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How Sary Used Algolia to Improve Search & Better Understand Its Customers

Algolia’s AI capabilities play an important role in helping us leverage our technology to direct demand in specific ways, and that helps a lot in us finding ways to be a more profitable company — for a start-up like Sary this is crucial.

Abdulaziz Binghannam

Head of Engineering @ Sary Technologies

Summary

When fast-growing MENAP start-up Sary Technologies found its existing search and discovery capabilities lacking, it turned to Algolia to improve crucial areas of keyword search and Arabic language support. The technology-led wholesale platform company soon found an uplift in click-through rates, more frequent purchases of recommended products, and blazingly fast search speeds. Find out how in addition to improving performance, Algolia has helped change Sary’s ability to understand and better serve its customers.

Sary
Use case

B2B Ecommerce

Headquarters

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Customer since

since 2022

Feature usage

Search API, Recommend, Dynamic Synonyms, Dynamic Re-Ranking, Insights API, Rules, Personalization, Visual Editor, A/B Testing, Facets & Filters

Key results
  • Improved customer experience

  • Ability to easily boost brands and categories

  • Better understand customer behavior

Key numbers
  • Tens of thousands of product SKUs

  • 500x faster search speed

  • 3x improved click-through rate

The challenges

  • 1.

    Simple, open source search solution

  • 2.

    Challenges around keyword search

  • 3.

    Limited ability to recognize customer intent

The solution

  • 1.

    Quick to implement Search API (in only two months)

  • 2.

    Recommend-powered suggested products

  • 3.

    Full suite of features: Rules, Analytics, A/B Testing and more

The result

  • 1.

    Faster search performance (500x)

  • 2.

    Uplift in search KPIs, including 3x CTR

  • 3.

    Frequent recommended product purchase

  • 4.

    Improved understanding of customer behavior

Sary has its eyes on empowering the wholesale industry through technology. 

The company provides an on-demand business-to-business (B2B) marketplace that connects small businesses with wholesalers over mobile and the web. The goal is to empower small businesses by connecting them to brands all in one place, so they can make better decisions around purchasing and procurement.

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“The wholesale industry is quite traditional,” says Abdulaziz Binghannam, the company’s Head of Engineering. “We are trying to modernize it with digital products, with better solutions. That’s our mission.” 

Founded in 2018 in Saudi Arabia by Mohammed Aldossary and Khaled AlSiari, to correct supply chain issues in the wholesale industry, Sary has seen healthy growth over the last four years. It has received more than $110 million in funds in recent years and now employs hundreds across more than 20 cities. As a technology-led company, it’s little surprise that many of those employees — about 100 — are in technology, building the company’s capabilities around connecting small business owners, suppliers, and the gig workers who deliver products. 

For its supplier customers — major brands like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Nestle — the company’s platform helps them sell more and cost-effectively extend their reach into new markets. For the hotels, grocers, and restaurants that use the platform, it provides seamless mobile access to more than 30,000 SKUs of wholesale products, with the best prices and real-time promotions, delivered in less than 24 hours. 

For Binghannam, the mission is to understand those many customers’ pain points and find ways to overcome them. With high global inflation and other market challenges prevalent, making the supply chain more cost-effective and efficient is a top priority.

The pressing need to improve search

In its early days, Sary used a simple, open source search solution. The minimalistic approach created several problems, including questions of discovery quality, issues around keyword searches, and challenges around understanding customer intent. 

“There were a lot of problems around the customer experience for discovery, and that was the genesis of our search for a better solution,” Binghannam says. 

They found a better solution in the form of Algolia Search. The company adopted the platform across all its applications and channels for search and discovery, making use of the full suite of Algolia features: Rules, AI synonyms, Dynamic Re-ranking, Personalization, and, most recently, Recommend. 

Sary deployed the first phase of its Algolia implementation, keyword search, in just two months using in-house resources, and continuously built iteratively upon it, adding new features, capabilities, and use cases. Of course, Algolia’s customer support team was always there to help. 

Today, Algolia is being used for product-specific searches powered by keyword search capabilities, category searches to improve product discovery, to provide product recommendations, and, on the company’s backend, where internal teams use it to boost and promote specific products.

“We’ve had a lot of interactions with the Algolia customer support and technology support teams..Our experience has been exceptional. We have always received the answers we need, and promptly.” ─ Abdulaziz Binghannam, Head of Engineering, Sary Technologies

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Improving customer experience with Algolia

Binghannam says that in addition to enhancing crucial customer experience requirements such as improving specific keyword search results, he’s been particularly impressed by Algolia’s Arabic support — important functionality for the company as it operates out of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“There’s a more specialized problem that we were really struggling with using our pre-existing search capabilities, which was giving good results from Arabic keywords,” he says. “This was one of the biggest problems we had before, and we found that Algolia had phenomenal Arabic support.” 

“This gave us an immense uplift across the board for all our Arabic customers. We were blown away with how well Algolia solved it.” 

In addition, in just four months since the adoption of Recommend, which is also being used both on the web and mobile apps, Binghannam is seeing strong results. Since the company started displaying Algolia-power recommendations, customers are frequently buying related products when making purchases.

Increasing profitability, reducing workload

Algolia is being used by both Sary’s product team and business users such as the marketing and category management teams. The results they have seen from the Algolia implementation have been telling. 

The product team specifically has experienced a major uplift in its search KPIs, Binghannam says, including a “massive” 300 percent boost in click-through rates (CTR). “I think that’s just amazing,” Binghannam says of the improvement. 

Meanwhile, the company’s marketing and category management teams have been using Algolia’s AI capabilities to boost specific brands, partners, and categories. 

The engineering team has also been impressed by the power of Algolia. “We noticed a 500x improvement to search speed. When we switched to Algolia we were just blown away by how fast it was.” 

This speed, Binghannam says, has allowed the company to already achieve its search performance objectives for the next three years.

Better understanding the customer

Adopting Algolia, specifically its A/B Testing capabilities, has resulted in a powerful change at Sary, according to Binghannam. And one that speaks directly to the engineering team’s mission to overcome customer pain points. 

“I believe we’ve had a more fundamental, maybe cultural change at the organization since we implemented Algolia,” he says. “We found ourselves able to change, control and experiment with search and discovery in an effortless and immediate manner.” 

“This gave us a huge push when it comes to opening new venues — the ability to actually understand customer behavior and customize the experience for them.”

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