Customer Acquisition: Feed Your Need to Sell
The rise of the search engine as a marketing tool has brought with it a bevy of other online-selling opportunities.
Not least among these are the shopping feeds, Web sites that act as online aggregators of merchandise and that allow consumers to compare similar products online, then choose merchants to supply the items. Often shopping feeds are referred to as comparison shopping engines or Web co-ops. Notable examples include Google’s Froogle and Amazon (see “Five Feeds Examined,” below).
While few catalogers are claiming that shopping feeds are bringing in huge amounts of money, many in the e-commerce world do admit that they’re an up-and-coming sales channel — and certainly worthy of attention in these, the channel’s formative years.
Cam Balzer, director of search strategy at Performics, an online marketing company specializing in pay-for-performance media, told attendees at the Search Engine Strategies 2005 conference held earlier this year in New York that shopping feeds just might be the next big thing in online marketing.
Bruce Sellers, president of Shop.com, the new face of shopping feed CatalogCity.com, agrees with Balzer’s assertion, adding that if used properly, such services act as searchable extensions of your print and online catalogs. The feeds capture interest from consumers who have a specific product need but who don’t necessarily know where to get the item.
If you’re a novice in this online marketing space, here’s how shopping feeds work: Either they drive customers directly to your site to make a purchase, or they capture orders on your behalf and reconcile those orders with you on a daily basis. In the latter case, the feed generally will process the customer’s payment and place the money into an account accessible by the merchant, less the shopping feed’s commission, of course.
As Sellers explains: “We create a clone store for merchants on our own site, so the [merchants] become searchable within our marketplace, along with hundreds of other merchants. Consumers can go to Shop.com and with one search see the offerings of multiple merchants at one location.”