Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Milo Enters the Local Shopping Fray

October 17, 2009

Picture 66Though it launched late last year, I wasn’t aware of new local shopping engine Milo until someone made reference to it in a comment on this blog. I then contacted Milo and spoke with CEO Jack Abraham about the full range of questions that arise with a site trying to offer local inventory information: where the data come from, business model, syndication, mobile and so on.

I agreed not to share a chunk of what we discussed but here are some facts from the site and provided by Abraham: 

  • Milo has real-time local inventory for 1.45M products. Abraham says that by comparison Krillion has inventory data for 38,000 products. 
  • Milo covers most major retailers and features both hard goods and soft goods on the site.
  • Milo is venture and angel backed by some of the people behind Yelp, Topix, Trulia, Eventbrite, Facebook and YouTube among others.
  • As of  October 12, “we are on track to do 600k uniques a month, up from 300k on 10/2 and 100k just two months ago. The site is growing very, very fast.”

Milo appears to be a very serious contender in the local-inventory segment, especially as NearbyNow focuses increasingly on mobile and ShopLocal transitions to a marketing services platform for retailers. Krillion is still very much there. Channel Intelligence is too but on a limited basis. Not sure where Shopatron and Where2GetIt are in terms of their local inventory efforts. It’s been a little while since I’ve spoken to either. 

To test out the user experience on Milo — which I’m guessing comes from something like “fetch, Milo” — I performed a few searches for stereos and sandals, both of which I’m actually looking for:

Picture 60

Picture 61

Picture 62

Picture 67

One additional feature of the site that is useful is the ability to search inventory by individual stores:

Picture 69

Picture 70

Milo aspires to be a compelling shopping destination (rather than simply a data source) and has a mobile strategy lined up. The barriers to entry in the local inventory segment are considerable and greater than e-commerce by a mile — or “last mile,” as the case may be.

TheFind is a destination with local inventory information; however Abraham contends Milo has many more local products than TheFind. There’s also e-commerce on Milo; however that element is de-emphasized at the moment.

Overall the site offers a solid experience though it can evolve further to be sure. You should try it yourself and tell me what you think.

Amazon Gets Local with Same Day Delivery

October 16, 2009

Picture 57One characteristic that local shopping has over e-commerce is the idea that I can have the desired item today. Amazon is trying to remove that as an obstacle with same day delivery:

Amazon.com, Inc. today announced the launch of “Local Express Delivery,” a new shipping option giving customers same-day delivery in seven major cities including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Seattle and Washington D.C. The service will be extended to Chicago, Indianapolis and Phoenix in the coming months.

Thousands of items are now available for Local Express Delivery. Amazon Prime* members pay just $5.99 per item for the service. Full details, including the rate card for all other customers, are available atwww.amazon.com/help/shipping.

Items ordered before the following local cut-off times will be delivered the same day:

  • New York City – Order as late as 10 a.m.
  • Philadelphia – Order as late as 10 a.m.
  • Boston – Order as late as 10:30 a.m.
  • Washington D.C. – Order as late as 10:30 a.m.
  • Baltimore – Order as late as 10:30 a.m.
  • Las Vegas – Order as late as 11 a.m.
  • Seattle – Order as late as 1 p.m.

Customers will find delivery cut-off times on each product’s detail page.

Another barrier for e-commerce is shipping costs, which this doesn’t address. But it’s a move to level the playing field with local shopping. Here’s some additional information from the NY Times

Would you use this service? Does this affect your opinion of Amazon or e-commerce more generally?

Placecast Survey: 42% Interested in LBS Offers

October 15, 2009

1020 Placecast has been doing the great “alert shopper” series and now has released online survey data on mobile shopping behavior and consumer interest in deals/alerts on mobile devices. I’ve written the data up at Internet2Go (formerly LMS). What the study finds is that a large percentage of mobile users (18-34) are in fact open to influence via deal alerts on their mobile handsets.

Picture 30

NearbyNow: Mobile’s Got Momentum

October 8, 2009

Picture 3One of the panels I moderated at SMX East on Monday was “mobile apps.” Among the panelists was Scott Dunlap, CEO of NearbyNow. He spoke about the apps that they’d built for the magazines 17, Runners World and Lucky. He said there are many others in the pipeline.

Then he said something that took me by surprise . . . that his company is focusing more and more of its resources on mobile app development. He also said that, in a number of cases, the magazines NearbyNow is working with have more iPhone app installs than subscribers to the print publication. Think about that: mobile, though a more fickle group perhaps, is already larger than their traditional business in terms of audience. After the session he told me privately that the publishers are monetizing the apps very successfully and already making “a ton of money” on them.

The picture he presented was very different than the “maybe next year” attitude that dominates marketers’ thinking. And this is the case of traditional media, leveraging and extending brands into mobile and making money from advertising — already.

The more traditional parts of the NearbyNow business are not moving as fast, Dunlap told me. In effect it sounds like he’s shifting direction in a significant way. I was impressed by not only NearbyNow’s response to market demand but also by the fact that these traditional media publishers “get it” and are moving quickly, contrary to stereotypes.

Here’s a video of Dunlap demonstrating a mall-specific app from NearbyNow:

Nielsen: 19% Drive 81% of Coupon Usage

September 11, 2009

According to Nielsen, a category of consumers it calls “coupon enthusiasts” account for the lion’s share of coupon-related purchases in America:

Eighty-one percent of the units purchased using manufacturer coupons came from just 19 percent of U.S. households during the twenty-six week period ended June 27, 2009.

The most avid users, called “coupon enthusiasts,” are households that purchased 104 or more items using manufacturers’ coupons. The 10 percent of shoppers that fall into this category accounted for 62 percent of manufacturers’ coupon units. They also accounted for 16 percent of total unit sales making them a very attractive and important consumer target.

Nielsen also reports “that more and more consumers are using coupons for both food and non-food items. In Q4 2008 non-food redemptions were -3 percent. However, in the second quarter of this year redemptions for non-food items were up 46 percent. Food coupon redemptions were +21 percent in Q4 2008 and increased 27 percent in the second quarter of 2009.”

Putting aside the growth figures, the takeaway is that there’s a minority of users who are the heaviest coupon consumers — although the recession has broadened the usage of coupons.

These data refer to traditional coupons. In mobile, coupons have different demographic appeal than traditional paper coupons. And earlier this month Scarborough Research found that among the ways US consumers get coupons, newspapers remain the top source but SMS (and email) now have overtaken “Internet sites.”

Breakfast with ShopLocal

September 1, 2009

Picture 19I just had a great breakfast with Vikram Sharma, CEO of ShopLocal. He took me through a deck that reflects all the stuff that they’re doing with retailers. They’ve got their fingers in almost every area of the digital pie now: search, display, mobile, social media.

The company has largely migrated from a shopping destination that also manages retailers’ digital data to a marketing platform or vehicle for retailers and mediator between them and the rest of the digital universe. Apparently they’re doing extremely well.

We spoke about the ongoing challenge of measuring the online to offline conversion and about coupons and other tools (e.g., online tied to loyalty cards, mobile) that help bridge that gap.

We also spoke about the fact that many retailers are seeing their print ROI go down but don’t yet have coherent strategies for digital. It’s amazing that at this point in the Internet’s history there are still major retailers that haven’t fully embraced it yet.

The challenge of attribution and of tracking will remain a persistent problem in local because there’s no single analytics tool or solution that works every time on a campaign basis to reveal efficacy. Regardless, consumers are doing the “ROBO” thing and everyone understands that. Eventually marketers will be compelled to fully embrace that proposition and spend accordingly.

NearbyNow Rolls Out New iPhone Apps

August 11, 2009

Picture 9On the success of its Lucky Magazine app, NearbyNow has built iPhone apps for Seventeen Magazine and Runners World (with others to come) that allow users to review apparel and purchase locally, using NearbyNow’s inventory monitoring and verification. According to the press release:

Seventeen Fashion Finder will feature a variety of fashion and accessories that are teens’ fall must-haves. The application allows teen girls to search by product: jeans, tops, bags and shoes; by trend: rocker, bo-ho, classic and girly or by price point. The application then checks availability and reserves any of the products in stores nearby. Seventeen Fashion Finder is the first mobile application targeted at the teen market that allows users to locate and reserve products in their local area.

The rest of this post is at LMS.

ShopLocal’s Data, Ads Showcased

August 10, 2009

ShopLocal has been busy with its dynamic search marketing product, pushing its data out to third parties and with new presentations of its circulars.

Here’s an example of “Circular Central” on the Gannet-owned IndyStar site (Gannett owns ShopLocal as well). While it’s been up for the past several months, I recently rediscovered it.

Picture 8

Picture 9

Picture 10

Yahoo! features the same thing (see also coupons from ValPak).

The Circular Central site allows users to page through the circulars in the same way they would in the Sunday newspaper, complete with page turning simulation. It also provides a range of browse and search functions too. According to ShopLocal, users looking at multiple pages average 55 pages in their visits. The company also said that 14% of users look at 100 pages or more in these visits.

Finally ShopLocal is one of the data providers in the novel but ultimately not-very-useful MasterCard-sponsored Priceless Picks iPhone app:

Picture 17

Picture 16

Picture 15

Would You Shop at ‘The Shack’?

August 3, 2009

Apparently to reflect its broadening inventory and mission, electronics retailer RadioShack is going to rebrand as “The Shack” (cue the Issac Hayes music).

Picture 5

The question is: would you shop there?

What the stores need more than a name change is a makeover. They need to be nicer environments with more helpful sales people. I dislike the name “RadioShack” but “The Shack” feels equally cheap, suggestive of something flimsy or insubstantial.

And now the theme from Shaft: “He’s a complicated man and no one understands him but his woman.” (Hey this is what you get when I’ve had three hours sleep.)

MSFT’s Retail Plans: Smart or Just the Opposite?

July 25, 2009

Picture 10Before they were opened people scoffed at the potential of the Apple Store, saying that Gateway Computer had failed in retail and that Dell was the model for the computer industry — online, virtual stores, etc. Of course those dour prognosticators turned out to be wrong, didn’t they.

Apple’s stores are very successful and a central part of the resurgence Apple has enjoyed over the past few years. In fact I bought my latest laptop (a Macbook) specifically because of the stores rather than wait for a Dell or Lenovo to ship to me:

Honestly, had there been local stores where I could have purchased the Lenovo or Dell models I identified I probably would have bought one of them. But there weren’t so once again I’m a Mac user.

Now, as you know, Microsoft is going to open lots of stores — near Apple Stores — to showcase its products. Gadget blog Gizmodo seems to have obtained a PPT deck that shows the concept and some of the details of how the stores will be set up, complete with “Answer bar.”

Picture 7

Picture 9

Images: Gizmodo

John C. Dvorak (often curmudgeonly) believes this is a mistake for Microsoft. I would say, rather than outright mistake, it’s certainly a risk. Stores don’t automatically equal success; Sony Style stores are largely a failure for example. So opening stores doesn’t mean people will buy more of your stuff, although you get to control the context and environment in which it’s presented.

I once made a recommendation (several years ago) that Google open a “Google Store” (partly for the brand and partly to demo AdWords to local businesses). Nobody there took me up on it obviously.

What do you think? Do you think this new retail effort by Microsoft will pay off as it has for Apple or will it turn out to be a costly exercise in futility?

Apple Offers iPhone 3GS Inventory Tool

June 28, 2009

Apple has developed an inventory tool to allow people to check and see whether their local store has the new iPhone 3GS:

Picture 21

Picture 20

This should be something of a model for other manufacturers to follow. Where2GetIt does some analogous things like this with some of its customers. See also Krillion’s recent widget moves with Shopping.com.

(via CNET)

Krillion & Shopping.com Team for Widgets

June 26, 2009

Krillion and Shopping.com (eBay) have teamed up and created an online-offline shopping widget that goes on third party sites. It shows buyers where they can get products online or locally.

From the release:

Krillion, the company that connects online shoppers with local, in-stock product, has added product availability at leading online retailers to its category-leading product locator platform. Through a partnership with Shopping.com, the new Krillion 360 Product Locator™ enables manufacturers and web publishers to connect ready-to-buy shoppers with the products they are looking for — at all the local and online retailers that carry them.

Picture 9

In the large majority of cases the local/offline product will win. But some consumers who are sending gifts or can wait (and get free shipping) will opt to buy online. It’s only a matter of time, however, before all the major shopping portals will need to integrate this local store inventory data to remain competitive.

Ironically, as I’ve said in the past, smartphone use in local stores could turn out to be a boon to e-commerce — as the person confirms the product she’s looking at is the desired one and then buys online from (probably) Amazon.

comScore: Online Sales Softened in May

June 16, 2009

According to comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni: “comScore data shows that online sales softened in May: down 4% versus year ago.”

The recession is of course the answer to that question — in part. But let’s not forget, US consumers are not using the Internet less (vs. other media except maybe TV). They’re just not buying online. What are they doing? They’re shopping online (to the extent they’re shopping at all) and buying offline.

How long have I been beating this horse? A long time.

Local is the last mile. Location is the thing that connects the digital and the real worlds — the search to the sale . . .

Buzzillions Adds Local Products with Krillion

May 19, 2009

I’ve been meaning to write about Buzzillions for a couple of weeks and haven’t been able to get to it. But I’m going to sneak in this post . . .

The product reviews site offers an very nice online destination (if you haven’t seen/used it) and an iPhone app:

Picture 9

Buzzillions.com content comes from consumer reviews generated at hundreds of retailer and e-commerce sites through the company’s hosted PowerReviews “solution” (#wordkill). Reviewers are verified buyers.

Recently the site has started to veriticalize its content with third party partnerships such as Outside Magazine:

Picture 10

And now Buzzillions is adding local content though a deal with Krillion:

In a move that underscores the importance of peer reviews in driving the purchase decisions of consumers, Buzzillions.com, the one-stop product reviews site for consumers, has added a “find this product locally” feature to its product content. The new feature, powered by Krillion™ (www.krillion.com), means web shoppers can turn to Buzzillions.com for millions of authentic consumer reviews, learn from the experiences of others, decide which product is best for them, and then easily locate a local retailer that has the product in stock.

I couldn’t find a screenshot on the site, otherwise I would’ve posted one. I also imagine the local inventory information will make its way into the Buzzillions mobile app and will be available immediately through the mobile Web.

___

Update: Here are some screens of the Krillion integration:

Picture 10

Picture 11

Web 2.0 Local Session: Where’s the Video?

April 2, 2009

This morning I moderated “Why Local Is the New Global” at Web 2.0 with Ethan Stock of Zvents, Joel Toledano of Krillion, Siva Kumar of TheFind and Scott Dunlap of NearbyNow.

One of the interesting things about this panel is that it was a discussion of local in mostly the product, retail and brand context. There was also discussion of mobile. Ethan talked about events and merchant promotions but everyone else was talking about product search and offline product purchasing.

If this session were your only exposure to the “local space,” you wouldn’t have understood that most of the local discussion heretofore has been dominated by talk of small business and yellow pages advertisers. Overall, I thought it was a very strong discussion.

Here’s some data that Scott Dunlap presented in connection with the performance of his mobile Lucky magazine iPhone app:

picture-16

But the real purpose of this blog post is to ask the guy who had the flip video camera and was capturing the session to come forward so that some of the panelists can get a copy of the video for themselves.

Google and the Local Burger

April 2, 2009

Andrew Shotland joins in the discussion of Google’s move to show local results for general or ambiguous queries. He points out that one can now get a local result for the query “burger.” 

picture-14

It was pointed out to me in a comment to the previous post that Google has actually been testing this since late last year and has now decided to roll it out more extensively. Assuming this is correct Google must have seen users positively respond to the presence of the map and the 10 pack in these situations. 

There’s all kinds of discussion about how this will affect SEO going on at SEL and elsewhere. Matt McGee points out that the ISP location matters even more now because IP targeting is the way that Google will identify what local results to show. Inevitably the examples of horribly wrong results start to appear. Today at the Web 2.0 event in San Francisco, somebody told me that he was getting results for Arizona when he tried it out. 

Eventually this will all be moot because IP targeting will be largely superseded by other methods of location identification (triangulation/GPS) baked into the device and/or the browser. 

Google is also getting data from NearbyNow (maybe Krillion) on the product side and we should start to see more local product data start to appear in Shopping if not in search results too.

Shouldn’t Most ‘Product Search’ Count as Local?

March 31, 2009

On Wednesday morning I’m moderating a panel at the Web 2.0 event in San Francisco: “Local is the New Global.” It features the CEOs of Zvents, TheFind, NearbyNow and Krillion. Interestingly three out of four of these companies are product-related and have nothing to do with services — the area everyone tends to focus on in discussing “local search.”

Along those lines, there are many studies in the market that show the majority of consumers are doing online product research but mostly buying products offline. One of the earliest of these studies to document the online-offline phenomenon for products was from comScore and Yahoo! in 2004. They found that 92% of Internet/search influenced consumer electronics purchases happen offline in local stores. Here’s the slide from 2004 (the data were collected in Q1 ’04):

picture-181

But let’s not focus on or debate the precise accuracy of this 92% figure.

There have been plenty of other such studies since 2004 from BIG Research, Yahoo!, Nielsen and others with varying percentages who research online but ultimately buy offline. This “ROBO” number ranges from 70% to the low 90% range depending on the study and product category being examined. The point is that the large majority of Internet users conducting product research then buy offline in local stores.

picture-171

Source: Compete Inc., 2008 (n=1,257 US adults; context was mobile phone purchase)

Over the past couple years comScore has maintained, using a conservative methodology, that the percentage of search that is “local” is around 12%-13%. Product search is largely ignored in this calculation unless someone explicitly looks for a product with a geo-modifier attached (e.g., laptops, Jersey City).

But if at least 70% of Internet users doing product research are consistently buying offline/locally shouldn’t we consider at least 70% of the product search pie to be local? Perhaps these folks are open to buying online when they begin their research and so their “local intent” may not be completely conscious or “top of mind.” But the numbers are consistent across the studies. And e-commerce isn’t going to change anything in the foreseeable future; its growth curve has flattened.

Making the connection between search query and the store or POS (the “last mile of search”), as do companies like TheFind, NearbyNow and Krillion (among others like ShopLocal), only plays into the local side of the equation. Indeed, the failure to connect those dots represents a huge lost opportunity for marketers across the product spectrum. Retailers, for example, should be buying product keywords for all products they sell in stores and using geotargeting in search and on the ad networks to capture that shopper who’s ultimately going to buy offline. But, alas, few companies are doing that — let alone doing it well.

Back to the data. Just think how radical it is to say — and it’s true as a practical matter — that at least 70% of all product-related searches are local. It turns the whole e-commerce/local equation on its head.

Anyone want to disagree?

ETail Opens Up to Local

February 24, 2009

Krillion announced that it’s chairing a track on multi-channel marketing at eTail 2009. While online retailing events have always discussed multi-channel marketing, this, in a way, represents the mainstreaming of the local shopping — an acknowledgment that the dominant consumer paradigm is “research onlne and by offline.”

Ecommerce, though significant, when seen in the context of the totality of US retail is essentially a fly on the posterior of an elephant. That elephant is Internet-influenced offline buying. As Nielsen discovered last year in one of its consumer surveys:

“If you were only able to use one source of information to support your next consumer electronics purchase, which would you choose?”

  • Internet – 58%
  • Visit to local stores – 25%
  • Reviews in newspapers/magazines – 8%
  • Friends and family – 8%
  • Other – 1%

Despite this, less than 4% of US retail happens online.

TheFind Debuts ‘TheFind 100′

February 10, 2009

picture-16Awards are almost always about promoting the entity giving out the award as much or more than the recipients. But everyone seems to love awards and rankings — so it’s smart marketing.

TheFind, which offers both mobile and local shopping search in addition to more traditional online shopping, has created an award it’s calling “TheFind 100.” The company’s announcement says the list recognizes “the best 100 online stores in sixteen shopping categories.”

What’s nice about this is that many of these stores, if not all of them, are independent. It would be interesting to know how many sell exclusively online and how many have an offline business as well. I would imagine that a majority do fall into the latter category.

ShopLocal Makes Retailer Data More ‘Searchable’

February 9, 2009

sl-logojpgShopLocal has introduced a new way to distribute retailer content: search. Wait, haven’t retailers have been advertising in search for several years? Yes, but ShopLocal’s new “SmartDelivery” capability takes retailer data and offers and turns that content into dynamically generated search ads. Compare a hypothetical current retailer ad on the left with what ShopLocal is now capable of:

picture-4

Anecdotal and empirical evidence shows that the specificity of the ad on the right (sale data, location, date) will generate much higher response. The ads also click through to specialized landing pages that correspond to the content of the ads, rather than a “generic” retailer home page.

When I first encountered ShopLocal, the company was putting newspaper circulars — as they appeared in print  — online. (It still does that but has “diversified” greatly.) ShopLocal became  a shopping comparison engine and online shopping destination. More recently the company has integrated more deeply with PointRoll (also owned by Gannett) to feed its retailer data and offers into graphical ad units from PointRoll that appear on third party sites and portals.

ShopLocal is also working with Yahoo! to deliver different versions of retailer content to users based on Yahoo!’s targeting capabilities.

In some ways, this new offering is the most compelling. Search is used very heavily throughout the consumer product research process. Yet there’s a disconnect between consumer and advertiser behavior. Etailers are aggressive search marketers, but consumers primarily buy things offline. And traditional retailers are not well represented in search results. If they’re there it’s generally in some more “generic” form, as the ad on the upper left indicates.

On an example search for, say, “plasma TV” only Sears (second position, right column) is present among traditional retailers:

picture-5

The Sears ad copy reads: “Save on Plasma Televisions and More Online Now at Sears.com.” In ShopLocal’s SmartDelivery ads offering that ad could show specific deals on flat panel TVs and be geotargeted. The greater effectiveness of this is almost self-evident. This would also likely be true for product-category searches (as above) as well as specific brand/product searches (e.g., 42″ Sony flat panel TV).

Using that specific example, we again see relatively generic ads and only one more traditional retailer (Target), though 80%+ of TVs will be researched online and 98% of TV purchases will be made offline.

picture-6

The greater specificity of the ShopLocal ads (deals + local) and the fact that they’re more aligned with actual consumer behavior (research online, buy offline) should make those ads much more effective than any/all of the e-commerce vendors that right now dominate product query advertising in search results.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 130 other followers