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Release 2022.R1 – CIMcloud Search Service Catalog – Performance and Relevancy

Overview

Our most significant update in this release (internally known as version 4.0) focuses on increased performance and result relevancy for catalog searches.  We achieved this by creating a new search engine, as well as adding further cache optimization techniques for product and pricing data.

We discussed this update in more detail within our latest webinar, which you can find below:

[Link to Webinar]

Preface

The performance upgrade feature is turned off by default if your site is updated to version 2022.R1 or beyond.  Before you turn this feature on, you should be aware of the algorithmic changes made to the search logic and the capabilities you have to change those settings.

We will also discuss our cache improvements to speed up search results, what data is cached with this update, and how you can refresh cached data if data changes do not show up as quickly as you expect.

First we’ll discuss known tradeoffs when this option is turned on for faster and more relevant search results.

User Experience Improvements

What are the improvements?

  • Faster delivery of product data
  • More relevant search results

What is the expected improvement on catalog search with this turned on?

  • Through our internal testing, we have found a 25% – 45% decrease in load time for catalog pages
    • Please note: Each site carries their own specific configuration and customizations that could sway you from achieving similar levels of performance gain.
      • For example, customer-specific pricing, classic live SOLR configurations, or third party search services may not see a similar performance gain.

What does more relevant results mean?

  • Customers will be able to find the products they are searching for more accurately.  You may find that the number of results returned with this option turned on is less than the option turned off; however, the results returned will be more relevant to the keywords entered for their search.

Algorithm Changes

What has changed?

  • Replaced internal search logic
  • Focus on high-relevancy items through user keywords, and an omission of low-relevancy items
  • Sequence of items in results could be different

What are the default settings?

  • Fields searched:
    • sku
    • nm
    • ds
    • search_terms
    • searchfield1
    • searchfield2
    • searchfield3
    • searchfield4
    • searchfield5
    • Parent/Child Data
      • child_skus
      • child_nms
      • child_rollup_search_terms
    • Alias Data
      • sku_alias
      • nm_alias
      • ds_alias

Caching

Caching pre-processes data temporarily to make it faster to retrieve data by the user; however, there is an increase in time to reflect data changes in the database (e.g. changing a product name or price in your ERP will take longer to display to the end-user).

What is cached for SOLR indexing?

  • Product Data, including:
    • Inventory Data
    • Product Account History Data
    • Faceted Search Data
  • Pricing Data (customer-specific pricing)

How often is the above data cached?

  • Internal search engine crawls and caches every 60 minutes
  • Up to a 60 minute delay for catalog data changes to appear in searches

How can I refresh the cache if data is not updating quickly enough?

  • currently we do not have an option in the worker portal to refresh the cached data in this update, but this will be available in a future update
  • If you would like to modify the cache refresh rate, please submit a ticket to Extranet

Tradeoffs

As we work to make improvements to our Search API, there are known tradeoffs with this option turned on that are listed below:

  • Delay in data updates
    • Data changes will take longer to show up on your site’s search results and product detail pages
    • Cache optimizations allow for faster delivery of product data to customers browsing your site.  With caching turned off, performance would trend downwards based off the high-volume of data used to run search queries.
    • We discuss this further in the “Caching” section below
  • If you have customizations on the search results or product detail pages, there may be associated work to include them when this option is turned on
    • For example:
      • Any fields displayed, or used, that are not listed in the below default settings section will require custom development to include
      • Modifying the algorithm for searching requires an estimate from our professional services team

How to Turn this Feature On

CIMCloud is enabling this feature on a case by case basis currently, as it is in a BETA state.  Once it is released to all customers, it will be included in the Base implementation as a new feature under Application Settings -> Product Catalog.

How to modify your results

There are two sections to be aware of when you turn the search service on:

  1. Which fields can be searched and the priority you give to those fields (i.e. Boost scores)
  2. How people can sort by the results via Search Service feature
    1. This is currently set by CIMcloud employees due to the formatting of the feature.  In the future, this will be opened up to customers

Boost Scores

Boost scores, and the fields that can be searchable, are set in the Faceted Search -> Search Field Boosts page (mgr_search_field_boosts_man.asp) – [Reference A] below.

On this page you can declare the searchable fields and the priority/relevancy you give to those fields (i.e. Boost scores).  The header of the page includes descriptions of the inputs, which includes information like:

  • Checking a field allows the field to be searchable
  • Boost multiplier sets the relevancy of that field

How Can I Test This Update?

There are a few methods to test this update on your site before rolling it out to all of your live customers:

  • In a Sandbox
    • This will not have the same performance gain as on your production site, but you can check for any errors or gaps in functionality before updating your staging/production site’s version
  • For B2B Customers
  • For Retail Customers
    • Attaching the feature to a Customer Site
    • Note: You may need to contact us if you are using your free customer site already.  We can add a temporary Customer Site to test this update at no cost; however, there will be an expiration on this additional site

References

[Reference A]

Product Releases Release 2022.R1 – CIMcloud Search Service Catalog – Performance and Relevancy Screen Shot At Pm

 

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