Shopping Search Tactics

Aug 4, 2004 - 3:19 pm 0 by

Chris Sherman welcomes everyone to this panel and describes it as more hands on, how do we make money with what we are doing.


Chris Bowler from itraffic ( and he will provide a case study of a client named "Barrie Pace". Barrie Pace sells upscale women's clothing online. Sold 15.8 million in apparel online in 2003. itraffic does customer email marketing, search engine advertising, online advertising/direct marketing and shopping search engines. Why go into shopping search engines? Because people are going to shopping search engines in buy mode, and those engines have a much higher reach then In 2003 they partnered with five engines. Pricing models differ between the engines, there are three types. (1) Commission based (i.e. Amazon, Altura), (2) Referral Fees (AOL Shopping,, (3) No Charge Inclusion (Froogle). They all have in common that you need to feed your data to the engines, typically flat files, either daily or weekly, and each engine has their own templates. is the easiest to set up in his opinion (I agree), it has a simple CPC model, they also provide adverting to increase visibility on top of your product feed. Amazon is the most difficult to set up, but it has the largest reach - so its worth setting up. Its complex because of the commissions and all transactions are done at Amazon, returns are a bit complicated as well and there is a monthly fee. You have to review 29 documents to review and submit back, could take up to 4 months. They need merchant profile, merchant help pages, storefront layout, images and content, shipping tables, and tax rules and tax codes. Then you need to set up the Amazon Product feed. Then you need to download orders for fulfillment on a daily basis. You need to provide back the order shipping info for the customer and then you need someone to handle returns/adjustments. AOL is much like, the CPC is a bit higher and there is an annual fee. Altura/Catalog City is similar to Amaazon, commission based pricing and fixed set up fee and they will distribute catalogs to their users. They also syndicate to Yahoo shopping. Froogle is free, small but free.

There are click rates of 3 - 5% because they are searching for Barrie Pace. Conversion rates are between .4 - 4%, the lower number is because Barrie Pace is an unfamiliar site to them. ROI is $6, for every dollar they spend, they get back $6.

Tips: (1) Aggressively monitor your listings, (2) Track results at the product level, (3) Take advantage of operational and customer service emails, (4) shopping sites will buy your brand keywords in search - beware and (5) monitor and respond to customer feedback.

Misty Locke from Range Online will talk about Yahoo and MSN. MSN and Yahoo! Shopping are search. MSN versus Yahoo: MSN gets 4 stars and Yahoo gets 1.5 stars. If you type in "bestbuy" you will see Yahoo brings up nothing from, MSN doesn't sell besybuy. She then types in JP Penny in Yahoo and JC Penny shoes came up, in MSN the store comes up, with featured offerings and information on the store. Then she types in "soccer" in MSN shopping, it breaks down results by category (movies, books, sports, etc.), Yahoo doesn't do this. She then goes to Yahoo and types in "airfare chicago" but the results are not relevant, with MSN they send her back to the normal search page and bring up Orbitz as a top result. Why didn't they bring them to Expedia (MSN owned) and TraveloCity (Yahoo partner)?

She then typed in "laptop" in MSN, they have a nice page layout. The featured products on the bottom are based on CPC prices. Dell is in the top three listings, they spend the most. Then type in "director chairs", MSN breaks out categories, she clicks on "kitchen and furniture" and Pier 1 is listed every where. Target is paying more but Pier 1 is higher because the results are more relevant. Yahoo, doesn't come close (try "sheets" in Yahoo versus MSN). She doesn't really know what makes product a come before product b, she gets different answers from different people in Yahoo. Yahoo is changing, but its coming way of optimization (optimize your Yahoo feeds). She feels Yahoo is working on it and they are making changes, she upgraded them to 2 stars.

Laura Thieme from BizResearch was next up. Two retail case studies, one with a 2.6% conversion and one with a .4% conversion rate. In 2003 he brought in Christmas 2003 741 orders from Then in 2004 they got about 214 from shopping, 81 from yahoo and froogle 21. Yahoo dropped, she believes because of Overture's sponsored ads. They dropped out of Yahoo because of this drop. Conversion rates were displayed, and consistently had good conversion rates. had the best ROI compared to Froogle and Yahoo! (including developer time).

Retailer # 2 didnt do as well, bizrate performed better then Bizrate requires manufacturers id and does not require. Froogle was the best conversions, but overall this had a poor ROI. Why is it not performing? Sometimes you need to go through the experience to figure it out. She showed screen shots of her travels. She basically says there can be a ton of reasons...

Q & A:

Q: How do you optimize against the affiliates in the arena? A: You can prohibit your affiliate from cannibalizing your sales.

Q: What affect do product reviews have on clicks and sales? A: Reviews help ranking and help conversions. Its a combo of relevancy and reviews.

Q: Can you send traffic to category or gallery pages? A: I don't think so, but you can technically map your results to any page. But why not optimize your product pages to say, here are more products from this category.

Q: Are there tools to manage Amazon feeds? A: Amazon has tool for "gold merchants" but they are very expensive. Nothing really for the mid to low range merchants. Its best to build your own tool for this, its easy enough.

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