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Blueprinting a better search experience with Algolia Professional Services

The Blueprint Service with Algolia is very much collaborative all the way through. You can already see how the partnership between Mitre 10 and Algolia will grow. It’s about working together, not about buying a tool, and we can see that already throughout the blueprinting process.

Gail Dickson

Delivery Manager, Omnichannel @ Mitre 10

Summary

As website traffic and transactions became more vital to New Zealand’s largest home improvement retailer, Mitre 10 realised it needed a more effective search solution that could manage complexities brought by business model and geography. To design its new search functionality, the company took advantage of Algolia Blueprint, a collaborative service that helped them migrate with confidence and build a strong partnership with Algolia.

Mitre10
Use case

B2C Ecommerce

Headquarters

Auckland, New Zealand

Customer since

since 2021

Service usage

Algolia Blueprint

Key results
  • Education for technical and non-technical teams

  • Detailed technical documentation and guidance

  • Close collaboration and partnership with Algolia

The challenges

  • 1.

    Small in-house team dedicated to search

  • 2.

    Unique geographic relevance needs

  • 3.

    Solution able to be managed by marketing team

The solution

  • 1.

    Virtual education sessions with technical and marketing teams

  • 2.

    Investigation into data, UI/UX and relevance

  • 3.

    Prototyping and design of tailored solution

  • 4.

    Detailed documentation and seamless handoff to soluti

The result

  • 1.

    Deeper Search understanding for technical and non-technical teams alike

  • 2.

    Detailed technical design documentation and guidance

  • 3.

    Close collaboration and ongoing partnership with Algolia

A nationwide network of home improvement stores in New Zealand, Mitre 10 has been serving the country since 1974 with a range of housewares, hardware, tools, building supplies, heaters, air conditioners, garden products, barbecues, camping gear, and more. 

The co-operative is something of a “Kiwi success story,” with 84 locally owned and operated member stores employing more than 7000 team members. Mitre 10 is the nation’s largest home improvement and garden retailer — and it continues to grow in market and footprint. Its trade business, serving construction and building professionals, has also boomed over the years and continues to grow steadily. 

With that in mind, the company has in recent years expanded its supplier network both in New Zealand and internationally to better support its growth in DIY (do it yourself) and trade customers, building on its competitive advantage— superior service and advice —attractive pricing, and an increased range of products. 

The company places a focus on customer experience and the training that team members need to provide customers with inspiration, advice, tools, and materials to get their projects done right — from start to finish, says Gail Dickson, Omnichannel Delivery Manager at Mitre 10. 

“We’re a co-operative, so anything that we do is slightly more complicated than it would be in a corporate business,” she adds.

“Our geography is quite complicated. We have mountains and bays and rivers and inlets, and everything is not straightforward and line-of-sight in terms of making search results geographically relevant to users” 

To meet the needs of both its B2B (trade) and B2C (retail) customers, Mitre 10 hosts two websites, which is managed by the organization’s e-commerce marketing team. Management of the search function on the Mitre 10 websites is handled by the company’s marketing team, who ensure search is up-to-date, relevant, and aligned with ongoing campaigns. 

New Zealand’s unique geography introduces similarly unique technical challenges for the team in ensuring search results are relevant and meet the customer’s needs. 

Although the co-operative’s many brick-and-mortar stores, 19 of which are in Auckland, represent the lion’s share of revenue, online search is crucial to the success of its member businesses. 

“It all starts with the search,” professes Willie Goosen, Mitre 10’s eCommerce Transformation Architect. “On a Saturday morning, before you head into your big box store, you do a search. So, it’s not necessarily a conversion, but people start on the website before they go to the stores.”

Ecommerce becomes more critical

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce became more essential to Mitre 10’s growth. Then, as always, the customer experience was critical, and the company continued to lead with its customer-first approach. 

Goosen says the company strives to be “a helpful mate,” a friend who’ll be there to support its customers. Finding the right answers through search, he adds, is a vital part of that approach. To that end, the Mitre 10 websites don’t merely feature products, but content in the form of helpful advice and guides.

Mitre 10

To achieve its objectives, the co-operative sought out a search solution provider that was responsive, provided strong account services and offered a platform that had flexibility. It also needed a solution that could be deployed by the technical team but refined easily and updated by non-technical marketing staff members.

Mitre 10

Partnering and collaborating with Algolia

The co-operative is in the midst of a major transformation project, and the company turned to Algolia for its Blueprint service. 

A collaborative and consultative design service, an Algolia subject matter expert provides the customer with education and a series of discovery and design workshops focused on prototyping and documenting future state data, UI/UX and relevancy requirements for a fully optimized Algolia search service. 

Algolia virtually provided a baseline education session for Mitre 10’s technical and marketing teams, to ensure they understood Algolia Search, best practices and why and how it would be used.

“The Blueprint process was really, really good,” Dickson says. “Our Algolia Solutions Architect came in, knew exactly what they needed, worked closely with Willie and Rudolf, and it went super smoothly. I have to say, it’s been enjoyable.” 

“Algolia Blueprint Service also helped us to talk through various challenges we had and suggested how to overcome those challenges, especially around geographical relevance.” 

More than that, it was effective. Mitre 10 found that the collaboration, education, and knowledge sharing provided by Algolia Blueprint Service helped their development and solution design progress effectively. 

“Understanding Algolia so we can better bolt it into our system is important,” Ingerl says. “And that’s really what the Blueprint document (and services) does, it gives the blueprint of which elements of Algolia we’ll implement and how and where.” 

“Blueprint services helped there, and Algolia resources were made available to help guide the solution to overcome those challenges.”

Reducing risk through blueprinting

Working with Algolia, the e-commerce team was able to shift its approach to the search function with greater confidence. “Being able to bounce ideas off of the Algolia Solutions Architect during those design sessions helped us understand what was possible and move forward with confidence,” Goosen says, adding the proof is in the pudding: “Seeing our product index in Algolia and it comes back with the results we were expecting.” 

Using the Algolia Blueprint service has led to an easier, more risk-free migration to Mitre 10’s new Algolia-powered search function. 

“Having a recipe handed to you reduces risk,” Ingerl says, having recently completed the design phase of their new implementation. “Algolia is large, and there are so many things you can do with its Search APIs and SDKs. We aren’t using everything but learning about the parts we’re using, and could use, reduces deployment risk.” 

Working on the prototype design with Algolia helped the team discover features, like Instant Search that would help them meet their requirements. Mitre 10 also frequently referenced the Blueprint documentation as well as Algolia technical assistance when developing its solution design. 

The technical team at Mitre 10 praised Algolia’s personal approach and fast responsiveness during the blueprinting process and after. Dickson says the collaborative partnership with Algolia made a huge difference in the decision to adopt it as the basis of Mitre 10’s website search functionality. 

“It was a really good experience,” Dickson reiterates. “We felt we were being led, rather than having to take the lead, and that’s what I expect from a good supplier.” 

Adds Goosen, “It’s good having Algolia as part of the team.”

Mitre 10

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