A look at shopping.com’s new checkout system

One trend with CSE’s that will be interesting to watch is the trend towards providing a multi-merchant checkout in the CSE. This concept was popular back in the late 90’s (think online mall) and then died an ugly death. The folks at shop.com have had success with a new take on the concept and shopping.com (SDC) in early October announced their intentions to add a shopping cart/checkout to SDC.

There are several points to note about the “CSE adding checkouts” trend:

  • If done well, CSE checkouts could improve the buyer experience by streamlining multi-merchant purchases.
  • Some retailers are concerned by moving the cart+checkout to the CSE, they lose control. Email opt-ins, special checkout features, RSS, loyalty programs, and unique payment methods are all at risk.
  • Retailers also worry that this trend could be a Trojan Horse for CSEs heading towards charging more via a percentage of sale (CPA vs. CPC). While this may make CSEs more pay-for-performance, retailers fear the net would be a fee increase.

To help you understand the trend, CSE Strategies has found an example of the new SDC checkout at work and wanted to walk you through the three main steps.

Sdc_checkout1_3

The image above shows the first indication you have of the new SDC checkout. There are now two buy buttons on SDC.  The blue BUY button is where you buy directly from the merchant. The GREEN BUY button is where you can now buy directly from SDC.

Sdc_checkout3_2

The second image shows step two where we’ve added a stroller to the SDC cart. The typical “checkout now” and “update cart” kinds of features are available.

Sdc_checkout2_2

Finally, after hitting the ‘checkout now’ button, you are prompted to either login with your ebay account, create an SDC account or login with an SDC account. Once logged in, you are taken to the payments page (illustrated) before the order is complete.

Analysis

The good:

  • There’s definitely something to be said for the consumer benefit of a unified checkout system. Personally I prefer the Google Checkout system because it strikes a nice balance between multi-merchant and keeping the merchant’s shopping “feel”.

The bad:

  • Whenever you have a multi-merchant solution, you are going to hit a least common denominator problem. For example, on your site you may offer multi-item shipping discounts. How will that work with SDC checkout?  How will you do upsells?

The ugly:

  • After searching for nearly an hour, I was only able to find this one item. The promise of a multi-merchant cart+checkout is only realised when you have a broad selection to add to the cart.
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