Historically, CSEs have been focused first and foremost on monetization,
which in a CPC model generally means delivering traffic to retailers as quickly
as possible. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the general tone of CSEs
change to be more sensitive to merchant needs in terms of traffic quality and
therefore, profitability. Shopping.com has been among those at the forefront of
this shift, and over the last year or two, has taken several steps that are a
direct reflection of that sentiment. Value based pricing, product level cost
reporting automation, international traffic filtering, and CPC/logo pricing
changes have all been well received by retailers over that time frame. Now, Shopping.com
is continuing the trend by working to qualify consumers before the click, while
also improving the customer experience.
In the spring, Shopping.com rolled out a new shopping
experience in their shoe category. The new pages offered larger images, improved
navigation, and clearer information on size and colour. These changes resulted in
some pretty strong stats, including a 55% increase
in conversion rate. During this same time frame, they worked to expand their
feed specification, asking merchants for more detailed product information. They are now looking to replicate that success in engagement and traffic quality in other categories. The new product
pages they are rolling out later this year are heavy on content, integrating
not only the merchant data from the expanded feed specification but also more
detailed product rating info and third party video content. To help users find
products more easily, they’ve improved their search algorithm. And not to be
left out of the social networking trend, Shopping.com is introducing MyShopping
pages to allow users to save favourites, create shopping lists, and generally
spend more time on Shopping.com.
One thing is certain: the Shopping.com team has been very
busy. They’ve built some significant enhancements to their program and are
clearly working to strengthen their value proposition in the hopes of building
a more loyal user base. In doing so, they’re stealing Bing Shopping’s thunder as a more
effective “decision engine” through delivery of more relevant content, and positioning
what their algorithm sees as the few “best” offers above the fold on the new
product pages. (However, Shopping.com is not giving away money the way Bing is.)
Shopping.com is trying to strengthen its value proposition to merchants, too. Many CSEs have product rating content on site, either within their own system or powered by a third party. However, Shopping.com is putting a new twist on this by rolling out a product rating function that can integrate into retail sites at no charge. This allows retailers to gain such functionality at no cost, which is a big plus for smaller retailers. Shopping.com can then use that aggregated content on its properties. This effectively places them in competition with the PowerReviews Express product, though the enterprise level solutions of PowerReviews, BazaarVoice and Easy2 Technologies are likely not a long term competitive target.
Definitely looking forward to seeing the impact of these enhancements, and to the continued trend of delivering qualified traffic.