September 03, 2014

Webinar: 5 Marketplaces You Need to Be Selling On Right Now

Wednesday, September 10 at 2 p.m. EDT/11a.m. PDT

As a retailer, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the opportunities available on online marketplaces? How do you even know which one is the right fit for your business? Webinar

The array of online marketplaces is growing as online shopping becomes more popular. Amazon and eBay may make up some of the largest slices of the marketplace pie, but remember — good things come in small packages. Those smaller pie pieces represent lesser-known online marketplaces that can be just as satisfying as the big guys. Not to mention, each usually comes with less competition and is equipped with a loyal customer base, an established infrastructure and a safe and quick opportunity to expand to new markets.

Next Wednesday, we’re teaming up with Multichannel Merchant to bring you a free webinar focused on five online marketplaces, other than Amazon and eBay, that should be on your radar. Representatives from Sears, Newegg and Shopping will unveil unique seller opportunities that these lesser-known marketplaces hold.

During this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • How to decide which marketplaces are best for your business

  • Tips and best practices for selling on a new marketplace

  • The international opportunities that marketplaces offer

Sign up today to claim your spot! You don’t want to miss these tips.

August 14, 2014

Updated SSS golf data

Yesterday we published our regular SSS report and some hawk-eyed readers noticed that in the golf category update we ommitted the June data.  The reason was timing related (we wanted to get the overall report out before the data was available from our internal team) and now we're able to fix that and update the data now with a complete view of 2014, including June:




Hopefully this helps you benchmark how your Summer months have trended vs. your peers.



August 13, 2014

July 2014 ChannelAdvisor Same Store Sales (SSS) for eBay, Amazon, Search, CSE and other e-commerce channels

Note: This is a monthly feature published by ChannelAdvisor highlighting the Same Store Sales (SSS) across our wide range of thousands of retailers and billions in GMV.  Details on the SSS including background, methodology, disclaimers and the 2014 schedule can be found in this post.  

Today we are releasing July 2014 SSS data for eBay, Amazon,Google Search and Google Shopping/PLA.  ComScore recently reported that US e-commerce grew at 11.8% y/y for the desktop which translates to 13.1% y/y with mobile included so that is the baseline for 2014 growth.  


Here are the y/y SSS results for July 2014, the first month of Q2:

July 2014 SSS Results 

  • Amazon - Amazon's July SSS came in at 40.4%, an increase compared to June’s 34.4% .  Amazon has increased its y/y growth rate every month so far in 2014 - a very impressive performance. We have Amazon details further in the report.
  • eBay -  eBay's July came in at 9.7% down from June’s 12.3% and below the e-commerce growth rate, indicating that eBay continues to face headwinds from the Panda action and breach episode. Further in the report, we have details of the eBay internals.
  • Other 3PM -3PM continued strong growth in July coming in at 39%.  While this is a decrease fromthe 47.8% recorded in June, these channels are a bit more volatile in m/m performance than larger more established channels.  @39%, they are growing 3X e-commerce which is quite impressive .
  • CSE - Comparison Shopping Engines came in at 9.5% for July up from June’s 6.7%.
  • Search - Search came in at 7% for July a decrease from June’s 20.4% y/y growth.  Later in the report we have more search details.


 SSS Chart 

The following chart details the SSS data for July 2013 through July 2014: (click to enlarge)


eBay Details

eBay's SSS for July was 9.7%.  To get a feel for what is driving the marketplace's performance, here are the interior data points for the month:

  • eBay auctions - Down 8.2% y/y. 
  • eBay fixed-price - Up 12.8% y/y - a decrease from June’s 18.4%, which puts this key part of eBay growing in-line with e-commerce.
  • eBay Motors  (parts and accessories) - P+A  was down again in July coming in at 8% compared to June’s 10.5%.  This brings P+A's growth rate below e-commerce and is the slowest SSS we have recorded since February 2013's 6.8%.

 Here are the TTM (trailing twelve month) trends on these eBay internals.  (click to enlarge)


Amazon Details


Last month we released two new data points around FBA:

  • Percent FBA - This measures the % of Amazon GMV through the ChannelAdvisor system that was fulfilled through FBA and tracks it on a y/y basis.  For July 2014, 38.2% of Amazon GMV was FBA (therefore 62.8% was NOT shipped via FBA).  That was up from July 2013 where 29.8% of the GMV was FBA.  That's a 8.4% increase y/y in FBA as a % of GMV.  As we head into the holiday, it will be interesting to see the trends in this data point.
  • %FBA non Amazon - Here we look at the total bucket of FBA-driven GMV and look at the % that was not fulfilled for Amazon sales (website, other 3PMs, search, cse, etc.).  In July 2013, 1.3% was non-Amazon fulfilled.  Then in July 2014, we saw this grow 47.7% to 2%.


It will be interesting to track how these FBA related metrics change as we head into the ever-critical holiday period.

Supplemental data for Search

Here are the July Search internals: (click to enlarge)


Note: these are all y/y SSS comparisons (July 2014 vs. July 2013).

Search SSS increased 7% for July.  Search was a mixed bag this month.  AOV was up to $157.35, a 6% y/y increase. Conversion Rate (CR) improved 8% to 3.25% but CPC was down 7% due to the headwind of mobile traffic.  Total cost was up 1%.  While clicks were slow at 3%, the conversion rate increase led to an increase of 18% in orders.

Supplemental data for Google Shopping

In September 2012, we introduced a new set of data around Google Shopping.  Here is the July Google Shopping/Product Listing Ad supplemental data:


Overall, Google Shopping came in at 40.8% y/y increase, a decrease from June’s 47.8%%.   The Conversion rate was down 9.5%, but AOV offset the CR headwind with a 8.9% y/y increase coming in at $107.83.  Looking at the data, it appears that PLAs are now also feeling the mobile conversion rate headwinds from mobile traffic and Google is counteracting that by showing higher priced items.

 Golf update

In May we provided a look into the golf category and due to timing were not able to provide an update in June.  Here is an update on the golf category including the June and July data.  As you can see, overall at least for eBay and Amazon the golf category had a turn around in July. Amazon was particularly robust growing 42.8% y/y.



July started Q3 with strong results for most of the channels we track.  As we get into Back to School Season in August/September we will have our first view on how Holiday 14 is setting up.  This year we have another compressed holiday so we should also expect to see promotions start early this year.  Stay tuned!

This blog post was written by Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor.

August 12, 2014

What You Need to Know About eBay’s 14.2 Seller Release

Today, eBay announced its second seller release of 2014 (eBay refers to it as SR 14.2). In this post, we’ll review each of the components of the release and what it means for you as a seller. The overarching theme of SR 14.2 is more support for more buyers. EBay continues to standardize the experience for buyers and provide more structure for sellers.  

Buyer-Canceled Transactions

Starting in September (for the US and UK, October in Germany), buyers will be able to request to cancel a transaction for one hour after the order is placed. “Request” is the operative word here, as sellers aren’t obligated to accept cancellation requests (although eBay encourages it to provide a better buyer experience). Sellers will have three days to respond to a cancellation request, and if ignored, the request is declined.  

Structured Flow for Returns (US, UK, and DE)

Buyers will no longer be encouraged to use M2M or Resolution Center to contact sellers about returns. Instead, the Contact Seller page will offer several options, including an option to request a return or simply ask the seller a question. Provided that the request is within the seller’s stated Returns Policy, the buyer will be able to print a return label and send the product back to the seller.

EBay will automatically process a refund for PayPal payments, and Final Value Fee is automatically refunded when applicable. In the event of a return due to “Item not as described”, eBay charges the seller the return shipping cost (rates here). If a seller wants to dispute an “Item not as described” return, there will be an interface in My eBay to do so.  

Contact Seller Page with new options:  

Contact seller page with new options

UK Global Shipping Programme

The Global Shipping Programme has seen lots of success in the US and is now expanding to the UK. Sellers in the UK will now be able to offer international shipping to up to 20 countries without the headache of international fulfillment. EBay will manage all the customs, duties and logistics. Sellers simply need to ship the order to the eBay distribution centre in the UK (which will automatically appear as the shipping address on the order). 

UK Click & Collect at Argos

Following the successful pilot of Click & Collect at Argos, eBay is expanding this offering to all sellers and 650 Argos locations. All listings will opted in by early October, but sellers can opt out at an account level or at a listing level if needed.

When a buyer elects to collect an item from an Argos location, the Argos address and special order identifier will automatically be populated as the shipping address on the order. It’s very important for sellers not to alter this information at all — but fortunately there are no other special label requirements. Sellers can then use their own standard fulfilment methods to ship items to the Argos location. 

A few additional Click & Collect details:

  • Must offer Fast ’N Free Shipping

  • Must use an approved shipping carrier (Parcelforce, Royal Mail, DPD, Yodel, UPS)

  • Returns are handled through the seller (not through Argos)

Extended Holiday Returns

To accommodate holiday shoppers, sellers with the Top Rated Plus badge (Premium Service in the UK) will be required to offer extended holiday returns. Specifically, sellers must accept returns through Jan 31, 2015 for all purchases between Nov 1 and Dec 31, 2014. You can configure your policy via sellers’ Returns Business Policy on eBay.  

Category and Item Specifics Changes

As always in eBay seller releases, there are changes to category and item specifics in SR 14.2. The categories below are the ones that will be changing. The best bet for maximizing visibility before and after the changes is to make sure you’re populating the “Type” item specific as often as possible. In most cases, your listings will be automatically moved to the correct new category if the “Type” value is populated properly. Otherwise, listings will end up in the “Other” subcategory and will be harder to find.  

Categories with Major Changes

  • Motors: P&A

    • Charging & Starting Systems

    • Door & Door Handles

    • Several subcategories in Motorcycle Parts

  • Sporting Goods

    • Exercise & Fitness

      • Clothing

      • Strength Training

      • Fitness Monitors

      • Yoga & Pilates

    • Fishing

    • Boxing, Martial Arts & MMA

Categories with Minor Changes:

  • Business & Industrial

  • Crafts, Dolls & Bears (Note: major changes to this category expected in 2015)

  • Health & Beauty

  • Home & Garden

  • Musical Instruments & Gear

  • Toys & Hobbies (Lego)

Global Shipping Program “3.1” (US only)

To expand its reach to more buyers worldwide, eBay will begin making listings available for the Global Shipping Program (GSP) without requiring sellers to explicitly enroll in the program. Starting in late September, buyers in 10 English-speaking countries will be shown international shipping options on listings that don’t already specify international shipping (more countries will be added later). This applies to sellers who aren’t already enrolled in GSP or those enrolled without a significant amount of listings enabled. Sellers can still specify regional, buyer or country exclusions if needed.  

Sellers can also enroll in the existing Global Shipping Program, which will expand their reach to the 60 countries currently supported. At ChannelAdvisor, we’ve seen a surge in shipments to Russia and Brazil, now that those countries have been added.  

If you’re already opted in to GSP, or if you offer international shipping on more than 66% of your listings, this will not apply to you.  

Seller Protection/Automatic Defect Removal

August 20 is the day of reckoning for the new defect policy at eBay. Sellers have found several instances where defects should be removed and have been able to contact eBay directly to request these removals. Now, eBay will begin automatically removing defects (weekly on Wednesdays) if any of the below criteria is met:

  • Buyer didn’t pay and an unpaid item case is opened

  • eBay Money Back Guarantee or PayPal Purchase Protection case is ruled in seller’s favor

  • Defect was a direct result of an eBay site issue or program error

  • Buyer violated Buying Practices Policy

  • eBay/PayPal instructs seller to hold a shipment or cancels the transaction (e.g., fraud)

  • eBay concludes that a defect was a direct result of systemic shipping delays (e.g., wide-scale shipping carrier delays, extreme weather)

This is a lot of information, so thanks for hanging in there until the end. Stay tuned for more updates from us as these features roll out, and as we make further enhancements to our software solution. While these changes may seem daunting, they each contribute to eBay’s goal of providing a retail-level experience so buyers can shop with confidence and increase their loyalty — which should translate into higher sales for you as a seller.  

August 11, 2014

Exclusive Deep Dive Into Facebook's "Buy Button" - Part III/III

This is a multi-part post:

  • Part I/II - Introducing 'Buy on Facebook' (here)
  • Part II/III - Tour: Completing a transaction and post transaction flow (here)
  • Part III/III - What does this mean? (you are here)

Welcome to part 3 of a 3 part series - What does this mean?

In Part I, we looked at some mind-boggling stats around Facebook's audience, and also went over the history of several failed attempts at the intersection of 'social and e-commerce'.  Then in part II we went on an in-depth tour of the complete Facebook Buy Button user experience.  In this last post, we'll explore what this new development means for retailers.

Sizing the FB buy opportunity

While it's good to be skeptical when all you have to go on is a test of a buy-button and some anecdotal success from retailers such as Lolly Wolly Doodle, it's hard to argue with this math:


This simple model takes the Facebook published Monthly Active User (MAUs) which is 1.317b and looks at the implication if this buy button was used by various small percentages of that audience to buy a $100 average-order-value (AOV) item(s).  We calculate the Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) on a monthly basis and annual (simply 12X monthly).

This model assumes that each of the 1.317b users sees ads and clicks on one a month.  Facebook newsfeed advertisers report a 3-7% CTR for newsfeed ads and there are ~200 pageviews/m per MAU so when you multiply all that out, it works out to be similar to the above.

You can see even at very small .25% adoption rates, that's ~3m orders or $300m/m in GMV which equates to $4b in GMV annually.  As you scale up it gets much, much larger with $50b at a 3% adoption rate.

To put this in perspective, as of Q2 2014, both eBay and Amazon's 3P marketplace had $80b run-rates.

Said another way, with pretty minimal adoption rate, the Facebook buy button could become a meaningful GMV e-commerce channel very quickly.

Case study: Groupon Goods

If this seems like a hail mary to you, there is a precedent here.  In 2011, Groupon launched "Groupon Goods" - essentially a deep-discount-deals based marketplace.  The idea was that if they offered e-commerce type product deals to their > 130m email subscribers they could great a pretty meaningful marketplace.  I actually created a table like the Facebook table that used a similar basic model in this post.

As of Q1, Groupon reported:

  • $709 gross billings for Goods (equivalent of GMV)
  • This is a $2.8b run-rate marketplace - if you approximate the Q4 bump, you get to $3.5b.
  • This took about three years to get to this scale.
  • Groupon now reports MAUs instead of email subs and their MAUs are 51.8m.

So here you have a real-world case study of a  $3.5b marketplace that was built on a similar premise and it worked.  Of course, nothing happens overnight, but the fact they have successfully done this shows that Facebook's strategy isn't much of a hail mary at all.  In fact, if we do the math on that 51.8m MAU number, assuming a $100 AOV you get a 4.6% conversion rate.  If we plugged that into our Facebook model, we'd have a $72b GMV marketplace being built.  That would probably take 3-5yrs, great execution and this also assumes that MAUs are constant, which they are not, they are growing.

No matter how you slice it, I think retailers need to watch Facebook's e-commerce efforts very closely as this could be one of the largest new e-commerce channels we have seen born since Amazon, eBay and Google.

One other key is the business model. Groupon Goods decided to focus on narrow selection, but very deep discounts.  Because of that liquidation/clearance mindset they are able to charge the merchant in the 10-30% level.  This has created the DNA of their offering.

After Part I/II we received a lot of inquiries about the Facebook business model. While they haven't disclosed how the economics of the Facebook Buy Button work, there is an interesting concept to look at from China.

What's the business model? Reading the Chinese tea leaves (Alibaba)

In the traditional US based e-commerce channels you have two business models:

  • Take-Rate (Sometimes called CPA - Cost Per Action) - Marketplaces like eBay and Amazon have a take-rate between 8-15% depending on category.  
  • Per-click (Sometimes called CPC) - Google and comparison shopping engines work on this system with either a CPC auction or category-based rate card.


  • The pro of take-rate is that it is easy to calculate and understand.  If a take-rate is 10%, you know for a $85 item, you will pay $8.50.
  • The pro of CPC is you acquire a customer, so you can factor that value into your equation. 


  • The con of take-rate is two fold.  First, you frequently cannot re-market to the consumer, so this is pure 'leasing' of customers with zero chance at customer acquisition.
  • The second negative is the bluntness of this economic model. Perhaps you sell apparel items (15% take-rate) but you have some items with a 30% margin and others with 5%.  It obviously does not make sense to sell the lower margin items as you would be upside-down as much as 12%.   So the take-rate model can limit the selection.  Also, in theory I may be willing to pay 'more' than 15% for that 30% item, thus you limit the upside for the channel in that example.
  • The con for the CPC model is there is no performance guaranteed.  You have to measure the conversion rate (CR) very carefully because you can easily spend a lot of budget for a lot of traffic, but that traffic may not turn into buyers.  This model makes it very hard for mid-sized and SMB-sized businesses to understand the model due to its complexity.

At ChannelAdvisor, we have been working with Tmall (Alibaba's B2C channel) and they have a different business model that I'll call hybrid.

In the hybrid model, there is a take-rate and a CPC.  The take-rate is very small in the 2-5% range to essentially cover the payment costs and other hard-costs.  On top of the take-rate there are advertising options (CPM, CPC, etc.).  So essentially the retailer has a lot more control over what and how they spend $. 

In many ways this is the best of both worlds.  You get a ton of selection, and the retailer gets a lot of flexibility:

  • Want to lower your price to attract buyers?  Fine.
  • Want to sponsor your listing so it gets more exposure? Sure you can do that via CPM or CPC.
  • Want to acquire customers? This model includes a customer acquisition with the sale.

In the example I gave before of an apparel seller with selection that spans 3-30%, the seller wins and the marketplace/channel wins. 

Based on Facebook's recent big moves (see the next section), I wouldn't be surprised if they replicated some of the components of this model.  This actually fits with their advertising units and business model in addition to really differentiating their offering from the status quo of Amazon, eBay and Google.

Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp

Another element of our experience with Chinese e-commerce that is interesting is the fact that e-commerce is not only very active in social networks, but also is infused throughout the messenger and chat applications.  A common use case that hasn't made it to the US is:

Three consumers are having a group chat about something. One of them mentions a product, e.g. "I just bought this cool GoPro camera."  The chat system detects this and knows that GoPro has a chat brand.  The consumer can then invite GoPro right into the conversation.  From here a live customer service /sales rep at GoPro can say "Hey everyone thanks for inviting me, we have a great deal today on our entry product." The conversation goes from there and the consumers can purchase directly from the chat/messenger app - everything is totally wired together with one seamless purchasing experience as the mobile wallet contains everything needed to consummate the transaction.

Here's an example of a purchase in-stream on Wechat:


With that in mind, facts like this start to make sense:

  • Instagram - Founder Systrom recently said: (bolding is my emphasis) Asked if he had considered adding commerce tools, such as the ability for a customer to see, say, a Burberry scarf in a photo in her stream and click-to-buy, Systrom says the company has “certainly thought about it.” But, for now, he is focused on “onboarding” brands. “There are still literally brands that are not on Instagram” yet, he said.  (In Fortune Magazine) Reminder - Facebook owns Instagram.
  • David Marcus, previously the GM of PayPal was recruited to Facebook to run messenger.
  • Facebook acquires WhatsApp (top messaging app) for $19b.

Facebook seems to have noticed these use cases in other regions and has designs on bringing them into their broad portfolio of applications used by billions of consumers globally.

Implications for other social media companies

When you look at the comScore data for top smartphone apps:


The top mobile sites/apps/activities are social networks, music and e-commerce.  Today the social networks are primarily monetizing that golden spot on the smartphone through brand ads and increasingly ad units designed for the installation and activation/reactivation of mobile apps.  Now that Facebook has made a move in this direction, I suspect you will see the other sites on that comScore list make moves.  In fact, there's already evidence to this end:

  • Twitter buy buttons have been spotted in the wild like this: (article is here)


  • Twitter also has added payment/order settings to their android app (article is here)



  • Wanelo buy buttons have been spotted in the wild: (article is here)
  • Apple is rumored to be working on a payment system (here)

It doesn't stop at traditional social media applications.  For example, Snapchat recently filed a trademark for a payment system, indicating they are on the path to implementing a Wechat like system.  Snapchat enjoys over 20m active users - most of them are in the prime millennial demographic that retailers are seeking.

The conclusion is we believe that we are in the early days of the start of an explosion of interesting new e-commerce channels for retailers and consumers.  

Implications for Google

Even before this explosion of new competitors, Google is under significant pressure from the transition to mobile.  If a consumer sees a PLA (Product Listing Ad) on a phone for a product they are looking for, then goes to that mobile retail site or app and they only converts at .8% - so mobile is only 30% as effective.  On top of that, smartphone/mobile traffic is on a path to dwarf 'desktop', that will put a big chunk (40% by most estimates) of Google's revenue at risk.   This is already apparent in the CPC trends which are down 7-13% (site/network ex-FX). This is tracking the movement of search volume to mobile and subsequent decrease in conversion, followed by a decrease in what advertisers are willing to pay on a relative per-transaction basis.

Now that Facebook has effectively built a marketplace that solves this problem, if they can start taking share from Google, then if the other top mobile applications join in, it could present a big problem for Google.  You could even imagine a world where you rarely use Google's mobile search experience to find/buy products because consumers are used to using Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Apple's payment system where you can buy with the convenience of not having to ever enter your payment/shipping information.  Going through the desktop traditional Google->advertisers->site->checkout->done flow will feel like walking through molasses.

It will be interesting to see if/when Google extends the Play, Wallet and Google Shopping Express experience to the traditional shopping experience.

Implications for eBay and Amazon

Over the years, eBay and Amazon have faced competition from many different fronts.  None of those competitors have had the reach and scope that you see with Facebook and other social networks.  Also, the battlefield wasn't fought on a platform transition as we are seeing now from desktop to mobile.  It's easy to pit these players against each other - Amazon+eBay vs. Facebook/Twitter and certainly we will be watching that.  That being said, I think what we will see is two things:

  1. Today in the US only 10% of transactions on-line and while e-commerce is growing 15%, it will take a long time to get to 20%.  These new experiences have the ability to accelerate that and create a rising tide that lifts all the e-commerce boats.
  2. In China, marketplaces make up 90% of the e-commerce channel activity.  In the US we are at 25% with Search having a larger share at 40%.  Perhaps the real challenged e-commerce channel in this new world will not be eBay and Amazon, but Google, Bing and Yahoo!.  Can/will they make the transition to a marketplace driven world where mobile share of internet usage is greater than non-mobile? Note in China mobile is 75% vs. 35-40% in the US today, so this trend still has the potential to keep disrupting for the next 2-3yrs if China is a harbinger of things to come.

What should retailers and sellers do?

If you are a retailer already familiar with the marketplace business model by selling on eBay, Amazon or another existing marketplace you are well prepared for this world.  You are familiar with the model where transactions happen off of your website and are synchronized through inventory and order integrations.  The only thing different about these new channels is you will have more options and some interesting questions to explore:

  • Should you list all your products or just promotions?  
  • Should you experiment with flash sale type models?  
  • Which of your products are most viral?  
  • Should you invest in advertising/promoting some of your products?  
  • What is the ROI?
  • What is the value of a customer acquired through his new channel?
  • Should you invest in more fans/followers or advertising or maybe even promotional discounts?

 If you are not utilizing the marketplace model, this should be the call to action to start working on this model because there is a very disruptive change in the guard potentially coming and you don't want to be caught behind the eight ball.


While on the surface, the Facebook Buy Button is only a button, I believe in a couple of years we will look back at this point in time as 'the shot heard round the e-commerce World' and the mark of the beginning of a new era.  In this era with the backdrop of changing consumer behavior from desktop to mobile, retailers and consumers will have many new e-commerce channel options.  I urge retailers to make sure adopting and experimenting with new models like the Facebook Buy Button is a strategic priority so that you don't look up in 24 months and realize that your competitors have out flanked you and locked up a very large new way of selling your products to consumers online.






August 01, 2014

Hey Large Retailer, Are You Selling on EBay?

EBay was birthed into the e-commerce world as an auction site some 19 years ago. Since then, the company has blossomed into a robust marketplace boasting 145 million active users and more than 650 million items. To some sellers, eBay still holds that “mom-and-pop auction site” stereotype, but believe it or not, most items for sale on eBay are fixed-price listings. Large retailers that aren’t on eBay — hopefully we just caught your attention.

So why aren’t you selling on eBay? Think the risks outweigh the opportunities? Not worth your time? Just downright skeptical? Let us assure you that if you’ve shied away from eBay in the past, the time has come for you to re-evaluate. Below we’ll address a common concern that large retailers have about selling on the marketplace: the loss of brand control.

EBay once received a bad rap for luxury brands and products. It was associated with fraud and unauthorized listings. Not to say these shady transactions have been nixed completely, but eBay has buckled down and presented opportunities for retailers to post their own branded, authorized listings. Retailers now have more control over their presence on the marketplace. Below are two noteworthy retailer-specific upgrades eBay has developed.

  1. The eBay Designer Collective: To help luxury apparel brands extend their reach and capture new consumers, eBay recently launched the Designer Collective, featuring 16 US designers, including Elie Tahari, Calvin Klein and True Religion. Essentially, it’s a marketplace within a marketplace. A place where consumers can shop the hottest trends. The Collective not only helps larger brands extend their digital footprint, but it also helps
    expose these brands to a wider audience.
    EBay Designer Collective
  2. EBay Brand Direct category views: Subcategories called Brand Direct are offered for certain product categories, such as Electronics. They’re accessible to shoppers via the left navigation panel. The view allows shoppers to see all entities associated with that brand — pages, storefronts, etc. — thus providing a better user experience for the shopper and a more concentrated brand reach for the retailer. EBay Brand Direct

No matter what size your business is, we understand that it’s daunting to venture onto a new marketplace, especially one that’s a big fish in the e-commerce sea. Rest assured, ChannelAdvisor has more than a decade of experience as a third-party provider to eBay. Our software is equipped with a solution to almost every eBay seller worry. Find out more in this  white paper that delves into six main reasons large retailers are checking out eBay, and addresses some of  the common misconceptions and concerns that we’ve heard from retailers.


Blog post by Jordan Nowlin, social media & blog manager, ChannelAdvisor



Want to learn more about the opportunities associated with doing business on eBay? Check out our white paper Why Large Retailers Are Selling on EBay.



July 29, 2014

Exclusive Deep Dive Into Facebook's "Buy Button" - Part II/III

This is a multi-part post:

  • Part I/II - Introducing 'Buy on Facebook' (here)
  • Part II/III - Tour: Completing a transaction and post transaction flow (you are here)
  • Part III/III - What does this mean? (coming soon)

Welcome to part 2 of a 3 part series - Tour: Completing a transaction and post transaction flow using Facebook's Buy button.

Let's jump right into a real-world tour of the new Facebook Buy Button.  For any online transaction, you can break it into the following lifecycle:

  • Discovery - How do I find what I want to buy?
  • Item page - How do I learn more about the item I may want to buy?
  • Checkout process (payment, bill to, ship to, confirm) - You know the drill.
  • Post checkout / post transaction interaction - Where's my order, can I cancel, returns, refunds, feedback, etc. 

In this post, we are going to focus on the mobile experience because it is clear that Facebook has created a great 'mobile first' experience.  After the tour, we'll look at some of  the same pages in the desktop experience so you can see that experience as well.  

A couple of notes: This tour is going to be image heavy - to keep the post readable, I'll be using smaller images, you can click on any of them to 'pop them out' and see any details you are interested in.  Also, these are live images taken off of an iPhone 5S and purchased through my live personal Facebook account of a publicly available experience.  There are no mock-ups in this post.  My credit card information has been blacked out in a couple of the screen captures.

Product Discovery

Your transactional sites like Amazon and eBay are largely driven by search, browse and recommendation discovery engines.  In a Facebook context, it is quite different, you spend the bulk of your time on your newsfeed which shows what your friends are doing.  In fact I believe this is why the first attempts at Facebook commerce failed (activity was buried in a Page/Tab area) and leveraging the newsfeed is how current success stories are working (Lolly Wolly Doodle).

That's exactly how the Facebook Buy Button works - you see an item in your newsfeed:


This is a watch for sale by  As you can see on the right hand side under the product image, there is now a Buy Button.  In this example, I searched for modify watches, found their page and saw the listings on their Page feed.  But as you'll see later, I could have just as easily seen a friend 'share' this or a 'sponsored story' to have it spread virally to my friend's newsfeeds, my fans newsfeeds or my friend of friend, etc.

Once you find an item that's interesting to you, you want to learn more about it.  When you click on the Buy Button you are taken to what I call the item page experience.

Item page

Once you click the 'Buy' Button, you are not taken straight to a checkout process, you are able to learn about the product.  In this screen shot, you can see that there is a mobile-friendly carousel that has 5 images of the watch I am looking at.  Like a Facebook photo album, you can easily flick through these on your phone:


(product image 1)


(product image 2)


(product image 3)


(product image 4)


(product image 5)

Note that using your phones normal pinch/spread to zoom you can zoom in on the images, just like you would expect it to work.

Below the product image area is a text area for Product Description that abbreviates the description, but allows you to 'show more'.  Here's a look at the description of this watch (some is clipped but you get the idea):


There are also links to terms of use (specific to the merchant and you can find them all here) that are actually linked to over on the merchant's website.


You can also see Facebook's 'Sales Policy' for purchases made via the Buy Button - full page is here (


Lower on the page, we can contact the seller (we'll show this later in the post checkout section) if you have any questions.

Now that we've learned about the product detail experience, we press the Checkout button and begin the checkout process.

Checkout process

Before we checkout, I wanted to point out that I already have an active Facebook payment account.  I've used it for Facebook games and Facebook gifts and have stored two credit cards there.  I imagine if you did not have an account the flow would be a little bit different, I'll highlight that as we go.  Here's the first step of checkout: 


Here we see that the Checkout is going to have a top portion that keeps track of our purchase (product price, shipping, tax, total) and the bottom part of the page is asking for shipping address.


After filling out the ship to information, the next 'card' in the one page UI is payment info. You can see that it remembers my credit card.



Here (above) you can see where I can pick from 2 cards in the system already, or I can add a new card.


Once I have chosen my shipping info and payment, I press the 'complete checkout' button (below the fold on this page).


Above you can see a purchase confirmation UX that has a normal summary of the transaction. The merchant has the ability to provide a customized message as well.  You can see here that I can continue on (close) or I can 'Share This Product'.

Post checkout items

After completing the transaction, I can review my Faceboook Buy Button purchases by going to my settings and choosing 'Purchases' as you see in the screen capture below:


In this next shot you can see my one purchase:


When I click into the purchase, I can see a summary and status of my order, also the order number.  The status of my order is "Not Shipped".


The following is lower on the page and allows you to cancel the order (it seems to be within a 4hr window) and also contact the seller.


From here, I am also able to "Contact the Seller".  Perhaps I want to know why my item hasn't shipped, or before I purchase, I have a question about the item.  This is the same UX.



You can see there are pre-set types of questions like "I want to know where my order is" and ~10 others.

Going back to the 'Post Checkout' process, if you recall there was a share option.  Once I share the item, it shows up on my newsfeed and is purchasable for all my friends to see.  This completes the 'social viral loop'.




Moving over to the desktop experience, this is what the shared item looks like on a desktop:


When I click Buy, this is the desktop 'item page experience'.  Here you can see it's more of a one page experience vs. a 'multi card' experience as we saw on mobile:


When I order on the desktop experience, there's a very well designed single page checkout:


Finally this is the order confirm page on desktop:


This is the purchase view (now with two of the same watch - one from the mobile and one desktop tour).  


In the next screen, I drilled into the second item to cancel it:



Here is the cancel order screen:


Once I cancel the item, it shows as canceled in my purchases view:


Then I was sent an email about the cancellation:


The next day, I received a notification that my item had shipped both through email and via the Facebook notification 


When I click through the notification I am taken to my Purchases/order summary page on Facebook and can track the package.  This package happens to have been sent with USPS.

Modify Watches had suggested '2 days to process' and 5-7 days to ship.  Much to my surprise two days later the package arrived:


With the arrival of the package, we have officially completed our tour of the Facebook Buy Button!

Up next: Analysis - what does this mean for e-commerce?

Now that we have seen the entire process from beginning to end, in the next post we'll pontificate on the implications.

Get tips from the top retailers on Facebook as well as the network’s latest changes that affect retailers. Download Q2’s Facebook Commerce Index (FBCI) today!


July 28, 2014

Exclusive Deep Dive Into Facebook's "Buy Button" - Part I/III

This is a multi-part post:

  • Part I/II - Introducing 'Buy on Facebook' (you are here)
  • Part II/III - Tour: Completing a transaction and post transaction flow (here)
  • Part III/III - What does this mean?

Welcome to part 1 of a 3 part series - Introducing 'Buy on Facebook'.

On July 17th, 2014, Facebook announced via blog post they are testing a new feature/ad unit that allows a consumer to buy directly from a retailer and not have to leave Facebook.  We believe this new feature has serious implications for the world of e-commerce so in this series of posts we are going to not only do a deep retailer/seller oriented tour of the new feature and put it through its paces, but we're also going to provide some background on the history of Facebook's e-commerce pursuits.

An update on Facebook

In talking to about retailers about Facebook, I find many vastly under-estimate the scale that Facebook has achieved since their IPO.  Everyone remembers when Facebook hit 1b active users, but there are a lot of interesting facts (these are from their Q2 results which were just announced July 23, 2014) you may not realize:

  • Facebook's Ad revenue is greater than Time Warner and Viacom - combined.
  • 62% of Facebook's revenue is from mobile.
  • Facebook has over 1.5m advertisers.
  • Did you know that Facebook acquired Instagram and is closing on WhatsApp (very popular chat app with > 100m users)?
  • Facebook's search engine is handling 1b queries/month.
  • The average Facebook user spends 40mins/day on Facebook.
  • Across the entire Facebook network, they touch 2.2b people on a regular basis - there are 7b people on the planet.
  • The last bullet, said another way: "One-fifth of the world's population now logs into Facebook at least once a month" (-Wall Street Journal).

Those are all impressive stats, but what's most impressive is illustrated by these to charts from their investor presentation:

First, this chart shows monthly active users (MAU) across GEOs over the last 2yrs:


Yep that's 1.3 BILLION monthly users and it has grown 14% y/y.  829m of those folks use Facebook DAILY!

Second, here's a look at mobile usage.


Over 1b users access Facebook via mobile device, 654m daily and ~400m exclusively through mobile.  In May 2012, Facebook had a bit of a mobile panic - broad based mobile was growing faster than anyone thought and Facebook's solution wasn't as good as they wanted it.  In fact they had to warn investors during their IPO process about this risk. In that short timespan, not only has Facebook embraced mobile, they are essentially one of the few 'goto' apps on everyone's home screen be it iOS or Android.  

Facebook has solved mobile - e-commerce has NOT and why that matters.

This is a good time to bring up an important point about e-commerce.  Our industry is in a bit of a corner because we have not solved mobile.  Retailers have been investing millions and tens of millions of dollars in improving their mobile sites, creating innovative mobile apps and the problem persists.  The datapoint I watch most closely these days as desktop usage and mobile usage are set to 'cross lines' (mobile on a huge increase, desktop flat, but declining as a % because of the incremental new usage created from mobile) is desktop vs. mobile conversion rate. 

When we look at our data at ChannelAdvisor (see our SSS backgrounder here) the data really tells the story:

  • Desktop conversion rate (this is across thousands of customers, and fluctuates over the span of a year, so this is an average): 3%
  • Smartphone conversion rate: .8%

This data is echoed by companies like Branding Brand, Monetate and all the SEMs that publish data.

At the same time, Internet Retailer calculates Amazon's mobile conversion rate is north of 10%.

The reason why is simple - on the smartphone form factor, nobody wants to enter their bill to, ship to and payment information.  Heck, most don't even want to enter a login!

This creates a big problem for all retailers in e-commerce, because as mobile traffic surges, they are effectively losing share to those mobile apps (eBay and Amazon are the top 2) that don't require data entry.

This is also a problem for the advertising platforms, because retail is one of the biggest advertisers, as mobile grows, as an industry retailers are see a decrease of 70% of the efficacy of ads (driven by conversion rate) on mobile platforms.  For example, on Google Adwords, they are willing to pay $.45 for desktop clicks, but only $.15 for mobile clicks.

Bottom line: as an industry we have to solve this problem.

Some believe that the solution is to figure out the multi-device attribution problem. For example, if a consumer sees an ad on their phone, then browses on their tablet and buys on their desktop, only the desktop gets 'credit' today.  While I believe there is 'some of that going on', I think the obvious low hanging fruit is to solve the data entry problem.

This is becoming such a big headwind for everyone, that I think a) it is one of the drivers of Facebook adding this Buy Botton  b) we will see all the popular ad platforms (facebook, twitter, google, etc.) look to solve the problem and c) even the device makers and OS providers should/could get involved (Apple, Google, Samsung, Moto, Microsoft/Nokia, etc.).

Keep this in mind as we go through the tour - has Facebook solved the mobile conversion problem with Facebook Buy Button?

A brief history of Facebook's e-commerce efforts and payments

Retailers have been interested in advertising to Facebook's audience since the company started allowing advertising.  Today most retailers leverage programs like sponsored posts, retargeted display ads and fan/like programs.  Beyond that, Facebook and e-commerce have had a couple of false starts that it helps to look at for perspective on this latest effort:

  • 2007-2009- Facebook Beacon - This was a feature that was broad in reach, but for e-commerce essentially shared your activity on various sites like back to Facebook.  The key feature was the ability for the retailer to say: "Joe just purchased a new couch" to your newsfeed.  The problem with this feature was that it was well before Facebook had the powerful sharing options you have today and frequently you would do something like buy your wife a birthday gift to find that it had been shared (thus spoiling the surprise).  There's a good summary here.
  • 2007 - Facebook Fan Pages (aka Facebook Pages) - This creates an area where a retailer/brand can have a presence on Facebook and share updates with their fans, and offer a variety of other functionality.  It has been quite popular.
  • 2007+ - Facebook Page Stores (aka F-Commerce) - From 2007-2009 there was an explosion of companies (Payvment, all of the platform providers, StoreFrontSocial and literally hundreds more). There was a lot of venture capital poured into this concept and a lot of hype.  The name F-Commerce (for Facebook commerce) was attached to this concept.  The problem with this concept was discovery.  A consumer had to go through a complex trail of a) finding a fan page/brand, b) liking it, c) finding the store in a tab and then d) going through a traditional e-commerce experience.  The whole experience was inherently not social and not surprisingly failed.  Many industry pundits, like Sucharita Mulpuru @ Forrester, have suggested that Facebook/social will never drive commerce on the heels of that failure.  There are copious accounts of why this failed such as here and here.
  • 2009 - Facebook Like button - The Like button has been wildly popular and is present on pretty much every retail site today.  It allows the consumer to essentially like a product and have it recommended to their friends.  
  • 2012+ - Comment Commerce - Leave it to an entrepreneur to figure it out.  Brandi Temple, CEO of Lolly Wolly Doodle (details here) had a problem.  She had excess inventory and wanted to sell it. So she would post the items to Facebook where she had a bit of a following for her girls apparel line.  The key to her success is that folks that wanted to buy the items would leave a comment such as "Buy size 2".  Now imagine your friend does this and you see: "Sally just commented 'Buy size 2' on Lolly Wolly Doodle item X". You would be curious and go explore - thus the 'social viral loop' is achieved.  Using this system frequently called comment commerce, Lolly Wolly Doodle built a > $11m business in 2013 that is growing north of 100% y/y.  Why did this work when f-commerce failed?  One word: newsfeed.
  • Q1 2014 - Facebook Call to Action Buttons - In early  2014, Facebook rolled out a new feature on newsfeed ads called 'Call to Action Buttons'.  There is a whole family of these action buttons (learn more here).  For example, on mobile, there's a 'install now' button for apps (pictured below) and most importantly for e-commerce, you can 'shop now' (also illustrated):


(above -> desktop 'shop now' Facebook Action Button)


(above -> mobile experience, "Install Now" Facebook Action Button)

Can Facebook and E-Commerce 'work'?

That's a lot of history and the reason I bring it up is in the world of e-commerce we spend a lot of time talking about this.  In my experience, you have two camps:

  1. Those that have tried F-commerce and the like and proclaimed that Facebook will never 'work with' e-commerce.
  2. The other camp that believes that Facebook and e-commerce will eventually stop flirting and get married.

Personally, what I've always believed and said is:

  • With an audience over 1b as a retailer it would be foolish to ignore Facebook and/or count them out as a potentially large e-commerce channel.
  • Stores in tabs was doomed to fail.
  • But shopping for many can be an inherently social behavior.  Product reviews are a good example where we've seen a lot of value at the intersection of e-commerce and social.
  • I've been watching the comment commerce trend closely and you can't argue with the success firms like Lolly Wolly Doodle are seeing there.  There is real, material GMV to be had if you can figure out social commerce. 
  • Facebook is one of < 10 companies that have really figured mobile/smartphone out.

Up next: The Tour!

With that background and history, part 2 will walk through the complete Facebook Buy Button user experience (UX).  As we do that, keep in mind two key questions:

  1. Can Facebook's Buy Button solve retail's mobile conversion problem?
  2. Can the Facebook Buy Button be the solution to the 'will Facebook + E-Commerce' work?


This blog post was written by Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor.

Get tips from the top retailers on Facebook as well as the network’s latest changes that affect retailers. Download Q2’s Facebook Commerce Index (FBCI) today!

July 21, 2014

UK Webinar: A Retailer’s Guide to Expanding to New Zealand

Thursday, 24 July 2014, 2 p.m. BST

Webinar - Trade MeCross-border trade (CBT) has become one of the most popular e-commerce trends over the last few years, and it seems that every retailer is searching for the next lucrative market and international opportunity for their business.

One territory you shouldn’t overlook is New Zealand, which is fast becoming a popular destination for UK retailers.

It’s not surprising that retailers are attracted to New Zealand as an e-commerce destination. Translation costs are avoided because the country is English-speaking, so listings merely need to be localised. Plus, selling in New Zealand can extend the life cycles of your products, since the Southern Hemisphere enters summer as the UK approaches winter. These are compelling reasons for expansion, but how exactly should retailers approach selling into this growing market?

To help guide you through the process, we’re joining forces with Trade Me, New Zealand’s leading online marketplace and home to 70% of the country’s domestic webpage impressions,[1] to offer UK retailers an overview of this emerging market and a chance to learn about the opportunities it offers online retailers.

Taking place on Thursday, 24 July at 2 p.m. BST, the webinar will feature Hamish Macdonald, Trade Me’s global development manager, and Lily Hsu, ChannelAdvisor business analyst. 

Topics discussed during this presentation will include:

  • A snapshot of New Zealand’s e-commerce market
  • The opportunity for UK retailers
  • Practicalities of expansion
  • How to get started

Sign up today to join this webinar!

[1] Nielsen Market Intelligence


July 18, 2014

eBay's Q2 2014 Results - A Seller-Oriented Deep Dive

Wednesday, July 16, 2014, eBay announced their Q2 2014 results.  The results were largely mixed at a corporate level: 

  • Overall Revenue - Met expectations coming in at $4.36b, in-line with expectations.
  • Payments - PayPal did very well and is growing much faster than e-commerce.  We don't cover payments here, but a couple of tidbits are toward the bottom of the post.  Essentially PayPal helped reverse the negative trends in the ticket and marketplace business.
  • Tickets - Tickets are still a tough area (StubHub vs. TicketMaster, etc.) and eBay is in defensive mode here.
  • Marketplaces - We'll dig into this one, but largely the MP segment under-performed growing at just 8% vs. e-commerce's 13% growth rate. eBay disclosed that June was 7%.  eBay's management cited the 'multiple bodyblows' of the data breach and Google SEO as the core reason.


Marketplace segment key metrics and analysis

Here is our dashboard of highlights


There's a lot going on, here are the key things we're keeping an eye on:

  • GMV Growth - Overall y/y GMV growth was well below expectations primarily due to the data breach problem that eBay had starting in May.   This seems to have hit them on the international side (8% ex-FX growth vs. domestic at 10%) and resulted in overall growth of GMV at 8%.  From a benchmark perspective, this is 5%  below the 13% ComScore e-commerce growth rate.  Also, based on our SSS Amazon grew in Q2 at an average of 29.8% y/y.
  • Sold Item Growth - At eBay (compared to Amazon), this metric 'matters' more because it is more relevant and tends to track GMV unless AOVs increase/decrease materially (which is why we watch it).  Sold items came in at 9.5% a descrease from Q1's 11.4% and what you would expect given the GMV decline. The fact this was higher than the GMV growth rate, indicates a move towards lower ASPs which could reflect consumers buying lower priced items due to concerns stemming from the data breach.
  • Active users - This was the bright spot for the marketplace segment.  Active users grew to 148.9m - a 14% y/y growth rate which means 3.9m new buyers came to the platform in Q2.  This is the best signal of the future we have and it was great to see this metric coming in with good momentum.  


GMV Growth slowdown

For sellers, the biggest headline from Q2 is the slowdown in US GMV which was attributed primarily to the data breach during Q2.  eBay required all users to change their passwords which created a ton of friction and seems to have been tougher on the international business. Donahoe called out a couple of interesting tidbits on the call related around to this:

  • Top Rated Sellers (TRS) was 50% of GMV (conversely non-TRS was 50%) - this is a new high watermark since eBay has been discussing this datapoint.
  • 56% of transactions featured free shipping (44% did not) - another high watermark.
  • Cross-Border-Trade was 26% - this is a new high watermark, but it wasn't exactly clear if this includes PayPal or was a specific marketplace metric.
  • Fixed-price grew 19%
  • Auctions were a pain point, down 7%
  • Top-Rated sellers grew at 14% on a SSS basis according to eBay.
  • Competition -management did say that they are facing a fair amount of competition and specifically on pricing.  This was mentioned in the context of stubhub and marketplaces, so it wasn't clear if there was anything specific to marketplaces here.
  • Marketing - eBay cranked up marketing spend on the marketplace (Digital marketing such as SEM, display ads, etc.) 

 Finally, eBay mentioned that June GMV was up only 7% and July was recovering a bit, so this breach headwind could continue into Q3.

Why was ChannelAdvisor's SSS so much higher than eBay's?

We've been asked why our SSS sometimes doesn't track eBay's results and one reason is that our customers have for the most part moved off the auction format, so our data have a higher FP/Auction mix vs. eBay overall.  On top of that, ChannelAdvisor has reported a roughly 80/20 domestic/intl revenue mix in recent quarters whereas eBay is closer to 40/60 domestic/intl.  Also, we believe our customers have a strategic advantage due to our technology platform which we believe helps them to grow faster and more efficiently.

Action items for sellers from eBay's Q2

This was a really tough quarter for eBay and while we haven't seen Amazon's results for comparison, it's clear that overall the eBay marketplace is not growing as fast as e-commerce overall, therefore it is losing share.

If you are a seller, your action items from the Q are pretty clear:

  • A diversified strategy with many marketplaces and e-commerce channels is the best protection against any one channel having headwinds.
  • The 'quadrant' of fixed-price and TRS is where the growth is at eBay - the playing field is tilted heavily this way, so for most sellers it is worth the economic cost hit to be here.
  • Mobile and cross-border-trade (CBT) are big initiatives for eBay so you should try and make sure you are utilizing them by making sure your listings are mobile friendly and that you are experimenting with programs like eBay's Global Shipping Program (GSP) and the UK-based Click and Collect which appear to be growing much faster than eBay and e-commerce overall.

Next week we will cover the Amazon results on sister site Amazon Strategies.

Scot Wingo wrote this blog post. I am CEO of ChannelAdvisor.