Wow, what a week. We had over 400 customers, partners and prospects down at Pinehurst, NC at our annual Catalyst conference. CSEs were top of mind and we had a very strong showing from the folks at Shopping.com, Google Base (aka Google Product Search), Pricegrabber, Pronto, Jellyfish, TheFind and many others.
From a CSE standpoint, the highlight was a presentation+panel run by Brian Smith@ComparisonEngines featuring:
- Cynthia Kwon from Google Base/Froogle/Product Search
- Trent Scoffield from Shopping.com
- Nathan Decker from evogear
- Lisa Bari from art.com
There were good discussions around the CSEs trends that retailers are seeing, etc. Things got a little heated when what I call the CSE ROI death spiral was discussed. The paradox goes as follows:
- Most CSEs only allow you to manage ROI by removing under-performing SKUs from the index.
- This results in a bad consumer experience because it reduces the selection
- This can cause the ROI of performing SKUs to under-perform (now go to the first bullet and you have a death spiral).
The end result as discussed by the panelists and some other attendees from large > 10k SKU retailers is that the number of sku’s being fed to the CSEs diminishes over time with the exception of the holidays where you may refresh for that selling season.
This isn’t a problem on Froogle as it’s free. Shopping.com didn’t have a great answer for this, but I do suspect their cart trial will give them a CPA option where they can say if CPC isn’t cutting the mustard move your products to the CPA/cart part of the marketplace.
In any case, this issue is the biggest one facing retailers and CSEs today so we’ll be spending a lot of time on it here at CSE Strategies in the coming weeks and it’s a big focus for ChannelAdvisor from a software/solution standpoint.
Several folks have asked for a copy of my presentation on Ecommerce Trends which you can download here.