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Powell's Books Inc.

Providing Book Lovers A Cohesive, Relevant & Meaningful Search Experience

From its modest beginnings in 1971, Powell’s Books has grown into one of the industry’s best known retailers, now with over 500 employees. Located in Portland, Oregon, Powell’s has 5 locations throughout the metropolitan area. Ecommerce has played a significant role in the company’s success, as today Powell’s customers from across the globe buy their favorite titles online. After nearly 50 years in business, the organization has become an institution in the book retailing marketplace.




  • Relevant Recommendations
  • Smart Autocomplete
  • SEO Influencer
  • Dynamic Marketing
  • Relevancy Tuning
  • Smart Insights


Powell’s ecommerce business has grown substantially during the past number of years. With over 8 million individual SKUs on its website, the company was experiencing difficult challenges with their former on-site search solution.

  • Due to Powell’s enormous inventory and pricing database needing to be regularly updated and re-indexed, their legacy search tool would take more than an entire 24-hour period to refresh the site’s information. This delay caused a significant interruption to customers and employees being able to utilize the latest material the website had to offer.
  • The former on-site search tool was not delivering the level of personalization and search relevance that readers were expecting. Search results were often too broad, lack specificity and subsets wouldn’t always be accurate as it related to customers’ inquiry criteria.
  • Powell’s also lacked an integrated and cohesive way to accomplish their marketing goals, by not being able to actively influence their customers’ search results and also engage in suggestive selling techniques based on readers’ preferences.



Following a comprehensive review of the available on-site search tools in the marketplace, Powell’s Books chose Hawksearch for its extremely fast auto indexing, very relevant search results, multi-faceted navigation and a robust workbench that helps them accomplish their marketing goals.


After implementing Hawksearch on their website, Powell’s immediately saw some very significant improvements.

  • The time needed to fully update and re-index over 8 million active SKUs was reduced by 88%. The Hawksearch automated indexing schedule ensures that Powell’s inventory offerings are kept fresh and current for site visitors and employees.
  • Search personalization and relevance is greatly improved, as books for sale are now presented in an easy to use, organized fashion. Readers receive assistance through the search bar by the Smart Autocomplete feature, which finishes search inquires by predicting what the customer is looking for and displaying the most relevant results.
  • Readers can effortlessly search for titles by a variety of facets such as category, product type, format, price or store location. The Hawksearch Visitor Targeting feature not only gives in store shoppers specific inventory information at the store level via kiosk stations, but even provides direction on where the book is located.
  • Through the Hawksearch marketing dashboard, Powell’s can directly influence customers’ search results with such tools as Boost & Bury, Pinning, Banners and SEO Influencer. The Powell’s marketing team can feature books based on theme, time of year, bestseller and much more. The optional Relevant Recommendations tool, powered by machine learning engages customers with a subtle, but effective suggestive selling approach that steers readers to alternative products that appeal to them.
increase in time after search on website
faster indexing speed environments than Powell's old system
decrease in search exits

"Hawksearch allows us to customize our on-site search experience. Now search relevance is only ever a few clicks away!"


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