November 18, 2013

Holiday 2013 Same Store Sales - Second Week of November Results

Note: This is a regular 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 schedule can be found in this post.  Our detailed Holiday 2013 schedule can be found here.

Today we are releasing the results for the second week (7 day period) of November 2013 (8-14): (click to enlarge)

13_nov_wk_2

Here is our analysis on the results:

  • Amazon - Amazon picked up a bit in week two coming in at 27.1% y/y growth compared to week 1's 15.6%
  • eBay - eBay declined from 13.6% in week 1 to 8.2% in week 2.
  • CSE - CSE slowed to 8.6% from week one's 17.4%
  • GS  - Google Shopping/PLA was essentially unchanged at 94% y/y growth.
  • Search - Search dipped significantly coming in at 1.7% vs. last week's 16.6%

The mobile traffic data this week was largely unchanged compared to the first week.

These first couple weeks of November will give us a baseline as we ramp into the official kick-off of the Holiday, which is Thanksgiving here in the US (November 27th this year).

The next update will be November 25th when we look at the results from the third week of November (15-21).  

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

 

November 14, 2013

Holiday 2013: The Year Mobile Takes Over?

Emarketer mobile chartNumbers from research firm eMarketer indicate that m-commerce will jump 56% in 2013 from 2012, predicting that this year’s U.S. retail sales from smartphones and tablets will reach $39 billion!  

Deloitte corroborates eMarketer’s mobile-heavy story with the recently revealed results of its 2013 Annual Holiday Survey of more than 5,000 consumers nationwide. 

First of all, Deloitte’s research found that 60% of consumers now have smartphones, and of those smartphone users, nearly 7 out of 10 plan to use their phone for shopping purposes this holiday.

Deloitte asked shoppers for details on how they plan to use their smartphones this holiday season and received a  multitude of responses from research to showrooming to purchasing to deal-seeking.  Here is the full breakdown from Deloitte: 

Deloitte Mobile Chart

The majority of these shoppers will still be using their mobiles for finding store locations and comparing prices, but 31% plan to make purchases with their smartphones.

Use these strategies to make sure you’re prepared for the mobile shopper this year:

1.      Get your products on eBay and Amazon

These websites already have apps with impressive followings, and if your products are on the sites, they will show up in mobile search results.  In fact, according to Nielsen, eBay and Amazon claim the top two spots on the list of the most popular mobile commerce apps in the U.S.  EBay’s app has been downloaded more than 162 million times, and Amazon’s 64.9 million.  Chances are, building your own app would cost much more and wouldn’t get you a fraction of the traffic you’d get through these apps.  Find out more about Amazon and eBay's mobile apps in this eBook

2.      Properly bid your Google Enhanced Campaigns

With Enhanced Campaigns, mobile is bid as a derivative of your tablet/PC bid.  Therefore, you have to be careful not to submit the same bid on all devices, as that could lead to overspending on either mobile or tablet/PC bids.  Analyze performance by device and make sure you are creating device-specific ads and sitelinks.  ChannelAdvisor does this automatically – find out how in our Autumn Release eBook.

3.      Make sure your website is responsively designed

Responsively designed websites automatically detect the device being used and respond by offering the optimal viewing experience. Flexible images and fluid grids size correctly to fit the screen. With the increasing adoption of tablets and smartphones worldwide, and the continuing trend of multidevice shopping, responsive design may become standard in the future. Build a website once and it works seamlessly across thousands of screens. For users, it ensures the ideal experience on every screen.

4.      Meet the need for speed

Mobile shoppers are impatient!  A KISSMetrics study found that 49% of mobile shoppers abandoned a mobile site if it took 10 seconds to load.  Google’s PageSpeed Insights will help you check site speed and offer suggestions to make it faster. Keep in mind that improperly sized images can cause slow load times; a Rich Media solution can address that concern.

5.      Make sure your product information is up-to-date

Not only do you need to regularly update your inventory amounts, but you also need to make sure your product information is up-to-date and comprehensive.  Per the Deloitte survey above, the third-most common reason shoppers are using their smartphones is to get product information, and the fifth-most reason is to read reviews.  Providing detailed product information as well as reviews can help shoppers find out more about the items they are interested in, and could encourage them to buy from your mobile site.

6.     Consider offering free Wi-Fi

Rather than fighting showrooming, retailers could embrace it by offering free Wi-Fi in their stores.  Per Deloitte’s study, 14% of mobile shoppers would be more likely to purchase from a retailer that offered Wi-Fi for comparison shopping.  That’s not where it ends, however.  Thirty-two percent of shoppers think that if store employees are equipped with mobile technology they can provide a better shopping experience.  Some 22% were open to buying from associates who had mobile checkout devices. 

Mobile shopping is certainly hitting its stride this holiday season. We'll be watching closely to see if it lives up to the predictions of eMarketer.  In the meantime, use these tips to help increase your mobile conversions, and check out the tip sheet below for more ideas. 

 Blog post by Delisa Reavis, Sr. Mgr., Global Corp Comm, Marketing Director, APAC


Mobile holidayWant more holiday mobile tips?  Check out our 8 Holiday Tips for Mobile Tip Sheet and learn how you can turn those browsing shoppers into buying customers.  

November 12, 2013

The Five Laws of Product Data - Part Four

Welcome to part four of our five-part blog series on product data. Written by Rynhardt Hanekom and Rachel Miller from ChannelAdvisor’s Customer Success team, Part One, Part Two and Part Three are available in case you missed any of the previous instalments.

When selling online, your products are constantly being compared and measured against your competitors’ products. What’s the key to getting a customer to select your product over another? Some say it’s the item price or delivery cost and time, while others say it depends on the brand itself.

What isn’t commonly recognised is that ultimately the customer’s decision comes down to your product data. We all respond to stimuli, and although selling products online holds many advantages for retailers, one major disadvantage is that you have access to only a few senses that drive decision-making. Retailers selling in the bustling high street have sounds, sights, touch, smell and even taste playing in their favour.

A significant advantage for online retailers, however, is the potential to market your products to millions of global shoppers. The fourth instalment of this five-part blog series aims to review the key factors that affect purchase decisions and how to most effectively list your products.

The Importance of Excellence

In law two of this blog series, we reviewed how sustainability product data is key to success. The natural extension to this topic is law four, excellence. Having subpar building materials won’t serve your business well and you could find yourself outperformed in the industry. Quality is essential, especially when competing against an extensively busy and determined online retail market.

Competing in this e-commerce landscape can be a challenge. Whether your product is grouped in a shared listing (such as Amazon) or an individual listing (like eBay), you are constantly competing with other retailers. It’s therefore vital that you utilise product data to the fullest, making sure you stay one step ahead of the competition. One part of achieving this is by applying law three: showcasing your products and gaining that competitive edge.

The same principles you apply on marketplaces can also be applied on your webstore, taking the best components or suggestions each marketplace has to offer. This relates to the second law: ensuring that your data is sustainable. To have your website’s product display pages in a desired format, you ought to invest in drawing buyers to your site, as well as perform A/B testing and additional exercises to keep them engaged. Applying all the data laws to your website design will help create a user-friendly experience that converts. 

How do I achieve Excellence?

If you have been following this blog series, you will have gone through the process of planning and reviewing your data. So with that tackled, let’s take a closer look at how to construct your data on eBay and Amazon:

Title

Your product title is the most important component of your data and what the buyer first encounters when looking at product listings. Each word in the title is searchable, so you want to include every term a buyer will search. Avoid using spam keywords; the marketplaces don’t like it and buyers don’t want to read it. Presentation is also key, so make sure to be descriptive and accurate — and proofread to ensure there are no spelling mistakes.

Provide all the necessary information to help buyers make their decision. Make sure you ask yourself these questions when listing:

  • What is the item?
  • Does it have a brand or other descriptive attribute?
  • What is it made of?
  • What colour is it?
  • Is size a concern?
  • Is packaging or packaging quantity important?
  • Is seasonality important?
  • Does it have a model number?

Don’t include discount information or words and phrases not pertaining to the item itself, such as ‘L@@k,’ ‘shipped from the UK,’ ‘as seen worn by Joe Schmo’ or ‘lowest price in the U.K.’ Keep in mind that different marketplaces have different character restrictions, so you’ll likely end with different titles across each channel:

  • eBay title: Men's ACME Casual Blue Shirt in Hawaiian Design with Floral Print - Large
  • Amazon title: Men's ACME Blue Casual Short Sleeve Shirt in Hawaiian Design with Floral Print -
    Large

Description

When writing a product description, make sure to get to the point fast and with the most relevant data. When on eBay, utilise bullet points, which will either need to be written as HTML or, if you use ChannelAdvisor, could already be built into your template and you would just need to reference the attributes.

On Amazon you can utilise the five featured bullets, while through ChannelAdvisor you can map the relevant attributes in your template. If you have additional information that you wish to include to help buyers make a decision, then make sure to keep it brief. One or two paragraphs should suffice.

Don’t repeat information already highlighted in other parts of the product page, and don’t include images, links or information that’s comparative, negative or unrelated. 

Categories

The importance of categories cannot be stressed enough. They have the ability to generate information you might not already have listed and can be used to map or generate information such as product type, which is required in certain marketplaces.

In Excel you can use VLOOKUP for this exercise, while in ChannelAdvisor you can use lookup lists or business rules.

Product Data Screenshot 1
Descriptive Attributes

Descriptive attributes are any additional key information about the product. Below are some different uses of descriptive attributes.

eBay item specifics: These are displayed within the product listing page but are also used in left-hand navigation within the category. Item specifics allow buyers to filter out products unrelated to what they are looking for; also known as refined search, or filtered navigation. By not entering this information, your products might not appear in a search and you could potentially lose out on sales. eBay requires item specifics to be populated for certain categories, such as clothing.

Product Data Screenshot 2
Variation data: Size, colour and flavour are all attributes that you can have your products vary by to improve buyer experience on most channels.

Search terms: On Amazon, this is a good way to help shoppers find your products. Make sure not to repeat words you’ve already used, such as in your title. Use standalone words, not phrases; your item will only be relevant if consumers search for the entire phrase.


Below are product specifications on Amazon, which can help with the buying experience.

Product Data Screenshot 3

Images

Images are a vital tool for marketing your listings. Without seeing a product image, buyers are drastically less likely to purchase your item.

Each marketplace has different specifications for images — and eBay recently changed its requirements. See this recent blog post on the topic, titled “Why You Need to Upgrade Your Images Now.”

We suggest comparing the requirements across all channels you’re selling on, or expanding to and ensuring your images are of the best quality and will be effective on all channels. The overall goal here is to succeed in law two, making your images sustainable.  

Summary

Each component of your product listing — whether it’s the title, description, category or any other component — plays an essential part in marketing your product to potential buyers and standing out from a busy and competitive crowd.

Head back next week for the fifth and final part of this blog series on the laws of product data. To receive this blog instalment directly to your inbox, simply subscribe to the blog through the form on the right-hand side of the page.

November 11, 2013

Holiday 2013 Same Store Sales Data Calendar and first week of November Results

Note: This is a regular 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 schedule can be found in this post.

To help our over 2,200 retail/brand customers measure how they are doing for the Holiday, ChannelAdvisor publishes more frequent updates to our Same Store Sales (SSS) in November/December.  

Here is our schedule for Holiday 2013:

  • Monday November 11 - We'll have a look at the first week of November (you are here - results below)
  • Monday, November 18- We’ll have an early read on the second week of November.
  • Monday, November 25- We’ll report an early read on the third week of November and November MTD trends pre-Thanksgiving.
  • Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving) - We’ll share an early read on Thanksgiving Day trends.
  • Friday, November 29 (Black Friday) - We’ll share Thanksgiving Day report as well as an early read on Black Friday.
  • Saturday, November 30 (Cyber Saturday) - We’ll be releasing complete Black Friday details.
  • Sunday, December 1 (Cyber Sunday) - We’ll be sharing Cyber Saturday results.
  • Monday, December 2 (Cyber Monday) - We’ll be releasing Cyber Sunday results and an early read on CyberMonday.
  • Tuesday, December 3- We’ll be reporting complete Cyber Monday and Cyber Five updates.
  • Thursday, December 5- We’ll release complete November SSS results with added color, plus a Holiday update.
  • Monday, December 9 -We’ll take a look at the first week of December and Holiday YTD.
  • Monday, December 16- We’ll check in on the second week of December and Holiday YTD.
  • Monday, December 23- We’ll see how things are looking during the third week of December and for Holiday YTD.
  • Tuesday, January 7- We’ll share December 2013 SSS and Holiday wrap up.

By requests of our customers, this year we're expanding the coverage of a couple of areas of interest:

  • Mobile - We are expanding our coverage of mobile to provide a breakdown of desktop/tablet/phone - including conversion rates for each.  It's important to note that our mobile data is driven by the Search and CSE channels only, not marketplaces.
  • Google Shopping/PLA - Many retailers are investing heavily in Google's program this year and want to track how they are doing vs. their peers. So we will be both including this data in the CSE datapoint and breaking it out individually as 'GS'.

What we've learned from past holidays

Before we jump into the results from week 1, it's important to note some of the trends we've seen in holidays past.  

  • Last year we saw a 'U' shape to the holiday - starting in Thanksgiving and through CyberMonday was the first part of the spike of the 'U' shape. Then Dec 15-22 was the back-end of that 'U' shape.
  • Historically we've seen channels 'spike' in phases.  Usually search/CSE are early indicators and grow first.  People are using these for top-of-the-funnel activities and if they see something they love, they will buy.  As we get into CyberWeek, you see marketplaces kick in - at this point consumers are increasingly transactional (bottom-of-the-funnel).  They know what they want and are converting heavily and using marketplaces to do that.
  • Mobile - Historically retailers put tablet and smartphone into 'mobile'. Google has turned that upside down with Enhanced Campaigns that makes smartphone only = mobile and groups tablets with with desktops.  Last year we saw mobile rates (smartphone+tablet) at 20% and pontificators are saying we'll see as high as 60% this holiday.

November 1-7 SSS early read on Holiday 13

 Here's a report of what we're seeing in our handy Holiday 2013 Dashboard format:

13_nov_wk_1

For comparison purposes, we've included the October SSS which you can see in detail from our monthly post (located here) in the first column.

In the second column you see the y/y per-channel trends for the first week of November.   Here is our analysis on the results:

  • Amazon - At 15.6% for the first week, Amazon decelerated into November from October.  This is not unusual historically.  Consumers are researching and in many times waiting for the deals to start.
  • eBay - With 13.6%, eBay increased a tad from the October run-rate of 12.9% in November.
  • CSE - CSE increased nicely to 17.4% in the first week of November, up from 8.4% indicating that conumers are starting to do their research.
  • GS  - Google Shopping/PLA is up considerably at 96.9% y/y - a massive gain, but remember this program is still ~1yr old so it is being influenced by the SKU-adoption rate.
  • Search - Search increased to 16.6% in the first week of November, a more than 2X acceleration from October and as mentioned indicates a lot of consumers are in research-mode.

The mobile traffic data gives us a baseline to watch as we go into the holiday.

  • Traffic - Smartphone+tablet make up 30% of traffic in the first week of November, with phone at ~18%
  • Conversion Rate (CR) - While tablet's see a bit of a discount CR-wise to desktop, the CR for smartphones is 1/3 the rate of desktop.  
  • Orders - Because of the differences in CR, while Tablet+smartphone=30% of traffic it only equals ~20% of orders.  

It will be interesting to see if these trends hold as we get deeper into Holiday 2013.  Are consumers using their smartphones for research? Will conversion rates increase materially for devices heading into Holiday?

 

The next update will be November 18th and we'll drop in a third column for Nov 8-14 so we can see how November week 2 is developing.

 

 

 

 

October 2013 ChannelAdvisor Same Store Sales (SSS) for eBay, Amazon, Search and CSE

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 schedule can be found in this post.

 

Today we are releasing October 2013 data for Marketplaces (eBay/Amazon), Search and Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE) along with supplemental data.  October is the first month of the Q4 holiday season.  comScore reported that e-commerce grew 13% in Q3 so we use that as our litmus test for comparisons.

September 2013 SSS Results 

  • Amazon - In October, Amazon came in at 23.8%, which is a slight decrease from September's 26.5%, but still significantly above  the rate of e-commerce growth (as reported by comScore).  
  • eBay -  eBay's SSS for October came in at 12.9%, which is a significant decrease from September's 17.4and in-line the rate of e-commerce growth. Further in the report we provide eBay internal component details, which provide details on the September results.
  • CSE - Comparison Shopping came in at 8.4% y/y   growth for October, a slight decrease from September's 10.4%.   Google Shopping /PLA SSS is up 82.7% which helps offset headwinds from traditional CSEs.
  • Search - Search came in at 5.6% y/y growth, a nice increase from September's 1.8%.  Further in the report we have search details.

Together, these datapoints show that in October, all e-commerce channels performed relatively consistently with Q3 with Amazon continuing its leadership position heading into Holiday 2013.

SSS Chart 

The following chart details the SSS data for October 2012 through October 2013: (click to enlarge)


10_13_sss_overall




eBay Details

eBay's 12.9% SSS result for October was in-line with  e-commerce growth, but did decelerate noticeably from last month.  To get a feel for what is driving the marketplaces' performance, here are the interior datapoints for the month:

  • eBay auctions - Down .4% y/y. Auctions declined from September's 8.4%
  • eBay fixed-price - Up 12.8% y/y - Fixed price was under a bit of pressure in October. 12.8% is the lowest growth rate we've seen in the last year. eBay did say in their Q3 call that October is off to a slow start for them, so we'll be watching closely to see how the rest of Q4 shapes up for eBay.
  • eBay Motors  (parts and accessories) - P+A accelerated a bit in October increasing 16% compared to September's 14.4%.  

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


10_13_sss_ebay_details



Supplemental data for Search

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

10_13_sss_search_details




Search (traditional AdWords) was up 5.6% in October  - an increase from Sept .   Looking at the internal data, we see the cannibalization from PLA/Google Shopping in the clicks metric which was down 1% (an improvement from down 6% last month). Search CR's were up nicely (16%)   y/y. AOV was also up an impressive 6%  which helped generate a positive outcome even in the face of PLA/GS click cannibalization.  CPCs declined 7% y/y as retailers figure out the right balance post enhanced campaigns.  

As we go into the holiday, search and CSE are largely research channels, so we usually see them react first and then the transactional channels (marketplaces) come into play.

 

Supplemental data for Google Shopping

In September 2012, we introduced a new set of data around Google Shopping.  Here is the October Google Shopping supplemental data:

    10_13_sss_gs_details

As indicated earlier, GS/PLA SSS were up 82.7% y/y which is more than 6X the growth of e-commerce.  A large part of this growth is the fact that most retailers were just experimenting with GS/PLA as was Google - now we have Google sending massive traffic to GS and retailers advertising all of the SKUs that make sense.

Google Shopping AOV declined 5% y/y as more retailers come into the program bringing a wider assortment of goods along with them. Conversion rates showed a decrease.  We have seen an influx of non-domestic advertisers in our SSS data which could be causing CR headwinds.  Perhaps non-domestic buyers are still getting accustomed to the new system.

Conclusions 

Our SSS data from October indicates that e-commerce followed the same trends we saw through Q3.  Marketplaces outperformed e-commerce, search and CSE continued to grow more slowly than e-commerce.  Google PLA/GS took share from overall search and dominated CSEs.  

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

Optimising Your eBay Titles and Subtitles

eBay allows retailers just 80 characters for product listing titles — a fairly low but mightily important figure that plays a vital part in marketing your product. A notable title can make your product stand out from the crowd and encourage shoppers to select your product instead of your competitors’. 6a00d83451d7ed69e201901e14692c970b-320wi

The product title on eBay is especially important because it’s used to match the search results of the buyer. For that reason, try to use as close to 80 characters as possible. You also need to ensure that your descriptions, item specifics and images are optimised so your listing is visible to the highest number and most appropriate consumers on eBay. Subtitles give you the opportunity to add eye-catching keywords that don’t fit into the title or promotional text.

Titles

There are two key aspects to consider when optimising your eBay titles:

1. Describe your item accurately and set expectations.Accuracy is key — do not include any keywords that could be ambiguous or misleading. Avoid spelling and grammar errors, and capitalise words in a title.

A recommended sequence in titles would encapsulate key information: Brand – gender – type – style – size – colour – condition.

2. Convey trust and confidence.If similar products are frequently produced with poor quality, use words such as ‘original’, ‘official’ or ‘genuine’ at the start of your title as reassurance to the consumer. Include attributes that best describe the quality and build of your product, together with the location of where the product is manufactured.

The inclusion of ‘From Your Seller Name’ can increase your brand visibility and build conversion through trust and security.

Skullcandy Screenshot
Additional Resources on Title Optimisation

Below are some robust tools that will help you identify the most powerful titles:

  • Terapeak:Arguably the most professional tool for optimising your title on eBay, Terapeak provides retailers transparency into competitor behaviour, pricing techniques and strategies, supply and demand, category and product trends, and customer purchase patterns. It does, however, have a subscription fee starting from $19.95 per month.
  • Title Builder:A useful and free tool that helps you build out existing keywords in your title.
  • Listings Analytics: If you’re already listing products on eBay, then you’re able to review how your active listings are performing and being seen. You’ll also be able to quickly identify the most and least efficient performers, enabling you to optimise your strategy.
  • Competition research: Analysing your competitors’ strategies will enable you to see whether there is a pattern on how titles are constructed, what keywords stand out and if you are missing any item specifics.

Subtitles EBay Blog Quote 3

eBay also offers subtitles that permit you to write an additional 55 characters detailing your product information. Maximise the potential of subtitles by listing information that doesn’t fit into the title, as well as additional keywords and item specifics.

Consider adding other available benefits, such as seasonal promotions, savings against RRP (recommended retail price) prices, free delivery offers or other promotional activity that’s explained in more detail in the product description. 

Hopefully you’ll find that optimising your eBay title and subtitle can substantially improve your marketplace listings. For more information on optimising your sales and listings on eBay, check out ChannelAdvisor’s eBook How to Revive Your eBay Sales, which offers six tips on maximising your presence there.

Blog post written by Dominic Grevsmuehl @DominicGrevsmuehl, Campaign Manager at ChannelAdvisor UK

Single's Day in China – Setting the Pace

I’ll bet some of you have never heard of Single's Day.  And I’ll bet most of you will be shocked to learn that it’s by far the largest day of e-commerce in the world, with last year’s sales totaling about $3 billion, more than 2X the combined total of Cyber Monday in the entire U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal!

11-11Single's Day has become a major shopping day in China.  Originally a day to celebrate for those who aren’t married in China, it quickly became a reason to shop online due to heavy promotions and discounts, and the date of “11/11” stuck since it’s the date with all ones (i.e., “singles”).

Things are on pace to set a major record today as well, with expectations that Single's Day sales on Tmall and Alibaba will exceed $5 billion today alone (The New York Times).  That’s pretty remarkable.  In fact, reports are rolling in that Alibaba handled $164m in just the first six minutes of selling today, a milestone that took a comparatively long 31 minutes last year (Alizila).

China e-commerce continues to grow more than 30% annually and is set to eclipse the U.S. as the largest e-commerce country this year (The New York Times).

If that doesn’t wake you up to the opportunity to sell in China and internationally in general, time to brew some more coffee!

Blog post by ChannelAdvisor President and COO David Spitz.  Follow David on twitter @davidspitz.

November 01, 2013

eBay Ending Support for Blackthorne--What it Means and Next Steps

Today the news came out that eBay will be ending support for its high-volume solution, Blackthorne. This change will impact both the basic and pro editions of Blackthorne. 

In this blog we’ll dig into why eBay is making this decision and what it means for retailers using Blackthorne.  

Logo-blackthorn_logo2

 What is/was Blackthorne? 

  Blackthorne is a desktop (not cloud/hosted/SaaS) software that eBay acquired in December of 1999.  It is targeted towards larger sellers and eBay recommended ti for listing large amounts of products in bulk.

Why is eBay EOLing it?

eBay has a portfolio of 5+ ways to sell:

  • Sell Your Item Page (SYI) - On the main part of the site, just click 'sell' - this is what we call SYI.
  • Seller Manager (basic and pro) (SM) - cloud/hosted solution for smaller sellers, SM is oriented towards listing management and most sellers marry it with TurboLister
  • Turbo Lister (TL) - Very old solution for listing a lot of products in bulk - kind of like using  a spreadsheet to bulk upload products.
  • Blackthorne (BT) - Desktop for larger sellers
  • File Exchange (FE) - Very complex system that moves files back and forth - not used very much that we've seen.

Here's the blurb from eBay's website about BT->

Ebay_blackthorne_logo

At the same time, eBay is innovating on the user experience at a tremendous pace.  I like to think of the buying experience and selling experience as intimately connected. There's a great Chinese philosophy that illustrates this: Yin and Yang. 

The yin/yang of eBay's buyer and seller experiences

Yin_yang

 I’ve explained my theory previously, but the gist is that the buying experience (Yin) and the selling experience (Yang) are completely interconnected and inseparable.  Every great experience on eBay can be traced back to a great seller.  Also, you can't sell anything without a great buying experience.

Now here's the problem if you are eBay.  You add a cool new feature to the buyer-side (Motors fitment, strike-through pricing, promotion engine) but sellers don't adopt it until you update SYI, SM, TL, BT, etc., so the buyer can’t use the cool new feature because the sellers aren’t supporting it due to the lack of support in eBay's myriad seller tools.  It’s all interconnected, and it means that eBay not only has to create awesome buyer-side features, but update all 5+ options to support it, which is a lot of work and inefficient for eBay.   

Also, high-volume sellers are the hardest to support.  Not only do they clamor for the latest and greatest eBay features, but they want flexibility through APIs, flexible shipping options, advanced inventory and order management, etc.  

Blackthorne users - what should you do?

We've been working with eBay closely to help provide a great alternative for BT users.  We’re also offering a special incentive to help Blackthorne customers make the transition.  Contact marketing@channeladvisor.com for more information. 

Why ChannelAdvisor?

So why should you transition to ChannelAdvisor?  Well, we’ve been working for over a decade to help mid- to enterprise-level online retailers sell on eBay.  We’re global, multichannel, scalable, reliable and we’ve got award-winning technical support to get you up and running quickly. 

The chart below offers a more direct comparison of Blackthorne Pro vs. ChannelAdvisor: 

 

Feature

Blackthorne Pro

ChannelAdvisor

Bulk Listing

Yes

Yes, with duplicate listing prevention

Automatic Updates

No

Yes, automatically based on data change.

Data Transformation for Listing Optimization 

No

Yes

Mutiple Marketplaces

No

Yes

Design Template

Yes

Yes

Ad Scheduling

Yes

Yes

Buyer Communication Management

Yes

Yes, with post-sales order tracking 

Inventory Quantity Control

Yes, but for eBay only

Yes, and can juggle across marketplaces.

SaaS based

No

Yes

Multiple eBay ID Support

Yes

Yes

Item-specifics mapping

Manual 

Yes, automatically

Global reach

Yes, but only eBay US, UK, Canada and Australia 

Yes, for eBay and hundreds of other channels

 

We are 100% aligned with our customers to be successful on eBay, so we provide features like our eBay 360 dashboard, which highlights GMV, top-selling products, items needing to ship, DSRs and feedback so sellers can achieve and maintain Top-Rated Seller status.  We also recently released eBay Actionable Retail Insights, a feature that helps you optimize your listings for your best performance.   

Finally, we are able to pull the bulk of your data from BT into ChannelAdvisor due to our partnership with eBay, so you can hit the ground running and not miss a beat.  Think of it as an opportunity to upgrade your business, automate those tedious tasks that are occupying hours of your day, increase the number of users utilizing your selling software and expand to a dozen international eBay sites around the globe. 

 

October 30, 2013

The Five Laws of Product Data - Part Three

Over the last three weeks, we have been delving into the difficult topic of data and today we continue on this journey with the third instalment of this blog series. In the spirit of demystifying data and offering retailers practical tips to success, Rynhardt Hanekom and Rachel Miller from ChannelAdvisor’s Customer Success team have compiled their five essential Data Laws every retailer should know. If you missed our previous blogs, you can catch up with part one and part two before moving on to our next Data Law:

Law 2: Sustainable Development in Product Data

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 16.26.28
After seeing this law you may be thinking, “What do eco practices and sustainable development have to do with my inventory?”

The truth is, in online retail and marketing, product data are the building blocks that form the basis of the e-commerce business you are creating or expanding. It may well be the most important asset in your online business, but it often does not gain the attention it requires.

Whether you are starting off with new data or have been selling online for years, getting your product information in the correct format should not be viewed as a daunting task. You only need to break the data down into the simplest form and then use your sustainable building tools to construct this information in the format you need.

A well-built construction starts of with an architectural drawing or plan; what is yours?

Plan

This is not an exercise that requires a protractor, pencil or triangle. But you will need to do your research and create your strategy. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself, with links to some useful information and resources:

- Which channels am I going to sell on?

- What data is required for each channel?

- What data is recommended for each channel?

- What are my image requirements?

- Am I looking to expand cross-border, and how do I need to plan for translations?

- What data is needed for online marketing?

Imagine that you’re building a house. When you position the plumbing in the house you are constructing, you need to plan how you will branch from the main line into the bathrooms, kitchen and any other rooms needing water- otherwise you will be knee deep in a situation you wanted to avoid.

Similarly, your online business demands the same careful planning. If you only consider the primary channel you are selling to, you could end up with data that is not reusable in your expansion plans; in other words, not sustainable.  

The next step is to look at the required building materials:

Components needed

Regardless of whether or not you already have data, the goal is to determine the least amount of information that gives you the maximum result. 

Let’s use a shirt as an example: 

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 16.31.36

This example is great in highlighting that while the key information is available, it may appear to be too basic to use and too granular to stand out and grab the attention of any potential buyer. That is why you need tools to construct your information according to your plans.

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 16.35.33Tools to use

You are unlikely to grab anyone’s attention with a title like ‘Shirt’ for your product. A title that is more likely to capture a buyer’s attention and perform better in search results, is one like the following:   

‘Men's ACME Casual Blue Shirt in Hawaiian Design with Floral Print – Large’ 

By having all of your key data points filled out and maintaining consistency across your data, you will be able to construct each data component with ease, regardless of the channel requirements. Creating a keyword-rich title simply becomes a function of adding together your existing data values.

MS Excel and other spreadsheets have many robust functions and Macros that can help you combine or concatenate fields based on any criteria you define. These spreadsheets will be particularly useful tools if you manually upload your data to channels.

More advanced tools will allow you to upload a feed, then adjust it to best meet your needs through business rules, filters and look-up lists. You then have the choice to send that same feed out in different variations, formats and languages to meet the requirements of each channel. Minimum to zero editing of this data is needed. All you have to do to expand this data to a new channel is use different templates and apply new business rules based on the criteria you have set in a current feed. This is also a core feature of ChannelAdvisor.

Building restrictions

Every retailer works hard to get their data viewed by as many potential buyers as they possibly can. This means making your products accessible across all the channels that the millions of online shoppers browse.

Returning to our building a house metaphor, builders are often faced with overcoming restrictions and codes enforced by different authorities. Online retailers are faced with similar challenges as they seek to expand their businesses. Each channel has different rules and policies that have to be adhered to, and they require product data in different formats as well.

These are challenges that can deter even the most persistent retailer. But they are challenges that can be overcome if your data is sustainable, and you won’t even consider them challenges if you have the right tools.

If your data is broken out in its simplest form you can add, subtract or change it a lot easier compared with, let’s say, data created to only meet your needs on eBay. The reasons for why these issues may occur include:

  • Your title doesn’t read well, and various keywords are inserted to help improve search.
  • Your product features and description are inserted into an html description, surrounded with more html used for design purposes.
  • Your product images are embedded into the html description, and do not follow a consistent format, such as sizing, backgrounds, and watermarks.
  • Item specifics are probably not utilised.
  • You are using special characters that could cause problems with different data formats across channels where it will be read in its ASCII format.
  • If this is the only repository of your data, it is breaking one of the 5 Laws of Product Data because it is not Available (Law 1).

Summary

In an ideal world you would want to automate your processes, have a simple, sustainable (Law 2) yet thorough (Law 5) feed going into one location and have it reconstructed, enriched and sent out to as many sales channels as you desire. It is important to understand that your data needs to exist though, and ideally comply with the 5 Laws of Product Data that are covered in this blog series. A house worth living in isn’t built in a day, just as your data needs time and attention to be sustainable.

We’ll return next week with the third of our Product Data Laws. To receive this blog instalment directly to your inbox, why not subscribe to the blog through the form on the right-hand side?

Blog post by Rynhardt Hanekom, International Manager, Customer Success and Rachel Miller, Manager, Customer Success Team.

eBay’s New Image Requirements For UK Retailers Come Into Effect Today

6a00d8341d136453ef019103e711ef970c-320wiImages are an essential component when trying to stand out from the crowd and attract customers. Clearly, images drive consumer confidence, but with the rise of what industry analysts are calling “visually-driven commerce,” these are no longer just a nice addition, they’re a requisite for success.

On 8th November eBay rolls out its new image requirements for all UK sellers listing on the channel. The aim of this update is to provide consumers with a great shopping experience and ensure that your listings will look their best for mobile shoppers, an important factor considering one-third of transactions on eBay involve mobile devices.[i]

We’ve compiled a list of what you need to know about these requirements: Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 09.28.58

  • At least one image is required for all listings on eBay.
  • All photos must be at least 500 pixels on the longest side of the picture.
  • Borders around pictures, and text added to pictures, will no longer be allowed. Watermarks for attribution purposes only will continue to be allowed.
  • Stock images/catalogue pictures won't be allowed as the primary picture for used and second-hand items.

So, to begin with, all pages are required to feature at least one picture. There are a few exceptions to this rule, for instance the selling of tickets, but the majority of retailers are affected. It’s a fairly simple rule and one that few sellers will object to, considering the positive impact that just one image can have on a retailer’s listing.

A photo with at least 500 pixels on the longest side of the picture is yet again a fairly simple change to regulate. Be sure to review your current images to see that they adhere to this new requirement. Keep in mind that while 500 pixels is the minimum, a best practice is to aim for a picture size of 1600 pixels on the longest side. This helps to make sure the zoom and enlarge features can be used to give buyers a better view of the item.

The use of borders around images and added text are now prohibited, however watermarks for attribution purposes are still acceptable. Keep in mind that you should make sure that you don't compress any pictures before uploading to eBay and also make sure that each picture file size is 7MB or less.

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 09.28.34

The final change effects those selling used and second-hand items and the restriction of using stock images/catalogue pictures as the primary image. UK retailers will still be able to use catalogue pictures, but simply not as the primary image that buyers see when scrolling through a list of products. This new condition does not affect those selling in film, music, books or video game categories, although it does relate to retailers selling video game consoles.

What now?

The significance of images for retailers and the influence they have on buyers cannot be underestimated, and so it’s imperative that you adjust all your images to meet eBay’s new requirements.

Take the time today to review your images and make sure you are compliant, ensuring that your product listings aren’t left with a faulty or non-existent image in the run up to the busy Christmas period. If your images are below the new minimum size or include text or borders, then new images will need to be acquired immediately or you’ll risk your listing being suppressed. 

The latest changes to eBay’s image rules emphasises the importance of visuals when attracting customers online. We recommend that retailers familiarise themselves with these latest requirements, but consider these as the minimum to being compliant.

Retailers should aim to make high-resolution, clean photography an essential part of their e-commerce strategy. It is the savvy retailers who are taking the next steps to incorporate rich, interactive imagery wherever possible, allowing them to gain credibility with buyers and drive revenue.

For further information on the new picture standards and help with reviewing and adjusting your current images, you can visit: http://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/new-picture-standards


[i] http://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/new-picture-standards