Live Blogging from London – CSE panel at Catalyst UK.

April 12, 2010

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

David Harris from ChannelAdvisor hosted a panel that featured:

  • Ciao/Microsoft – Tom Hyde, Teamleader for the UK
  • – Joslan Chevalier – head of Sales Europe – He highlighted that they have 12m uniques/m, 3m in the UK
  • – Bjorn Kvarby, head of international business.
  • Dominic Smith, e-business for JD Williams – a > $500m retailer


Q: What have you done to improve things during the recession: – CSE was bigger in the late 90s – most companies in the space haven’t innovated enough and hence a shrinking/flat share for retailers.  The basic feature for comparing prices/merchants is what we realised is a commodity.  We are changing the business model and looked at our reviews – – it’s the largest review community and a pioneer in this space.

Despite our best efforts to kill it, the review community is thriving.  So we are picking some of the learnings there and implementing them on  This matters to retailers because we’ll have a lot more content on   Buyers will like the reviews and come back to – They have revamped their technology to be 5 times faster.  Also looking to do a lot of work with reviews.   Have more tools for retailers out in the last 18 months.

Ciao – we started as reviews – over 700k members leaving reviews.   Post Microsoft, we have looked at how we can deeper integrate with Bing.   Now have more incentives and competitions to generate more content.

JD Williams (retailer) – We’ve been working with CSEs for 9 months.  We’ve been focused on improving our site structure, checkout, and other conversion enhancements.  How can we  work with CSEs to drive higher quality traffic to our site.  One thing that’s obvious to us is that when you work with CSEs with datafees, you open up a minefield of looking at and improving your data.


Q: You mention there are some things you’ve done, what are some things you are doing as a retailer to improve the CSE channel?

JD Williams – We get data from a lot of sources and inevitably we have a mish mash of data (we have 21 different product areas).  We are standardizing a lot of this across our company.


Q: From the CSE perspective – what do you have planned in the next 12 months?


Shopzilla – Display more content on our website to help consumers find the right product.  Making our search more accurate (black dress for example).  Showing more reviews. – Starting July 1, going to have much higher data quality standards.

Ciao – Content is key.  We have a lot of changes coming from the microsoft integration. Photosynth – 3D photos of the products.

JD Williams – make sure you send all the parent/child information in your datafeed.


Q: Datafeeds have evolved over the years with regards to CSE – used to be 4-5 required fields, that’s doubled and the number of attributes has skyrocketed.

JD williams (retailer) – this  is a huge problem as previously mentioned – getting everyone to use our CMS consistently is a HUGE effort for us.  The results are definitely worth it in all channels.  CSEs are doing very well for us as well.  We’re seeing 7% conversion rates when we take the time to invest in content.

Q: When you have deep data from a retailer, how does that change the consumer experience?

Ciao – It all comes down to the amount of information you provide. Consumers are looking for the most information and the retailer that supplies the most frequently ‘wins’ the order.

Shopping – CSE is the most cost effective way for a retailer to generate sales. In addition to data quality, our ROI tracker will enable us to manage to your cost of sale.  Also, the review widget that we have built is huge.  70% of buyers read product reviews before they buy online.  Conversion rate doubles if you have product reviews on your site.

‘Zilla – The more data, the better the user search experience.  Can you update the data faster – moving forward we’d like to see this near real-time.  We are still growing, a lot of retailers are coming on line so it’s worth the resources and time to grow your business.

Now questions are coming from the audience now:

Q:  Will you work with ChannelAdvisor to make sure they have the new fields?

A:  Yes – we are on top of this on the CA side.


Q: We’ve been using CSEs for 5 years – you are all talking about reviews.  Traditionally you were buying traffic from Google.   I think you guys should focus on a better buyer experience (product pages and search) is that fair?

In other words, I want more roi focused solutions vs. volume

A: – We are solving for the buyer.  That is a win for everyone.  It’s not just reviews – we have a wishlist, facebook connect, buyer guides, Q+A later in the year.

zilla – Product reviews are a hot topic and we’re looking at everything.

ciao – That’s a fair comment and we are looking at everything like product comparison. We are seeing a lot in soft goods lately – fashion, toys, home and garden, baby.

Q: Retailers are implementing their own reviews on their site.  How is the consumer suppose to balance the CSE vs. the retailer conflict of review request?


zilla – we’ve partnered with powerreviews – we share the review back with them.  So there is one shared review.

ciao – The content is our own and we don’t have duplicate reviews.  You can get alerts when you are left a review and you can respond to them.  We see that reviews are collected at both levels (cse and retailer) and try to keep ours unique.

JD Williams (retailer) – we don’t have our own reviews, if we did, we’d want some kind of a connector that would share.


Q: Can you collect reviews we collect via Bazaarvoice and display them?


zilla – we do this today with powerreviews and could support Bazaarview – we’d love to have them.

Ciao – no we wouldn’t take that content.  We have 5m reviews and would not share our reviews or accept outside ones.  We filter to experts which increases the value and we own them.

(back to David for Q)

Q: What kind of tips do you have for people revisiting or starting with CSEs.



JD Williams (retailer) – Know your data.  If they need an optional field, try to have that data.  The more data, the better.  When we launched, we had 1yr old data out there and had to revisit that.

The CSEs will work with your cost of sales goals if you implement their conversion managers. (editorial note – many retailers do not want CSEs to see conversion rates so adoption on this is very low IMO).  Definitely have a resource.  Have some feed TLC.

Ciao – The most trusted brands do well so keep on top of your merchant reviews.  Feed quality and resources are important too. – There are a lot of CSES out there. Spend $ with the ones that work for you.  Quality of data is important.   Use our conversion manager.  if you don’t have product reviews, use our widgets to drive that.

Zilla  -Work with a partner that helps you get up and running and hit your targets.


—-End of Panel——