November 30, 2006
The views expressed in Guest Commentary pieces do not necessarily reflect those of ComparisonEngines.com.
Alaa Hassan is the Manager – System Administrator for iNetVideo. iNetVideo.com offers a variety of Movies (like It’s a Wonderful Life), Games (like Tom Clancy titles) and Music products (what happened to Ryan Adams?) through its website and other marketplaces such as Ebay.com and Amazon.com. iNetVideo recently started working with Shopping Engines and it has been a great success, but the company constantly faces challenges related to managing its accounts.
ALERT: Your Campaign is Down – Action Needed
Does that sound familiar? Well that’s the subject of every email I get from Shopping.com on a daily basis whenever my account has reached the budget allocated.
I can certainly setup my account on a continuous payment plan but I don’t. Why? This is the current situation: I use to worry when I got this email, but not anymore. When I get that message I always ask myself, why am I going to pay for something I am unable to see?
Shopping.com makes it really hard for companies like us to measure our ROI. They do offer tracking scripts, and that’s already implemented on our side. What about optimization? Every shopping engine article I read mentions something about optimizing your feeds in order to reach success. Is Shopping.com aware of that?
Don’t get me wrong, we do get traffic from Shopping.com, our conversion rate might be considered average, some listings are doing very well, but the question is: which ones? I am unable to focus my budget on performing listings because Shopping.com doesn’t offer the feature of being able to know what items are getting clicked on? Seriously, how can you be able to optimize a feed without that basic feature? All shopping engines need to follow Shopzilla.com. In my opinion, they have truly created the best Shopping Engine Management tools out there. I am able to get detailed reports on every aspect of my account including top performing products.
Now what’s my solution for Shopping.com? I had to cut down on the number of listings I put on Shopping.com in order to stay within my budget.
November 29, 2006
Congrats to Rob and his team for closing it’s Series F round. The funding came from ICG (or as they were known back in the hey-day of the internet bubble, I See the next GE). $15m bought ICG 40% of the company on a ‘primary’ basis. Not sure what ‘primary’ means at this point, but assuming it’s just silly banker lingo, the round would value Channel Intelligence (CI) at $37.5m. According to the Business Week article, Channel Intelligence is expecting revenue of $10m in 2006.
At first glance, this looks like a low valuation for CI. Back in August, CEO Rob Wight was quoted as saying 2006 revenue would be $12-20m and the company was growing at 50% per year. Obviously, just looking at a revenue multiple doesn’t give the entire story. I’m not going to find out what’s happening under the hood, but I’m following up with Rob tomorrow.
BTW, Vcommerce is one of ICG’s portfolio companies, so don’t be surprised to see a deal between Vcommerce and CI sometime next year.
Channel Intelligence Press Release – November 28, 2006
Internet Capital Press Release – November 28, 2006
November 29, 2006
I’ll post some numbers once I’m able to aggregate and standardize everything – I didn’t want to present you with incomplete data. In the meantime, check out Wingo’s post which gives some great insight into the success Channel Advisor is having this holiday shopping season.
November 28, 2006
In my vision of the shopping (and a lot of other activities) in the future, I will have an intelligent agent which understands my preferences, knows the marketplace (price trends, consumer sentiment, etc.) and is always on the lookout for products, deals, reviews, recommendations from friends (this is where social networks/communities become really valuable), etc. which I’d be interested in. My agent understands the competitive landscape and makes sure that my buying decision is well informed. My agent would have the authority to haggle with a dealer/distributor/merchant and make purchases according to criteria that I set or that my agent learned over time. It might take a while for the agent to understand my preferences and there would definitely be work involved with setting up such a system, but we will get there.
The original shopping bots were set up in this way – go out and find the prices for all sellers of Cracked Rear View (Hootie and the Blowfish – 1995) and report back to me. The original agent system, though, cracked for a number of reasons…one of them being that the ‘wrappers’ built for MusicBoulevard or CDNow often broke when pages changed. Fast forward 11 years, and we have smarter crawlers which are more flexible and can somewhat intelligently return results from a free crawl. Additionally, we have RSS feeds which automatically send us data about products, including price change information. We can even set up accounts with different ‘agents’, such as myTriggers and be notified when an item is available at a certain price.
Read the rest of this entry »
November 27, 2006
Congrats to my friend Robin Chan who drove the Verizon Wireless/YouTube deal. Robin’s a rock star bizdev guy and mobile guru.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming soon.
November 27, 2006
Cyber Monday is just the start. If you’re not on the shopping engines yet, there’s still plenty of time to take advantage of the holiday rush. While my slightly larger friends at Channel Intelligence, Channel Advisor, Mercent, Performics, Merchant Advantage, etc. are hard at work, scrappy SingleFeed has some great new tricks up its sleeves to help you achieve data feed bliss!
-HTML parsing. You download your catalog from Yahoo! Store, Monster Commerce, Infopia, etc. and it comes with lots of HTML garbage that the shopping engines hate. Well, SingleFeed now automatically parses out HTML in your product name and product description fields so you no longer have to spend hours doing this manually. Another great tool to help you learn to love your data feed.
-Ability to send different product sets to different engines. In most cases, merchants should send their complete product catalog to Google Base as the service is free. However, not all merchants want to throw in the kitchen sink when submitting to the rest of the shopping search engines. At $1.00/click, for instance, a flower seller might want to stay away from Yahoo! Shopping (especially when NexTag, Shopping.com, and Shopzilla only charge $0.25 – $0.30 – pre-holiday rate increase – for the same click). SingleFeed now allows merchants to specify through their data feeds which products to exclude from certain engines. Read more at SingleFeed.
Happy Holidays! Now get to work on that data feed. Oh, and if you’re looking for optimization advice there will be one post each day (starting tomorrow) on LoveYourFeed.
November 27, 2006
If you’re looking to save money shopping online this Cyber Monday, check out Shop.org’s list of savings at CyberMonday.com and then head over to Google Checkout’s Holiday site to save an additional $10.
Google Checkout doing merchandising (for him, for her, for kids, for babies). Wow!