ChannelAdvisor Same Store Sales (SSS) for January 2012 Plus two event reminders

February 8, 2012

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor
Wow, it’s already February 2012, time sure is flying here in the World of e-commerce. Today we are releasing Same Store Sales (SSS) for the January 2012 timeframe.  Also, as we do annually, we include the 2012 schedule for SSS releases as well as an updated backgrounder on SSS.
Before we jump into the data, I wanted to share two upcoming events that we think most readers will find interesting.
Two upcoming events
  • Tomorrow, February 9, I am hosting our annual ChannelAdvisor State of E-Commerce Webinar (it’s free for all) where we look back at 2011 and introduce some strategies for 2012.  Details are here and the webinar is 11am ET with global content.
  • April 16 (VEGAS!) Our annual Catalyst event is set to really be huge this year.  We have Amazon participating in a major way and more news coming.  The attendance is way ahead of our usual pace, so I suspect we’ll sell out.  Learn more at
2012 SSS Schedule
Here is the schedule for 2012’s SSS releases:
  • February 8th – January SSS
  • March 6th– February SSS
  • April 6th – March SSS
  • May 8th – April SSS
  • June 5th– May SSS
  • July 6th – June SSS
  • August 7th – July SSS
  • September 7th  – August SSS
  • October 9th – September SSS
  • November 6th – October SSS
  • Holiday 2011 – SSS TBD
January 2012 SSS Results
  •  Amazon – Amazon came in at  41% y/y growth for January.
  • eBay –  eBay came in at 15.6%.
  • CSE – Comparison Shopping Engines faced continued pressure, coming in at down 9%
  • Search – Search came in at 21%


SSS Chart

The following chart details the SSS data for January 2011 through January 2012: (click to enlarge)


Supplemental data for Search

The supplemental paid-search details are available in this table:


SSS Refresher

ChannelAdvisor Same Store Sales (SSS) are reported as a benchmark data point for ChannelAdvisor’s internet retailer customers.  The SSS data is not a position or forecast of any e-commerce activity, but the real transactional data captured by ChannelAdvisor across over 3000 retailers and >$3b of Gross Merchandise Value (GMV).

The way SSS is compiled is as follows:

  • Each ChannelAdvisor customer’s GMV (metaphorically a ‘store’ in this SSS model) is recorded on a monthly basis by channel (e.g. eBay, Amazon,, Search, Shopping, etc.).
  • Once the customer or their channel has been with CA for a year, they are included in the SSS data.
  • If a customer stops working with ChannelAdvisor or stops selling on a channel, they are no longer included (assuming they made it past the year mark.
  • GMV is measured in native currency and compared in native currency.
  • This gives us a metric that is equivalent to that used by off-line retailers like Wal-mart, Target, etc. called same store sales metrics – in other words it takes out the influence that new customer additions would have to our data (which is large as we are always growing our sales team) and instead gives a clear year over year growth picture minus any customer additions or subtractions over that year.

One other way of stating the SSS window is that the entire last year’s customers are not in SSS.  Sometimes this treatment can mask trends we think maybe important to retailers so we will highlight them as we see them.  This treatment can also depress or inflate the SSS trends.  For example, let’s say that an e-commerce channel decides to give large brands top search treatment or favorable economics of some kind.  In the year after they make that change 1000 new retailers swarm to that channel and it takes off like a rocket.  Due to the 1yr SSS window, our data may not show the impact of that change for a while year or longer.  At ChannelAdvisor, we do measure the ‘all-in’ number (which is essentially SSS+new customers-departed customers) which sometimes highlights some interesting data.  While we don’t disclose the all-in numbers for competitive reasons, we do try to look for any trends that maybe of interest and highlight them when we also release SSS.

There are many reasons this data is not a proxy for overall e-commerce activity including, but not limited to:

  • Customer variance – ChannelAdvisor’s customers may not be representative of the overall customer mix of any individual channel.  For example, on eBay, our customers are skewed towards the largest eBay customer set, not the average.
  • Category variance – ChannelAdvisor is over-indexed in some categories (electronics, sporting goods and auto parts) and under-indexed in others (collectibles, BMV/media, etc.)  For example, on Amazon, ChannelAdvisor has very few media customers so we have no visibility into that large chunk of Amazon’s business.
  • Cross Border Trade variance – While ChannelAdvisor does have a fair amount of non-domestic GMV (>25%), our mix and currency exposure is vastly different than other e-commerce players.
  • Software Impact – At the end of the day, we are a software company. Some of our features cause a short-term bump in sales that may skew results high a the beginning and then lower at the end of a one year SSS cycle.
  • Channel impact – Certain changes at e-commerce channels may cause more good or harm to our customer base, category mix, international mix and software.  While the data shows these changes, because we are not a material part of every channel, over 90% of that channel’s business may not have the same impact (positive or negative).
  • SSS is unique to CA – eBay, Amazon, Google and any other e-commerce business do not measure SSS.  They look at overall growth when they report their financial metrics. We believe SSS is important to our customers from a benchmarking standpoint which is why we do it this way.

How to benchmark yourself?

For retailers, we recommend looking at your Y/Y performance on each of the channels and comparing it to what we are reporting here to see how you are doing compared to your peers.  For example, you may feel that your 30% January 2011 vs. January 2010 growth on Amazon is very strong, but when you compare to the 84.5% share we are reporting across our customer base, you are effectively behind the average and may need to re-evaluate what looked like a great result to see why you are lagging and/or losing share in this channel.

Conversely, maybe you are growing at 10% on eBay and feel that wasn’t strong enough, but you look at the CA SSS and realise you maybe being too tough on yourself because you are actually growing close to double what we are seeing out there as the average. You are effectively gaining share in this channel when compared to your peers.

Finally, maybe you are only selling on one channel and want to pick a channel that is going to super-charge some growth.  Hopefully you can utilise this data as one input into that decision.


SeekingAlpha Disclosure – I am long Google and Amazon. eBay is an investor where I am CEO.