SingleFeed in the News

mShopper converts mobile visitors into mobile buyers

September 4, 2013


Summary: Since optimizing its mobile e-commerce experience in mid-2013, Clear Water Outdoor has realized a measurable conversion ration.

Outdoor clothing and gear retailer Clear Water Outdoor, based in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, began studying mobile visits to its e-commerce site in 2012, when the traffic was still in the single digits.

By the end of the year that percentage reached double digits and was growing fast, but the number of mobile visitors who actually decided to complete a transaction was far lower -- mainly because the store hadn't really thought about mobile device screens when designing and creating its content.

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"Since 2009 to now, over half the traffic has become mobile, but almost nobody was purchasing this way," said Brian Waspi, one of three managing partners for the company, and the defacto CIO.

How much less than the regular site? Waspi figures Clear Water Outdoor's standard conversion rate is between 2 percent and 3 percent. The mobile ratio was almost neglible, less than 0.4 percent, which apparently is pretty typical of sites that aren't optimized for mobile browsing.

While Waspi won't disclose exact revenue figures, Clear Water Outdoor has about 27 full-time employees, and it generates approximately $1 million in sales annually for each of its two biggest stores, which are between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet in size. (It also operates a third, smaller location.)

Rather than trying to optimize the site on its own, Clear Water Outdoor opted to use a mobile service offered by an existing technology partner, Singlefeed, which it uses to help make sure that its site shows up in comparison shopping engines when online shoppers search for certain types of gear.

Singlefeed, in turn, has a partnership with a company called mShopper. The two offer a bundled service that converts the data feed that Singlefeed uses for search engines into a new, customized mobile Web site. Using this platform, Clear Water was able to create a mobile site in a matter of weeks, rather than months. Because it uses the same information as Singlefeed, changes are reflected dynamically. The Clear Water Outdoor team uses text message marketing to communicate with shoppers and share promotion offers; those orders are input later into the regular e-commerce site.

Since making the change early in summer 2013 over a two-week period of time, Clear Water Outdoor has seen more mobile vistors become buyers: the conversion rate is creeping up to almost 2 percent, Waspi said. And since mobile accounts for almost half of its Web site traffic, that's not an insignificant improvement. "Mobile wlll eventually exceed what the traditional site is doing," Waspi said.

That's a shift that's also anticipated by mShopper founder and CEO David Gould. "The problem is that the mobile shopper is a very difficult one to convert or communicate with," he said.

Clear Water Outdoor's return on investment is actually pretty typical of his company's customers, which often double or triple their mobile conversion rates after optimizing their e-commerce sites info "mStores" that work better with the interfaces of mobile devices.

Although its relationship with Singlefeed carries a different pricing structure, there is generally a setup fee (generally in the three- to four-figure range) to start using mShopper, along with a monthy service fee of $49 to $99 per month, Gould said.

Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation

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Tips and Tricks for Breaking into SMS Marketing

June 11, 2013


Although all businesses understand the importance of mobile marketing, SMS marketing is a relatively untapped market. Many companies may underestimate the possibilities of SMS marketing, but using text messaging can be a crucial way to engage your most loyal customers. Opting into an SMS marketing campaign shows trust and commitment, something not true of most other forms of connection. It's a relationship that needs careful handling.

Since less than one percent of SMS messages are spam, people are less likely to ignore messages than phone calls or emails. This virtually guarantees contact with customers: 90% of SMS users open texts as soon as they are delivered while 95% of SMS users see a text in the first fifteen minutes. Additionally, for companies looking to bring in new clients with SMS marketing, SMS subscribers are 18 to 30 times more likely to use a new service or switch to a service than non-SMS subscribers.

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Here are some tips to make your SMS marketing campaign as successful as possible.

1. Be Relevant and Targeted

When setting up an SMS messaging system, be sure to establish different categories of information and preferences for message frequency. Not all subscribers will want the same information and customers who want limited communications may choose to opt out rather than receive texts with information they don't want.

2. Easy, Compelling Opt-In

Additionally, provide multiple ways to sign up. By giving customers the option to opt-in at the checkout, when logging-in online or simply to scan a QR code with their smartphones, they have easy ways to get involved. An effective way to recruit subscribers is to offer a purchase discount with a successful SMS subscription. For example, give a customer a choice to purchase an item at full price or receive a 15% discount with the completed SMS registration.

3. Instantly Actionable Offers

Your SMS messages should be timely, compelling, relevant and to-the-point. Offer coupons, sales or deals that expire soon, such as in twenty-four hours. SMS readers rarely refer back to old messages so make sure they are incentivised to take action right away. Link them directly to the product or category that you're promoting.

4. Drive In-Store and Site Visits with SMS Exclusives

Run promotions that are exclusive only to your SMS followers. These are likely your most loyal customers -- treat them like royalty! Send SMS subscribers advance information about new catalogs, upcoming events or coupons that can scanned directly from a phone display. To make this approach more effective, use mobile GPS locations to send information relevant to the customer's location rather than generic messages to everyone.

5. Survey your SMS subscribers

Once you get your subscriptions to around 500-1000 survey your customers for topics they want to hear from you on. Don't forget to include a coupon code as a thank you for taking the survey.

6. An Awesome Mobile Experience

If your SMS marketing is not integrated with a top-notch mobile shopping experience it is unlikely to succeed. Shoppers on smart phones want a mobile site that is designed just for them where they can search, browse and buy with ease.

7. Be Respectful

Your SMS customers have invited you to be with them wherever they are and they'll quickly revoke that privilege if it's abused, used too frequently or communications are not relevant to them.

SMS marketing has not yet spread to the mainstream so now is the time to get involved. SMS channels can drive both new and repeat sales and convert already happy customers into your most loyal and dedicated customers. Do SMS marketing right and your mobile shoppers will BRB. (be right back).

Liam is Product Marketing Manager at SingleFeed.com an eCommerce data feed service provider in San Mateo, CA. He assists online merchants to reach millions of customers "everywhere they're shopping" using Comparison Shopping Engines -- like Google Shopping, Bing, and NexTag. SingleFeed has partnered with mShopper.com to deliver a fully mobile-centric shopping experience for customers on smartphones, using a product data feed.

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Tips for Increasing Your Business With Product Search Marketing

April 11, 2013


Comparison shopping engines (CSEs), like Google Shopping, Shopzilla, NexTag and Bing, are filled with millions of potential customers who are looking for the product they want.

As an online merchant who sells physical products, you can use your product data to increase the number of customers visiting your website by listing your products on CSEs via a data feed. You only pay the shopping engine for the traffic (or clicks) that come back to your site.

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Here are 13 tips to make your product search marketing a success.

1. Use descriptive, high-resolution images.

Your customers want the physical products that you’re selling, but they need to be able to see the details before they buy.

If you limit your customers to low-resolution pictures that lack finer details, they will be less likely to purchase that product from you. The CSEs will scale your image to thumbnail size so a quality image is essential.

2. Create rich descriptions for your products that are search engine friendly.

Many online retailers overlook the most essential element used in CSEs: the product description.

Optimize your product titles, and create detailed product descriptions to see more results from CSEs. Make sure you include keywords in those descriptions that match what shoppers are likely using in their searches.

3. Develop a strategy and a budget.

The typical CSE will rank products based largely on how much you’re willing to pay per each click your listing receives from a visitor.

You’ll be successful with CSEs if you take the time to understand how to create a bidding strategy that evolves and stays within your budget.

4. Take it slowly.

Avoid mistakes and surprises by bidding slowly on CSEs when starting out.

You can scale up your bids as you become confident that everything performs within your target budget range.

5. Keep your products up-to-date.

CSEs will pull listing information, like price and shipping, from your product data feed, which means your product feed should be updated frequently especially if you update prices often. Updating your data feed once a day usually is enough to keep it fresh.

Bear in mind that nothing ruins a potential sale like a customer who goes to buy a product on your website that was listed at a different price in the search results.

6. Best-selling products drive the most traffic.

Over time you’ll see which of your products outperform the rest. These are products to leverage to increase your site traffic. Bid higher on these items if you can.

Focus on promoting your best sellers with your limited advertising budget rather than trying to increase the sales of under-performers. You’ll get more shoppers (clicks) who will ultimately add more items to their cart.

7. Include shipping costs in your listings.

Customers like to know their Total Cost upfront.

Including the shipping cost of products in your CSE listing will make it easier for customers to choose your products knowing that there’ll be no surprises checking out.

8. Target your high-margin or low-cost products.

Your high-margin products give you more room to experiment with your CSE bidding, and low-cost products can give you a price leg-up over your competition.

Bidding higher on these items can help you win the sale and more traffic.

9. Save time by having a professional handle your data feeds.

Taking the time to format and categorize product feeds by hand so they follow the different guidelines each CSE sets forth is time-consuming.

Your time is valuable, so use a reputable data feed service provider to do this for you.

10. List on multiple shopping engines.

Test your products and strategies on several CSEs to see which ones work best for your items.

It doesn’t matter where a click comes from, so long as it converts into a sale. Also, there are a couple CSEs where listings and clicks are free.

11. Make full use of the top CSE: Google Shopping.

Of all the CSEs out there, Google Shopping is the one with the highest rates of conversion and traffic.

Try a combination of Product Listing Ads (Google Shopping) and Google text AdWords (Google Search).

12. Enhance your customer’s entire shopping experience.

Getting your CSE listings right is the first part of product search marketing, but it’s your website that will ultimately need to turn visitors into customers.

Ensure that everything from the moment they search for your product to when they finally check out and make a payment is as customer-friendly as possible.

13. Put your search marketing plan into effect.

You can typically achieve 10-25% of your total online revenue coming from CSEs but you must be listed on them first!

For any online retailer, the biggest step is always the first one when it comes to setting up a new marketing strategy. Don’t be intimidated by CSEs – you’ll quickly learn the ropes. More often than not, your peers and friendly data service providers will be willing to give you any advice you need to get started.

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Tips for Going Green on St. Patrick’s Day in Your Small Business

March 17, 2013

There’s never been a better time to go green. Global warming is our reality, and planet Earth’s resources are being consumed by a swelling population. Waste is piling up. Join the St. Patrick’s day festivities and wear something green – and consider the following tips to make sure your business is green too. (tips offer by Single-Feed)

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1. Buy a programmable thermostat for your business. The cost is typically under $100.00, and you can make up this saved cost in the first year.

2. Use a water filter to purify tap water in your office instead buying bottled water for employees. Bottled water is expensive and it generates a huge quantity of container waste.

3. Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products vs. inexpensive products that need to be replaced often. In many cases, durable equipment saves money over continuous replacement of less costly products.

4. Minimize packaging materials by using properly sized boxes. The less material you have to use to package an item, the less it costs.

5. Use recycled boxes and packaging materials. Since most packaging material ends up thrown away, this is a great way to feel good about your green footprint.

6. Use natural lighting when possible and encourage staff to turn off lights when not in use or invest in timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they are not needed.

7. Reduce your energy costs by using energy-saving light bulbs.

8. Place a recycle can near every trash can.

9. Shut off computers and the power strips when you leave for the day.

10. Set your computer to “go to sleep” automatically during short breaks.

11. Institute a policy of two-sided printing and use the back of old documents for drafts whenever you can.

12. Buy chlorine-free paper with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content.

13. Recycle toner and ink cartridges. According to Office Depot, each reused toner cartridge keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills and conserves about a ½ gallon of oil!

14. Go paperless. Make a policy to post manuals and other lengthy documents online.

15. Recycle everything! Most paper can be recycled and don’t forget electronics – old computers, cell phones, PDAs and more.

16. When purchasing office supplies, try to buy recycled products.

17. When holding company events where food will be served, try to use reusable dishes, silverware and glasses.

18. Use non-toxic cleaning materials – they are often less expensive.

19. Get rid of expensive, chemical-laden air fresheners. Use plants to absorb indoor pollution.

20. Opt-out of receiving the Yellow Pages. The big book of phone numbers is now practically obsolete, and consumes tons of paper each year. There are many online resources that can be used as a Yellow Pages alternative.

Thank you for your efforts to keep our planet happy – and luck ‘o the Irish to you!

Editor’s note: These tips were shared by Liam Supple, Product Marketing Manager, SingleFeed

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Tips For Going Green For St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2013

It’s as good a time as any to go Green! It’s hard to come up with a “new” list of tips for making your home and office more environmentally friendly; most tips are and have been posted thousands of times.

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But we suppose the value comes in simply repeating the mantra as often as possible, to yourself and your colleagues in the hopes that eventually, the suggestions will sink in and the routine will begin.

B2C ties their latest list to St. Patrick’s Day, in an effort to capitalize on the world’s favorite color on March 17th:

9. Shut off computers and the power strips when you leave for the day.

10. Set your computer to “go to sleep” automatically during short breaks.

11. Institute a policy of two-sided printing and use the back of old documents for drafts whenever you can.

12. Buy chlorine-free paper with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content.

13. Recycle toner and ink cartridges. According to Office Depot, each reused toner cartridge keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills and conserves about a ½ gallon of oil!

Liam Supple posts a total of 20 tips, but of course for our purposes it’s that lucky #13 with which we’re most concerned.

Seriously though…recycle your used ink & toner cartridges! We’ll take ‘em! Click here for details on how to make that happen.

If we don’t get a chance to talk to you, have a wonderful, green St. Patrick’s Day everybody!

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Tips For Going Green For St. Patrick’s Day

March 15, 2013

There’s never been a better time to go green. Global warming is our reality, and planet Earth’s resources are being consumed by a swelling population. Waste is piling up.

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Join the St. Patrick’s Day festivities and wear something green – and consider the following tips to make sure your business is green too:

1. Buy a programmable thermostat for your business. The cost is typically under $100.00, and you can make up this saved cost in the first year.

2. Use a water filter to purify tap water in your office instead buying bottled water for employees. Bottled water is expensive and it generates a huge quantity of container waste.

3. Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products vs. inexpensive products that need to be replaced often. In many cases, durable equipment saves money over continuous replacement of less costly products.

4. Minimize packaging materials by using properly sized boxes. The less material you have to use to package an item, the less it costs.

5. Use recycled boxes and packaging materials. Since most packaging material ends up thrown away, this is a great way to feel good about your green footprint.

6. Use natural lighting when possible and encourage staff to turn off lights when not in use or invest in timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they are not needed.

7. Reduce your energy costs by using energy-saving light bulbs.

8. Place a recycle can near every trash can.

9. Shut off computers and the power strips when you leave for the day.

10. Set your computer to “go to sleep” automatically during short breaks.

11. Institute a policy of two-sided printing and use the back of old documents for drafts whenever you can.

12. Buy chlorine-free paper with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content.

13. Recycle toner and ink cartridges. According to Office Depot, each reused toner cartridge keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills and conserves about a ½ gallon of oil!

14. Go paperless. Make a policy to post manuals and other lengthy documents online.

15. Recycle everything! Most paper can be recycled and don’t forget electronics – old computers, cell phones, PDAs and more.

16. When purchasing office supplies, try to buy recycled products.

17. When holding company events where food will be served, try to use reusable dishes, silverware and glasses.

18. Use non-toxic cleaning materials – they are often less expensive.

19. Get rid of expensive, chemical-laden air fresheners. Use plants to absorb indoor pollution.

20. Opt-out of receiving the Yellow Pages. The big book of phone numbers is now practically obsolete, and consumes tons of paper each year. There are many online resources that can be used as a Yellow Pages alternative.

Thank you for your efforts to keep our planet happy – and luck ‘o the Irish to you!

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Original Source >>


Tips For Going Green For St. Patrick’s Day

March 14, 2013

There’s never been a better time to go green. Global warming is our reality, and planet Earth’s resources are being consumed by a swelling population. Waste is piling up.

Show More >>

Show Less >>


Join the St. Patrick’s Day festivities and wear something green – and consider the following tips to make sure your business is green too:

1. Buy a programmable thermostat for your business. The cost is typically under $100.00, and you can make up this saved cost in the first year.

2. Use a water filter to purify tap water in your office instead buying bottled water for employees. Bottled water is expensive and it generates a huge quantity of container waste.

3. Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products vs. inexpensive products that need to be replaced often. In many cases, durable equipment saves money over continuous replacement of less costly products.

4. Minimize packaging materials by using properly sized boxes. The less material you have to use to package an item, the less it costs.

5. Use recycled boxes and packaging materials. Since most packaging material ends up thrown away, this is a great way to feel good about your green footprint.

6. Use natural lighting when possible and encourage staff to turn off lights when not in use or invest in timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they are not needed.

7. Reduce your energy costs by using energy-saving light bulbs.

8. Place a recycle can near every trash can.

9. Shut off computers and the power strips when you leave for the day.

10. Set your computer to “go to sleep” automatically during short breaks.

11. Institute a policy of two-sided printing and use the back of old documents for drafts whenever you can.

12. Buy chlorine-free paper with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content.

13. Recycle toner and ink cartridges. According to Office Depot, each reused toner cartridge keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills and conserves about a ½ gallon of oil!

14. Go paperless. Make a policy to post manuals and other lengthy documents online.

15. Recycle everything! Most paper can be recycled and don’t forget electronics – old computers, cell phones, PDAs and more.

16. When purchasing office supplies, try to buy recycled products.

17. When holding company events where food will be served, try to use reusable dishes, silverware and glasses.

18. Use non-toxic cleaning materials – they are often less expensive.

19. Get rid of expensive, chemical-laden air fresheners. Use plants to absorb indoor pollution.

20. Opt-out of receiving the Yellow Pages. The big book of phone numbers is now practically obsolete, and consumes tons of paper each year. There are many online resources that can be used as a Yellow Pages alternative.

Thank you for your efforts to keep our planet happy – and luck ‘o the Irish to you!

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Original Source >>


Small Biz Events Roundup: Confab, Seth Godin Live, BlogHer, Black Enterprise + More

February 25, 2013

Welcome to this week’s roundup of events, conferences and webinars for growing companies and entrepreneurs, brought to you every other week by Small Business Trends and Smallbiztechnology.com.

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SingleFeed and mShopper are offering advice on how ecommerce retailers can reach more online & mobile shoppers, including:

Up-to-the-minute trends in mobile shopping.

How much more revenue would you have had with a mobile-centric website and CSE shoppers?

How to be mobile ready & sell on the Comparison Shopping Engines CSEs.

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Comparison Shopping Engine + Mobile Commerce Webinar

February 24, 2013

Singlefeed and MShopper team up for this FREE educational webinar offering:

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1. Most SMBs don’t have the budget to completely overhaul their eCommerce website to make it mobile optimized. Upgrading to a responsive design – one that adjusts to the size of the screen of the user, big or small – can require a big expenditure.

2. Even then, responsive design only really works well for tablet users who have similar browsing habits as big screen shoppers. Mobile shoppers have a completely different set of needs for content and easy of ‘one finger’ shopping.

3. The solution offered by SingleFeed and mShopper provides a completely mobile-centric shopping experience for mobile customers – one that converts at 10X the rate of a regular website. Mobile shoppers are automatically redirected to a mobile specific website (an mStore) powered by mShopper. The mStore displays product content, search, and shopping cart in exactly the way a mobile shopper, perhaps sitting on a bus and shopping with just one hand, wants to consume it.

4. SingleFeed (a Google Shopping data feed service provider) manages the product data feed from the merchant to their mStore. SingleFeed makes sure that the data feed is formatted and optimized for displaying on the merchants mobile website.

5. SingleFeed is better known for optimizing data feeds for Comparison Shopping Engines (like Google Shopping, NexTag, or Shopzilla) – merchants upload their data just one time and SingleFed categorizes and optimizes it for over 40 marketing channels.

6. mShopper and SingleFeed have partnered to offer both services (mStore and CSEs) under a single package – a two for one deal.

7. More info download the PDF below

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The Steady Drumbeat of the Global M-Commerce Revolution

January 9, 2013

2013 will be the year that retailers take mobile seriously in all its forms and in all areas of the company, predicted Rob Murphy, VP of marketing at Swirl. Of course, etailers have been highly aware of the need to employ mobile as another channel for the customer, but brick-and-mortar retailers are opening their eyes to the possibilities as well.

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The next-gen e-commerce player is globally minded and logistically savvy, with an eye firmly fixed on the opportunities presented by mobile. If you think this sounds like Amazon, you're right. However, it also applies to countless other etailers and service providers positioning themselves for growth in 2013.

The E-Commerce Times caught up with executives at four such companies to get their take on the trends that will shape this year. A common theme emerged throughout the interviews: The face of e-commerce is global; it's fueled by increasingly savvy and complex logistics planning, and it's heavily focused on mobile.

It's a Small World

Executives at China-based Alibaba.com are pleasantly surprised by the level of demand they see coming from various points around the globe.

"We are seeing more and more demand -- not only from China, but from Russia and emerging markets -- for e-commerce traded goods," Annie Xu, general manager of Alibaba, told the E-Commerce Times.

U.S. companies are also focused more on selling to international markets, she said, and that's a good thing, because much of the demand the company is tracking is for higher-quality products from the U.S.

"China consumers worship foreign goods, especially U.S. goods, and they are willing to pay more for products from the U.S.," Xu said. "It is the same with Russia -- there is demand for higher-quality products from the U.S."

The Logistics Piece

Creating a global presence can be daunting, though. Developing effective logistics and distribution processes can be a headache for a smaller firm.

However, that has been slowly changing, and even more progress is expected this year for e-commerce companies, especially those tapping international markets.

"Behind the scenes, logistics will continue to improve," Mike Effle, CEO of Vendio, told the E-Commerce Times. "There will be advances in major marketplaces to enable logistics, especially across borders."

The growth of cloud computing will allow developers to build products and offer services that will help smaller merchants compete against the larger retailers, he noted.

Cost-effectively staging their products closer to the consumer "is one way we will see the growth of this kind of infrastructure and logistics," Effle said.

Another example is Amazon Locker, an initiative that allows consumers pick up their online purchases at secure locations.

Online service providers will also be instrumental in helping merchants better engage with their customers, following Amazon's lead, Effle continued. "Customer engagement is very important in e-commerce, and we are starting to see more activity in this area for smaller companies."

There will be stepped-up investments, developments in content marketing, and products that encourage interaction with customers, he predicted.

Mobile Metamorphosis

2013 will be the year that retailers take mobile seriously in all its forms and in all areas of the company, predicted Rob Murphy, VP of marketing at Swirl.

Of course, etailers have been highly aware of the need to employ mobile as another channel for the customer, but brick-and-mortar retailers are opening their eyes to the possibilities as well, he said.

"2013 will be the year we see a transformation of mobile from a standalone channel to a bridge or integration between the online and physical world," Murphy told the E-Commerce Times. "That is highest-level driver that I think will take place in retail this year."

Consider Walmart's mobile initiatives, for example. "They are looking at the smartphone as a tool that can enhance the shopper's experience inside the actual store," Murphy noted, "whether it is sending people offers or doing things like scanning at checkout."

This year, more retailers will follow Walmart's lead and find ways to take advantage of mobile communications while customers are in the store.

Services and products are being developed to help etailers, especially small firms, develop mobile strategies to better compete with larger companies.

"At one time, only the biggest companies could afford the huge price tag that accompanied these kinds of projects," Hirschman told the E-Commerce Times.

"This year, small and medium-sized businesses are going to find that not only do they need to make their websites as mobile-oriented as possible," he said, but also "that there are tools and services available to help them actually do so."

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KitchenKrafts tries the mobile recipe

January 8, 2013


Four out of five consumers use their smartphones to shop, according to a comScore study released in September, so retailers must either find a way or watch mobile shoppers go to their competitors

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CALIFORNIA, USA: SingleFeed and mShopper announced a new partnership that they claim provides retailers with a one-stop-shop for delivering their products to the leading comparison shopping websites and creating their own mobile-optimized shopping website.

KitchenKrafts.com is one such SingleFeed retailer who used its data feed to create an mStore.

"We entered our SingleFeed credentials into the mShopper platform and our mStore was automatically created," commented KitchenKrafts CEO Dean Sorensen. "We keep just one feed updated, and both our shopping engines and our mobile store remain updated and selling."

A company spokesperson added that retailers who use both services will only pay for one if they sign up by the end of January 2013.

The combined service offering enables merchants to get their products seen and sold wherever people are shopping-either online or on mobile devices, the announcement added.

Many SMBs realize they are missing a huge opportunity but do nothing because they think they can't afford a mobile solution," says SingleFeed CEO Mike Effle. Faced with the prospect of considerable time and money needed to mobilize their eCommerce websites, many retailers have been reluctant to make the move. Four out of five consumers use their smartphones to shop, according to a comScore study released in September, so retailers must either find a way or watch mobile shoppers go to their competitors.

mShopper CEO David Gould said, "Like SingleFeed, we strive to increase revenue for our clients. Now, not only can we improve their mobile conversion rate immediately when they launch an mStore, we can also help them expand their reach with the most sophisticated online shoppers. All in one easy step."

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Use Data Feeds to Reach More Customers

January 7, 2013


A new partnership is helping merchants reach more shoppers both on the traditional Web and on mobile devices.

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This is because SingleFeed and mShopper are offering a combined service that helps merchants deliver products to leading comparison shopping websites and to the mobile Web – all with a single data feed. The partnership not only helps merchants increase their products’ digital visibility, but also allows merchants to maintain a presence and acquire customers in the emerging channel of mobile.

“Many SMBs realize they are missing a huge opportunity but do nothing because they think they can’t afford a mobile solution,” said SingleFeed CEO, Mike Effle. “Now they can be mobile ready in just a couple of days using the same data feed they send to SingleFeed for optimization across our other marketing channels. From SingleFeed’s data, mShopper automatically generates a conversion-focused, mobile-friendly mStore. We’ve taken a huge ‘to-do’ for e-retailers in 2013—the need to optimize their site for phones and drive more mobile sales—and simplified it considerably.”

Through the partnership, SingleFeed optimizes a merchant’s data feed and distributes it daily to more than 35 comparison shopping websites, including Google Shopping and PriceGrabber. Additionally, the feed creates a mobile-optimized store that can be integrated with any e-commerce site, as well as powers a SMS program that merchants can leverage to promote products to mobile shoppers.

"SingleFeed is perfect for us since mShopper is the only m-commerce solution powered by data feeds, and SingleFeed is a certified Google Shopping partner,” said mShopper CEO David Gould. “Our mStores are only as good as the data that powers them, and SingleFeed is expert at getting the best product information to the most interested shoppers across the Web. Like SingleFeed, we strive to increase revenue for our clients. Now, not only can we improve their mobile conversion rate immediately when they launch an mStore, we can also help them expand their reach with the most sophisticated online shoppers. All in one easy step.”

Currently, merchants who are interested in leveraging this combined service will only need to pay for one platform if they sign up before the end of January 2013.

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Reaching Mobile Shoppers May Prove Easier for Retailers with SingleFeed & mShopper

January 8, 2013

While it's impossible to deny the reach and impact posed by mobile shopping--Christmas 2012 was proof enough on that front--there are still some problems getting retailers connected to those using mobile shopping. To that end, new services are emerging designed to bridge that gap, two of which, SingleFeed and mShopper, announced a partnership just yesterday that would make putting retailers in touch with shoppers a much simpler affair.

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One of the biggest impediments in getting a mobile shopping program launched was an issue of time and money; namely, that it took large quantities of both to get a proper mobile shopping arm in play. But with four out of five shoppers, according to a September comScore study, turning to their smartphones to shop at some point, it was clear that not being in mobile shopping was getting to be nearly as expensive a prospect as being in it was.

The combination of SingleFeed and mShopper, meanwhile, represents a rather formidable one. SingleFeed, for example, offers data compilation and optimization for use across several marketing channels, giving retailers an idea of what products are being bought when, thus giving them a better idea of what to promote at any given time. Seeing the possibilities inherent in such a concept, in which retailers know what to promote, was where mShopper came in. mShopper offers the ability to set up mStores, or shopping websites specifically enhanced for mobile devices, quickly and easily for retailers.

Taking the data provided to SingleFeed, mShopper was then able to generate better quality mStores that not only integrated with current e-commerce offerings, updating with the main site, but also allowed for SMS capability, allowing retailers to more readily promote any special offerings they may have on hand. Additionally, the result would be distributed to a wide array of comparison shopping websites like PriceGrabber and Google Shopping.

One site that has had an experience with the combined mobile force of SingleFeed and mShopper is KitchenKrafts.com. Their CEO, Dean Sorensen, described the company's experience with the mobile combination: "We entered our SingleFeed credentials into the mShopper platform and our mStore was automatically created. We keep just one feed updated, and both our shopping engines and our mobile store remain updated and selling."

Those interested in trying it out will want to do so quickly, as the companies are putting up a special offer: those who sign up for both services before the end of January 2013 will only pay for one of the services.

Mobile shopping has seen almost dizzying gains of late as more and more consumers turn to their mobile devices on at least one front to get their shopping done. The use of mobile shopping is not only more pronounced, but is actually starting to color brand loyalty; a good mobile shopping experience is more likely to keep a customer shopping even at the brick-and-mortar location, and a bad mobile shopping experience can sour a customer on the whole brand, even if it has little to do with the mobile experience itself.

The combination of services like SingleFeed and mShopper should go a long way in terms of providing the kind of quality shopping experience users need to keep them interested in the brand, and of course, buying from it.

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One data feed for comparison engines and mobile commerce

January 3, 2013

SingleFeed and mShopper have partnered to provide retailers a combined technology offering that enables merchants to simultaneously deliver their product information to the leading comparison shopping web sites and create mobile commerceweb sites.

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"Many SMBs realize they are missing a huge opportunity but do nothing because they think they can’t afford a mobile solution," says SingleFeed CEO Mike Effle. "Now they can be mobile-ready in just a couple of days using the same data feed they send to SingleFeed for optimization across our other marketing channels."

To use the combined service, a retailer transmits its product data feed to SingleFeed, which optimizes the feed for use by 35 comparison shopping engines, including Google Shopping, Amazon Product Ads, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, Shopzilla and Nextag. SingleFeed’s technology optimizes data feeds based on an ongoing record it maintains of how shopping engines want data presented.

"Shopping engines change their rules and categories all the time. This is very time-consuming for merchants, but SingleFeed makes sure they are always up to date," Effle says. "We also have a team of people here in the U.S. to review each product to ensure that it is correctly listed on each engine."

Mobile commerce technology provider mShopper then takes the same data feed transmitted from the retailer to SingleFeed and runs it through its software, which automatically generates a mobile-optimized product details page for every product in the feed. Retailers use mShopper’s software dashboard to select design elements such as fonts and colors, set shipping and order processing rules, and create the home page and informational pages.

"The mobile commerce site is hosted by mShopper," says Ken Barber, vice president of marketing at mShopper. "To start selling, the merchant pastes in a mobile phone redirect code, provided by mShopper, to their e-commerce site, and mobile shoppers will automatically be redirected to the mobile store. Since merchants already update their feeds daily, and even hourly, to distribute to other shopping sites, mShopper receives the same updates and both e-commerce and m-commerce are kept in sync."

MShopper also uses elements from a retailer’s product data feed in text message marketing programs.

KitchenKrafts.com is among the first retailers to use the combined technology. "We entered our SingleFeed credentials into the mShopper platform and our mobile store was automatically created," says KitchenKrafts.com CEO Dean Sorensen. "We keep just one feed updated, and both our shopping engines and our mobile store remain updated and selling."

SingleFeed and mShopper declined to reveal the cost of the new service, but a SingleFeed spokesman says that retailers that use both services will only pay for one if they sign up by the end of January 2013.

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25 Big Ideas, Trends, and Predictions for 2013

December 27, 2012


If 2012 was the year of big data, connected consumers and social media, what does 2013 have in store? BusinessNewsDaily asked small business owners, entrepreneurs and experts of all stripes to predict the most popular trends in 2013. Here's what they had to say:

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The job search will change — "According to 2011 statistics, 14.4 million people used social media to find their last job and 73 percent of employers successfully hire candidates through social media. Aside from social media, job seekers are looking at search engines to find their next job. Google has 11 billion queries per month, of which 226 million of those are job-related." Colin Day, iCIMS

Electronic signatures will continue to grow — "Electronic signature will go from a 'nice to have' to a 'must-have' as a business imperative for individual professionals, small businesses and global enterprises everywhere as more and more companies electronically sign to accelerate speed to results, reduce costs, and delight customers with an easier, faster and more secure way to do business." Gregor Perotto, DocuSign

The middle class will grow — "The zeitgeist is changing, from celebration of the rich and luxury goods, to 'middle-out' economics, with more focus on blue-collar families. Smart brands will focus a significant portion of their product development and marketing on hard-working, everyday Americans. Quality, value and durability will replace glitz and glamour as the cultural touchstones for business." Clark Kokich, Razorfish

Companies will focus on being remarkable — “Becoming remarkable has never been as important! It is more important than ever for businesses to intensely focus on what it is that they are better at than any other competitor. What is it about your business that forms emotional connections with your customers and what value do you provide that is truly significant? So significant that your customers will part with their hard-earned money and, pay more for it at the same time." Robert Murray, author of “It’s Already Inside: Nurturing Your Innate Leadership for Business and Life Success" (Robert Murray Management Consulting Ltd, 2012).

BYOD will get bigger and smarter — "More and more organizations across industries will institute a bring your own device policy to more comprehensively accommodate employees bringing personal tablets and smartphones to work. This means that organizations and technology consultants (both in-house and out) will spend significant amounts of time evaluating which devices are and are not supportable and designing extensive security policies to protect corporate proprietary data." Heinan Landa, Optimal Networks

Brands will become publishers — "In 2013, brands will take a (Web) page from publishers' books and start creating 'content' in earnest. Content will help brands get 'found' (via search) and improves brands credibility. How-to guides, quick tips and additional product usage ideas — in the form of blog posts, newsletters and SMS — are starting points for great content. Content also allows brands to start and continue conversations with their target markets — giving them reasons to stay in touch — and opportunities to stay top of mind. Finally, content is a great way to tap into social media marketing: Great content gets shared much more often than static Web pages — for example, a personal quiz gets shared nine times more than a static Web page and customers who engage with brands are more likely to recommend a brand." Seth Lieberman, SnapApp

Social networks will morph — "Let’s face it. Google+ is not what we thought it would be. However, that doesn’t change that fact that we all need to be on it. Participation on Google+ is still important for search engine optimization so we will continue to see new account creation. However, the window for heavy adoption (and usage) by consumers and laypeople has passed … people are on it because they have to be, but people aren’t using it. We believe that social networking will morph into social searching as more and more social media platforms create enhanced search options." Kaysha Kalkofen, tSunela

Crowdfund investing will grow — "Small businesses produce 50 percent of the jobs in America, but have access to 1 percent of the capital. With nearly half of all businesses failing within their first five years of operations due to lack of capital, there could be nothing bigger for small business than the ability to raise capital via crowdfunding. What fracking has done for the energy industry in opening new oil and gas reserves, crowdfund investing will do in 2013 for entrepreneurs seeking to tap into new sources of capital to fund their business venture." Jason Best and Sherwood Neiss, Crowdfund Capital Advisors

Socialized job candidates will rise — "With an improving economy, the class of 2013 (having been born in 1991 and becoming peer- and tech-aware in the age of AOL and modern social networks) will in part choose employers based on the company's demonstrated commitment to social media engagement with their customers and also with their employees. This will become a driving dynamic picking up even more after 2015." Peter Friedman, LiveWorld

Mobile video consumption will continue to explode — "It will surpass 50 percent of all mobile traffic. Smartphones are the weapon of choice for people looking to access goods and services whenever, wherever. We see mobile video as a powerful tool to make the most of this rapidly growing market. Why? It's persuasive, engaging and puts your message right at the consumers fingertips. Those looking to develop their mobile presence, without having a mobile video strategy, will find they continue to disappoint customers and lose market share." Adrian Sevitz, Vzaar

The year of the employee — "Senior executives have been asking people to do more with less and the ever-mounting pressure to get results has been wearing people down. Leaders recognize that this isn't a sustainable model and they will be looking for ways to engage people to show they care and to recognize not only the top performers, but the entire organization. On the flip side, most employees are craving new and innovative ways to dig down deep to make a difference and maximize their true potential. The intent of leadership and employees are the same. The result will be a collaborative effort which hasn't been seen in decades! And the result of that will be booming profits and worldwide economic prosperity!" Scott DiGiammarino, Reel Potential

Use of sensors will grow — "Did you take your medicine? Medicines don’t work when patients fail to fill their prescription or follow their dosage schedule. Recent studies show missed doses exceed 50 percent to 60 percent, leading to treatment failures. Soon, you can expect to see third-party payers and health care systems moving more aggressively to intervene to improve outcomes through the use of technology, such as electronic monitored packaging, microchips embedded in pills and wearable sensors." Carl Peck, NDA Partners LLC

More people will participate in internships — "With over 50 percent of recent graduates stating they are having trouble proving to employers that they have the experience to be hired, internship opportunities will be on the rise in 2013. In sports, the turnover numbers are startling — over 80 percent. As organizations continue to try to develop more intensive and effective training and on-boarding programs to reduce turnover, it means that more candidates will get an opportunity through internships that hope to be a more effective method to finding new talent." Sam Caucci, Sales Huddle Group

Social media will continue its evolution — "In 2013, instead of using social media as a one-way broadcast tool, work on starting and continuing conversations with your customers. This will require your organization to do three important things: one, listen before you speak. Set up some listening tools (Google alerts and Twitter search alerts are good places to start) to see what your customers are saying about you; two, Respond, using colloquial, conversational language. This will feel weird — you’re used to more formal marketing-speak. Make it feel like you’re talking to a work colleague at the watercooler — do this, and people will start talking to you. And three — figure out what types of conversations you want to start. Do some brainstorming on the conversations your organization needs to hear in 2013, and start those conversations." David Lee King, author of "Designing the Digital Experience" (CyberAge Books 2008) and "face2face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections" (CyberAge Books 2012)

Content marketing will grow — "Content marketing will rise to be the primary emphasis for brands wishing to increase awareness, engagement and drive traffic. We’re moving past the infographic fad to an era of truly entertaining and useful content. Brands will invest even more heavily in video and we'll see more partnerships between brands and proven content creators like TV writers and comedians. Meanwhile, the advent of the mobile wallet will transform the daily deals industry as we know it." Jeremy Gilman, Pappas Group

Small businesses go global — "Spin the globe and you can find an opportunity to sell something, somewhere. For the growth-minded business owners and entrepreneurs, 2013 will be the year to explore overseas markets to expand their footprint given the many transformational e-commerce solutions and platforms developed to help small businesses today." Annie Xu Alibaba

Mobile shopping gets optimized — "It's now a business necessity for small business retailers to provide mobile shoppers with an optimized mobile store that meets their unique shopping needs. Retailers are realizing that they must make their websites ready for the current generation of shoppers. According to mShopper, the average proportion of mobile shoppers on SMB websites more than doubled between January and October this year and is expected to grow even more in 2013." Mike Effle, SingleFeed

Generation Y steps up — "In 2013, you will see Generation Y taking the lead to motivate and educate consumers on the importance of recycling. Corporate brands will begin to see the importance of recycling and will want to align themselves with businesses that are looking to cut society’s carbon footprint. Last, with the explosion of social media, you will see a growth in the importance of incorporating social media with the physical act of recycling." Shanker Sahai, Greenbean

Smartphones become smart personal shopping assistants — "Whether it's discovering new products, helping you plan your next shopping trip, accessing personalized services and offers while shopping in the store, or paying with your mobile wallet, smartphones will become an integral part of the shopping experience. Mobile barcode scanning was just the beginning. Expect to see many more consumers with smartphones in hand as they roam the store aisles in the future." Hilmi Ozguc, Swirl

Finding top IT talent may be a challenge — "In IT staffing, there is an interesting trend wherein the jobs outnumber the talent. While a lot of people talk about a high unemployment rate, that is not true for IT jobs. Companies need to be aggressive and make decisions quickly in order to not lose the top talent who oftentimes have multiple job offers. For the prospects themselves, we believe that now is the time to make sure a potential job opportunity offers them exactly what they want — not just the job itself but also in terms of benefits and work/life quality balance." Patrick McNamara, Atlantic Associates

The emphasis on health will continue — "Great health is increasingly becoming the most prized 'luxury good' and status symbol of the 21st century. Just 30 years ago, things like green-blue algae, and yoga were only associated with beatnik, bead-swinging, long-hair eccentrics. Now they are mainstream products and services that are embraced, purchased and sought after by consumers of all ages from baby boomers to Gen X/ Y. Wellness is no longer just a nice idea, it is one of the most sought-after luxury in 2013." Catharine Arnston, Bits of Health

Personalization will grow — "Technology converges to allow fast, inexpensive and convenient personalization of almost anything — from cellphone cases to candy — allowing consumers to express themselves and their individuality in ways never thought possible before." TJ Scimone, MyJellyBelly.com

Mobile-centric products will increase — Tech companies are realizing that mobile-centric products are not just an afterthought, but a necessity. Our everyday lives are moving away from the desktops and toward our mobile devices. I think we'll see more technology companies opting for mobile business models. Some may even see the traditional Web as unnecessary." Jeff Schlicht, Auctiva.com

Social media needs to show ROI — "From a marketing, public relations and social media perspective, I think that KPIs (Key Performance Metrics) are going to be most important in 2013. This is a business term that puts the concept of ROI (Return on Investment) to the test. KPIs are the exact metrics by which we will measure success. Everyone wants to know how their campaigns are helping contribute to the company's bottom line. Activity is not enough — it's the business outcomes that count." Sandra Fathi, Affect

Big data injects information science into relationship selling — "While many large companies today leverage internal data to aid their selling efforts, in 2013, companies will take it to the next level by combining internal data (e.g. purchase history, customer service data and marketing automation data) with external data (e.g. firmographic data, company growth indicators and third party data sources such as Lexis Nexis) to make stronger predictions about which customers and prospects are most likely to buy." Shashi Upadhyay, Lattice

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The Google Shopping Search Tool: The Good, the Bad and the "Scroogling"...

December 18, 2012


Google unveiled a revamped shopping service, Google Shopping, in the fall that ranks product listings in part by the amount vendors bid for them to be listed.

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This recent change to increase revenue seems to call into question Google's strong reputation as an unbiased source of online information, however, and some of Google's competitors have wasted no time in pointing out the shift to favoring paid inclusion over free opt-in results.

To clarify some of the confusion over the Google Shopping tool and recent criticism, we've decided to take a closer look at Google Shopping and its positives and negatives for shoppers and sellers alike.

WHAT EXACTLY DID GOOGLE DO?

After announcing in May that it would be retooling its old shopping marketplace, known as Google Product Search or simply Google Products, to transform it from a free, all-access, all-inclusive forum into a pay-to-be-listed shopping site, the switch officially took place in October. Where merchants could once list their wares under the "Product Search" section of Google for free, with sponsored and labeled ads adjacent to them, all vendors must now pay to have their goods included in the Google Shopping engine, with Google ranking these listings by how much a vendor has paid to be there.

While products can still be listed for free under a general Google web search, to become a part of the Google Shopping marketplace vendors must now pay a fee. As Reuters states, the new structure may ultimately prove much more profitable for Google, whose retail advertisers currently make up around 40 percent of its advertising base.

Some in the industry, particularly competing search engine Bing, have been quick to criticize what appears to be a break from Google's previous unbiased search standards, with Bing launching a campaign against the new tool last month.

Bing's "Scroogled" campaign claims that Google Shopping doesn't necessarily offer consumers the best deals, but rather showcases whatever merchant was willing to pay big bucks to be listed first.

The campaign's site even lists quotes from Google's founders over the years explaining how payment had not been a factor in their search results (from 2004), followed by their announcement this year of the new Shopping model – seemingly contradictory quotes taken from nearly a decade apart.

As a CNN Tech report points out, however, Bing also accepts paid listings from vendors in its Shopping section, although it currently does not rank items by how much vendors paid. The report also reveals that shoppers on Google can get past the paid rankings by choosing to sort items by price or review score, rather than by "relevance," for a more unbiased search.

NEW FEATURES

Though the shift from free service to ranked ad forum has been a main focal point of the Google Shopping transition, the addition of new features and "shopping tools" are what Google hopes will set their service apart from other retail aggregators.

For the holiday season, Google Shopping features a spread of various retail catalogs for visitors to peruse, as well as listing some "must-have gifts" near the bottom of the screen. Google Offers is another newer feature – a Groupon-esque deals forum available on-site that can also be customized and sent to subscribers' inboxes. According to ECommerceBytes.com, shoppers can also view special deals or promotions being offered by retailers while shopping on Google. Offers can then be redeemed on retailer's websites.

3D has come into play for the holidays, as well, with a new 360-degree swivel feature giving shoppers an all-around view of featured toys. Google plans to expand this tool to more items in the near future, so expect this tool to stick around through the after Christmas sales and beyond.

The site is also banking heavily on the power of connectivity to entice shoppers, with features like shared reviews and "shortlists" enlisting shoppers' friends to make the experience more social, all the while increasing exposure to its ads. ECommerceBytes explains that users who are signed in to their Google accounts can find reviews on products written by people they know, as well as write their own reviews which can then be posted on a user's Google Plus stream, essentially serving as free advertising.

The new "shortlist" tool acts as a bookmark of sorts for shoppers, who can save items directly in their Google Shopping account, make notes about the products while deciding whether or not to purchase and then share their lists with friends. Products found outside of the Google Shopping forum can also be bookmarked within a user's shortlist.

GOOGLE AS AN ONLINE RETAILER

With the implementation of all these changes, Google has partially transformed itself from a search engine with some ads to a viable online retail aggregator in the vein of long-time retail giant Amazon. The jump into ecommerce may come as a reaction to increased use of sites like Amazon by shoppers looking to start their product searches, rather than starting with search engines.

According to the New York Times, as of last year, nearly a third of online shoppers started their research with Amazon, compared to just 13 percent starting with a search engine like Google. The impetus for Google to alter their shopping forum is clear, but the move may alienate some retailers, particularly smaller ones who cannot afford high enough bids to stay competitive on Google Shopping.

But it's still somewhat unclear exactly how Google's new feature will affect other ecommerce sites. As theorized on Reuters, some smaller retailers may become outpriced and choose not to list their products on Google Shopping, and may instead list on Amazon, where listings are automatically sorted by price of product rather than by price of listing. Amazon, which once used Google Product Search for its listings, has pulled out of Google Shopping.

At present, however, there is some significant industry sentiment that while paying for inclusion is aggravating, the alternative – being left out – is worse. "Merchants who market via [Google Shopping] know that consumers using Google Shopping are generally looking for specific items that are often supplied by many retailers," says Nate Lipton, owner of Growers House, a family owned and operated indoor gardening center and hydroponics supplier. While comparison shopping is tough competition for retailers, exclusion from Google Shopping might mean ceding sales to rival stores. While Amazon may have enough of a stand-alone reputation to ignore Google Shopping, many other small businesses cannot.

SO WHAT SHOULD SMALL ONLINE BUSINESSES DO?

Immediately discounting paying for listing on Google Shopping may be a mistake. "The Google audience has demonstrated their willingness to buy online, Google is the most visited website in the world, and targeting can let you manage Google Shopping marketing profitably," says Mike Effle, CEO of SingleFeed, a Google Shopping partner for data feed management.

Ted Sindzinski, cofounder of Giftery.me, a gift list sharing website, agrees that smart targeting makes all the difference. "Being included means paying but with less stores in the mix now and only paying when a click actually happens, savvy marketers can increase their reach at a very profitable rate that can be scaled up, and down, quickly. This requires keeping a close eye on return, both immediate and long-term, to insure the costs add up but it's a sure fire way to get seen," says Sindzinski.

Good targeting also allows online retailers to adjust quickly in response to changing customer attitudes towards Google Shopping. If shoppers increasingly turn away from Google Shopping, as Bing hopes, marketers can adjust core strategy appropriately and spent less time and energy devoted to keeping up Google feeds.

But if Google's reputation, vaunted position in the industry and tech edge with tools such as shortlists allow it to win the comparison shopping battle, small businesses that have been paying attention will be better positioned to pour resources into Google Shopping and take advantage of their insights into consumer behavior.

MORE EXPERT OPINIONS

We turned to some more experts in the field to answer a few more questions. Here's what they had to say:

George Fox, Marketing Coordinator for MainMerch, a company that operates websites that sell branded merchandises such as WearYourBeer.com, on why paid inclusion makes more sense for shopping than regular search results:

"For searchers that are looking for information or some other piece of content/media, the organic results are typically the best results, but when thinking about shopping, there's a lot more than the contents of a page and the external links pointing to that page that factor into deciding the best result for the searcher. There's still a fair amount of reluctance in some areas of the country, and likely other places around the world, to purchase things online. By requiring merchants to pay for the ads, Google is taking another step to make sure that when a searcher appears to be making a transactional search, the results they get are made up of the most legitimate businesses. This is of course assuming that businesses that have fair sized advertising budgets are also responsible and, therefore, legitimate. This is pretty important when you're looking to put your credit card number into an unknown website."

Tony Ellison, CEO of Shoplet.com, an ecommerce seller of office and business supplies, on what other factors besides fees affect inclusion rankings and what this means for businesses with quality listings:

"The new Google Shopping experience functions like traditional CSEs [Comparison Shopping Engines] such as Nextag, and continues to provide consumers with opt-in merchant results based on merchant popularity and keyword relevance, but has added a monetary component, which influences, to an undisclosed degree, the placement of merchant listings within query results. This means that merchants with a high "quality score" (a combination of product feed quality, number of products submitted to Google in the feed, how frequently the merchant's listings are clicked on, and how often these clicks lead to a purchase) could, hypothetically, bid less money for a higher listing position. This motivates merchants to enhance the quality of their product feeds in order to compete with one another's quality score, but does not eliminate the possibility for new players to pay in order to be competitive within the CSE."

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Just in time for the holidays, here are Google ad tips for smaller merchants

December 7, 2012


Holiday time means small merchants doing business online and hoping to score sales find themselves with their heads under the hood of the Web, contemplating the search engine.

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This year, it's a more complicated machine than ever. As we reported over the summer Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) ended its Google Product Search and introduced Google Shopping. As of this fall, retailers and advertisers who wanted to get precedence in search results had to pay.

That brought cries that “do no evil” Google has changed its tune. Last week, search-engine competitor Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) launched a Scroogled! campaign on its search engine Bing to attack Google for giving precedence to merchants that pay to have their products featured more prominently in search results. Not so fast, though. As All Things D pointed out, Bing does the same thing through its partnership with Shopping.com, which offers higher visibility through paid listings.

For his part, SingleFeed chief executive officer Mike Effle predicts that the most successful small business online retailers will identify ways to use Google product listing ads to grow sales in 2013 despite Google's transition to a paid model given its dominance as the top search engine.

(Disclosure: SingleFeed connects retailers to millions of shoppers through comparison shopping engines, marketplaces, review engines and is a Google Shopping partner for data feed management. It also enables large eBay merchants to automate the listing and fulfillment of millions of products across eBay marketplaces.)

Love the Google changes or not, there are surely some merchants out there who want to advertise on Google, and could use some tips.

Here's a couple of good ones that Effle shared with Upstart Business Journal.

Learn how to bid to a target margin. Develop an understanding of how much you are willing to spend on advertising as a percentage of your product price. Testing products at different prices and bidding strategies will give you an understanding of the optimal strategy. Product listing ads or PLAs can be managed to a profitable return on investment (ROI) once you get the hang of it. Don't be afraid to allocate some budget for testing and give PLAs a chance to work.

Add some unique products. Retailers can often get traffic and sales at a lower cost for unique products than for more common products. Experiment with selling longer tail products in your category to drive additional traffic to your brand. Ensure your titles and descriptions are relevant to possible user queries.

Cross promote on product pages. When getting traffic to your website, your immediate goals become cart value and conversion. Lifetime customer value represents a longer term goal. Cross-promoting products helps both goals and can provide added sales from the traffic you drive from your more unique products that may have less cost per click bidding competition.

Keep your feeds current. Focus on keeping your feed updated with accurate price and availability. Incorrect data provides the buyer a bad experience and causes you to pay for traffic that is much less likely to convert. Keeping your Google Shopping feed current reduces these problems and unproductive expenses.

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