A Chat with Nextopia’s CEO & Founder, Sanjay Arora

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In the web solutions business, vendor partnerships are inevitable.  Good ones are essential.  And when you find good ones that provide great products or services, coupled with great support and a competitive price, you stick with them.  But there’s always one more element that I consider as well – “fit”.  By this, I mean, do they fit with your company’s personality or culture?  It’s important because you will be teaming with them on behalf of your customers.

I can wholeheartedly say that one of my favorite partnerships is with Nextopia.  From day one, they have been friendly, helpful, customer-focused and seemingly always available.  We see them regularly at trade shows and truly feel like they are an extension of the Beacon Team.  Oh – and of course, they are keenly focused on delivering a best-in-class site search product.Sanjay Arora

Recently, I chatted with Sanjay Arora from Nextopia, somewhat “interview-style”, and here’s a recap.

MDTell me a little about Nextopia, the company.

SA:  Nextopia was founded in 1999 in Toronto, Canada. Our core focus was, and always has been, search.  Whether you’re a small entrepreneur selling out of your basement or a multinational conglomerate, you need an intelligent search engine.  Since 1999, the company has continued to adapt to the ever-changing needs of both the e-tailer and the online shopper.  Our commitment to our goal shows in our customers, our work and our great employees.

 MD:  What are the main reasons that your customers use or like your product so much?

SA:  There are MANY reasons to use Nextopia, but if we had to pick, we’d have to divide this list into two:

  1. Developers love us because of the ease of implementation. Due to the fact that there are so many different platforms and so many different developer styles, a solution needs to be very flexible and very easy to customize.  Our product integrates very easy with all platforms so all developers are able to work with it.
  2. Website owners love us because of our results!  Nextopia makes it easy for their customers to find and buy their products.  Best of all, our tool is very affordable for any size of business.  We have over 1,500 customers who understand how an intelligent search leads to a positive ROI.

MD:  What do you see as the most important feature(s) of a site search product? 

SA:  Relevant results!  You can add many bells and whistles to a search results page, in terms of filters, sort options, quick views, compare features, etc, but if you’re not delivering relevant results, you’re not best serving the customer.  The key is to understand shoppers and their shopping habits.  In the Nextopia Control Panel, the merchant can customize results to meet the specific needs of their shoppers and target certain demographics.  Knowing your customers and catering to their needs increases repeat business, which accounts for 42% of all online business.

MD:  Anything you want to share about the Beacon-Nextopia partnership?Nextopia Logo

SA:  Nextopia and Beacon have been working together on various site search and navigation projects over the last 2 years.  It’s a natural fit because of Beacon’s expertise in the eCommerce world, and Nextopia’s expertise in the site search industry. When a Beacon customer is looking for an upgraded search solution, they are able to integrate Nextopia quickly and easily.  Plus we really like the people at Beacon, they’re very creative and a fun group to work with and we think our clients will enjoy working with them as well.

MD:  What’s on the horizon for site search?

SA:  Search will always evolve because consumers are always evolving.  They’re getting smarter, more efficient, and less patient.  If they can’t instantly find what they’re looking for, they’re simply going to move on…and we don’t blame them.  So speed and relevancy is always on the forefront.

There will also be a push for better data. We want to work closely with our customers, developers, and the industry as a whole, and teach them how to correctly collect data so it can be optimized in a way that makes it so easy for any consumer to find and purchase any product.  The websites with good attribute data, which allow customers to refine their search to the precise item(s) they’re looking for, will win out over sites with poor data every time.

Nextopia’s biggest initiatives over the next year will be focusing on conversion optimization.  For an internet retailer there is no bigger statistic than visitor to buyer ratio, so we’re designing even more tools to make the merchandiser’s job easier and more profitable.  Bottom line is that an intelligent search engine can alter a website into a tool that provides highly measurable returns.

MD:  I like where site search is going – conversion optimization, analytics and insights – which are also at the heart of Beacon’s digital marketing services.  So I’m sure there will be much more for us to talk about going forward.  Keep up the good work and see you at IRCE!

About the Author:

Mark Dirks
Before becoming Beacon's CEO, Mark climbed through the technical ranks, starting as an application developer for RJ Reynolds. He then spent 15 years at AT&T, where he led the creation of one of the world’s first corporate intranets. Co-founding Beacon in 1998, he has driven consistent growth, long-term partnerships and a unique culture for 20 years. Mark was instrumental in forming relationships with Google, Accenture, KPMG Consulting, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Department of Education (when Beacon developed FAFSA on the Web). These relationships during the company's early years, coupled with Mark’s leadership and business development skills, foreshadowed the growth of Beacon's Higher Education portfolio over the last 10 years. Mark holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Wake Forest University and an M.S. in Computer Systems from Kansas State University. He serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Technology Association, was named Small Business Person of the Year by the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and received the Entrepreneurial Success Award by the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.