TL; DR: InstantSearch+ is an advanced, no-code site-searching and merchandising tool by Fast Simon, a renowned provider of shopping optimization solutions for merchants. The cloud-hosted technology, compatible with all major ecommerce platforms, makes intelligent recommendations by analyzing the search behavior of users over time. Ultimately, InstantSearch+ by Fast Simon is lowering financial and technical barriers so that every ecommerce retailer can offer an Amazon-like search experience.
The global ecommerce industry is delivering not just packages in recent years, but significant results in terms of market valuation.
According to a report by Active Consulting, growth in the space more than doubled in 2020, with analysts projecting the market to reach $6.5 trillion by 2024.
While ecommerce has certainly hit its stride, considerable market share among the biggest companies is of increasing concern. Just six players control 58% of the market: Taoboa.com (15%), TMall.com (14%), Amazon (13%), JD.com (9%), Pinduoduo (4%), and eBay (3%).
Competition with these giants is tough — but not insurmountable. And that’s because platforms such as InstantSearch+ by Fast Simon are enabling growth via cutting-edge technology designed to help merchants get a leg up over ecommerce behemoths.
“The number one benefit of InstantSearch+ is our unique ability to offer increased engagement and conversion rates,” said Zohar Gilad, Co-Founder and CEO of InstantSearch+ by Fast Simon. “Our platform both delights shoppers and delivers a personalized (and fast) experience, whether they are exploring, searching, or buying, by executing the merchant’s strategic merchandising tactics. It manifests itself as better engagement and increased conversion, both of which are measurable.”
More than 20,000 merchants worldwide trust InstantSearch+’s cloud-hosted platform to enable no-code site-searching and merchandising at an affordable price. The robust platform is self-service with no integration or maintenance requirements and is compatible with all major ecommerce platforms.
By removing multiple barriers to adoption, InstantSearch+ is empowering merchants to find success in an increasingly competitive market.
A Forward-Thinking Founding Approach
Zohar and Co-Founder Adar Greenshpon established Fast Simon and launched InstantSearch+ in 2013. The company’s newest innovation at the time was a proven search autocomplete ecommerce solution.
“After exploring potential markets for the technology, we identified ecommerce as an opportunity,” Zohar said. “At that time, very few eCommerce stores had an autocomplete option, and merchants agreed that our technology offered a differentiator that resulted in delighted shoppers and increased conversions.”
It was clear that the co-founders had identified the correct market. The retail ecosystem was much different at the time. Ecommerce platforms tended to be hosted on-premises rather than in the cloud, and custom systems were common.
“The market was highly fragmented,” Zohar said. “The cost of deploying an online store was high, and time-to-market was long. Because of this, we placed our bets on a contrarian view by using a cloud-based service, focusing the product around standard ecommerce platforms.”
These included Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and Microsoft Dynamics.
“InstantSearch was designed from the ground up on serverless platforms for self-service to accommodate a massive number of merchants,” Zohar said.
Over the years, the product transformed into a feature-rich ecommerce conversion platform designed to help fast-growing merchants enable detailed searches and drive revenue.
AI-Powered Technology and Strategic Partnerships
The InstantSearch+ team has seen a considerable market evolution over its eight years in business in addition to the transition from on-premises hosting to cloud-hosted solutions.
“We’ve seen an explosion of small merchants and brands moving online, versus just a small number of larger players,” he said. “There are also opportunities for artificial intelligence (AI) in ecommerce and the convergence of shopping optimization vehicles within AI. There’s no big secret: we stay close to our merchant customers and always make sure we are ahead of the curve.”
Zohar also said ecommerce companies are moving away from a customized, fragmented approach to standard do-it-yourself platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce.
In March, Fast Simon announced an expanded partnership with BigCommerce. InstantSearch+ is now a Preferred Technology Partner, providing BigCommerce customers with InstantSearch+’s AI-powered search, merchandising, and personalization. These perks are fueled by data on shopper behavior, store
inventory, and visual signals.
“The fiercely competitive nature of the retail industry combined with today’s COVID-induced challenges requires merchants to delight shoppers while maximizing value to merchants,” Zohar said in a press release. “We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with BigCommerce and provide its thousands of merchants with a platform to optimize the entire shopping experience and accelerate their growth.”
In addition to BigCommerce, InstantSearch+ partners with top eCommerce agencies, platforms, and technologies to best serve users through search, no matter what device they use. Other partners include Shopify, Magento, and Wix.
A Customer-Informed Future
InstantSearch+ now includes everything from search solutions for several different platforms to features like personalization, recommendation engines, AB testing, and analytics, among others.
“We have created a platform that is self-service that not only replaces many point solutions but also delivers better results as we add more signals to feed our AI engines,” Zohar said. “Unlike companies with cobbled-together technology, our technology has been organically developed on a single, cutting-edge stack on Google Cloud.
Zohar told us his personal favorite aspect of the company is its commitment to the success of merchants. “As one customer emailed me and wrote, ‘Not only did you lend me your ear, but you also followed through!’” he said.
As for what’s on the horizon, the Fast Simon team is always hard at work updating products and adding new features. “We always have a road map that is divided into themes, and then into different buckets, with a continuous development process that breaks this road map into six- to eight-week blocks,” Zohar said.
The input of customers is of the utmost importance to the company.
“Customer requests and issues can reveal new trends and needs that might drive a new theme on the road map,” Zohar said. “A concentration of requests can impact our priorities. To determine our direction, we solicit customer feedback, which is critical for validation of our hypotheses.”
The company also plans to look ahead to the future of AI in online retail. According to a recent article published on the Fast Simon blog, AI and related technology are poised to radically transform the retail landscape. As the technology evolves, retailers can expect trends toward moments-based marketing, improved customer relationships, personalized digital shelves, and more competitive pricing.
3D printing will also make an impact on the industry. According to Fast Simon, vendors will be able to personalize designs and send them to local 3D printing facilities close to the customer. Of course, the company plans to get in on these trends early to offer customers the most innovative technology possible.
“There is a whole new area that we are very excited about that is in development — however, we cannot talk about it yet,” Zohar said. “But here’s a hint: It has to do with AI.”