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E-commerce Uptake Boosts Shopping.com

By Adam Eisner, 12/24/2003

At first glance, Shopping.com is what one would expect in a major shopping portal.
Visitors can compare the prices of retail goods, make purchases, research product
reviews written by consumers, and more.



What’s not as apparent is that behind the scenes, all of this is being
facilitated by a pay-per-click search engine. Shopping.com, under its previous
DealTime name, was actually one of the first companies to introduce the paid
search model to shopping portals more than four years ago. "In many ways,
it was a tough sell,” says Ignacio “Iggy” Fanlo, the company’s
Chief Revenue Officer.



These days, however, selling is anything but tough for many Shopping.com merchants.
2003 will go down as a banner year for the company, fueled by a record-setting
holiday season and a merger which saw DealTime, a leading shopping search engine,
join forces with Epinions, an established consumer reviews platform, to form
Shopping.com. As a result, the site now offers five million items from three
thousand merchants, and more than a million product reviews and ratings.



Admittedly, it has been a remarkable holiday season for many e-commerce operations,
but Shopping.com’s numbers are impressive nonetheless. On what online retailers
call the "Black Monday” which follows Thanksgiving in the United States,
more than two million shoppers visited the site, generating over 1.4 million
customer leads for merchants. These leads drove an estimated $12 million in sales
for Shopping.com merchants at a rate of approximately two sales per second.



"
This month, in December, we will probably see… 25 to 30 million unique
visitors,” Fanlo says, which is double the traffic the site received in
August. "It's just been an explosive growth period for us."



Fanlo credits part of the company’s recent success to an increase in consumer
adoption of two key Internet technologies –search and e-commerce. As a
search engine and shopping service, both are key to Shopping.com. “We're
kind of at the nexus of those two great trends,” Fanlo says.



Of course, the main beneficiaries of the company’s momentum are its merchants,
and the firm is adding 150 to 200 of them on a weekly basis. Larger merchants
appear to be taking to Shopping.com as well; over the past two years, Shopping.com
has secured 400 of the top 500 retailers in the United States for their search.
Aside from the potential for more sales, part of Shopping.com’s allure
to merchants is its low cost per click rates. Opening CPC rates range from five
to 30 cents, depending on the category; in books, for example, minimum CPC bids
are five cents, while they are 30 in certain computer areas. What’s more,
Shopping.com, citing custom research from ComScore Networks, says its leads are
twice as likely to result in a sale than leads from other portals and search
engines.



Fanlo says the number of searches being performed, pages viewed per search and
merchant sales influenced by the site are all on the rise as well, which means
the site is attracting more visitors that are staying longer. "In the past...
for every purchase drove we probably influenced four offline," he says. "I
think that's gone up to more closer to a third." Fanlo also points out that
the traffic Shopping.com sends to its merchants is highly scrubbed; for every
five or six users that come in they only send one unique user out. "The
clicks that go to our merchants are very, very highly qualified,” he says.



Looking ahead, Fanlo says that an increase in broadband adoption will be key
to growth in the e-commerce sector, and therefore important for Shopping.com
as well. "Let's face it - commerce is a very visual experience,” he
says.. "You want to see pictures. You want to see product images. You want
to see logos and brands you recognize... these make pages heavy and fat." Fanlo
says the company is also banking on return visitors as broadband adoption continues
to rise. "The more people are familiar with our functionality and our service,” he
says, “the more they're going to use it."

Adam Eisner is a regular contributor to Traffick.com, and an account specialist with Page Zero Media, specializing in paid search campaigns. 

 

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