Where are the Shopping Engines? Not at Internet Retailer Chicago

March 31, 2010

Over the last couple years, some shopping engines have sat on the sidelines during the bigger etailing conferences. Well, it looks like they’ll continue to sit on the sidelines in June. Only Become.com, Shopzilla, Smarter.com, and TheFind currently have booths at IRCE.

-Google isn’t on the list of current exhibitors. Usually you can find Google Product Search next to Google Checkout, Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and 6 other Google products
-PriceGrabber is a stalwart at these shows. Maybe this was an oversight as the old management team as well as the company’s PR Guru is no longer with the company.
-I see PayPal / BillMeLater, but doubt that they’d share a booth with Shopping.com.
-NexTag never advertises at conferences…no change there.
-Amazon Product Ads isn’t on the list, but I don’t think Amazon is ever allowed to ‘sell’ at these conferences due to tax issue…or something like that.
-Where’s Bing? Like Google, Bing usually promotes a couple products including Bing Cashback at these shows. Did Bing go through their $100M advertising campaign and that’s it?

Even for the established shopping engines, I’d think this show has to be at least break even. Total cost is under $20K ($5000 for a booth, $5000 for booth related things – it’s Chicago!, $3000 for travel/entertainment). All it takes is one new merchant spending $10K/month to make the trip worthwhile. And more importantly, it allows the shopping engines to meet face to face with dozens of their most important merchants. Surprised not to see Shopping.com, PriceGrabber, and Bing on the list.

Maybe they’ll just roam the show floor and cut way down on the cost of the event. Sometimes works.


Herman Leung Talks Ecommerce

March 30, 2010

One of the ecommerce Analysts all merchants should follow is Herman Leung. He recently spoke with The Wall Street Transcript (TSWT) about trends in ecommerce. Check out the teaser, in which he discusses GSI Commerce.

If you don’t know about Herman’s role at Deutsche Bank, here’s his intro in his own words:

Basically I cover e-commerce in general. I cover GSI Commerce in e-commerce outsourcing, Expedia in online travel as well as Blue Nile in the consumer e-commerce space. I also co-cover three other segments with Jeetil Patel, including all the major e-commerce names, like Amazon and eBay, as well as Internet media names, like Google and Yahoo, and the video games, including Electronic Arts and Activision.


SortPrice’s Facebook App & Other Shop Tabs

March 30, 2010

From the press release, Doron Simovitch, SortPrice.com co-founder and CEO says “We’re thrilled to have hit 1,000-store milestone in a little over a year. It indicates just how serious retailers are about expanding their e-commerce efforts to the world of social media.”

SortPrice offers its FaceBook App to all SortPrice merchants for free. The set up is quick and easy. It only takes a couple days to get up and running.

SortPrice is not the only company working on Facebook Store Apps.
ShopTab offers a paid service ($10-$20/mo).
Wishpot offers a Facebook Shop tab as well as Twitter integration. Mercent is working with Wishpot.
Big Commerce was featured in TechCrunch last week. The company’s SocialShop Facebook App is a nice little differentiation point for a small ecommerce platform.

So these are nice apps to have on your Facebook fan pages, but is anyone really driving business through their ‘shop tabs’? And is this really the best social shopping experience? Seems that Facebook itself should work directly with Amazon or Bing Cashback to provide a rich shopping experience for all consumers…and then take a % of the sale.


Undercover Boss – GSI Commerce’s Michael Rubin

March 29, 2010

In case you missed it, Michael Rubin, CEO of GSI Commerce, went undercover for last week’s episode of CBS’s breakout hit, Undercover Boss. Michael was actually undercover during the peak holiday shopping season last year. If you haven’t heard of or seen Undercover Boss, check out this NYTimes article.

Michael was only fired from one of his undercover jobs (packing)…well, maybe 1.5 of them as his truck loading skills weren’t that great. He needs to play a little Tetris.

Watch the complete episode @ cbs.com.

GSI Commerce is featuring the episode on its site and tied it in with career opportunities at the company as well as its member’s only site: Rue La La. Smart move.


Become Adds CFO – A Hint at What’s To Come?

March 27, 2010

Become announced yesterday that the company hired David Mullin as Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

From the release:

Mullin brings over 20 years of experience in high-tech leadership to the position at Become.com. Prior to joining Become.com Dave served as CFO of Borland International, SMART Modular, OnLink Technologies, Securify and NPTest. As CIO and CFO at SMART Modular, Inc., Dave helped the company grow from $150M to over $1B in revenue, take the company through successful IPO and completed a successful secondary equity offering.

So why hire a CFO? Well, you could go public. As CEO Michael Yang says:

We are thrilled to have Dave, who is a world class CFO, join us at a critical inflection point of our growth to help us scale our business globally and take the company public,” said CEO Michael Yang.

Ok, so this isn’t going to happen overnight, but Become has always performed well for merchants in the US for SingleFeed customers and the company has definitely jumped on the international opportunity, with sites in Japan, UK, Germany, Italy, and France. The company is also hiring, with 22 open positions.


Shopzilla’s 2009 Results

March 26, 2010

According to the 10-K, Shopzilla’s 2009 revenue was down aprx. 21% compared with 2008 and segment profit was down aprx. 50% over the same period.

Here are the details:
2007 Revenue: $219.9M, Segment Profit: $46.6M
2008 Revenue: $238.5M, Segment Profit: $62.5M
2009 Revenue: $173.9M, Segment Profit: $30.7M

From the filing:

Interactive Services’ results in 2009 compared with 2008 have been affected by the downturn in the economy, a less favorable sponsored-link contract with Google and the decision to competitively reposition Shopzilla for long-term growth. Reduced spending by customers resulted in lower volume and cost per click prices during the year. As a result of the repositioning, we are foregoing near-term margin with the underlying intention of engaging consumers more deeply in the product.

The increases in operating revenues in 2008 compared with 2007 reflected growth in revenues from Western European markets and Shopzilla’s effectiveness in increasing and monetizing user traffic. The downturn in the economy and its related impact on the retail marketplace in the fourth quarter of 2008 partially offset these increases in operating revenues.

The decrease in segment costs and expenses for 2009 compared with 2008 reflects efforts to align costs with the current business conditions.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, we recorded a goodwill impairment charge of $244 million for our Shopzilla business. The write-down was a function of both the changing competitive environment for online comparison shopping services and our subsequent decision to reposition Shopzilla within that marketplace for maximum long-term growth. The repositioning, which involves some meaningful changes in our existing business model, coupled with Shopzilla’s exposure to the slowing retail market negatively impacted our near-term operating outlook for the business.

Interactive Services is expected to generate segment profits of approximately $33 million to $35 million for the full-year of 2010.

In the course of performing our 2008 impairment review, we determined that the goodwill of our Shopzilla business was impaired. The impairment was a function of both the changing competitive environment for online comparison shopping services and our subsequent decision to reposition Shopzilla within that marketplace for maximum long-term growth. The goodwill impairment charge totaling $244 million was recorded in 2008.

Other notes:
-In 2009, Interactive Services was aprx. 11% of revenue for Scripps Network Interactive (SNI) ($173M/$1.541B).
-In 2009, the segment profit for Interactive Services of arpx. $30M was dwarfed by the aprx. $636M for its Lifestyle Media division.

(via PaidContent – story about uSwitch sale)


Mobile Comparison Shopping Apps

March 26, 2010

Many of the shopping engines have mobile versions or mobile shopping apps. Here’s a quick rundown:
-Shopping.com just launched its iPhone app, according to this article.
-Google Product Search recently launched their blue dots. And find out more about Google Shopper for Android here.
-TheFind has Shop Nearby.
-PriceGrabber has an iPhone App.
-NexTag has a mobile app for Android, iPhone, and Blackberry.

Oh, and NexTag seems to see some nice potential in the space and is hiring a Mobile Product Manager.


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