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YourSurprise gains efficiency improvements and search functionality with Algolia

How easy Algolia is to use, and how fast it implements on the website, that’s really exceeding our expectations.

Mariolein Muys

Algolia Expert @ YourSurprise


When international provider of unique personalized gifts YourSurprise found the search experience on its custom-built web store was not bringing the happy experience it wanted customers to have, it turned to Algolia. Find out how Algolia has helped the company with rich search features to improve customer experience, all while reducing the load on its internal development team.

Your Surprise
Use case

B2C Ecommerce


Zierikzee, Netherlands

Customer since

since 2021

Key number plays

9% increase in conversion 28 countries

Key results
  • Improved customer experience 

  • Faster and more relevant search results

  • Reduced dependencies on web team

  • Faster issue resolution

The challenge

  • 1.

    Complex outdated search engine integration.

  • 2.

    Inefficient developer time spent around search-related issues.

  • 3.

    Unique B2C and B2B environment.

The solution

  • 1.

    Algolia Search and a full range of features for site, FAQ and emails.

  • 2.

    Fast and smooth implementation (<1 month).

  • 3.

    A/B Testing across its 28 countries.

  • 4.

    Easy search optimization via Rules and Visual Editor.

The result

  • 1.

    Reduced workload requirement from 10 to 2 people.

  • 2.

    Improved customer experience.

  • 3.

    Better understanding of customer behavior.

  • 4.

    Increased conversions by 9%

When friends Gerbrand Verton and Wouter de Vries decided to pursue their dream of building a company together in 2005, the results were, pun intended, surprisingly successful. The childhood friends would become the founders of YourSurprise, a leading provider of personalized gifts for both consumer and B2B markets.

The vision of its co-founders, and that of fellow owner and CTO Arne Timmerman, is to distribute “a little happiness” through their products, which are made uniquely personal through the use of photos and text and, when needed, logos. Today, YourSurprise boasts a wide array of one-of-a-kind gifts, distributed rapidly across 28 countries, and it employs approximately 300 employees in its Zierikzee, Netherlands headquarters.

In addition to its strong focus on customer service, the leaders take pride in surrounding themselves with a team of people who constantly challenge each other to do better.

“Our culture is to work hard and play hard. We like to work together as a team, not only within teams but also within the whole company to get things done and always strive for better results. But we are also very good at celebrating our wins and having fun together,” says Mariolein Muys, Algolia Expert at YourSurprise.

As an e-commerce business, a major part of that constant mission to achieve better results naturally comes in the form of optimizing the website — daily — to ensure search terms are correct and provide relevant product search results to YourSurprise customers.

The challenge

Fixing a 'hack' customer experience

After a colleague complained that the YourSurprise website required a “terrible hack” in the backend just to get to the product results customers were looking for, the YourSurprise IT team began investigating multiple search solutions, says Gert de Pagter, Software Engineer at the company.

The company was using an outdated custom Elasticsearch integration for search. On top of that, it had only one technical expert who fully understood how to manage and maintain the over-complicated solution. Although many employees knew parts of the system, only one member of the marketing team fully understood the management of the system and could help with an ever-growing number of requests. The result was she had an enormous workload and some issues had to be put on the backburner.

Another recommendation brought them to Algolia. “We were just very enthusiastic when we saw all the features Algolia adds, and everything it was able to do,” he says. Within two months, the company decided and signed on with Algolia.

The solution

Within another month, the website went live with its new Algolia-powered search engine, after moving to a React interface, rewriting back- and front-end search, as well as testing and sending data to Algolia. New Algolia features were quickly adopted. One month after going live, YourSurprise implemented A/B Testing for its category pages, and it adopted federated search and recommendations capabilities soon after.

YourSurprise image 1

“Development speed with Algolia has been insanely good, better than anything we’ve ever seen before,” de Pagter says. It’s a sentiment echoed by Muys: “How easy Algolia is to use, and how fast it implements on the website, that’s really exceeding our expectations.”

Fixes that once took a day, and were often placed on the back burner, are now solved quickly thanks to the ease of navigating and using Algolia, de Pagter notes.

YourSurprise image 2

The result

Helping fuel happy growth

Today, YourSurprise uses a wide range of Algolia features, including Recommend, Dynamic Re-Ranking, Visual Editor, Query Suggestions, A/B Testing, and Facets & Filters. The company is currently investigating Personalization.

Equally wide is the range of places it has deployed Algolia. YourSurprise is using Algolia for its main search bar and on individual gift pages for search as well as for recommendations, to provide a federated global search experience on FAQ and category pages. The company’s FAQ page is completely powered by Algolia, and it is using the platform in emails as well.

Algolia is helping provide YourSurprise with powerful customer insights.

“We A/B test almost everything in our top countries with Algolia,” Muys says. 

“We’ve tested Dynamic Re-ranking on and off, but also the number of gifts we should re-rank. We tested the sorting strategies based on sales amounts or based on margin, for example. But also, we are investigating sorting on the type of products or other more granular variants as well.”

By testing and Dynamic Re-ranking, Muys intends to determine the best product sorting strategy for each shopping peak period, but also between peaks.

The move to Algolia helped achieve the major efficiency improvements the company needed from its search solution. In the past, a team of 10 was needed to manage the web pages before, on a country-by-country basis, repeating a lot of the same work daily. 

Algolia has helped the company switch to a role-based focus, rather than a country-based one. Two employees can manage — and optimize — the websites across 28 countries and do more than they ever could in the past.

 Importantly, the company has seen success by improving the customer search experience. Since implementing Algolia it has seen a 9% improvement in conversions. Such efficiency and success are helping the company reach its dual goals of growth and happiness.

“Success for YourSurprise is growing and happiness. Growing is in our DNA and has been for years. That hasn’t changed, but the way we grow has,” Mariolein Muys says. “We want to grow healthy and preserve our company culture, so if customers are coming back and our colleagues are happy then YourSurprise is winning.”

Oh Polly image 1

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