Milo Launches Android App

October 29, 2010

Congrats to Milo on the launch of their new Android app. It’s in Beta. They’re just getting going.

Will be great to see usage stats on Milo and Google Local Shopping this holiday shopping season.

After a pretty great experience with ShopSavvy, I think I have to go window shopping this weekend and try out a half dozen new and not so new mobile/local apps:
-Target
-Tecca
-Checkpoints
-Shopkick
-Google Shopper


Holidays Come Early – Amazon’s One Day Sales

October 29, 2010

Sears got into the holiday spirit months ago with Sears Layaway and Kmart Layaway.

Driving into Palo Alto this morning at 6am, I noticed the holiday lights wrapping the trees on University Avenue.

Since getting into retail, I’ve always thought of the holiday shopping season starting November 1st, the day after Halloween. But as everyone has been reporting, the holidays arrived early this year.

Now Amazon is getting into the game with ‘Countdown to Black Friday’ sales. Not sure how many categories are running this promotion, but the first I’ve been notified of is in the Electronics category. This splash page should work for everyone. Today’s inaugural deal is the Toshiba 55-Inch 1080p LED HDTV with Net TV for $1199.99, a 50% markdown.

From Amazon:

We’re counting down the weeks until Black Friday with spectacular deals every Friday, starting October 29 and running weekly through November 19. Check back every Friday to find fantastic prices on select electronics, video games, and more. And all of these hot deals relate to a theme, including the Deal of the Day and Lightning Deals. Bookmark this page and come back each week to see how you’ll save on items that help you “Connect,” “Play,” “Watch,” and “Listen.” All deals are good while supplies last, so don’t delay!


Google Promoting Product Ads in Google Merchant Center

October 15, 2010

If you click on the Product link in your Google Merchant Center (GMC) account, you’ll now see a column for Product Ads.

Clicking on the ? next to Product Ads brings you to a basic page that discusses the various destinations for Product Listings. Here’s the Product Ads page which discusses the various attributes you can include in your data feed to control your Product Ads:

Grouping parameters
-adwords_grouping
-adwords_labels

Tracking parameters:
adwords_redirect
adwords_queryparam

As the holiday shopping season approaches and retailers are looking for any and every way to increase sales, expect more merchants to adopt product ads. Also expect some confusion as there have been a number of changes to the Product Ads specification over the last year. Get started testing right now.

Most important thing to note for merchants, though, is that you need to start with a high quality data feed. Go beyond the basics.


Morning Roundup – October 15, 2010 – MyPerfect Sale Acquited, eBay, Cataloger & Personalization, NexTag on Google, New Bazaarvoice CMO, Shopping Engines Hiring Mobile Experts, Google & Mobile

October 15, 2010

-eBay adds marketplace listings to recently acquired bar code scanning app. From Internet Retailer, “EBay today added product listings from the eBay marketplace as well as its Half.com marketplace—which sells books, textbooks, music, movies, video games, and video game consoles—to the app and also added two-dimensional bar code scanning capabilities.”

-Cataloger provides personalized offer. Yesterday I received a catalog from Chadwicks (a Boston Apparel Group company), with a personalized offer. OK, I’m not going to go into why I get a Chadwicks catalog, but it’s pretty easy to guess. Anyways, the cover said “Wait, don’t say good-bye just yet…I’ve noticed you haven’t been shopping with Chadwicks for a while, and I want to let you know that we miss you!” The copy went on to point out lots of positive things about Chadwicks and then notified me that it might be the last catalog I receive. It ended with a ‘Bonus Coupon!’ for a Free Item with any purchase. Just think this is a smart move. I know that everyone personalizes these days, but I’d never seen a notice like this before.

-Search NexTag within Google Search. I just find this strange. Why would Google put a NexTag search box on the SERP?
nextag google

-BazaarVoice picks up another Dell exec to run marketing. As most of you know, Sam Decker, CMO of Bazaarvoice will be moving on soon. If you don’t know Sam, you should. He’s a great guy.

But it looks like another Dell exec, current CMO, Erin Nelson, will pick up where Sam leaves off. Forbes covers the story with the following questions:

Can you elaborate a bit more on Bazaarvoice and its potential?

Bazaarvoice has experienced tremendous growth in an exploding space. Social (media and commerce) for us now is like the Internet was 10 years ago. Bazaarvoice brings the power of ratings, reviews and brand stories to companies. It works with 950 brands, including Procter & Gamble, Best Buy and Sephora. Dell has been a customer for four-and-a-half years. They manage our ratings and review platform. We have been committed to this and found it very effective. We have products on site that customers provide feedback on. It has changed the way we do product development. It has gotten us closer to what customers really need. There are a lot of people happy with what they do. They are so close to the commerce transaction that it’s easy to demonstrate ROI.

The plan is for Bazaarvoice to go public, right?

It’s something (Bazaarvoice Founder and CEO) Brett Hurt and the executive team would like to see happen in the next couple of years.

How did this opportunity for you come about?

The world is really small. My [sons] are 7 and 10. [My husband and I] wanted to figure out where were we were going to be for the next 12 years. I’m CMO of Dell. It’s the job I aspired to have. I don’t know that I would find another 12 years of as much growth and change at Dell as I would at a small and growing company.

Brett [the CEO of Bazaarvoice] and I ended up having dinner together in the middle of August and just had a chat about what was important to him and what was important to me. It felt like this serendipitous match. I spent a couple of days with his executive team we quickly realized it was a good match for both of us.

-Shopping Engines looking for help with Mobile.
NexTag is looking for a Mobile Product Manager.
TheFind is looking for a Iphone / Ipad Developer, Android Developer.
Google is looking for a Product Marketing Manager, Google Commerce (initiatives can range from Google Product Search to mobile initiatives, such as Google Shopper for Android).

-Google on Mobile. If you didn’t hear, Google had a great quarter. In the earnings call (courtesy of Seeking Alpha), there was a quick Q&A on mobile as it relates to retailers:

Jason Maynard – Wells Fargo
Okay. And then just maybe a follow-up for Nikesh. When you think about mobile advertising, maybe just sort of help me frame, where do you think advertisers are at in their lifecycle of actually committing dollars to spend in this medium and form factor?

Nikesh Arora
I think the important part to understand on the mobile space is that the reason the billion dollar number is an interesting number is that just means that now the larger advertisers can get more interested, because we can help them spend reasonable amounts of money. It’s very hard to go and make a pitch to a large advertiser when the maximum inventory that you can offer them is in the five to 10 or $50,000 range, especially with advertisers who got $100 million or $200 million advertising budgets. So, to get them interested – if they get interested, they would like to be able to deploy reasonable amounts of money against this market.

So, the part I am excited about is that the inventory continues to grow. There is diversity in formats. People are interested in search-based advertising. People are interested in display-based advertising. They want to be in the middle of applications and get customer engagement. So we are seeing sort of reasonable broad-based interest. Clearly, the early adopters are people who can actually consummate a transaction. So, insurance services want a click-to-call, they want to be able to pitch, they want the customer to be able to pick up the phone and call them. There are now people who are in the local space, who want the customer to come to their restaurant. They want the customer to come show up, where they are offering a local service. So, that interest is going up.

Now the retailers who actually are interested when you are looking for a local J. C. Penney or RadioShack that, if we can tell you where it is and they can actually click and find out where it is. So, the interest continues to grow as you look at the local categories, as you look at the click-to-call categories. And as Jonathan said, as payment capabilities start getting bills into the phone, you will start seeing even more of an interest from the e-commerce players.

-MyPerfectSale acquired by Sugar Inc. From the release (via PaidContent), “Sugar Inc.’s acquisition will accelerate the growth of MyPerfectSale in the U.S. and enable it to expand into international markets where Sugar Inc. currently operates, including the UK, Japan, France, Germany and Australia. MyPerfectSale will be maintained as a separate brand while becoming a part of Sugar Inc.’s ShopStyle network of shopping sites. MyPerfectSale’s eight employees will join the growing Sugar Inc. team.”


Morning Roundup – October 14

October 14, 2010

-Mobile Barcode Scanning up 700%. I just wrote about my experience with ShopSavvy the other day. ReadWriteWeb reports on a study from ScanBuy which you need to read if you’re a retailer thinking about mobile/local. Was really surprised to see that health and beauty had the highest share of scans @ 21.2% considering that users are skewed male (74%).

-What is Bing Shopping thinking? When you click on a merchant review button on a Bing Shopping product page, you are sent to ResellerRatings.com. At the very least, Bing should open up a new browser window, not just send consumers over to a ResellerRatings.com page which looks like crap and is confusing to use.

Bing has a quality product page and has the resources to invest in providing a great shopping experience. This just looks like amateur hour. Maybe it is time to give their shopping site to Amazon. Or at least copy what Google does (did I say that out loud?). One of the champions for all things great at Bing Shopping, Michael Paulson, recently left to join a little start up. Sad. Very Sad.

Bing Shopping product page:

The ResellerRatings.com landing page for MobileCityOnline:

And I love how Bing Shopping is sending consumers to ResellerRatings.com who then push consumers to ‘check prices’ through a search box at the top of the page. And where do you think ResellerRatings.com syndicates their shopping engine listings from? In a normal world (and with a great business development relationship), it would be Bing Shopping. But this isn’t a normal world. It’s NexTag. Yup, that’s a great shopping experience. Bing Shopping to ResellerRatings to NexTag.


Ecommerce Themes

October 13, 2010

About a month ago, I took a step back to look at some big themes I’m seeing in ecommerce.

Here’s what I came up with:
Social – Branding, Conversations, General Marketing, Analytics
Local/Mobile – Rise of Smartphones, Checking-in –> Targeting, Local inventory/pricing
Deals – Coupons, Groupons, Private Sales
Recommendations – Merchant/Consumer, Transactional, Social/Reviews
Display – Big Revival – Better Creative, Targeting, Lower/Dynamic prices
Marketplaces/Comparison Shopping – Big sites are pushing it themselves, small sites are adopting as well
Making this a game (Jesse Schell) – Points/Status
Video – Reviews, Richer Product Data –> More Traffic, Higher Conversion, More Sales, Lower Return Rates, Lower Cart Abandonment

I’ll expand on all of these areas over the next couple weeks.


Tada Launches – Shopzilla’s New Deal of The Day Site

October 13, 2010

Tada is Shopzilla’s new Deal of the Day site. Yes, deal of the day sites are all the rage, and there are a million of them out there, but this is where a shopping engine could shine. Shopzilla has the connections to get the deals, the industry knowledge and data to know what to sell at what price, and the traffic to build a community (I first noticed TaDa through ads all over Shopzilla). And they need to do something to stem the loss in traffic and counteract higher traffic acquisition costs (TACs).

The inaugural TaDa deal is the Invicta Auto Pro Diver Watch for $59.99 (52% off retail price) from WorldofWatches.com. There have been 167 watches purchased thus far, racking up $10,018.33 in sales. The traditional Groupon model would suggest that Tada takes in half of that and the other half goes to the merchant. Not sure if TaDa is able to collect 50% of the deal price, though, and might be fine getting much less for the moment in order to get some buzz. But @ 50%, that would be a $5000 take in one day (with 2hrs left on the deal). [Total sales ended up at 184 watches or $11,038.16.] Shopzilla would have had to do 12,500 in clicks (@ an average of $0.40/click) to generate that revenue.

Interestingly, WorldofWatches.com doesn’t seem to be advertising on Shopzilla, although the site does participate in BizRate’s Store Ratings Program.

You can track TaDa’s Deals of the Day by signing up for email alters, on Facebook or directly at TaDa.com.


Morning Roundup – October 12, 2010 – Gymboree, Walmart, Beso, Amazon buys BuyVIP, Demandware

October 12, 2010

-I forgot to mention that the Morning Roundup was inspired by Morning Lowdown over at paidContent, one of my favorite blogs.

-I didn’t realize that Bain’s acquisition of Gymboree would be “the largest leveraged buyout over the last 3 years bu more than $1 billion,” according to The Chronicle with Bloomberg.

-Walmart gets a jump on the holiday shopping season. According to the press release, “Research shows that this holiday season will be more difficult than most for budget-savvy customers. Families are looking to save money by cutting gifts for extended family and friends to create a memorable holiday for their immediate family.” (Walmart Customer Insights, 2010).

-Real time shopping search. OK, not exactly, but I like Beso’s What Users are Viewing Right Now dynamic feature on the homepage. Makes the site jump a little more…feel a bit more social.

-Amazon buys BuyVIP.com. Private sale sites have been second to only Groupon’s meteoric rise in the last couple years. BuyVIP is a European private sale site. From Internet Retailer, “BuyVIP.com is an excellent complement to Amazon’s European business and will provide another unique way for Amazon customers to find and discover unique and compelling products,” says Greg Greeley, vice president of European Retail at Amazon.”

-Demandware offers entry level pricing. From Internet Retailer, “”Establishing a strong ecommerce presence is critical for early stage retailers. Unfortunately due to a lack of platforms that are both robust and affordable, many great brands have been forced to launch on lesser inexpensive solutions, fully knowing that they would have to re-platform as the business grows,” said Jamus Driscoll, vice president of marketing for Demandware.” Love that quotation…lesser inexpensive solutions. I’m not convinced that Demandware is the right place for an ‘early stage’ retailer to start. “Re-platforming” can be incredibly expensive, but going with Demandware to start could be like going with Omniture to start in the world of analytics. Yes, it has incredible functionality, but you’re not going to use 80% of that functionality at the start, and you’ll have to hire 3 consultants just to pull the right reports. I wonder if Demandware is feeling pressure from Magento.


Shopping Engine Phone Support

October 11, 2010

If you’re a merchant without an account manager at Shopping.com and Shopzilla, make sure to take advantage of their slightly under the radar phone support.

Shopping.com:
Representatives available from 9AM to 5PM PST Monday thru Friday, dial 650-616-6700.

Shopzilla:
Representatives available from 8AM to 6PM PST Monday thru Friday, dial 877-224-2999.

You’re not always going to get through to a live person, but they’re both getting better at picking up the phone. I applaud these shopping engines for testing out phone support.


Morning Roundup – ShopSavvy, PE firms Move in on Retailers, NexTag Facebook Advertising

October 11, 2010

-In preparation for Tough Mudder (I survived!), on Friday night, I headed to REI to grab some packs of GU, a hat, gloves, and other odds ‘n ends. While in the store, I decided to test a couple shopping apps and websites on my cell phone as I’ve been following what’s happening with Google Local Shopping and Milo. I’ve also been catching up with others like Krillion and GPShopper/Slifter. With all the hoopla about all these services, the one that scored for me was ShopSavvy (run by Biggu.com), which has options for local retailers just like the more well known services out there. ShopSavvy’s barcode scanner seemed to work better than the others I tried, and I was able to provide local inventory. While I’m not sure if ShopSavvy is getting up to the minute product data from REI, the products that I scanned that ShopSavvy said were in stock at price X, were in fact in stock at price X. Still pondering how all these services will pan out…

-Private Equity firms move in on retailers. Pershing Square Capital Management has acquired 16.5% of JCP while Bain Capital pays $1.8B for Gymboree.

-NexTag has always been at the forefront of online advertising. While all shopping engines run PPC campaigns, NexTag has also been one of the largest buyers of display advertising throughout the years. Now it’s trying to figure out Facebook Ads. Here’s an example of a Facebook ad for Tommy Bahama that NexTag is running:

nextag advertising on facebook

I wonder if brands are going to have the same issues with shopping engines bidding on their brand names on Facebook as they have on Google AdWords.

-Only 46 more days until Black Friday!


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