Allan Dick, General Manager, Vintage Tub & Bath is moderator.
First up Laura Thieme, President and Founder, of Bizresearch. Clickz.com said mondays are popular for online holiday shoppers. (1) 12-3 daypart receives most online traffic, (2) tuesday 12-3 is also popular, (3) Research recommend marketers target at this time, (4) Non holiday shopping usually peaks during mid-week. December 12th businesses day, December 19th is the last day for peak online shopping. Post holiday shopping is expected in January. Post Holiday Shopping: Benefits of shopping search engines; product title, image, description, price from various vendors displayed on each search results page, easy to shop multiple vendors from one place, merchant ratings, upfront price and packaging calculator and so on. Creation of a Data Feed; excel doc or CSV file of raw data file of product database to include; title, description, price, delivery cost, image and category assignment. Recommend Automation, recommend after initial data feed is created, set up automation script to run. Third party programs also can help with this. Updates can be submitted automatically as product/prices change and begin optimization. She then flips through different screens of the shopping search engines results pages. Piggy back on shopping search CPC, determine if shopping engines are advertising for your target terms. Both pricegrabber and shopping.com to do this often. Case Studies Demonstrate Need for Close Monitoring. Seven retailers tracked and varying performance. Overall over the years there has been a diminishing return on ad spend (ROAS). She shows some total costs and sales figures for all the engines. How can you track shopping search ROAS? Shopping.com & Pricegrabber offer ROI tracking by cat, and others offer tools, but not Froogle yet. Click fraud concerns; review clicks by traffic software, review shopping search clicks, talk with your vendors about difference in tracking IP addresses. Improve ROAS: watch sales to expense ratios, note changing prices in some cats, get your customers to participate in shopping search surveys, consider adding your logo or phone #, one search engine may outperform the other in the same category, review interact, ranking and pricing, ask sales rep for recommendations, and if your site has poor ROAS, dont expect shopping search to be better. Closing recommendations; quality pics, accurate product descriptions and titles, monitor search term relevancy, monitor competitive pricing, monitor customer reviews, ensure rapid and accurate fulfillment, shopping search is form of customer acquisition = need to market to them to ensure your retain the customer (email, direct mail, customer service).
Brian Mark, CTO, Toolbarn.com up next. Reasons to use shopping engines; poor visibility on generic terms, few IBL's, additional; sales from value shoppers, large group of competitors in SERPs, looking for ROI based IBL's, high marking items were few, and organic SERPs algo change proof. Four Step Program; throw caution in the wind, then scale back, then tracking and develop technology. The engines they use; Froogle, Bizrate, Nextag, Shopping.com, Pricegabber, Amazon, Become, and others will be added. Throw caution into wind; listed as many products as we can on every engine, the highest costs and lowest return. Scale Back; best converting/ROI engines used to determine products to feed, limited feeds to all other engines, higher ROI but fewer sales. Scaling back needs fixing; each site is unique and different audiences, ROI still inst calculated properly at this point, its tough to identify hot new products, needed indepth analysis. Data analysis step; They realized bizrate was doing so well, because they had glowing reviews and higher rankings. They started to chart out by SKU all the data, clicks, charges, retail and ROI. Proper Targeting; tracked with everything turned on for two weeks. Started to turn off products at 2 weeks that had seen substantial traffic but no sales, also tested products at different times for seasonality. Trim as needed; when a product isnt over 100% ROI, dont be afraid to remove it from feed, remember the bottom line is your bottom line, not every product can be a winner in every engine, different audiences at search engine. Smart Feeds Win; re-evaluated ROI after 3 months, caution free ROI was 110%, scaled back ROI 185%, smart feeds ROI grew 135% first month to 1250% by 3rd month and still increasing to date. Overall effect on sales was an immediate spike after adding the shopping search engines. The normal sales on the site dropped, because the increased traffic caused issues with the support staff. Now they got things under control. They did a site redesign, and they were no longer listed in Google, he said, thank goodness for the shopping search engines. He quickly goes over direct sales and indirect sales. If you have the technology to track them the engines can provide a great many sales while being profitable. The more you know, the better you can track the ROI back to the source.
Craig Snyder, EVP, Marchex to give the SEM perspective. Retail e-commerce sales in the first quarter of 05, were 19.8 billion, up 23.8 percent from first quarter 04. He shows on that chart, the even though the nasdaq declined, the spend on the net still increased throughout that time. Physchological factors driving e-commerce; customer control is equal to customer satisfaction, imperfect service equals do it themselves, self service is cheaper and perceived as better, time to learning is much faster and e-commerce can be extremely efficient and improve margins. He shows a slide of growth by category of media type, showing that the internet is starting to pass other media areas in terms of spend. Then he shows that most of the spend is in the search marketplace on the net and not on banners, and so on. 3 Top Reasons for Underpefromance are; Product feeds or descriptions, product pricing, and the merchandising. Keys to success; start in high margin areas, actively manage CPC's across campaign, category and product, base performance after returns, charge backs and incentives, understand pricing, pricing changes and bidding, all required fields & recommended fields, shipping price /product availability, (Lessons From the Front: (1) Completeness; images, shipping info, tax info, product weight, inventory, other product specs.) favorable ratings, referable testimonials, non standard opportunities. (Lessons From the Front: (2) Non standard opps; bold inclusions and logo inclusion.) Lessons From the Front: (3) Store Ratings. He brings up a huge "Shopping Feed Matrix" chart that shows a list of the big engines and the required, recommended and optional fields required in there respective feeds. Now he puts up a "feed positioning factors" chart by engine, too much info to write.
Stephanie Leffler, CEO, MonsterCommerce, LLC is the last one up. Conversion rate; what is your conversion rate? how do you calculate conversion rates? How do you improve conversion rates? Your Store's Search capability. 64% of users were successful in finding what they wanted on the major retail sites with a internal search. Lots of people use site search, log your search queries and spot check them. Text on "add to cart" button is very important. Add to cart works best then any other text, in her opinion. Why does that text work? minimizes perceived commitment, properly describes action, common and understood. Dont be afraid to make the add to cart button huge. Shipping Specials; shopping specials are key to conversions, according to bizrate, free shipping with conditions caused over 40$ of buyers to make a purchase. The Fold... buy buttons and submit order buttons both should be kept above the fold, if its under you can lose 10% of your orders. Product descriptions; retool product descriptions to describe benefits, rather then relying on the manufacturers' feature-focused description. Load time; fast load times convert, time your landing pages, ensure homepage loads fast, optimize your graphics. Summary; try these changes, make them one at a time, track and record results, tweak site based on results. Issues #2, security and PCI/CISP standard. 75% of the 5,000 online consumers said they are more cautious when they buy online and 1/3rd bought less due to security concerns (i think). PCI = payment card industry, CISP = cardholder info security program. If you host your site yourself, your responsibilities are vast, but if you host outside your responsibility is cut in half. (Good thing I don't store CC info on my servers). Anyone accepting credit cards must be compliant. Why do this? its a good thing for the industry, to product yourself and your clients, and to protect your customers and your reputation.