Rachel Rosemarin’s Google’s Empty Stocking in Forbes.com turned out to be a Froogle story. When she interviewed me, though, she asked me what I was looking at which might make the difference for the comparison shopping sites this holiday season.
Here’s my top 3 list:
1. CNET Shopper local inventory information.
This is by far the most interesting development I’ve seen in terms of comparison shopping this holiday season. Almost real time inventory at your local Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. Wow. Google has since stolen CNET’s thunder with Froogle Local, but Froogle does not have inventory information worked into the system. This is a misconception that seems to be spreading throughout the blogosphere and mainstream media. The local information is provided by ShopLocal, which manages local circulars (actually, they do a lot more, but we’ll get to that soon) for well established national chains. While inventory information is probably coming sometime next year, that’s not what is currenlty offered through Froogle Local.
2. eBay/Shopping.com & Scripps/Shopzilla.
With multi-billion dollar companies behind them, I’m excited to see if eBay or Scripps really push their new acquisions this holiday season.
At this point, eBay has listed Shopping.com on its homepage, but that’s about it. Last month, Scot Wingo pointed out that Shopping.com ads were showing up on some eBay searches, but I haven’t seen any for a while. I think this is smart. Why push a lower margin business? That’s what Shopping.com is, right? While we’re not going to see eBay break out operating profit for Shopping.com going forward, past earnings statements show a much lower margin than eBay gets through its traditional auction business.
It’s important to remember that eBay bought Shopping.com to retain its own sellers who were starting to venture out of the eBay universe. I’d hope there’s more integration on that side of the business – pushing eBay sellers to also list on Shopping.com – but I haven’t seen any signs of that happening yet. It’s one of the first questions on my list when I make it back into Shopping.com…I’ve been told they’re too busy right now to talk. Grrrr.
Scripps acquisition of Shopzilla, on the other hand, is a totally different situation. Scripps believes in Shopzilla’s business and wants to help it grow. You can now see integration of Shopzilla listings on many of Scripps’ Network websites (including FineLiving, DIY, HGTV, Food Network, etc.) Scripps’ Broadcasting websites (including KJRH Channel 2 in Tulsa, OK, WMAR Channel 2 in Baltimore, MD, WPTV Channel 5 in West Palm Beach, FL, etc.), and Scripps’ Daily Newspapers (including the Abilene Reporter-News, Corpus Christ Caller-Times, Denver Rocky Mountain News, Wichita Falls Times Record News, etc.). In most cases, the ads look something like this:
It’s nothing special at this point…there’s a lot of room for optimization of the ads and deeper integration. Shopzilla should be showing more than text links. I think that image ads (such as the ones seen on AOL Search) have the potential to replace some Google Adwords ads which are prevalent throughout Scripps’ sites.
But that’s just online. Greg Yardley told me that he saw outdoor advertising (on buses and taxis) for Shopzilla in NYC. What about in the actual newspapers and on TV? There’s great potential to leverage the power of Scripps and become less dependant on the PPC networks for traffic (although if that works, I’m not going to knock it).
Yes, Yahoo! Shopping launched the Shoposphere, but I don’t think pick lists will have that much of an impact on holiday sales (although I’d love to be proved wrong). However, I think Yahoo’s integration of coupons and deals, will have an immediate impact, as everyone is looking for some sort of savings when buying online. I expect Coupons, Rebates, and Free Offers to have a strong impact on clickthrough and conversion rates:
Also, Yahoo! Shopping has a Gift Finder service (now out of Beta) which I’ve heard has been tremendously successful in increasing clickthrough rates (I’ll ask for actual data, but I’m not sure they’ll share the information).