Kelkoo redesigns, possibly on chopping block?

October 9, 2007

From the blog of a French Yahoo! Product Manager comes details of Kelkoo’s new design, applied to all international properties and focusing on:

  • A brand new look and feel based on a more rationalized and simplified design.
  • A new optimised navigation to ease the browsing and help users find the right answer.
  • A clearer and friendly home page for better guidance to users across the site.
  • An improved Search section: new technology for better results, new filtering possibilities.
  • Personalization features: “my history” module to bookmark products, see recent searches…
  • Significant content enhancement: new shopping guides, new chart pages among several changes.

I kicked the tires on the new design and came away impressed, but not overwhelmed with awe.  As Nicolas rightly points out, though, there isn’t any overarching innovation here save clever design.  What he does clarify, though, is that this overhaul gets Kelkoo into a position to have a great foundation for launching future game-changers.

Reading the various blogs about this new release, I could summarize the main feedback as: “Kelkoo is catching up with the competition, but where is the innovation?“.
This judgment is pretty fair, and I really think this release lays the
foundation of future innovation. Indeed, expect more releases in the
coming months.

In related news, Yahoo! is rumored to be considering a Kelkoo sale.  And with any good rumor comes other rumors, so here are some excerpts from conversations happening on the topic:

Philip Wilkinson, ex-Kelkoo exec at Crowdstorm:

  • Kelkoo has not innovated since the Yahoo acquisition
    and has had to deal with the “corporate-ness” of the bigger company.
    The friends I know who are still there have kind of been indoctrinated
    and speak the corporate lingo fluently! Bottom line – innovation has
    given way to trying to satisfy headcount and strict revenue goals.
  • The Kelkoo Team has been split up – all the founders have left
    and the original team was split between all the Yahoo divisions (kelkoo
    sales merged with Yahoo sales etc…). This had the effect of taking a
    very knowledgable, passionate, close-knit team – and fragmenting it.
  • Traffic generation – part of Kelkoo’s success was
    understanding SEO before any other big player got in the game and then
    with PPC. About 1/3 of the traffic came from SEO, 1/3 from PPC, and 1/3
    from direct to site + other. The market is now much more sophisticated
    with a lot of the competition becoming clever on the SEO / PPC front.
    Also, google has been gradually eroding the traffic as part of it’s
    game to try and remove middle men.
  • The business model relies on getting traffic in as cheaply as
    possible and converting as many as possible to merchants who pay high
    CPC’s. There’s a big push back from merchants who want to ensure high quality converting traffic and so go back to CPA style deals
  • The quality of the traffic it is sending through isn’t as high as
    it good be any more – there is more information they could learn about
    the user before sending it on.
  • They were late getting into the financial comparison marketplace, one which MoneySupermarket has capitalised on nicely.

Alarm:clock Euro:

Kelkoo’s performance is getting squeezed by competitors, like other
shopbots, according to Julien Codorniou, author of a book that tracked
Kelkoo from founding to funding to acquisition. (Our book review here.)

He mentioned the bots trend when we asked him if he knew what was at
the root of the Kelkoo rumors. “The high margin, high market share
business that Kelkoo has is under attack,” suggested Codorniou.

Codorniou who now works at Microsoft in France (his blog),
also wrote: “Kelkoo has been facing new and tough competition in the
last 2 years. Some shopbots now offer links for free to e-merchants,
while others attack Kelkoo on their results ranking, etc.. The shopbot
space is a real jungle.”

Business models that worked four and five years ago are under threat from newer and leaner models, no doubt.

One thing is that the founding team didn’t stay long with Yahoo post
acquisition, pointed out Codorniou.

Written by Scott Hurff