the many sellers using its platforms, the COO says. “Since we are a marketplace, the first thing we always check is sales. After all, we literally have people's livelihoods that depend on us,” he notes.

Those sales, he says are made to an incredibly wide range of customers from casual buyers to jewelers who use the sites like wholesale websites, to gem cutters looking for precious stones to turn into jewelry and resell. 

One overarching concern for the company is having strong marketing through SEO and communications. “Are we getting our message across to the market? Because we are just celebrating selling our 1.7 millionth item. That’s a lot of gems and opals going around the world. Obviously, people do trust us, and they know us. But getting that idea out to the world that we only sell natural gemstones, that we’re a completely safe marketplace, and that our sellers are all vetted.” Ross Sedawie, COO of Live Platforms. 

When single sales can be in the tens of thousands of dollars, building that trust is essential. As the company grew, scaling the search and discovery capabilities on its website became a challenge. Originally designed only to help auction and sell opals, the in-house developed search engine running on AWS just “wasn’t cutting it,” Ross says. With five sites now boasting as many as 300,000 individual listed items, it had become too complex, cumbersome, slow, and expensive. 

“Then Algolia came along and could do everything we were looking to do and could do it in like 3 milliseconds. Brilliant!”

Creating a personalized customer experience

Live Platforms needed a search platform that served consumers by helping them easily and quickly find what they are looking for, but also ensuring its sellers, who pay a commission for listing, were getting “bang for their buck.” 

Algolia made the cut due to its speed, flexibility, and features like Personalization. 

Implementation of Algolia InstantSearch took less than two months on its overarching website and on each seller’s store, where only their individual offerings are available to search. “That’s amazing for sellers because, once someone goes into their store, they are in their own little ecosystem and can search everything.” 

Following that, the company implemented Algolia Search to power its many category pages. Since then, by adding Personalization, the company can help guide customers that frequently purchase from a particular seller to find results from that seller higher in search results. 

This has been a “huge hit” with sellers, since it’s helping them nurture relationships with their customers. 

“For us, Personalization was an amazing feature,” Ross says. “And because we’re auction-based, people must register to bid, which makes using Personalization super easy for us. The ratio between anonymous user versus logged-in skews heavily on the logged-in side.” 

As well, Algolia Filters & Facets is crucial to the company, in how it helps customers drill down from a general search on, say, garnets, to find more specific cuts, colors, weights, clarities, or states (for example, raw and uncut or faceted and placed in jewelry.) 

“It’s so fast. A customer can whittle a search down from hundreds of items down to a couple of dozen almost immediately with just one text entry.”

Providing exactingly relevant results — fast!

Even just implementing InstantSearch quickly proved its value by being low maintenance, especially around the vast array of items available to its customers, and in helping them narrow selections down. 

Many Live Platforms customers aren’t browsing. They know what they need, and — like everyone in today’s busy marketplace — are likely feeling a time crunch. 

The company has been able to scale from 30,000 individual items to 300,000 individual items across its 900 different sellers. As more and more sellers come on, and more and more types of gemstones are sold, the number of categories grows. Algolia has aided in that scale, Ross suggests.

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“You know, people don’t have much time anymore. If you take, for example, one of our customers is a jeweler. They know what they have in mind. They need to go and find, say, an oval-shaped sapphire that’s seven-by-five. They know exactly what they need, and the specifications they need, and can literally come to the website and can find it with just one or two clicks, thanks to Algolia. It's the ability to handle huge data sets and narrow them down really quickly. That’s where the value of Algolia comes in.” 

Ross Sedawie, COO of Live Platforms

Live Platforms image

“Managing that scale and trying to find a way to surface all those different categories to customers is a challenge,” Ross says. “You need a way for someone who knows what they are looking for to search for products, but also you need a way to let them browse categories.” 

Algolia, he says, has helped enable different modes of discovery on the website: from categories, broad searches, fine searches, or through selecting specific facets and filters. “So now we are able to allow customers who want to find things in different ways to really dictate how they navigate the website, which is really cool.” 

Algolia has scaled alongside the company and the need for scale only continues to grow. For example, over the last year sales of jewelry on the platforms have nearly doubled.

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The use of Search and customer engagement are climbing as well. Since implementing Algolia, it has seen average session durations increase by nearly one-third (32 percent), while individual item views have increased by 16 percent — showcasing the ease customers have found more relevant items from their searches. 

Just in the process of renewing and growing its contract with Algolia, Ross says the Search engine company has been a partner in making its customer and seller experiences shine bright. From “flawless” onboarding and support to “super helpful” renewal, Algolia has been there for the Australian gemstone marketplace provider and business together continues to grow.

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