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5 posts from October 2009

Oct 30, 2009

Comparison Shopping Holiday Rate Increase Round Up

'Tis the season for comparison shopping rate increases.

We have a whitepaper available for download with a review of the changes engines have made this year as well as details on what rate changes engines will be making this holiday season. 

We've consolidated a snapshot the rate change info onto a single page of the ChannelAdvisor Strategy and Support Center. We'll continue to update as we get more information, particularly in the UK where we only have confirmation in a few cases.

2009 Comparison Shopping Holiday Rate Changes

Oct 29, 2009

Part II/II - m-commerce strategies - next gen CSEs hit the mobile scene

This is part II of a II part series that I call 'm-commerce strategies for retailers'.  The two parts are:

  • Part I -  m-commerce backgrounder that lives here
  • Part II - Next gen m-commerce CSEs (you are here)

There have been many CSEs on the mobile platforms that pretty much replicate the desktop web experience on the smartphone platforms.  The use case is you are out shopping and you can use the CSE to see what's available on the web vs. your local store.  There are some that attempt to do local as well, but in my experience nobody does that very well because of the inventory system limitations with the big-box retailers.

In this post I wanted to introduce a next-gen CSE experience that adds a very important element that you don't have on the desktop web -the bardcode scanner.  The scanner uses OCR to read any product's barcode, pull up the UPC code and then do an automatic price search on that UPC

There are two UPC scanning CSEs that I wanted to call out and demonstrate.

ShopSavvy - Android UPC shopping

In 2008, a company called Big In Japan won Google's Android development contest with a UPC scanning CSE called ShopSavvy.  Since then they have continued to improve the system and now have millions of active users, making ShopSavvy the top Android application.  Here's a demo of the system:

(feed readers - there is an embedded YouTube that you may need to click through and read directly to see)

Red Laser - UPC Shopping for the iPhone

A consistently top 10 paid-for application on the iPhone is Red Laser which is produced by Occipital.  Red Laser pulls product from Amazon, Google Product Search and eBay so you if you are in those systems, you are covered (assuming your site is mobile browser friendly).  In this video we put Red Laser through the same paces as ShopSavvy:


This exciting new class of CSE for mobile applications provides an interesting third strategic option for retailers (mobile browser friendly, native application, UPC CSE).  For now, I suggest retailers test out these applications and make sure your products are a) showing up and b) they look great on the top smartphones.

SeekingAlpha disclosure - I am long Amazon and Google. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.  Special thanks to Delisa @ ChannelAdvisor who was our director, producer and director of cinematographer for these two demos.

Oct 27, 2009

Part I/II - m-commerce strategies for retailers - m-commerce backgrounder

This is part I of a II part series that I call 'm-commerce strategies for retailers'.  The two parts are:

  • Part I -  m-commerce backgrounder
  • Part II - Next gen m-commerce CSEs

At shop.org this year and in many other conversations with retailers, m-commerce has become a hot topic.  The success of the iPhone and it's application platform have capture the minds of consumers and retailers a-like.  Google's Android system is nascent, but with a slew of new manufacturers and networks coming on board, set to be a solid challenger to the iPhone.  Thus there will be a world with three + smartphone platforms out there:

  • iPhone
  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • Windows Mobile
  • Misc

Smartphones are real and will surpass PC-web usage sooner than you think

Most retailers agree that we have some great platforms out there and more coming, but many still aren't doing anything about an m-commerce strategy.  There have recently been several interesting reports suggesting that by 2011, smartphone sales will outpace PCs.  Now PCs have a huge installed base so just because those lines cross doesn't mean that we'll suddenly see Smartphone traffic dwarf PC-web, but it is an important datapoint that should be a wake up call to retailers.  This figure shows the trend as reported by RBC:


At shop.org, John Donahoe revealed that eBay has enjoyed over $380m in GMV from m-commerce.

Morgan Stanley put together this chart which shows the growth of the iPhone plotted against other adoption curves such as desktop internet.

Hopefully, these metrics and charts have your attention and have you thinking about your m-commerce strategy.

What's your m-commerce strategy?

To-date, most of the retailers I have talked to have thought about m-commerce in one or two ways:

  • m-commerce optimized website - You optimize your site using transcoding or browser detection to make sure that your ecommerce site works well with smartphone browsers.  This is a medium sized effort and as the smartphone browsers have gotten better, less work is actually required.
  • m-commerce application (usually iPhone) - Some retailers have deployed free native applications that tap into the hardware to add features and create a richer 'native' experience vs. the 'browser-based' experience.  

That concludes part I.  In part II we'll dig into what m-commerce means for CSEs and what CSEs mean for m-commerce.  There is an exciting new type of m-commerce CSE on the scene that we'll demonstrate that gives you a third opportunity to take advantage of this rapidly growing opportunity.

Seeking Alpha disclosure - I am long Amazon and Google.  eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.

Oct 18, 2009

Sears Testing Integration with Shop.com

Last month on sister blog Amazon Strategies, initial insight into what Sears is planning in terms of marketplace expansion was revealed. It appears that Sears has continued to move forward, at least on the CPC side, as they are currently beta testing an integration with Shop.com.

In the current configuration, third party retailer offers appears in results next to products sold by Sears Holding's brands. From running a few queries, tt appears the third party offers are listed after the native listings unless the Sears offerings relevance is extremely poor. Sears brands are always perched atop the merchant list as well. Since it's their site, both of these are expected from a user experience perspective. It's also worth noting that the product pages promote the top ranked offer significantly over the remaining merchants. When Sears carries the item, the remaining offers are at the very bottom of the page. When Sears is not in the picture, the lead merchant gets strong emphasis over other merchant offers. Many consumers probably won't even see the other offers on these pages.

This integration seems to be a big win for Shop.com, which has a solid offering but certainly not the largest product catalog in the CSE space. Since Shop.com pulls some of their offer data from the Shopping.com database, Shopping.com is secondarily looped into the Sears expansion. So if you have live listings with Shop.com or Shopping.com, your offers could be live on Sears.com soon.

The real question will become, which is the best method for advertising products on Sears.com?  The varying rate cards of Sears.com, Shop.com and Shopping.com will certainly come into the evaluation process. For example, if you are a jewelry seller, you may be best off sending your products to Shopping.com only since they charge $0.50 per click compared to $0.55 by Sears or $0.75 by Shop.com. The Sears rate card has ranges for some categories so it's hard to compare directly in those cases without more information, especially against Shopping.com where pricing is tiered by product price.

One major upside for the Sears program is the daily budget option, currently available in Amazon's very similar Product Ads program but not on other CSEs. One major downside, though, is that they are only accepting manual uploads of offer data through their interface at this time, meaning keeping prices and stock up to date is more painful.

There is also the display/exposure question. It seems likely that Sears will promote more highly the products they can monetize at a higher level. It may vary but one would think direct Sears offers would mean maximum advertising spend to Sears more often than not.

Only time will tell, but with the traffic volume Sears.com sees, this program has the opportunity to make a significant impact on existing campaigns through Shop.com or Shopping.com, especially if this goes live before the holidays.


Oct 12, 2009

Shopzilla EU Sites Mirror Bizrate Designs

Shopzilla UK, DE and FR have changed their designs to directly mirror that of the Bizrate sites. The Shopzilla US site does not appear to have changed at all and is still quite different from the Bizrate US home page.

The changes suggest that perhaps the burden of maintaining two different sites is more trouble than it's worth for Shopzilla in Europe. Similar layouts would certainly make site maintenance easier, as well as standardize the display advertising inventory. Though the layouts are the same, the order of categories and other content is not identical between the Shopzilla and Bizrate sites, indicating that either the content is dynamic based on user behavior, or Shopzilla is using this opportunity to test different configurations.

This change also could be good for Shopzilla users as it seemed like the content on the old Shopzilla UK home page had been there an awfully long time.