Aug 20, 2014

5 Reasons to Stick with Comparison Shopping Engines

Recently, a lot of online merchants with tight marketing budgets have been abandoning comparison shopping engines (CSEs) and instead diverting their marketing budgets to the ‘big three’ (Google, Amazon and eBay).

At the same time, savvy retailers are capitalizing on this opportunity and seeing some stellar results — proving that there's still life in traditional CSEs yet. Need more convincing? Below are five of the top reasons it’s worth staying with CSEs.

1. You Don’t Want All Your Eggs in One Basket

Though it’s true that most online sales are made through one of the big three channels, many consumers are CSE loyalists. These are niche groups of savvy shoppers searching for online deals. They know what they want, and they're ready to buy. While they might be smaller in number, the conversion rate for this group is significantly better.

2. Never Underestimate the Power of the Assist

It can be tempting to focus purely on direct sales, but my advice is to consider CSEs as more than just a direct sales channel. Instead, think of them as sales channels and effective tools for increasing brand awareness.

This is a crucial point. At ChannelAdvisor, we’ve seen many examples of clients terminating a CSE because of what they felt to be a lack of sales performance. However, in nearly all of these cases, a a negative effect was then felt on other channels that were considered to be running well which, somewhat ironically, harmed performance rather than improved it.

Think of it like this: Though you may have the greatest goal scorer in the world, if you don't have someone to feed him the ball, his performance is going to suffer. Just as you wouldn't get rid of your players who help your star performer, you shouldn't get rid of CSEs.

Why? CSEs play a major role in indirect sales and have strong value at the top of the sales funnel. My advice: Always consider the value of running a CSE holistically and not just for the direct sales achieved.

3. CSEs Now Offer More Than Comparison Listing

CSEs understand that e-commerce is evolving and that they must evolve with it.

While some might argue that CSEs have been slow to adapt, most now offer initiatives to expand the reach of your products beyond a simple comparison listing. For example, many offer a publishing network, generating information-based content such as newsletters to drive interest in your products.

Contact each engine directly to find out what value they can offer you for listing your products on their platform — it's likely to be more than just a listing itself.

4. People Are Still Searching for Bargains

As on the high street, e-commerce channels see the most activity during Christmas and New Year, and CSEs are no exception.

Even if CSEs aren’t a typical focus for your business, the 'holiday period' provides a huge opportunity to boost your overall sales. If nothing else, we’d recommend incorporating CSEs into your marketing plan for summer sales, Christmas and New Year.

5. Google and Amazon Are Investing in CSEs

With both Google and Amazon placing a huge focus on expanding their reach by integrating the traditional comparison shopping into thier network, it's clear that comparison shopping channels still have a lot left to give. Amazon and Google’s interest in the channel encourages the more traditional platforms, such as PriceGrabber, Nextag and eBay Commerce Network, to innovate, adapt and meet the renewed interest of the channel.

So, should you abandon comparison shopping? No.

The industry is changing and the channel will adapt to the changes with more focus on consumer needs.

 

Blog post by Hafis Raji, campaign manager, ChannelAdvisor


Uk-wp-13-Mistakes-that-are-Costing-you-on-CSEs-img

 

 

Want to learn more about Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs)? Check out our free white paper, The 13 Mistakes That Are Costing You On CSEs.

Aug 03, 2014

Set Your Sights on Success: ChannelAdvisor Insite Auckland 2014 Conference

Educational opportunities and actionable takeaways abound at ChannelAdvisor Insite Auckland 2014: our annual half-day conference. Attend expert presentations on the state of local and global e-commerce, followed by a networking lunch and after-hours reception, where you can mingle with colleagues in the industry and speak with visionaries from companies such as Google, Trade Me and SLI Systems.

In the span of a few short hours, you’ll hear about current and upcoming industry trends and learn practical tips for refining your multichannel strategy and growing your business.

Insite Auckland 2014 logo

The Agenda

This year, speakers include Georgina McGowan, head of supply at Trade Me, and Mark Gray, APAC managing director at ChannelAdvisor. They’ll offer insights into the New Zealand e-commerce market, buyer trends and the growing importance of marketplaces.

Retailers can also look forward to a presentation from Amanda Jordan, national sales manager, retail and government at Google. She’ll discuss how retailers can take better advantage of Google’s new enhancements to ensure more robust campaigns and ads, and how Google New Zealand is helping retailers and manufacturers promote their products and services.

The event will also include a panel discussion on how to leverage comparison shopping engines (CSEs) and data feeds to drive traffic to your website. The panel will include leaders from top CSEs, including:

  • Tom Collins, sales manager, eBay Commerce Network
  • Chris Palmer, marketing director, PriceMe
  • Neil Thomas, general manager, Shopbot

Simon Kelly, sales executive at ChannelAdvisor, will speak on the latest developments in New Zealand’s digital marketing space, the significance of mobile and social channels and the necessity of an optimised data feed.

You’ll also get the chance to learn more about how ChannelAdvisor can help manage information and inventory data across multiple channels — enabling you to sell more efficiently online.

Exchange ideas. Chat with the experts. Get inspired. And walk out ready to attack your next big challenge.

The Details

ChannelAdvisor Insite Auckland will be held at The Langham, 83 Symonds Street, Grafton, Auckland, on Wednesday, August 13, 2014, from noon to 6 p.m.  AEST. Register today!

ChannelAdvisor thanks our event sponsors, SLI Systems and PriceMe, for helping us take Insite to New Zealand for the first time. 

 

Blog post by Shani Flynn, marketing copywriter, ChannelAdvisor


Insite promo video

Want a preview of the day? Check out the Insite Melbourne 2014 video.

Jun 09, 2014

Expanding on Marketplaces Beyond Amazon and eBay — Sears

When you think of Sears, what product categories come to mind? It may not be surprising that on the Sears Marketplace, Apparel is up 36% and Auto is up 35%. But consider how unique it is for any marketplace to have cultivated a buyer audience in both these categories. For apparel sellers who want a boost in sales, look no further than Sears, whose long established brand has attracted loyal buyers for many years. And the same goes for auto retailers.

The data we’re about to unveil about Sears.com may throw you for a loop, so fasten up. Sears.com is the third-largest online mass-merchant in the US. Some more stats:

  • The number of sellers exceeds 10,000.

  • Sears.com receives 2.4 billion page views per year.

  • The marketplace has 110 million items listed across various categories.

The chart below is fresh off the press as of April 30, 2014 and highlights the main categories of Sears.com and their year-over-year growth so far in 2014. Areas such as Apparel and Auto show well above industry growth. Tools and Fitness & Sports are also creeping up as potential selling opportunities, too.

Sears Marketplace Double Digit Growth 2014

The data in the table doesn’t lie: Sears is a growing online marketplace that’s slowly but surely expanding its product selection. As a retailer, why keep all your eggs in one basket? Expanding to newer marketplaces diversifies your channels and, depending on which ones you choose, could allow you to focus on other e-commerce priorities, such as sourcing, pricing, promotion and fulfillment.

Sears.com is a marketplace that should be on all retailers’ radars. The variety of items in its catalog is steadily increasing, and retailers can benefit from several perks associated with selling through the number eight retailer on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list. Sears is only one of nine marketplaces that we believe retailers should consider selling through in 2014.


Broadening Your Horizons

 

Want more thoughts on expansion? Take a look at our eBook Broadening Your Horizons: Expanding on Marketplaces Beyond Amazon and eBay.



May 21, 2014

New Search Marketing Webinar: Understanding Google Shopping Campaigns

Google
Be on the lookout
for our upcoming webinar with Google explaining the most recent Shopping campaigns upgrade! Read all about it here to find out what it means for retailers.

Apr 16, 2014

Check out the 2014 Spring Release

2014 Spring Release
It's Spring Release time! Learn all about the new ChannelAdvisor product features that help retailers become smarter about e-commerce at our sister blog, eBay Strategies, and sign up for the webinar taking place on May 1!

Mar 02, 2014

Countdown to Catalyst Americas: Google, eBay, Amazon and more

Catalyst 2014Catalyst Americas is right around the corner, and we've got all the big names and players in e-commerce coming.  Check out sister blogs for details about some of the upcoming Catalyst highlights: 

Catalyst Americas is almost sold out, but there’s still time to sign up.  Check out the 10 Reasons Not to Miss Catalyst, and see the full agenda and register for Catalyst Americas 2014 today.

Dec 05, 2013

New Search Marketing Blog: Google PLAs Coming Out On Top….

Don't miss the new blog over on Search Marketing about Google Product Listing Ads coming out on top in search results!  Read all about it here and find out what it means for retailers. 

 

 

 

Nov 05, 2013

The Feed Doctor Blanks Out

Breaking Blank
The Feed Doctor at Halloween, "Breaking Blank"

People are frequently asking me to explain the difference between the two functions IFBLANK and ISBLANK. It’s confusing for several reasons. Obviously, the names are nearly identical. Also, the most common use for ISBLANK is inside an IF function!

Here’s how I explain ISBLANK and IFBLANK – plus some tips on keeping them straight.

IFBLANK

Let’s start with IFBLANK. This function takes in two to eight inputs, and outputs the first one that isn’t blank. This is useful if you want to output an attribute that’s populated in most of your items but might be blank in some. Therefore, you’ll want to have one or more fallback values. The name “IFBLANK” was chosen because the rules (in English) that use it often look like this: “Output attr1; IF that’s BLANK, output attr2; IF that’s BLANK, output attr3,” etc.

A good example of an IFBLANK is on our Amazon template. There’s a field called Product ID, where you specify each item’s ID, which can be a UPC, an ISBN, an ASIN, etc. We often have sellers who have UPCs for most items and want to use that for the Product ID. For some items, though, the UPC is blank. For those items, sellers want to use the item’s ASIN for Product ID. In English, this rule would be: “Output the item’s UPC; if that’s blank, output the item’s ASIN.” In a business rule:

IFBLANK($itemupc,$itemasin)

ISBLANK

While IFBLANK directly outputs one of its inputs, ISBLANK outputs either true or false values. We call this a Boolean function. Of the various Boolean functions you can use, about half begin with “IS”: ISBLANK, ISINLIST, ISNUMERIC, ISZERO. That’s not an accident: This is what we in the software world call a naming convention. A function that begins with “IS” probably returns a true/false value. You can think of these functions as answering a true/false question: “IS this value BLANK?” “IS this value IN that LIST?”

One of the most common uses of ISBLANK that I see is in a rule to send a “Product ID Type” to Amazon. This has to be a text value, such as “UPC,” “ISBN,” “ASIN,” etc. The text value for each item’s product ID type has to match the Product ID you’re sending. As I mentioned above, some sellers use UPC, with ASIN as a fallback value if UPC is blank.

For items where the Product ID is a UPC, Product ID Type should be the actual text “UPC,” and for the other items, the text should be “ASIN.” The rule for this (in English) is: If the item’s UPC value is blank, output “ASIN.” Otherwise, output “UPC.” Or in a business rule:

IF(ISBLANK($itemupc),”ASIN”,”UPC”)

I had a colleague ask me to write that rule so many times, it was becoming the bane of my existence. So I had the rule printed on a baby sleeper and gave it to her as a baby shower gift. True story.

  The Feed Doctor draws a blank

 Which Is Which?

So you know the difference between the two functions, but how do you remember when to use each one? Our business rule validation will help you out, because ISBLANK allows only one input, while IFBLANK requires more than one.

But if you want a simple mnemonic device, here’s what I suggest. Remember that IFBLANK outputs the first non-blank input, and is used to define fallback values. So when you think “first” or “fallback,” think “F” and go with the function that has an “F” in its name: IFBLANK.

Blogpost by Anthony Alford, ChannelAdvisor Technical Lead, a.k.a. The Feed Doctor

Oct 15, 2013

5 Consumer Behaviors Changing Online Marketing

5 Consumer Behaviors Changing Online Marketing and What Retailers Can Do to React

Lets go back in time—circa 2000—and imagine you needed a new camera.  Using the internet as a research tool, your search probably started with “camera.”  From there you navigated to review sites, phoned friends and visited stores.  Once you decided on that snappy Canon advertised by a longhaired Andre Agassi, you visited a comparison shopping site to find the best price.  Sound familiar?

Today’s busy consumer, caught in a whirlwind of information, has little patience for such a convoluted purchase path. Instead, they want their search to yield exactly the information they need— validation, reviews, specs and price.  To ensure they get the results they desire, consumers have modified their behavior in five distinct ways:  using more sophisticated search queries, relying on product images, reading recommendations, researching the facts and finding the best price. Based on these behavioral changes, retailers must in turn adjust the way they think about search marketing and online advertising.

1. Consumers shift to More Sophisticated Queries

As the internet and e-commerce have evolved, consumers have been conditioned to be more specific about what they are searching for online.  This increases the chance of finding the exact product they desire.  For instance, the search “camera” yields a generic result.

Google Camera

If the search changes from “camera” to a specific model such as “canon rebel t4i,” the results are more consistent with shopping rather than browsing. 

Google canon rebel

Studies consistently show that search queries are becoming longer.  Hitwise reported that queries that were less than three words were declining and those between four to eight words were growing year-over-year from 3%-20%. What’s more, the longer the query the more likely the searcher was to convert.  

2. Consumers Embrace A Visual Culture

Whether consumers are shopping for a camera, shoes or a specific bolt, one way to verify what they are getting is through imagery.  Shoppers, bombarded with data, seek the simplicity of images as short hand.  Images validate and capture interest, hence the rise of sites like Pintrest, Instagram and others.  According to the Search Engine Journal, images ranked higher than product-specific details, descriptions, ratings or reviews in driving purchase decisions.  Yahoo’s recent billion-dollar acquisition of Tumblr reaffirms that search and content companies believe this is the way of the future.

3. Consumers Rely on the Opinion of Others

While images help validate that shoppers have found the right product, reviews and recommendations validate the quality of the product that consumers are shopping for. HubSpot found that 71% of people were more likely to make a purchase based on friends’ social media suggestions and 70% trusted consumer reviews.  Social media and reviews engender consumer trust.

4. Consumers Want the Facts

Armed with the information gleaned from social networks and reviews, consumers want specific details about products quickly. Moreover, they want data—not marketing spin. 

Customers would rather see “18-mega-pixel” than “crystal clear images.” This information ensures that the shopper is getting exactly what they want, not an imitation or variation of the product. 

5. Consumers Feel that Price Matters

Queries, images, reviews and specs, guide consumers along the purchase path.  However, price is critical to that last step—purchase.  Consumers are willing to put some effort into this step as is evident by the emergence of programs like Red Laser and the recent trend of showrooming.  Whether browsing in store or online, consumers don’t want to overspend. 

How Retailers Should Respond

 There are a number of things that retailers can do to combat this shift in consumer behavior and meet these new expectations. These days, retailers should focus on long tail keywords, product images, recommendations, relevant data and price comparison. That seems doable, but that’s not all. As consumer behavior has changed so have the search engines.  Online advertising has become more complicated, and in order to maximize online exposure, retailers must adapt to the evolving requirements of online channels. So how can a retailer ensure that they are capturing and converting traffic in such an ever-changing industry?

Retailers Should Embrace Product Data Feeds

As the queries become more specific and consumers become more visual, Google found that a page full of blue links was far from compelling.  Therefore, they introduced Google Shopping to improve the online shopping experience. Google Shopping and other advertising programs across search and shopping engines are relying more and more on product data feeds that offer retailers the ability to create long tail keywords, display images and generate more gripping ad copy to help perfectly align a product with the search query. 

An optimized data feed is the key to meeting new consumer expectations and converting a browser into a shopper. Expert feed management has typically been necessary to make shopping programs successful.  Those managing search advertising had expertise around keywords and knew little about the feed.  Now, the lines between those two functions are blurring, and the data feed includes all the information—long tail keyword, detailed product information, images and price—that is required to appeal to the curious shopper. In 2013, successful search marketers need to understand data feeds and start thinking about how these programs can work together to improve brand image and online sales.

Blog post by Sheridan Orr, Director of Product Marketing, ChannelAdvisor

Present1Interested in finding out more about what consumers trends as it relates to the holiday season?  Check out our on-demand webinar "3 Trends Retailers MUST Capitalize on This Holiday Season"

Jun 07, 2013

Is a Higher ROAS Always Better?

To some, it seems obvious to stretch your ad budget further by maximizing your Return On Ad Spend (ROAS = how many dollars in revenue you get for each dollar spent). Becoming obsessed with and achieving a 5-to-1 or even a 10-to-1 return may seem like it will make your marketing efforts shine, but at what cost? Today we’re taking a look at a common question from a slightly different view.

Which result would you rather have?

Spend            Revenue       ROAS

$1,000            $10,000          10:1

$5,000            $40,000            8:1

$10,000          $60,000            6:1

 

From the table, you’ll notice that the difference in spend becomes incremental when compared to the higher revenue that’s possible when your business advertising program is thoughtfully managed.

Lets think about the network effects (other than higher revenues) that result from more sales:

  • Better pricing from wholesale suppliers when more quantity is purchased
  • Improved rates from fulfillment partners when more shipments are made
  • Enhanced ability to optimize processes, with the greater volume of metric data is available from broadened results

Measuring tape via wwarbyObviously, some retailers have margins that wouldn’t allow them to stay in business if their marketing programs had a 6:1 ROAS across the board.

Despite this fact, I encourage you to ask the question in regard to measurement: Is ROAS the complete story? 

Which products feature higher margins? Can we take a lower ROAS on those products? 

Third-party software can enable you to maximize sales on products you can afford to. For example, with ChannelAdvisor’s Inventory Driven Search program retailers can dynamically create Paid Search content and keywords for each product—allowing them to optimize spending using business rules tied to these products and inventory quantities. For Comparison Shopping channels, business rules and automatic bid adjustments can ensure a similar strategy is in place.

Does a new customer have a high lifetime value?

If a strong relationship is established with a new consumer, you can usually count on that buyer to come back and purchase time and time again. This may justify taking a lower margin on the first purchase from new customers. Using advanced tactics, such as remarketing, can assist in securing a purchase from a shopper on the verge of converting.

Are there worthwhile conversions other than purchases?

Shoppers looking at your website may complete a valuable action other than purchase on their first visit. Visitor actions such as catalog downloads, newsletter sign-ups and promotional video views indirectly promote sales by establishing trust, developing relationships and educating potential buyers about your products and the trustworthiness of your brand, and should all be considered justification for advertising costs. These actions are important touch points for customers on the way to a purchase. ChannelAdvisor’s custom event tracking software can help you measure these non-revenue conversions and assign appropriate value to them.

Conclusion

These are just a few considerations to make when structuring your advertising budget and performance goals. Bear in mind that while maintaining a high ROAS is an important component of your strategy, it’s not the only detail that matters.

Ultimately, many retailers find that bringing in more revenue is a desirable result, even if it comes at a lower margin. The key is making sure you have enough visibility and automation that you can control your advertising program rather than letting it control you.

Blog post by David Monterroso, Senior Solutions Consultant, ChannelAdvisor.

Image Source: wwarby

May 24, 2013

The Feed Doctor Foils…Himself

Today I was helping out some of my colleagues with a very clever, but tricky, rule. We were using classification name (or “class”) to map to Amazon browse nodes. We had decided to manage the maps in several lookup lists: one for each class…almost. Each of these lists maps some keyword (which is found in the product title) to an Amazon browse node. Here’s a first pass at the rule:

LOOKUP($itemclassificationname,$itemtitle,”partial”)

There’s just one problem: we don’t have lists for some of the classes, so this lookup will give us an error for those classes, since we’re trying to do a lookup in a list that doesn’t exist. No problem: we can make a “master list” of classes that have a list, then check the master list, and if the class was in that list, then we do the lookup. Otherwise, we’ll output a default value. Here’s the updated rule:

IF(ISINLIST(“Master List”,$itemclassificationname), LOOKUP($itemclassificationname,$itemtitle,”partial”), “Default”)

Let’s say we have three classes: Shirts, Shoes, and Shorts. We have lookup lists named “Shirts” and “Shoes” (otherwise, we’d get no service, right?), but not one named Shorts. The master list then contains two entries: Shirts and Shoes. When this rule runs for products in the Shirts and Shorts classes, the ISINLIST returns true, and we do the lookup. We’d expect for products in the Shorts class that the ISINLIST returns false, and we get the Default value.

There’s just one problem: when I ran this rule for products in class “Shorts,” I got an error: “No list named ‘Shorts.’”

What happened? The ISINLIST was false, so we should have gotten the Default value. It turns out I forgot one of the little idiosyncrasies of the business rule engine: every function gets evaluated; in programmer-speak, we say that all the “code paths” are executed. That means that even though the ISINLIST was false, we still did the LOOKUP, even though its output was ignored. And so, the LOOKUP happened for a list, “Shorts” that didn’t exist…and gave us an error.

It took me several frustrating, hair-pulling minutes to figure this out. The fix was easy, though: turn the rule inside-out! That is, I just put the IF inside the LOOKUP, like this:

LOOKUP(IF(ISINLIST(“Master List”,$itemclassificationname),$itemclassificationname,”Dummy List”),$itemtitle,”partial”))

Notice that if the class is NOT in the master list, we lookup the title in the “Dummy List.” And this is a new list I made that has pretty much nothing in it…but it IS a list that exists.

Because these kinds of errors can be tricky to figure out, a lot of our functions are very forgiving with their input, and instead of errors just give you blanks. This is sometimes called a “silent failure,” and they’re not always appropriate. But in this case, I was wishing I had made this failure a silent one. There are some other functions that don’t fail silently. Besides the list-related ones, the most common culprits are the date-related functions (such as ADDTODATE).

So to sum up: the next time your business rule gives you an error you can’t figure out, maybe it’s a “code path” you thought the rule wouldn’t take, and try fixing it by turning your IF statement inside-out.

Post by Anthony Alford, Technical Lead at ChannelAdvisor.

May 06, 2013

The Feed Doctor's Catalyst After-Action Report, or “Catalyst: I Love You Man!”

The Feed Doctor at CatalystI just flew back from Las Vegas, and boy are my arms tired...because I spent the flight typing up this blog post. *Rim Shot*

But the truth is that I had such an experience at Catalyst, and learned so much from interacting with our attendees, that I just couldn’t wait to talk about it. During the two-and-a-half days of the conference, I spoke with over two dozen attendees, listened to over a dozen presentations, and lost more than…well, you get the idea. And while those numbers are just a fraction of the total attendees and talks, it’s overwhelming for us engineers to be that social.

Before I go further, I just want to say that my workload was a cakewalk compared with what the rest of the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Crew handled. The Marketing team in particular deserve a special recognition, of course (they’re also editing this post…), but everyone there put in an almost superhuman effort.

Though the biggest thanks go to YOU, our attendees. I’ve been to every US event so far (I was talking about this with Marshall Smith: he calculates he’s been to at least 15, including some in the UK), and I love seeing long-time customers coming back each year, and also seeing how many new faces we add each year. Both of these things—loyalty and growth—make me proud to work at ChannelAdvisor.

Not everything is sunshine and roses, of course. Almost everybody at Catalyst has some kind of business challenge he’s trying to solve, and our job is to help him do that. I made it my mission to try to help everyone I spoke to solve at least one problem, even if all I could do was point out somebody else who was the expert on that problem. I also made it a point to ask if there was anything about our software that we could change to help make their lives easier.  And, of course, I had the opportunity to help quite a few folks write some business rules. I’ll write about one of those in the near future.

Once again, thanks to all who attended. To those I met and spoke with, it was certainly a pleasure. Come back and see us again next year!

Blog post by Anthony Alford, a.k.a. The Feed Doctor

Apr 16, 2013

Google Shopping Outperforms Google Product Search

Recently we compared US Google Shopping March 2013 numbers against Google Product Search results from March 2012.  We looked across our clients for which we are tracking their Google Shopping campaigns and found that their revenue soared, averaging 3X more revenue with Google Shopping in 2013 versus with Google Product Search in 2012. 

ChannelAdvisor calculates these trends based on the gross merchandise value (GMV) processed through the ChannelAdvisor platform by CSE customers that have been using ChannelAdvisor software for at least a year, removing any customer additions or attrition.

There are several factors that have contributed to these results:

1)    More PLAs on main search results

Google has focused on delivering more Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on Google.com.  PLAs show up for more queries, in more page locations, and frequently in greater number than prior to the change.  If you are not in the US, you are probably experiencing this now.

2)    Amazon is not advertising on PLAs

Amazon certainly commanded a lion’s share of Google Product Search traffic in the US.  Now, that traffic has been distributed to other retailers.

3)    More difficult economics for other marketplaces

In addition to Amazon, other marketplaces had a lot of shelf space in the free Google Product Search.  Now that they have to pay, the margin may not be there to pay for placement for many of their listings.

4)    Less competition due to fewer retailers

How many retailers never made the change to the paid model, either by choice or the inability to get started? Further, how many retailers just put one low bid on All Products to earn the Google incentive but have never optimized their data or bids?

Adding it up:

With more overall traffic and less competition, opportunities are there for retailers with a budget and the means to manage it.  A good product target strategy and tools to monitor performance and adjust bids have been key tools for successful retailers. 

We’ll keep an eye on how our retailers continue to perform and report interesting information as it arises.

Blog post by Jim Dechow, ChannelAdvisor Product Manager


Google-shopping-whats-next-cover
Wondering how you can improve your sales on Google ShoppingDownload our free Tip Sheet: Google Shopping: What's Next, for 7 tips to get your Google Shopping strategy on the right track.

Download Now

Mar 28, 2013

It’s almost the 12th April, have you signed up for the Google Shopping incentive?

GoogleBack in February, Google announced the international rollout of its new Google Shopping model, replacing the free Google Product Search program. The result was that ten more countries began the transition to a new experience built on Product Listing Ads, with a complete roll out of Google Shopping to be completed by the end of June.

A Product Listing Ad is an AdWords ad that appears on google.co.uk’s commercial site and also on google.co.uk/shopping. Whenever a customer searches for a product, Google will show several PLAs that include the picture, price and store name for that product. Users who click on the Product Listing Ad will be taken to your website where they can complete the purchase or shop for other products. Ranking in Google Shopping, when the full transition is complete in the countries listed above, will be based on a combination of relevance and bid price.

If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past couple months and you don’t know about Google Calendar this--or if you just haven’t had the chance to get up to speed with Google Shopping --you can find everything you need to know on our Do You Understand Google Shopping blog from last month.

If you haven’t begun thinking about how this transition will impact your business, then you need to begin today. The PLA ad format has been around for two years, meaning that some retailers have the advantage of experience and have optimised listings already in place. Others began experimenting when the transition occured and are experiencing success today. Consider the impact on your business; how will you cope with the drop in traffic to your site once the free Google Product Search program is pulled? Have you allocated a marketing budget to maintain traffic in this new paid program? Have you a strategy in place for PLAs?

To entice retailers to get the ball rolling on their Google Shopping campaigns, Google have an incentive running until the 12th April 2013. Merchants in the UK, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland who create a PLA campaign listing all of their products that are already in Merchant Centre may be eligible for a £75 credit. Eligible merchants with a Product Listing Ad campaign will also receive a monthly credit for 10% of their total Product Listing Ad spend from 15 February 2013 to 30 June 2013.

This transition occurred in the US last year, and data from our platform indicates that our retailers, on average, more than tripled their revenue using Google Shopping as compared to the same time last year when they were using Google Product Search.  We highly recommend you begin experimenting with PLAs and availing of this Google incentive today. This will not only help you save on your Feb-June advertising spend, but it will also help you avoid a loss of traffic as Google Product Search is phased out. 



12 Tips for Google Shopping Success cover
If you’d like to learn more about Google Shopping you can download our Top 12 Tips to Google Shopping Success tip sheet.

 

Feb 25, 2013

And the Oscar goes to…The Feed Doctor for his work on REGEXGET

The Feed Doctor AwardSince there was nothing on TV this weekend except the Oscars, The Feed Doctor decided to write some award-worthy business rules. 

Often I get requests for help extracting data from a larger text field. For example, people want to get image URLs from a large block of html. REGEXGET is useful for this, since the image tags follow a definite pattern.  For example, let’s say the description attribute looks like this:

Stuff <img URL=’http://www.mysite.com/image1.jpg’ /> and more stuff

We know we need to look for the img tag, so we could do this:

REGEXGET ($description,”img URL=’[^’]+’”)

This pattern matches the text “img’, the space, the text “URL”, the equal sign, the quote, then any number of characters that aren’t a quote, then finally the closing quote.  Perfect, right? Except, here’s the output:

img URL=’http://www.mysite.com/image1.jpg’

It’s almost what we want, but not quite. We still need to do some more processing to remove everything that’s not the actual URL. Now, we could change the pattern to just match the URL, like this:

REGEXGET ($description,”http://[^’]+”)                                         

But what if there’s, say, a hyperlink in the description before the image tag? And for that matter, what if there’s more than one image tag? REGEXTGET only gets the first match, so if you really wanted the second image tag (assuming there were one), what would you do?

The good news is that regular expressions are extremely flexible, and so this weekend I updated REGEXGET to have two new optional parameters.

The first parameter is the “match index.” This is for the case when your pattern may occur more than once, and you want something besides the first one. Let’s say the description has two image URLs:

Stuff <img URL=’http://www.mysite.com/image1.jpg’ /> and more stuff. More stuff  <img URL=’http://www.mysite.com/image2.jpg’ /> etc

If you want the first image URL, the rule we’ve got will work. But what if you want the second? Let’s update the rule:

REGEXGET ($description,”img URL=’[^’]+’”, 2, 1)

The 2 is the match index. It tells REGEXGET to get the second piece of text that matches the pattern…if there is one. But what’s that 1 for, after the 2? That’s the “group index.” If you’ve done some serious regex stuff, you’re probably familiar with capture groups and back references. Capture groups are a way to mark off parts of your pattern as “reusable” chunks. The way you do it is with parentheses, and it’s how we’re going to pull just the URL out of the image tag. Let’s update the rule one more time:

REGEXGET ($description,”img URL=’([^’]+)’”, 2, 2)

Two things are different. First, I put parentheses in the pattern; notice how they are just inside the quotes, which means they surround the part of the pattern that matches the URL. Next, I changed that last input parameter from a 1 to a 2. This means to get the second capture group. Well, the first one is always the entire thing that matched the pattern. The second is just the part that matched what’s in parentheses; in this case, the second image URL.

I had a big long list of people to thank, who helped make this happen, but the music is playing now and I have to get off stage. Just one reminder: this change will be released with our next update, in March.

For more information on Business Rules, check out the SSC guide to Using Text Functions Business Rules

Blogpost by Anthony Alford, The Feed Doctor

Feb 11, 2013

Do you understand Google Shopping?

Google Shopping Bundle image (1)
With just two days until the transition to Google Shopping begins around the world, many retailers are still unprepared for this drastic change. Many others have overlooked this update until after the Christmas and January rush and are only now considering the impact on their business. If your business is reliant on Google Product Search campaigns for traffic, you need to begin ramping up your Google Shopping presence as soon as possible in order to maintain your momentum.

So what is Google Shopping and how will this impact your business? In layman terms, Google Shopping is a new, paid advertising format from Google. This advertising format will be highly visual and focused on improving the customer experience. This format was rolled out in the US in 2012 and will now begin transition in the UK, Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Spain, Brazil and the Netherlands.

The reason this change is so important for retailers is that Google Product Search traffic will soon fade away and that in the near future all Google Shopping traffic will be paid. Also, for many retailers this change of format means action is required in order to participate.

You will begin to notice a shift in traffic in the coming days, so an understanding of your campaigns and this program is vital. We’ve compiled a description of the core elements of Google Shopping along with advice to help you get started.

Capture2Product Listing Ads

Google Shopping is driven by Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which are visually compelling product advertisements that include product information such as image, title, price and merchant name. A Product Listing Ad is a unique ad format that Google offers to promote specific items alongside text ads on Google search results pages. PLAs are displayed when Google matches a search query to information in a retailer’s product data feed. This ad type is typically priced on a cost-per-click (CPC) bidding model, where you are charged based on the number of clicks your advertisement receives.

The Product Listing Ad format works on “product targeting” technology, meaning that once you have submitted your product data feeds Google accesses that data and matches search queries to the most relevant products. Which products are shown in the PLA is Google’s decision and ranked on CPC and other factors familiar to search auctions like quality score and click-through rate. Google pulls the image URL from your feed in order to display a product image along with the product title and any optional promotional text that you enter.

Feeds

A product data feed is a list of individual products that includes product details such as name, price, product page URL, product image URL, description, category and more. PLA success starts with product data feeds that are accurate, comprehensive and delivered frequently. Take a look at the quality of your data; are all relevant fields present, is it accurate and up-to-date? By optimising your content you will ensure that the data available to Google contains all the relevant information for a Product Listing Ad.

Targets

Targets, or product groupings, identify which products from data feeds will trigger Product Listing Ads for related searches. Target fields allow you to group products together based on characteristics such as “sale.” This grouping action enables you to control bids across multiple products based on set qualifications, (e.g. all products characterised as “sale” should receive a bid of 75 pence). Since bids are controlled based on these targets, be sure to have a reliable bidding strategy in place.

Promotions

Promotions refer to the optional ad copy, such as “free delivery,” that can be attached to Product Listing Ads. While PLAs already offer more product information than regular text-based ads, adding this additional text can help differentiate your ads from competitive offerings. It is crucial to strategically create targets since promotional text is attached to all products within a target.

Reporting

Visibility into PLA performance is essential for retailers to obtain a return on their investment. By reviewing your campaign performance you should go back to your feeds and make necessary adjustments to further optimise their data for better visibility within Google Shopping.

 


12 Tips for Google Shopping Success cover
We’ll be updating this blog with helpful advice and strategies as this transition takes place, or if you’d like to learn more about Google Shopping you can download our Top 12 Tips to Google Shopping Success tip sheet.

Feb 07, 2013

Analysis of Google's acquisition of Channel Intelligence

Yesterday (February 6, 2013), Google announced that they are acquiring Channel Intelligence (CI).  In this post, we'll share some thoughts on 'why?', what we are hearing from retailers and what we think this means for Google long-term. Disclaimer: we historically have periodically competed with CI in the comparison shopping management space.

E-commerce is forecasted to be a $1T industry by 2017 and Google has publicly said that 40% of their revenue is in the retail/e-commerce vertical, so the stakes here are very high. Before we dive into what's behind this acquisition, it's important to look back at Google's historical efforts in e-commerce.

A brief history of Google's e-commerce efforts

Here are the headlines from the last ten years of Google's efforts in the e-commerce space:

  • December 2002 - Google introduces Froogle (consumer facing front-end) and Google Base (back-end)
  • June 2006 - Google announces  Google Checkout
  • April 2007 - Froogle is rebranded as Google Product Search (GPS for short) and the Google Base nomenclature is dropped.
  • 2007-2012 - Google improved GPS with international rollouts, local features, Google Checkout integration, item pages, parent/child, attributes, images, product reviews, etc.
  • November 2009 - Google introduces Product Listing Ads - a program that charges a CPC on top of GPS.  This program did not receive much traffic/query exposure.
  • May 2012 - Google announces the end of the free GPS in the US and merges in the PLA program renaming the combination as Google Shopping (GS).
  • July 2012 - After lackluster adoption, Google renames Google Checkout to be part of the mobile-facing effort, Google Wallet
  • October 2012 - Google moves 100% of queries away from GPS to GS in US.
  • February 2012 - Google moves from GPS to GS in UK, DE, AU and 7 other regions.

The other bit of background we need to cover to understand what's driving this acquisition is the history of friction between Google and Amazon.

Google / Amazon friction

Industry lore suggests that 10+ yrs ago when Google first started their project to scan books, Amazon's Jeff Bezos realized the two firms were on a collision course.  Since then there have been a number of friction points.  This smoke became a fire in the last year as the mainstream press caught on, ignited by a spark from Forrester.  Here are some highlights:

  • July 2012 - Forrester  releases study showing that 30% of consumers start their product searches at Amazon vs. 15% at Google - only 2yrs earlier, the trend was reversed.
  • September 2012 - The NY Times publishes an article that proclaims: "Google Struggles to Unseat Amazon as the Web's Most Popular Mall."
  • November 2012 - Amazon withdraws all products from Google Shopping, but does stay in the Adwords program.  Shortly after, eBay follows suit, significantly hobbling Google Shopping's breadth of product selection.
  • December 2012 - Google acquires Bufferbox, a Canadian startup that offers an Amazon Locker type service
  • December 2012 - Amazon is widely known to be entering the advertising business that Google largely dominates today.

Why CI? (follow the data... and the revenue/ad spend)

Within the context of Google's mixed efforts in e-commerce and their increasing friction with Amazon, Channel Intelligence offers Google one strategic thing that it desperately needs to even hold its ground against Amazon: transactional data. 

  • Amazon sees every transaction in its ecosystem. Google sees no transaction data, just clicks unless Google Analytics is installed and even then, the data isn't tied to specific products (complete closed loop that Amazon has).
  • Amazon has built a very deep and wide catalog of the entire World's product catalog.  Google has scattered high-level data and lacks a robust product catalog.
  • Google would like to know exactly what is happening (costs, conversions, etc..) at competing comparison shopping engines (shopping.com, shopzilla, pricegrabber, Nextag, etc.) 
  • Without visibility into the full transaction loop at a sku-level (e.g. what products are selling and what price), Google is partially blind to the value they are providing and maybe leaving click revenue on the table.

Acquiring CI gives Google access to pieces of this data for those customers currently using CI.

An interesting side note: eBay (with its marketplace and PayPal businesses) is the only other company that comes close to the level of transactional data that Amazon sees.

In addition to access to closed loop transaction data, Google's goal is to increase ad spend.  If you know that someone is paying $.50/click (CPC) and it is converting at 4% for an ASP of $100, you can easily calculate that there is a lot of room to grow in the CPC and move the cost up based on that knowledge.  With the lack of Amazon and eBay who are top adwords advertisers, not only is selection challenged, but it has a less robust competitive market than the similar adwords 'auction'.  

In conclusion, CI gives Google transactional data that has numerous uses, the top use being increasing ad spend.  Google has made a ton of revenue (our conservative estimate at the time of the announcement was $130m in the US alone) by turning a free program into a paid program and this acquisition will enable them to have access to transactional data that will keep the ad spend dollars flowing.

Retailer reaction

Historically, many retailers (especially larger top 200 retailers) have been reluctant to share their transactional data with their e-commerce channel partners.   As Google folds in the CI business, it will be interesting to see if retailers are ok with Google having significant, deep new insights into the performance of their products at a detailed SKU-level and non-google channel performance details. Ironically, transactional data protection and control is the number one reason that retailers don't sell on Amazon.

I don't see retailers pulling the plug on Google Shopping, but we do recommend that retailers go into this with their eyes wide open and ask questions such as:

  • Will Google use CI transactional data to source new sellers? "Wow, ProductX is really selling, let's go recruit 3 more retailers that carry ProductX..."
  • Will Google build a product catalog that other retailers can utilize using your data?
  • What will Google do with your sales data from other comparison shopping engines?  You could picture someone saying: "I see you are spending $X/month over there, how can we move that to Google Shopping?"
  • Will Google have access to your cost or margin data?
  • Will Google use your performance data to increase prices and click costs?
  • Will Google continue to support non-Google sites that CI currently supports, like Amazon Product Ads, Nextag, Shopping.com (owned by eBay), PriceGrabber, etc.? Or will Google's focus and efforts be biased towards Google owned-and-operated properties?
  • CI's tag solution allows the company to see all of a retailers traffic and conversions - seo, sem, direct, email, etc.  Will retailers be ok with this going forward?

Search Engine Land's Greg Sterling has an interesting take on Google's interest of supporting non-Google engines: "CI works with other product distribution channels and shopping engines. That’s probably unlikely to continue over the long term." A view we share, so most likely the concern over what Google does with sales data from other channels will be moot.

Longer-term Google speculation - building a marketplace?

The increasing speculation from Wall St. and other areas is that to really compete with Amazon, Google will need to build a marketplace, especially as mobile adoption continues to skyrocket.  We have been suggesting for quite a while that Google has many of the pieces it would need to build a marketplace:

  • Consumers/Traffic 
  • Retailer relationships/advertisers  
  • A checkout system (Google Wallet)
  • A monetization mechanism (PPC)
  • Trust/safety program (Google Trusted Stores - launched last year, minimal retailer adoption over data-sharing concerns)

All that Google lacks to make this a reality is a product catalog, and a strategy to differentiate from eBay and Amazon.   It's possible that long-term CI could help Google with the catalog missing puzzle piece.

Interestingly, Wall St. is starting to feel that Google needs to go down the marketplace path as shown in the following exchange from the Google Q4 earnings call:

Ben Schachter - Macquarie: ... Google Shopping, the PLAs and the interface changes, I think significantly improve the user experience, but the consumer still needs to leave the site to transact. Do you anticipate a mechanism whereas users can actually transact on Google Shopping without having to leave? You know, as you said sort of no extra work needed? Thanks.

Larry Page - Chief Executive Officer, Director: Google Shopping, I guess you are asking about Product Listing Ads I think that we are also in the early stages of that. We just rolled out Google Shopping. We’ve seen tremendous uptake from merchants and from users and I expect that quality of the site, the ease of buying things will improve over time and I am really excited about that. I am not going to comment on details about that, but we’re always focused on making our user experience better. 

That's definitely not a yes, but it's also not a 'no', but only time will tell if Google feels enough pressure from marketplaces like Amazon and eBay that it feels it needs to dip its toes in the marketplace waters to improve the consumer experience to the levels delivered by eBay and Amazon.

Stay tuned and we'd love to hear your thoughts in comments.

Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, wrote this blog post. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor.

 

 

 

 

Dec 19, 2012

A Holiday Gift from The Feed Doctor

Anthony santa

The other day someone asked me for help writing a rule. She had text with “accented” characters, and wanted to replace them with the non-accented version. For example, she wanted to change the word “Résumé” to “Resume.”

But it was even worse than that. Her text was actually “html encoded.” This is a way of converting “special characters” so that web browsers render them properly. For example, the ampersand is a special character, so it might look like &amp; in an html file. In her case, instead of “Résumé” she actually had “R&eacute;sume&eacute;”

It turns out I couldn’t think of a good solution, and I hate it when that happens. So I sat down and wrote two new functions: HTMLDECODE and TRANSLIT.

First, HTMLDECODE will convert the encoded special characters into their true form; e.g., it converts “R&eacute;sume&eacute;” into “Résumé.” Next, TRANSLIT (which is short for “transliterate”) converts the “accented” characters to non-accented ones; so it would convert “Résumé” to “Resume.”

Now, I could have made a single function that does both, but just in case you want one and not the other, I made them distinct. You can of course combine them, like this:

TRANSLIT(HTMLDECODE(“Résumé”)

These functions will be available with our January software update. Enjoy!

Blogpost by Anthony Alford, The Feed Doctor

 


Us-wp-top-5-cse-myths-emailLooking for more information on Comparison Shopping?

Comparison Shopping Misconceptions: Don't Let These Missteps Trip Up Your Strategy

This white paper covers common comparison shopping misconceptions to make sure you're not making mistakes with your CSE strategy.  




 

Dec 12, 2012

The secret to reviewing your Google Shopping queries

As the holiday season picks up, you've no doubt seen an increase in traffic on your Product Listing Ad campaigns and might be looking to optimize your spend through the program. Many traditional methods of optimization no longer apply due to the lack of keywords. However, with a few caveats, you can still review the queries triggering your ads and make changes to your negative keyword lists to manage the matches. If you're looking for the queries in the usual place, under your keywords tab, you won't find them. This seems to be an area of confusion, with even major search marketing blogs reporting that it's not possible.  The savvy marketers at ChannelAdvisor know that you can indeed find these queries by navigating to the dimensions tab of your AdWords account and selecting search terms under the "view" menu drop down! 

Google Shopping blog post screen shot 12-2012

Download the Top 12 Tips for Google Shopping Success tip sheet for more information and to make the most of your Product Listing Ads.

Blog post by Jackie Jenkins, Paid Search Product Manager

 

Dec 11, 2012

Quick Tips Before you Finalize your E-Commerce Budget

A look at online holiday success to help guide your budget

It’s that time of year that every finance geek loves and the rest of us loathe: budget time!  As you’re wrapping up your final budget plans for the year, check out where ChannelAdvisor customers found success during some of the busiest shopping days of the year to help guide your financial plans.

1. Keep Google Shopping Top of Mind

12 Tips for Google Shopping Success coverGoogle Shopping has thrown a lot of retailers for a loop this holiday season; however, our retailers experienced a strong showing on Cyber Monday with Comparison Shopping same-store sales trending at 20% year-over-year growth. 

Evidence of Google Shopping’s success is also supported by the Paid Search SSS numbers, which were essentially flat for the Cyber Five.  We’ve attributed this to the broad coverage and high placement and click-through rate of Google Shopping. 

Use this handy calculation to estimate your costs:

Traffic:  Clicks x Average Cost Per Click

GMV:  GMV/ROAS

For further tips download our Top 12 Tips for Google Shopping Success one pager.

2. Amazon isn’t just the biggest river in the world...

Us-wp-lps-sell_more_amazonAmazon continues to be a behemoth, growing at 2X the rate of overall-commerce (according to comScore predictions that e-commerce will grow at 17% this holiday). This year Amazon came in at 37.7% SSS growth for the Cyber Five, and 42.4% for Cyber Monday.  

We conducted a spot check of top-selling items in most categories throughout the Cyber Five (using www.nowinstock.net) and found that Amazon was out of stock for many, thus suggesting an increase in third-party sales as backfill for an out-of-stock Amazon.

Make sure that you have budget next year to ensure your products are found by Amazon shoppers--download this tip document that outlines how to sell more on Amazon.

3. Make Mobile a Priority

Au-ebook-retailer-guide-mobileAccording to data aggregated from a group of ChannelAdvisor customers, mobile accounted for 30.7% of Cyber Five sales! A dramatic nearly 80% jump over last year’s 17.2%.  Tablets exactly doubled from a 7.2% share to 14.4% and smartphone share grew from 10% to 16.3%. 

We found the highest percentage of consumers shopping via mobile devices on Thanksgiving Day, slowly declining over the course of the weekend as more brick-and-mortar shops opened their doors. 

As you are plotting ways to earn your share of this mobile traffic, check out our Retailer's Guide to Mobile for some quick tips of the trade.

4.  Don’t Count Out eBay

Us-ebook-lps-ebay-unlocking-the-powerWe’ve documented many aspects of eBay’s turnaround on our eBay Strategies blog, most recently The New eBay: Serendipity+faster transactions=win for sellers.  It seems, however, that eBay has lived into its claims, at least from a Cyber Five (the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday) perspective.  Coming in at an impressive 38.3% year-over-year same-store sales (SSS) growth for the total Cyber Five, eBay experienced 5X growth on Cyber Monday over last year. 

If you aren’t selling on eBay, or if you are and want a refresher, check out our Unlocking the Power of eBay eBook, debunking all the common misconceptions about selling on eBay. 

While there is rarely enough budget to do everything you want to do, invest in these four areas and you’ll start 2013 on the right foot and be well prepared for Cyber Five 2013.  

Nov 30, 2012

Highlights from Google Shopping Webinar

GoogleLast week we held a Google Shopping webinar to help retailers get their heads around the upcoming changes to Google Product Search. In case you couldn’t make the session, we’ve compiled the essential tips and key dates:

On November 15th, Google made the announcement that they are extending the rollout of Google Shopping across Europe. The transition of Google Product Search to a paid model was transitioned initially in the US in May. This transition ended last month and now the same program will be implemented in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, Italy, Spain, Brazil and the Netherlands.

PLAs are at the core of Google Shopping, so a key lesson from the webinar was to make you as familiar with their function as soon as possible. A Product Listing Ad (PLA) is a unique ad format that allows you to include specific product information like an image, title, price, and your store or business name. Product Listing Ads appear in their own box on search results pages, separate from standard text ads. Google anticipate that PLAs will allow merchants to have more control and predictability over their advertising campaigns, will have better opportunities to differentiate themselves, and that the traffic driven through will be more qualified. 

Essential Timelines

15th November: Google announcement was made. Google will begin experimenting Calendarwith the single unit format for products on Google.co.uk and will also begin testing commercial offers on Shopping property.

13th February: Launch of Google Shopping with commercial offers promoted, however free offers will still be included. Retailers should expect a drop in free traffic to product landing pages and a corresponding increase in paid traffic.

End of June: By the end of June, all campaigns will be transitioned to a fully paid experience on Google Shopping.

Lessons Learned From The US:

A benefit of the US transitioning earlier in the year is that we can learn from their experience and identify the essential tips to begin following. Here are the 4 top lessons learned from that region:

Lesson 1:

Begin testing Product Listing Ads straight away, opting in all or part of your feeds with at least the minimum bid. This will allow you to learn and refine how PLAs work from the beginning and give you a competitive edge to late-adopters. If you are already using PLAs, you can take it a step further by focusing on optimising your feeds.

Google will soon announce an incentive for early adopters to reward those prepared for the transition. Details of this will be released by Google in December.

Lesson 2:

Make Google Shopping an important part of your 2013 marketing plans and budget. Estimate your costs by measuring your traffic and GMV. Use the equations below to calculate these core facts and try to add them to your plans for next year.

  • Traffic:  Clicked x Average Cost Per Click
  • GMV:  GMV/ROAS

Lesson 3: Data, Data, Data!

With Google Shopping, data is more important than ever before. Optimise your content and work toward making it a better quality. This will allow a better user experience and drive more qualified clicks to your website.

Lesson 4: Develop a Target Strategy

Product Targets are central to Google Shopping. Targets, or product groupings, identify which products from data feeds will trigger Product Listing Ads for related searches. Target fields allow retailers to group products together based on characteristics such as brand. Grouping products by target enables retailers to control bids across multiple products based on these qualifications, (e.g., all products characterised as brand should receive a bid of 75 pence). Think about how you measure your business, specifically around your product catalogue; should your target be based on brand, product type, margin or price? Identify a strategy that works for you and build your strategy around this.

Uk-googleshopping-bundleIf you want to learn more about Google Shopping you can download our Google Shopping bundle:

Nov 16, 2012

Dates for Google Shopping European Transition Released

Google
Back in May, Google announced it was rolling out changes to its Shopping feature, starting with the US. This transition was completed on the 17th of October, and today Google announced the next phase of this transition will take place in Europe.

Google Product Search will be sunset in Europe in 2013, and a commercially based replacement will take over in the shape of Google Shopping. Google Shopping is different in that it is built on a fee-based model of PLAs (Product Listing Ads), which gives retailers greater control over where their ads appear and the opportunity to get more consistent levels of high quality website traffic. Product Listing Ads create a more engaging user experience while making it easy for retailers to promote their entire product line to Google. The visual element of this type of ad, along with price, “pre-qualifies” clicks more than traditional keyword searches and improves conversion rates since the shopper has more information on that specific item. When the full transition is complete, ranking in Google Shopping will be based on a combination of relevance and bid price.

Retailers in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, Australia and Switzerland will begin to see this change on 13 February 2013, and the transition will be complete by June 2013. This gives retailers the opportunity to optimise their campaigns and prepare for the change. However, Google will be offering incentives to those who adapt earlier.

This move to a fee-based model will be a dramatic shift for many brands and retailers, and will have both financial and strategic implications for their online businesses. We will be hosting a “Google Shopping: The Inside Scoop” webinar on Tuesday, 20 November 2013, to help European retailers understand this important transition. ChannelAdvisor Director of Product Management Link Walls will host the webinar and will discuss the new Google model, key dates for European retailers and lessons learned from the US transition in September. 

 If you would like to attend this webinar, register now: http://ar.gy/googleshopping 

Sep 06, 2012

The 2012 Autumn Release

Us-autumn-release-logo

As we prepare to usher in Q4, and all of the excitement and chaos of the holiday season, we’re pretty excited about everything that our 2012 Autumn Release has in store for retailers to help them make the most of the holiday season and the New Year! 

The big highlights of this launch include:

  • ChannelAdvisor’s Google Shopping offering – We’ve developed a holistic technology to help retailers manage and optimize their Google Shopping presence, all through a unified platform.     
  • The Revamped Repricer – We’ve enhanced our Repricer with industry-leading preview and frequency capabilities, all to improve retailers’ chances of winning the coveted Amazon Buy Box.   
  • Marketplace Enhancements – We’re providing additional support for established marketplaces like eBay as well as new and emerging marketplaces such as Newegg, Sears, OneStopPlus.com, TradeMe and Best Buy.  

 

We’ll be hosting a series of webinars for a crash-course in our  Autumn Release and how retailers can implement these new technologies. The topics to be covered include:

  • Google Shopping and Repricer
    Tuesday, September 18, 2012
    11:00 am EDT Autumn Release webinar series
    Learn about the numerous enhancements across the platform, including new features with Google Shopping and Amazon.
  • Google Shopping
    Thursday, September 20, 2012
    2:00 pm EDT
    Discover how to create powerful campaigns using ChannelAdvisor's new Google Shopping technology.
  • Tools for Success on Amazon
    Tuesday, September 25, 2012
    11:00 am EDT
    Get an in-depth explanation of the newest Repricer innovations and functionality.

Register today and find out everything you need to know to have another great holiday season.  

Aug 10, 2012

It’s almost August 15th! Are you signed up for Google Shopping?

Well, we’re just 5 days out from Google’s deadline for sending your complete data feed to Google Shopping to cash in on the 10% discount incentive. If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past couple months and you don’t know about this--or if you are a just a procrastinator--you can find everything you need to know on our Retailer’s Roadmap to Google Shopping Success.

On this past week’s Tuesday 20 Jon Venverloh from Google joined Mark Vandegrift to discuss Google Shopping.   Jon will join us next Tuesday as well to discuss Campaign Structure and Bidding Strategy--it’s not one to miss as you plan how to get ahead with Google Shopping this holiday season.  

We’ve also run some additional numbers to take a look at the traffic levels that a sample of our retailers are experiencing.  The red line represents Google Shopping traffic from non-PLA sources, and the blue line Google Shopping traffic through PLA.  Clearly the two are inverting with the cross-over taking place in late July.  

PLA traffic August 2012

We expect this trend to continue until October 1 when all traffic will convert to the Google Shopping paid model that’s driven by PLAs.  

Some other observations:

Google is increasing effectiveness with PLAs:

  • Historically, PLAs have been less effective than other areas of Google Shopping in terms of Revenue / Click.  However, in July they became equally effective.  Starting at the end of July, PLAs became substantially more effective than other areas of Google Shopping.
  • From April 1 to date, Orders per Click has doubled for PLAs.
  • From April 1 to date, Revenue per Click has tripled for PLAs.


If you haven’t started listing your full data feed on Google Shopping yet, stop dragging your feet! Give us a call at 866-264-8594 and we’ll help you out.  

Blog post by Link Walls, Director of Product Management, ChannelAdvisor (@linkwalls)

 

Aug 03, 2012

New Functionality from The Feed Doctor for Partial Matches

The other day I got an email from Allyson Thomas in our UK office, asking for some help writing a business rule:

What I want to do is look at field A and see if the text within it contains one of the words in my lookup list. Then if one of the words is contained, I want to return a certain value for that word.  The scenario is that field A is a description which includes a brand I need to find out which brand it includes and then based on the brand, add a suffix to my Product URL So I'll have a lookup list with brand in column A and the suffix for the URL in column B. Can you do an IF CONTAINS with a lookup and then return a matching value?

This is a lot like the LOOKUP function, except LOOKUP requires that the keys in the list match the input text EXACTLY. However, there is a way to "loop" over each row in the list, using the REDUCELIST function. Then you can do just about anything you want with the data in the list. Here's what I wrote for her:

REDUCELIST(FUNCTION(VARS(@X,@Y,@Z), IF(CONTAINS($description,@Y),@Z,@X)), Brand Lookup", "")

Then Allyson hit me with this gold-medal winning idea:

This question about a rule like this has actually come up a few times recently, is there any chance that this would become a function in its own right?

So I decided to modify both LOOKUP and ISINLIST to support the idea of "partial" matches. For this example, let's say we have the following description: "This is my description." And we have a list called "my list" that contains this data:

Name

Value

Is

was

If your rule is ISINLIST("my list",$description), that returns false, and LOOKUP("my list",$description) returns blank. But now you can write ISINLIST("my list",$description,"partial"), which returns true, and LOOKUP("my list",$description, "partial") which returns "was". You can also use "regex" instead of "partial," in which case the data in the lookup list is treated as a regular expression, and if that regex matches your input text, then ISINLIST will return true and LOOKUP will return the list value.

This new functionality will ship with our next software update in mid-August.

Blogpost by Anthony Alford, The Feed Doctor

Jul 27, 2012

Google Shopping Proves Successful for Retailers Using PLAs

GoogleShopping
We’re counting down the days until it’s time for the deadline to sign up for Google Shopping and receive the 10% discount incentive (August 15th).  In the meantime, we’ve taken a look at what our retailers are seeing from a data perspective to give retailers a benchmark for what to expect from Google Shopping.

First, it should be noted that Google Product Search (GPS) is historically the largest comparison shopping engine our retailers have worked with—generally responsible for anywhere from 15-60% of CSE traffic—though the level of traffic tends to be unpredictable and varies widely. 

Over the last 60 days (especially after the 28th of June, when the new user experience launched), we’ve seen a corresponding drop off of GPS daily traffic.  At the same time, Product Listing Ads traffic has jumped dramatically, so while this is in line with what we’d expect, the dramatic inversion of these programs has been remarkable.

Take, for example, the image below, which looks at the traffic pattern for one of our retailers that is representative of most.  The green line represents Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and the red line represents traffic not from PLAs, as in Google Product Search. You can see that right around the time that Google launched Google Shopping there was a dramatic shift in traffic levels.

  Google Shopping PLAs

In case you needed another reason to go ahead and launch your PLAs, here are some other insights gleaned from our statistics.

Looking at all of our customers, the gross merchandise value (GMV) driven by Google Product Search for customers that are NOT using PLAs continues to drop.  However, for those using PLAs, the GMV driven by GPS has risen slightly.  What does this mean?  Apparently those customers using PLAs are doing better on the existing free GPS than their counterparts who aren’t using PLAs. 

Further, for our customers using PLAs, their Google Shopping traffic is up incrementally, but their Google Shopping revenue is up significantly.

One last point, for those customers who are not yet using PLAs, year-to-date Google Shopping revenue growth is flat (these customers would have ads showing up through the existing GPS or Google Extensions).  However, for those customers who have implemented PLAs, year-to-date revenue on Google Shopping is up more than 2X!

We’ve got another Tuesday 20 Webinar on Google Shopping this Tuesday, as well as an opportunity to apply for a free assessment to see how you could be best using Google Shopping. 

We’ll continue to take a look at these figures and will update this blog with meaningful information, so check back often.

Blog post by Link Walls, Director of Product Management, ChannelAdvisor (@linkwalls)

 

 

Jul 17, 2012

Get Ready for Google Shopping


GoogleShopping
If you are a retailer that is feeling 100% comfortable and in the loop with what's going on with the transistion to Google Shopping, then you're likely in the minority.  

For everyone else who needs a little more insight on the sunset of Google Product Search and transition to the new, commercial-based Google Shopping, (and specifically, what it means for you), you should check out our Retailer's Roadmap to Google Shopping Success

We've culled a bunch of resources to keep you as informed as possible.  

First, you won't want to miss our Getting Started with Google Shopping Webinar taking place tomorrow, July 18th at 2pm ET. This webinar will walk through all the details about Google Shopping and key deadlines you don't want to miss. 

If you've got the basics down, you'll want to tune in to our new Tuesday 20 Webinar Series.  (Sidenote: The Tuesday 20 is a new series we're launching that will cover all the topical happenings in e-commerce, as they happen. These webinars will last 20 minutes with 10 minutes of content and 10 minutes for Q&A.)  The first Tuesday 20 series will focus on Google Shopping and will take place every Tuesday at 2:00 pm ET from July 24th-August 28th.  

Here's the Tuesday 20 Schedule: 

7/24 2:00pm ET Understand Google Shopping
7/31 2:00pm ET Effectively Managing your Google Feed
8/7 2:00pm ET Optimizing Your Feed Content for Google Shopping
8/14 2:00pm ET Targets and Promotions
8/21 2:00pm ET Bidding and Negative Keywords
8/28 2:00pm ET Review and Looking Forward

We've also got some great resources for ChannelAdvisor customers available on the Strategy & Support Center at the following link: http://ssc.channeladvisor.com/google-shopping

Finally, we'll continue to update this blog with important information and dates.  

Bookmark the Roadmap to Google Shopping Success and partner with ChannelAdvisor and we'll make sure you're good to go on Google Shopping. 

 

Jul 06, 2012

More Google Shopping news: Comparison Shopping Engines are in the mix!

One of the e-commerce experts at ChannelAdvisor uncovered some interesting data that led us to an important discovery about the new Google Shopping / PLA.  Before we jump into the details, let me explain how we discovered it, the CSI work that led to it and then what it means for retailers.

How did we discover this?

Here at ChannelAdvisor, we provide our software-as-a-service offerings for Search, CSE, Marketplaces and social in two formats:

  1. Self service – this is where the retailer directly uses the software to manage a variety of e-commerce channels on their own.
  2. Managed service – where the retailer outsources the management of the channel to one of our e-commerce channel experts.

One of the managed service folks noticed some very unusual data this week:

  1. First they saw the GPS traffic go to near zero as Google switched over the one box from GPS to Google Shopping.
  2. Google Shopping / PLA traffic went up some.
  3. PriceGrabber.com traffic went up a a ton.

Usually when we see any kind of data move more than 10% (with the exception of holidays of course), we try to understand what is happening from a user experience standpoint or with the CSEs, we also look at any changes in distribution.

Our software allows us to look back several levels of referrals and when our expert dug in they found this weird trail:

Retailer product page -> PriceGrabber.com - > Google Shopping

That’s a weird referral chain because historically Google did not allow ‘aggregators’ (A  catch all term for CSEs and affiliates) to participate.

What exactly is going on?

After seeing this one chain, we knew what we were looking for and here is what we are seeing: (unfortunately I can’t show a screen shot as we don’t want to reveal any client-specific strategies):

  • Google definitely is showing a couple top CSEs in the Google Shopping results.
  • When they are displayed in the new user experience, they are branded as if they are from the retailer directly – in other words, it says retailer.com not PriceGrabber or shopzilla
  • The CSE is paying google and the retailer is paying the CSE – so the CSEs appear to be participating in the PLA auction.

What we don’t know

There’s a lot we can tell from the data (above) and there’s some things that are still a mystery:

  • This is probably a google experiment – perhaps they are using CSEs to augment their selection in Google Shopping?
  • How are the CSEs paying – CPA, CPC or ?
  • What if a  retailer is in both – you would assume google takes the highest bid (retailer-direct or cse), but who knows.  It seems that CSEs would be able to bid their rate card minus a bit for margin -  a pure arbitrage game – because it is essentially a click-pass-through.  To be clear, the consumer NEVER lands on the CSE, they are passed through via redirect to the retailer and never see the CSEs brand.

What does this mean for retailers?

The inclusion of CSEs in Google Shopping has some interesting implications (positive and negative) for retailers:

Pros:

  • For smaller retailers, the CSEs could provide a valuable service – grouping small retailers together and acting almost like a co-op – helping them bid more together than they could individually.
  • If you don’t want to get involved in Google Shopping at all, you can effectively outsource it to a CSE and they will manage it like a portfolio of traffic sources.
  • CSEs have had a tough couple of years. Changes in both Google paid and organic programs such as Panda and Penguin have caused significant pain for CSEs.  Perhaps this is a light at the end of that tunnel?

Cons:

  • Channel conflict – Many times in internet marketing it makes a ton of sense to run two ads.  The idea is that if one ad works, then two should work as well.  We call that a shelf space strategy and most retailers employ it.  The challenge here is that instead of getting two spots (the direct and CSE), the retailer is competing with the CSE for one spot.  This will likely cause channel conflict and most large retailers may pull their listings from the CSEs (either all together or just for Google Shopping if allowed).
  • Control – While convenient, having someone else running ads for you can make it hard to have your brand 100% represented.  Remember the consumer sees retailer.com on the GS entry, not the CSE.com.  What if you are running a promotion? What if the price is incorrect?  What if you want more control over the product, image, etc.?
  • Lack of data – Last, but not least, in our corner of the World, data is king.  The CSEs will be collecting all of the data and Google Shopping ‘know how’ and all you will see is the pass through CPC.  It may not be prudent to be removed from the data needed to get an edge on this program.

Conclusions:

This is a very new development (literally about 48hrs of data), so it’s too early to make a recommendation on what retailers should do.  That being said, we do recommend keeping a very close eye on this and starting to think about where you stand on the issue from a macro standpoint :

  • Do you want to effectively compete with your CSEs for Google Shopping spots?
  • Do you want to do both?
  • Do you want to participate in Google Shopping primarily through non Google CSEs?

If you are leaning towards not wanting to effectively compete (full disclosure: we are leaning this way in our recommendation for large branded retailers and manufacturers.)

 

Then you should call your engines and ask if they will be able to exclude your listings from the Google Shopping source. E.g. talk to your CSE account rep and tell them you do not want your items distributed via the CSE to Google Shopping.  We’re not sure they will allow this, but it’s worth asking.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this going forward and keep you posted on any new developments.

 

SeekingAlpha Disclosure - I am long Google and Amazon. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.

 

 

 

 

Jun 28, 2012

NEWSFLASH: Google turns off Google Product Search in One Box....

Starting yesterday, June 27, our data indicated that Google started to send the bulk of the “one box” traffic for commercial searches to the new ‘step 1’ Google Shopping experience.  In calls with retailers we are getting a ton of questions about the change(s) going on at Google, so wanted to continue sharing common questions and our answers along with news updates as they happen.

What is One box traffic?

Internally at Google called the integration of product search and main search is called Universal Search, and externally One Box – this is where historically the product results from Google Product Search (GPS) were integrated right in with the organic and paid search results.

Examples:

For pretty much every commercial/product search you will now see this new treatment.  Here are some examples.

Here's the search for 'electrical generator':

Gs_generator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's the result for 'mascara':

Gs_mascara

Here's the result for 'samsung phone':

Gs_phone

Why does this matter?

The original timeline that Google published for the beginning of some testing of traffic was June 1 with July 1 as the ‘change over begins in earnest day’ and Oct 15 as the move is complete day.

This abrupt change in traffic on June 27, indicates that Google has moved that July 1 date up.  In fact, many retailers were thinking there would be a slow change from July 1-> Oct 15, but this one box move signals that the bulk of the traffic will now flow through the new system.

Is GPS totally turned off?

There are still a couple of paths that consumers can take to get to the old GPS experience and thus generate free traffic to retailers.  The first path is through the new One Box Google Shopping Experience.  In the PLA below, if the user clicks any of the product images, or retailers, they are taken to the retailer an the PLA CPC is incurred.  However, if they click on the green ‘shopping.google.com’ link they still go to the old GPS.

The two other paths consumers can take to the old GPS:

  • Direct URL navigation to shopping.google.com
  • Clicking on the shopping tab from Google SERPS or home page

How much traffic is now diverted?

By our measure, the one-box delivered 80% of the traffic to Google Product Search.  While you could argue that there is still a path there from the onebox, we have seen traffic drop about 80%, so we believe that not many consumers are actually clicking on the green shopping link.  This makes sense because the other options are much more visual and appealing.

What should retailers be doing?

We continue to have a lot of  retailers calling us with a lot of questions on the changes.

Here are our recommendations:

  1. Education – First it helps to fully understand the changes and what they mean for your business.  We have a lot of content here on the CSE Strategies blog and ChannelAdvisor also had a Google co-hosted webinar that was an excellent source of information.
  2. Become a Google Shopping and PLA expert – The PLA system has flown under the radar since 2009 and we’re finding a lot of retailers have not understood the program very well nor have they optimized it.  More information on common misconceptions is below. 
  3. Start Optimizing Google Shopping and PLAs – While we haven’t seen the complete secondary and tertiary experience roll out yet (except for tents),  even with this big first step change in one box, you can start optimizing your PLAS.

Google Shopping + PLAs are not search marketing

One common mis-perception we are finding is that retailers assume that because a) this is Google and b) it’s CPC and c) you manage part of it in the adwords user interface, this is another program just like Adwords.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Here are some of the reasons it is NOT like adwords and therefore should be managed differently:

  1. The User Experience is a CSE – See our walk through here for details.
  2. Products not keywords – Instead of thinking at a keyword+ad levely, you have to optimize at a target+product level.  Google’s Adwords system has no concept of products.  You  control the product-level information via the datafeed which you have to produce.
  3. Targets?!– The atomic level at which you bid in PLAs is the target.  You group products into targets and then assign a bid to that set of products.  This creates some important and strategic questions:
  •  
    • Should you group products by brand?
    • Should you group by category?
    • Should you group by ASP?
    • Should you group by promotional activity?
    • Should you group by margin?
    • Should you group by ROAS?
    • Should you group by Conversion rate?
    • What do you do if a product goes out of stock - keep it in the target?
    • Maybe you should group by ‘price competitiveness’?

Here’s the trick – the answer to the above questions is sometimes yes, sometimes no and sometimes it changes on a daily basis.  Most frequently you want to matrix and optimize against 2-3 factors.

  1. Datafeed – The way you create and optimize targets is via datafeeds.  You’re going to want to create as tight a loop between your optimization strategies and your datafeed.  If you have to go to IT every time you want to optimize your datafeed for PLA, you will get eaten alive by competitors that can out cycle you.
  2. Target transparency – you will want to be able to ‘look into’ the targets to see the metrics on a per-product level.  Google does not allow you to do this, SEMs don’t understand products and will not be able to help you here.
  3. Search bid optimization strategies won’t work.  In the keyword search world, some advanced strategies have been developed (that are generally questionable for retailers to begin with, but we’ll save that debate for a later day).  These approaches do not make sense with Google Shopping and PLA:
    • Efficient Frontier For CPA-based business models, where you are focused on acquiring a customer or an event (e.g. a mortgage) it makes sense to overpay for some leads and underpay for others and optimize your budget.  This makes no sense in PLA – what if you overpay for a target that is lower margin products and underpay for a target that has higher margin costs?
    • Portfolio bidding – Actually this is very applicable and is essentially what google has implemented.  Targets are your different portfolios and you treat them differently with different bids.
    • Predictive bidding – These approaches allow you to ‘simulate into the future’ and answer questions such as: If I bid $X, how much more traffic will I get and consequently revenue?  This approach doesn’t work, because unlike a keyword/ad combo in Adwords where you know if I bid on the keyword “lcd monitor” I will show up, in PLA, you don’t know what target will show up for which search and you also don’t know which product within the target did/would/could show up.  In other words, by its very nature, PLA is unpredictive.  You would do much better looking at past performance than trying to predict the unpredictable future performance.

(Note: Typepad won't let me fix the numbering above.)

Ten questions to ask your Google Shopping/PLA solution provider

We’ve suggested that retailers use questions like the following to help understand if your current PLA or proposed provider is going to be able to really help you with this program:

  1. How should I set up my Targets?  What is your initial recommendation?
  2. Will you need us to make frequent datafeed changes?  How much time will you allow/need?
  3. Can you provide sku/product level details on PLA/GS performance?  (sales/sku, cost/sku, CR/sku, margin/sku, etc.)
  4. How do you plan to optimize - against spend, revenue, margin, ?
  5. Do you have business rules that automatically change datafeeds?
  6. What is the ROAS your e-commerce clients are seeing with GS/PLA?
  7. Do PLA's convert worse, or better than adwords?
  8. If I have a fixed budget, what % should be adwords and what % PLA?
  9. If a product I don't want is showing up for a GS result, can you turn that off or optimize the product that does show up?
  10. What are some common optional attributes I need to make sure my feed has to improve my GS/PLA performance?
  11. What's an example where you would bid-down a Target?
  12. How does predictive modeling work with GS/PLAs?

 

Examples of unoptimized retailers that are burning money on Google Shopping/PLA

One step you can take immediately is start doing searches for your top selling products.  You will start to see some very interesting behaviors which really points out the importance of tightly managing this program.  Here are a couple of examples we have found that are interesting.  When talking about the ads, we use a numbering system from left to right like this:

 

Example 1:  front loading washer lg:

In this example, we are looking for a front-loading LG washer.  You can imagine for a $1000+ appliance, you would be willing to pay a pretty big CPC, so to compete for this type of product, you have to be bidding north of $5/click most likely (assuming the market is rational).  If you are paying that much, you want to make sure you are showing a high-end product:

Front_loading_washer

Here advertiser 5 would not want to pay a high CPC to have their $160 product.  When you see these large swings of ASP in one set of results, it usually points to a program that is running on autopilot and the retailer is probably losing not only a lot of $ on a cost/product basis, but most importantly the opportunity cost is very high.  What if they had the WM2250 at a competitive price?

 

Example 2: Lawn sweepers anyone?

One of the top selling outdoor items is a lawn sweeper (who knew?!). Here's a search result:

Lawn_sweeper

One of these things is not like the other....Yes, you guessed it, Amazon (well Google) has served up a floor sweeper and not a lawn sweeper.  Again, you would think the economics would take are of this.

 

Example 3: 42 inch TVs

Here, we are starting to look for a 42 inch TV and are looking at panasonics:

42_inch_panasonic

Spot number 2 looks like a great price, but the image is a little weird.  When you click through, this is some kind of an internal part for a panasonic 42" TV.  What you'll find is that due to their complex and unorganized catalog, eBay has some of the wackiest things they are advertising in Google Shopping.  It will be interesting to watch and see if they keep this level of spend up or not.  Also, Google has to realize it is a bad user experience at some point and do something about it.

 

Example 4: Mustang bumpers

Here we have been in a bit of a fender bender and are looking for a new bumper for our classic Mustang.  Boy there sure are some great deals!  BTW, this one wins the 'biggest swing in ASP' that I have found - a whopping $1,665!

Mustang_bumper

Conclusions

Based on what we are seeing, here are some closing thoughts:

  • Google seems to be moving faster here than anyone initially thought
  • A lot of retailers are really scrambling
  • Unfortunately many are mistaking the new Google Shopping CSE as another search offering
  • They will be at a competitive disadvantage.
  • Heading into Q4, this creates a big opportunity for cutting-edge retailers to get ahead of the competition and get aggressive with this program (and smart) and take some serious share.

Are you seeing your GPS traffic drop off a cliff? Have you seen any wacky PLA examples? Sound off in comments.

 

SeekingAlpha Disclosure - I am long Google and Amazon. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.

 

 

 

 

 

Harnessing Social, Local and Mobile to Improve your Online Strategy

The convergence of social, local and mobile has changed the world of e-commerce. With the rapid adoption of smartphones across Europe and changing customer habits, perfecting your strategy for these three trends can close the loop on your online strategy. For retailers looking to expand their business internationally, these three tips will give you a competitive advantage and help you stand out from the crowd. 

Social

Facebook is one of the most powerful tools for retailers looking to broaden their brand awareness globally. With a user base of over 900 million, and over half of those users logging in to their account daily, the potential to reach new customers is vast. Facebook is not limited by borders; users across the world are “Liking” brands and retailers they admire. In fact, 33% of the Facebook audience are fans of a brand online. The desire to interact with products certainly exists amongst Facebook users, but this does not necessarily mean that your Facebook page should be an extension of your webstore. Many retailers fall into the trap of forgetting the social aspect of social media; instead you should engage with your fans in a meaningful way to create a successful social media strategy.

Facebook Fans

Incentivise those users who are fans of your page through exclusive offers or competitions and  an engaging page that they can enjoy browsing. Understand your audience and keep up-to-date with local events or holidays or shopping habits. By acknowledging their local and cultural identity, and placing timely posts, you will establish your business as a trusted name.

Local

Google LocalIn terms of going global we advise retailers to think of local in two ways. For retailers who have an established overseas presence, embrace local by offering a store locator on your website and displaying your location on Google Maps. 50% of smartphone shoppers in Europe will use a GPS or mapping app to find a retail location. Get your store-level inventory optimised to attract potential customers and ensure that your products are compatible with barcode scanning apps such as RedLaser. 

However, local can have a different meaning in the global sense and this applies to retailers of all sizes. When going global, the key to success is acting like a local business. Rather than trying to adopt a one size fits all global expansion strategy, take a step back and understand the nuances of each potential market. From customer shopping habits to culture, local language to regulation, every country has unique characteristics. Even in English speaking territories such as the US, Australia and UK there are differences in language and culture. For example, with different product names across these regions, trying to rehash your PPC keywords can cost valuable, potential revenue. Before expanding internationally, localise all of your offering, understand your target audience, country regulations, culture and language. By understanding your target audience and localising all of your efforts you will be able to compete with local businesses and see success. 

Mobile

Europe is leading the way with smartphone penetration with a 42% adoption rate across the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. Pair this with a 39% adoption rate in the US and it is clear to see that globally the rise of mobile adoption rates is causing a seismic shift in consumer behaviour. 13.6 million people across Europe accessed a retail site via a smartphone last year, an increase of 112% in just 12 months. Customers are now researching and buying more products online, scanning barcodes to compare prices and check in-store availability.

Take advantage of this trend by creating a mobile-friendly website with up-to-date inventory levels, an easy checkout process and an enjoyable browsing experience to convert browsers in to shoppers. For retailers with a global presence, offer a native language site where possible, and at a minimum make your delivery conditions easy to find so as to avoid cart abandonment. 

Finally...

Social, local and mobile are three of the key themes in e-commerce today. Whether you optimise your performance across these three areas to improve your online strategy or expand your business globally, keeping up with these key topics will have a positive impact on your bottom line.