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SearchTools Blog

Product Report: EasyAsk

This is an off-site copy of the corresponding Product report page on the website, and it is designed to allow you to comment on the product and/or the reporting. For more information about the topic of search and tools visit where you can browse many articles, in-depth analysis and overviews of external resources.


Product Information

Platform: Windows NT and Unix
Price: licenses from $100,000 to $500,000, or percentage of improved sales


  • Search Advisor (January, 2002)
    • Provides a guided search
    • Integrates categories and browsing with search
    • Shows alternative products
    • Custom "shopping window" allows customers to specify size, price and other criteria.
  • Supports both natural-language and keyword searches
  • Metasearch feature sends queries to multiple search engines using SQL or text search syntax
  • Can send queries to both internal and public search engines
  • Can index text files and database contents
  • Mainly designed for relational databases.

Articles & Reviews

  • At Talbot's, a search for increased web sales pays off Internet Retailer, August 13, 2002
    Report on a presentation by the e-commerce merchandise manager for Talbot's clothing store online. She gave examples of problems searches, such a as looking for "clutch" meaning a purse, but getting irrelevant results. At Talbot's, installing EasyAsk took less than a month and recognizes the context of search queries. With the new search engine and a search field on the front page, the number of product searches has increased 267%, while average orders have grown 18% and conversion rates have improved by 34%.

  • E-retailers seek improved search engines ComputerWorld August 12, 2002 by Carol Sliwa
    Report from eTail 2002 conference about online commerce sites responding to user demand by improving their search engines. Describes how Talbot's implementation of EasyAsk increased the average order size when using search by 18%, and the number of shoppers who search and then purchase by 34%. Nieman Marcus chose iPhrase and Spiegel chose Endeca after extensive comparisons.

    Coach's Success Means New Pricing For Vendor InformationWeek, June 14 2002 by Tony Kontzer
    Reports on substantial improvements on e-commerce sites for EasyAsk: Coach leather goods site saw a tripling of sales in three months, while saw online sales rise 10% after deployment. Article describes analyst reaction to the previous Coach search engine as a "horror show", and the Lands' End search engine was also old, inflexible and unresponsive to many queries. EasyAsk is now offering to charge a percentage of improved sales for the first year, instead of the license fee.

  • When Searching Is No Longer Enough. Internet Retailer; April 2002 by Kurt Peters
    Discusses online store search engines: Mercado, EasyAsk, Endeca, and Netrics, referring to the 2001 Forrester report. Describes customer needs for technology that allows both searching and browsing by category or product attribute. Includes evidence of the good results at Tower Records with Endeca, but finds few examples of faceted metadata usage. Includes additional references to studies of e-commerce search engine demands and limits, suggesting significant changes from the traditional "relevance ranking" approach. Changes include recognizing the problems of a long search result, redirecting searches for brands or products not carried to similar available products, sorting and drilling down on product attributes, spelling correction and synonyms.

  • Catching up with EasyAsk Network World: March 11, 2002 by John Dix
    Explains how easy ask uses internal structure, nomenclature, synonyms and spelling corrections to improve queries to databases. The company reports that customers are seeing improved search results and increased sales.

  • A Wave Of Innovations Heats Up Site Search (customer access required) Forrester TechStrategy Brief, March 1, 2002 by Harley Manning with Christopher Mines
    Describes several new features of site search including better relevance as pioneered by the public Google search engine and the Google Search Appliance (does not cover whether it works in controlled link environments), improved forgiveness to handle misspellings and mismatched vocabularies as implemented by Netrics, automated intelligence - classification and categorization engines such as Autonomy and the new ClearForest, and creative pricing, mentioning EasyAsk, which in one installation, received a percentage of increased revenue. Describes the market difficulties including the high number of vendors and shrinking corporate site budgets.

  • Finding the right piece of information, Structure and meaning improve search results KMworld Magazine, September 2001 by Judith Lamont
    Describes several intranet and commerce search solutions which attempt to use structure and language to improve search results. Certified General Accountants of Ontario, a professional association for accountants, used Hummingbird's KnowledgeServer to find content, reducing call center inquiries. Coldwater Creek used EasyAsk for its online store, to improve responsiveness to customers. Applied Semantics categorizer and summarizer can augment search engine results.

  • EasyAsk Delivers Precise Answers to Business Questions Throughout the Enterprise DM Review, July 2001 by Fred Ferguson
    Case study of an intranet at Curriculum Associates, an educational publishing company. The inventory and order databases were made accessible via the EasyAsk front end, so employees could ask relatively simple questions and get useful reports. It was a big improvement over the previous SQL interface.

  • Search Engines Improving? Ask EasyAsk, March 28, 2001 by Gavin McCormick 
    Starting from a skeptical view of natural language search, the author praises the EasyAsk approach which allows richer searching, such as limiting results by price. It also and locates items even when there is no exact word match, and learns from failed searches.

  • Revving Up the Search Engines to Keep the E-Aisles Clear New York Times, February 28, 2001 by Lisa Guernsey (registration may be required to read this article)
    Discusses the difficulty of locating items in online stores, referring to the Forrester report of last spring. Describes the use of thesaurus tools for synonym searching and taking advantage of database structure in online stores. Quotes the vendors Mercado, which provides search for WebVan and Tower Records, and EasyAsk, as well as the chief scientist at Verity.

  • If You "EasyAsk" You Shall Receive, February 26,2001 by Julie Lavalee
    Describes the product and it's use at, an online store with over 3,000 items. Particular praise for EasyAsk's tools to handle synonyms and its tracking and reporting features.
  • Helping Web customers help themselves Network World January 15, 2001 by John Dix 
    Describes the problems searching on sites such as Amazon, and proposes natural language searching as a solution, using EasyAsk. Using the tool to pre-build categories and synonyms should also improve results.



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