March 19, 2009
Back in July, I wrote that the shopping engines needed to just go back to basics and play up the fact that they are price comparison engines where consumers can save money. Well, in a sign of the times, some of the shopping engines are finally talking about savings.
In particular, Become has done a great job at highlighting savings.
Throughout many sections of the site, especially in Electronics, you can now see big red circles which point out % savings for consumers. The savings must be 5% or higher to show up. Become calculates this data on their end based off of information supplied by the merchant in the data feed: MSRP & Sale (List) Price.
While showing % Savings is a great step, and Become will be testing and expanding this feature in the future, I’m actually more interested in the price drop feature Become added. At the top of the product pages, you’ll now see a link which says ‘Email me when this price drops’. Yes, PriceGrabber and others have had this feature, but Become’s implementation is smarter (and will get more use) as it doesn’t require the user to set up an account.
The interesting question is how the data Become collects is put to use. Does Become email merchants selling the product informing them that they could sell the product at price X and therefore get the merchant to submit a lower price through the data feed? Could Become act as more typical lead gen company, putting the two parties in touch for a fee? Is this just a better way for Become to form a relationship with consumers (retention tool)?
p.s. yes, i know the images are messed up.
March 18, 2009
The economy stinks, which means a lot of merchants are cutting back. In some cases, this means completely pulling a marketing channel. More often than not, even if the shopping engines are a ROI positive channel, I think that they could quickly end up on chopping block. Even after being around in their current state for 5+ years, the shopping engines still haven’t made it easy for merchants to get up and running and succeed. Google AdWords is the gold standard for ease of use, flexibility, level of traffic, quality of traffic, and technology. So when a merchant looks at the time needed to succeed on the shopping engines and remembers the pain they went through because one of their product listings was featured on a syndication partner and got $3000 worth of ‘curiosity’ clicks in one day, it’s no wonder that a big red line goes through shopping engines.
But wait. Assuming that you have some resources at your disposal, take that pain and frustration and channel it into a positive experience on free, no cost, and low cost shopping engines.
Sortprice is in the low cost category. As opposed to its bigger bretheren, Sortprice does not charge the normal PPC fee, but rather a flat monthly rate (the company also has a free program to get merchants started). If the merchant gets 5 clicks or 1000 clicks, the merchant still only pays the flat monthly rate. Less risk. Less stress. Not a bad thing when everyone is telling everyone else to slash costs. And while the traffic and resulting sales will not make your business, it’s not going to hurt it either. At least worth a test.
And if the flat rate isn’t enough of a selling point, you can use Sortprice as an entry point into Facebook. Sortprice creates a free version of your store on Facebook…maybe you’ve heard of that site…gets a bit of traffic. Anyways, there have been no runaway successes in the ecommerce app space on Facebook, but Sortprice’s application is an easy way for a merchant to dip their toes into the Facebook waters. Merchants basically get a replica of their store on Facebook. Then they can link to it from their profile pages and spread the word.
CajunGrocer and Evogear on Facebook:
March 3, 2009
Wanted to share some nuggets of what I think is good in shopping search land. No, the eternal critic isn’t going soft, just want to point out some positive notes about this industry.
There are a ton of review sites and all the shopping engines incorporate product reviews in some way. But when I read reviews, I don’t just want to get a thumbs up or 4 stars out of 5, especially when the average product seems to have 4 out of 5 rating. What I love seeing are details. For example, if I’m looking at a touch screen phone, I’m probably interested in the screen. If I want to find specific reviews related to the screen, I’d usually have to search through hundreds of reviews, which is a total waste of time. That’s why I like Live Product Search’s take on reviews:
Notice the left hand nav. If you scroll down on that page, you’ll see you can look at reviews by attribute. Not just ease of use or screen, but battery life, affordability, software, connectivity, video, photo quality, etc. In fact, there are over 30 filters. Considering that there are so many window shoppers out there right now, this functionality is increasingly important for a good user experience. Now I don’t like that most of the reviews seem to be culled from eBay – I’d rather see a Google Product Search experience where reviews are culled from Checkout orders as well as tons of leading sources like CNET, Epinions, PriceGrabber, Buzzillions, PCWorld, etc.
Runner up for reviews is Buzzillions (which is now featured on Shopzilla). Not as strong as Live Product Search because you can’t filter by attribute, but at least you can see the breakdown of what consumers liked or didn’t like.