March 02, 2014

Countdown to Catalyst Americas: eBay Takes the Stage

EBay Christopher Payne
Christopher Payne, eBay


The Vegas weather is heating up, and so too is the stage at Catalyst Americas with eBay’s Christopher Payne, Senior Vice President of eBay Marketplaces in North America.  Payne will join ChannelAdvisor President David Spitz on Wednesday, March 12th at 12:30 pm PT for a fireside chat discussing eBay’s latest initiatives.

Payne oversees all aspects of eBay’s largest marketplace including the company’s efforts in fashion, motors, electronics and other verticals. He also heads up advertising, business development, local commerce and marketing.

To whet your appetite, check out the live blog from last year's fireside chat with eBay at Catalyst.  

In addition to the eBay keynote, the 2014 Catalyst Americas agenda includes sessions such as:

  • Marketplaces Madness: Your Next Steps for Amazon, eBay & Emerging Marketplaces
  • Branding Basics: How to Manage Your Online Identity
  • Inside the Mind of the Consumer
  • 20/20 Hindsight: Sharing Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Catalyst Americas is almost sold out, but there’s still time to sign up.  Check out the 10 Reasons Not to Miss Catalyst, and see the full agenda and register for Catalyst Americas 2014 today.

February 19, 2014

The Best in E-Commerce Insight at ChannelAdvisor Insite Melbourne 2014

Insite MelbourneActionable strategies and educational opportunities abound at ChannelAdvisor Insite Melbourne 2014. The half-day conference will offer presentations by visionaries and industry leaders, coupled with a networking reception where you can mingle with colleagues in the industry and speak with leaders from e-commerce comapnies such as eBay, Google and Columbus. 

This year, speakers include Simon Bruce, business development and merchandising director at Box13; Hamish Moline, senior director, B2C marketplaces at eBay Australia; and Graham Wilkinson, client performance director at Columbus. They’ll offer tips on merchant acquisition, multiple digital marketing disciplines, and achieving the best outcomes for sellers. 

Retailers can also look forward to a Google presentation on shopping campaign and dynamic marketing, given by Pablo Arana, customer solutions and innovations performance expert at Google. This will be a rare opportunity to receive the latest information on the new Google Shopping features being launched this month. 

In the span of a few short hours, you’ll be immersed in informative and innovative content from experts in the e-commerce space, opening doors to new markets and strategies. You’ll also get the chance to learn more about ChannelAdvisor's solutions, which provide retailers and manufacturers with a central location to manage all information and inventory data across multiple channels — enabling you to sell more efficiently online.

Insite offers a cornucopia of information, engagement and solutions. With online shopping in Australia predicted to account for nearly 10% of total retail sales by 2017, this event is a must for retailers looking for unparalleled access, networking and insight. Rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel, get advice from those in-the-know and start implementing strategies for your business the moment you walk out of the conference.

Insite Melbourne 2014 will be held at the Burke Room in the Hotel Windsor (111 Spring Street, Melbourne) on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 from noon until 5:45 p.m.

For more information on Insite Melbourne 2014, and to register, please visit channeladvisor.com.au/insite/.

February 17, 2014

No More Blackthorne: So What’s Next?

In about six weeks, eBay will end technical support for Blackthorne, a desktop software solution that helped retailers sell on the marketplace. Owned by eBay since 1999, Blackthorne found a niche among sellers uploading large quantities of listings at once.

Because of our loBlackthornengstanding relationship with eBay, we’ve been doing some work behind the scenes to make sure that Blackthorne customers can easily transition to the ChannelAdvisor platform. We know it’s hard to move away from a solution you’re comfortable using, and we realize that any new system involves a learning curve. But if you’re curious to find out what a switch to ChannelAdvisor would mean for your business, read on.

1. A secure and trusted network

Not only will you get all the features you had with Blackthorne (plus many more), but you’ll also be investing in a secure, feature-rich cloud-based platform and a knowledgeable network of staff, partners and resources. As an online retailer, your most important asset is your product data — and we’ll both keep it safe and optimize it for growth. Our bulk editing and automatic listing-revision features will save you time that you can put toward growing your business. And with your inventory information synced in our cloud, you’ll save yourself the worry of overselling — or losing your data.

2. Expansion to more online channels

You’ve been selling on eBay, and we can help you expand there. But have you ever toyed with the idea of selling on other marketplaces, like Amazon, Sears or Newegg? Because our platform runs on a single data feed, once your inventory information is in our cloud, you can easily sync it with additional e-commerce channels, including your own webstore. Even if you’re not ready to expand immediately, knowing that it’s an option down the line can inform your long-term strategy now.

3. Advanced reporting and analytics

With our eBay 360 Dashboard feature, you’ll be able to keep track of your overall GMV, top-selling products, items that need to be shipped, Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) information and customer feedback. In addition, we can help you make sense of any listing errors with efficient listing management and give you a bird’s-eye view of all your open listings. Once your items are listed, ChannelAdvisor’s Actionable Retail Insights feature will allow you to identify opportunities to optimize your listings with recommendations on item specifics, suggested eBay categories and many more. With information like this, you’ll be able to make well-informed, data-based decisions for your company.

4. Global engineering and support teams

As an eBay seller, you probably know how often eBay introduces new features and requirements. It can be hard to keep up with. But we can take that off your plate, too. Our global engineering team responds quickly to (and often pre-empts) changes that eBay and other online channels roll out. You’ll also reap the benefits of an award-winning customer support team who will answer your questions, even in the middle of the night. And, if you haven’t figured it out by now: we’re also kind of geeky about e-commerce. We’re always looking to explore the most promising new channels worldwide and share tips, news and strategies with you.

5. An eye on the details

Sure, we’ll help you with the big stuff — like making sure your product information is up to date and preventing duplicate listings. But we’ll also help you manage and automate the details, the tedious work that can take up so much of your time. Our platform makes it easy to create variations and manage custom item specifics on eBay. And the automatic item specifics feature means that you don’t need to map item specifics on your own. Best of all, if you’re selling on eBay and other channels, we’ll take care of syncing inventory and order information across all of them.

If you’re a Blackthorne user interested in learning more about ChannelAdvisor, we’re offering some incentives to make sure your transition goes smoothly. Contact a ChannelAdvisor representative to find out more.

Blog post by Jenny Hock, ChannelAdvisor product manager.

February 12, 2014

January 2014 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 the 2014 schedule can be found in this post.  

Welcome to our first Same Store Sales report of 2014.  Today we are releasing January's SSS data for eBay, Amazon, Google Search and Google Shopping.  Overall retail has come in below expectations due to the unusually large number and breadth of winter storms we are experiencing in the US.  In today's report we'll see if the weather is also weighing on e-commerce.  It's also important to remember that November and December were quite unusual because of the shorter holiday and the movement of CyberMonday into December.  Also, comScore has not published their 2014 e-commerce growth forecast, but Q4 came in at 11% so that's the baseline we are using until comScore publishes their forecast for 2014/Q1.

Catalyst 2014 - Amazon, Google and more!

Also, our Catalyst show (March 10-12 in Las Vegas) is filling up so I wanted to remind readers to register ASAP as we have historically hit a sold out situation.  You can learn more and register here.  Plus today we just announced Amazon's SVP of marketplaces - Sebastian Gunningham, will be back and Google will be a big presence as well - more to come on that front, you can expect a lot of surprises this year ;-)

January 2014 SSS Results 

  • Amazon - Amazon's January came in at 14% compared to December's 27.9%, a substantial m/m decrease caused by the holiday December spike. 
  • eBay -  eBay's January came in at 12.7% up a bit  from December's 11%. We have eBay details further down in the report that show what is going on with this marketplace.
  • CSE - Comparison Shopping came in at 12% down from December's 31.1% (driven largely by Google Shopping/PLA)
  • Search - Search came in at 10.3% , an decrease from December's 26.2% y/y growth.  Later in the report we have more search details.

Reviewing these high-level results, it does seem that as is being reported in the broader retail world, the weather is impacting the e-commerce world as well.  We'll be keeping a close eye on how this develops through the rest of the quarter in Feb/March.

SSS Chart 

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

Sss_jan_14_macro

This chart clearly illustrates the unusual spikey-ness between Nov/Dec/Jan that we experienced.


eBay Details

eBay's SSS for January was 12.7%.  To get a feel for what is driving the marketplace's performance, here are the interior data points for the month:

  • eBay auctions - Down 10.9% y/y. 
  • eBay fixed-price - Up 14.6% y/y - this was a nice showing for eBay and was the primary driver of the increase from December.  Perhaps eBay enjoyed some re-gifting this year and also continues to benefit from the mobile device upgrade cycle.
  • eBay Motors  (parts and accessories) - P+A decelerated a bit in January decreasing to 17.6% from December's 21%. P+A has historically been impacted by weather - it is hard to work on your car when you are in two feet of snow.  At the same time, consumers are going to need wipers, snow tires/chains, etc. so it will be interesting to see if the category starts to climb back into 2014.

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

Sss_jan_14_ebay_details

Supplemental data for Search

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

Sss_jan_14_search

Search SSS increased 10.3% for January and you can see there was a mix of internals that drove that result.

First, clicks are down due to consumers moving to PLA/Google Shopping.  The key driver for the increase with search was a nice increase in the AOV.  This indicates to us that consumers are using PLAs for lower AOV items (as supported by the supplemental data in the next section) and for the more expensive items they are using the Adwords side of the equation to figure things out.

Supplemental data for Google Shopping

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

Sss_jan_14_google_shopping

 

Overall, Google Shopping came in at 62.8% y/y increase on a SSS.   The Google Shopping/PLA program continues to see strong growth driven by Google showing the ad-unit more frequently as well as increased advertiser adoption and SKU adoption.  We saw a little dip in AOV (driven by retailers loading up their lower ASP items into PLA as they expand their adoption of the program) but you can see conversion rates (CR) improved very nicely - a function of the previously mentioned items plus Google's algorithm(s) improving the consumer experience and showing the 'right product at the right time' which is resulting in a 13.6% increase in the conversion rate.

 

Conclusions 

We hope you are able to use the data provided here to benchmark how your e-commerce channels performed to your peers.  While normally cold weather helps e-commerce, this year we are seeing an unusual amount of snow events which are causing well published shipping delays.  Also, consumers don't start their seasonal Spring shopping (which drives the Sporting goods, P+A and apparel/accessories categories) when they are toughing it through the snow.

Our next SSS post will be in March when we look at the February 2014 data to see if the weather clouds have lifted.

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

 

January 24, 2014

5 Ways to Grow Your Marketplaces Presence in 2014

1. New Marketplaces

If you’re selling only on Amazon, or only on eBay, you should really consider adding the other. These two marketplaces continue to dominate the space. If you've already tackled these, it may be time to look to Sears, Newegg or Rakuten.com Shopping as a potential new revenue stream. Retailers who sell electronics and tools especially tend to find success on Newegg, while sellers in the home and garden category typically yield good results on Sears. (Stay tuned for more details on this differentiation in a future blog post.)

2. Insights

Take it to the next level. Make sure to review and act on your Amazon and eBay Insights. These can be found under the Optimization area of the eBay and Amazon sections in the ChannelAdvisor platform. Insights will provide you with SKU-level information on how competitive your pricing is, how many sellers are using Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) on an item and what eBay item specifics are missing. You’ll also receive tailored recommendations on potential new products you can source to grow your business.

 

 

3. Cross-Border Trade

EBay's Global Shipping Program (GSP) is an easy way to test out cross-border trade while only having to ship domestically. Shipping and customs charges are automatically included in the buyer’s checkout purchase total and the program is free for sellers. GSP can help increase sales within months, and facilitate orders from more than 30 countries. In fact, eBay is hosting a webinar on GSP next Thursday, January 30th if you’re interested in finding out more. Sign up here.  

 

Amazon too has a similar program called Amazon FBA Global Export.  In the US, for eligible products using FBA Global Export, orders can be placed from international locations if the buyer is in a supported country. Check out this blog for further information.

4. Dropshippers

Have you tried out Dropshippers? This blog post talks about the benefits of using a dropshipper for fulfillment, such as expanding your catalog and improving fulfillment time. If you are already using a Dropshipper, take time to review your your drop-shipping agreements and setups to ensure that they aren’t hurting your seller status. The late purchasing surge during the recent holiday season caused some delivery delays, which may have affected your seller metrics.

5. Automation

Do you find yourself spending hours manually managing inventory across channels? ChannelAdvisor software helps to reduce that time-consuming work and allows you to focus on other areas of your business. Make sure to take time to set things up properly from the beginning so that when you upload a new file it automatically sends the information everywhere you want it to be and makes updates accordingly.

BONUS TIP!  6.  Outsource

Why not leave the management to someone else--free yourself up to concentrate on strategy? Our Managed Services team of experts lives and breathes marketplaces and can help set up the automation you need and provide guidance on strategies that will lead you to success on online marketplaces. (http://www.channeladvisor.com/platform/excel-with-services)

 

Blog post by Luke Evans, Manager, ChannelAdvisor Marketplaces Services


Should You Go It AloneUnderstand the value of marketplaces? Before you jump, make sure you also fully understand the financial benefits of working with a software partner. Download our FREE white paper for more info: Should You Go It Alone or Through a Provider?

 

 

 

 

January 23, 2014

eBay Q4 2013 Results (from a seller's perspective)

Yesterday, January 22, 2014, eBay announced their 2013 Q4 results.   In this post, we'll look at the results from a seller's perspective.  This blog focuses on the performance and any nuances around the eBay marketplace; we do not dig into PayPal, eBay Enterprise or other elements of the overall eBay business.

ComScore just released their holiday growth report for e-commerce (desktop only) showing 14% y/y growth in October and 10% growth for Nov/Dec, for desktop which we'll call Q4 10%-12% until they release the combined Q4 number. Note: comScore's data does not include tablet/smartphone.

Overview of eBay's Q4 marketplace results

Q4 Highlights:

  • Active users (on the marketplace) for the Q came in at 128.1m, representing 14  % y/y growth - keeping the pace from Q2 and Q3 (also 14%). eBay added 15.8m active buyers y/y and 4.5m sequentially.
  • On the call Donahoe said that 40% of their new users were coming from mobile. (He also said 14m mobile customers were added, which would be more than 40%, so I believe that number was for eBay and Amazon).
  • US GMV came in at up 14% y/y ($8.5b in GMV) - ahead of comScore's Q4 growth rate.
  • Fixed price grew 19% y/y (well ahead of overall e-commerce) - FP hit a new high-water mark of 73% of transaction
  • >55% of transactions featured free shipping
  • International was 61% vs. 39% for US (A new high for international gmv)
  • International grew 10% y/y ($13.1b)
  • Top-Rated Sellers (TRS) same-store-sales (SSS) were up 18% (greater than e-commerce) and TRS sales now represent 47% of sales (new high mark)
  • eBay launched 89 retailers/brands on the platform in 2013
  • Cassini is now live globally

Q4 Lowlights:

  • International GMV grew a sluggish 10% y/y.
  • Auctions declined 5% y/y and hit a low-water mark of 22% of GMV
  • eBay announced that activist Carl Icahn has been buying up eBay stock and is advocating for the company to split PayPal and the marketplace.  eBay strongly disagreed with this suggestion on the call.

Updated Q4 dashboard:

Here are the key metrics from the quarter: (click to enlarge)


Ebay_q4_13_dashboard

eBay's quarter was mixed and came in at the low end of their expectations from a revenue perspective.  We were pleased to see the US GMV come in at 14% y/y growth as we did see weakness toward the end of December.

 

 eBay Category Details

Unlike Amazon who is very closed with their category data, eBay releases detailed category metrics every quarter that we analyze for you.  Here is a chart that lists each category from largest to smallest indexed by their Q4 2013 GMV.

Ebay_q413_cats_size

Home and garden is the first category to ever get to over $3b in a Q and CSA isn't too far away coming in at $2.7b for the Q and leapfrogging P+A for the first time.

The next chart looks at each category by their y/y growth rate (more relevant in our world than sequential Q->Q growth).  The green indicates the category grew faster than e-commerce, the yellow is in-line and the red is substantially lower than e-commerce.

Ebay_q413_cats_growth


Outperforming categories

  • It's no surprise that video games were the fastest growing category - thanks to the PS4 and XBoxOne.
  • P+A had a great Q growing at a strong 22%
  • B+I grew an impressive 16% - we are seeing a lot of interest in eBay from industrial supply type companies and that's reflected in this 

In-line categories

  • Given the usual gifting popularity of CE and toys it was a little surprising to see these categories come in at 9% and 7% respectively.

Underperfoming categories

  • BMV and vehicles are all categories that have historically been structurally challenged, so no surprises there. 

 

eBay's Category mix

Frequently sellers ask about the mix of categories on eBay.  This pie chart takes the non-vehicle categories and shows their relative share of eBay's Q4 GMV in a pie chart:

Ebay_q413_pie

 

Conclusions

On the call, eBay management talked about the competitive nature of the quarter and that offline retailers were moving to digital slower than they expected.  Reading through the lines, it feels like they were talking about Amazon.  Amazon announces their results on January 30th and we'll be covering that at sister site AmazonStrategies .

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

January 22, 2014

eBay Q4 2013 results preview (seller oriented metrics)

This week on Wednesday 1/22, eBay announces Q4 results after the market closes (~4:30pm ET).   In this post we preview the Q4 report and provide an overview of what we will be watching for from a seller's perspective.

ComScore just released their Holiday growth report for e-commerce (desktop only) showing 14% y/y growth in October and 10% growth for Nov/Dec, for desktop which we'll call Q4 10%-12% until they release the combined Q4 number. Note: comScore's data does not include tablet/smartphone.

Our average Q4 SSS increase for eBay's GMV was 11.6% which is in-line with the desktop comScore number.

eBay Q4 Dashboard

As usual, before the results, we are publishing our dashboard so sellers/retailers can track the relevant pieces of the results:

Ebay_q4_preview_dashboard


Shortly after eBay announces, we will update the dashboard with the actuals to see how they did vs. their guidance, Wall St. expectations and Q3 2013

What else are we looking for?

In addition to the "usual suspects", we'll be watching for these trends:

  • eBay continues to focus on CBT with their Global Shipping Program.  We'll be watching to see if eBay has any new data points here.
  • Mobile mobile mobile - eBay likes to reveal some interesting mobile stats which we watch with interest. 
  • Any insights into user growth are always of interest
  • Growth rate of top-rated sellers vs. above-standard sellers.
  • Any information about eBay's performance during the holiday.
Scot Wingo wrote this blog. He is CEO of ChannelAdvisor.  

January 09, 2014

December 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.  

Happy New Year everyone!

Today we are releasing December 2013 data for Marketplaces (eBay/Amazon), Search and Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE) along with supplemental data.  December was the last month in Q4 2013 and gives us the final view into how the holiday performed.

As we've been mentioning in our regular holiday updates and we highlighted in the monthly November update, this year was quite unusual with a late Thanksgiving causing Cyber Monday to shift to early December and shortening the holiday selling period by six days compared to 2012. 

Before diving into the December results, we wanted to provide one last overview of holiday 13:

Holiday 13 Wrap (ha!)

Heading into Holiday 2013, Forrester forecasted 15% y/y growth and comScore forecasted 17%.  Based on our SSS data, we believe the holidays came in above these forecasts.  Google Shopping/PLA along with Amazon drove a lot of that success.  Old-school search (AdWords) was surprisingly robust (see thoughts below in search details).  The biggest puzzle for the holiday was eBay.  eBay started strong (up ~30% Thanksgiving-Cyber Monday), but then in the middle of December lagged enough to come in at ~11% y/y growth overall for the holiday and November/December which is below the growth-rate of e-commerce.  In the December results below we peel the onion on all these trends from holiday 2013.

December 2013 SSS Results 

  • Amazon - Amazon's December came in at 27.9% compared to November's 12.3%, a substantial m/m increased caused by the holiday shift.
  • eBay -  eBay's December came in at 11% flat from November's 10.9%. We have eBay details further down in the report.
  • CSE - Comparison Shopping came in at 31.1% up from November's 5.0% (driven largely by Google Shopping/PLA)
  • Search - Search came in at 26.2% , an increase from November's 9.2% y/y growth.  Later in the report we have more search details.

SSS Chart 

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

  

13_dec_sss_overall_v2
 

This chart clearly illustrates that the 'great holiday shift of 13' created an unusual dip in November and a spike in December.  Talking to retailers, this created what for them was one of the most stressful holiday sales periods in recent memory because we essentially had 21 days to know how the entire year played out.


eBay Details

eBay's SSS for December was 11%.  To get a feel for what is driving the marketplaces' performance, here are the interior data points for the month:

  • eBay auctions - Down 10% y/y. 
  • eBay fixed-price - Up 10.7% y/y
  • eBay Motors  (parts and accessories) - P+A accelerated a bit in December increasing to 21.0% from November's 19.6%.  P+A is not a holiday driven category, so is less impacted by the Thanksgiving shift.  Plus it's very hard to wrap mufflers and tires ;-)

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

   13_dec_sss_ebay_details

The obvious question looking at eBay compared to the other channels is: Why was eBay flat from November to December?  (And why did holiday come in at 11%?)  If you recall when we date-aligned the holiday dates (blog post here) eBay's holiday started at 29.7% and then drifted down to 9.6%.  Unlike last year where we saw a U shape to the holiday for all channels, eBay's holiday started strong and then  slowed as we got past Cyber Monday.  In particular the 7-8 days in the middle of the month 12/8-12/15 were particularly sluggish (sub 10% y/y SSS growth) - this had the impact of erasing many of the gains eBay enjoyed in the first week of December (as well as a good showing the last week of November).

Looking back at 2012 we noticed a couple of macro differences between holiday 12 and 13 that could be contributing factors:

  • In 2012, eBay invested heavily in TV promotions that ran primarily during sporting events (football games) - there was no national US TV promotional activity that we saw.
  • In 2013, eBay did a great job lining up their promotional calendar with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.
  • This year we saw early inventory stock-outs in Brick and Mortar which helped eBay in the start of the holiday, but we did not see that continue to play a role after the Cyber Five.
  • Also in 2013, eBay appeared to invest heavily in Google Shopping/PLAs (perhaps in replacement of a TV campaign?).

We're waiting to hear more from eBay on their Q4 conference call which is scheduled for January 22nd.

One highlight is the performance of eBay Motors Parts and Accessories which was up 21% (highest growth since July), which is unusually strong given the winter weather experienced in December across the US.

Supplemental data for Search

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

   13_dec_sss_search

After lagging e-commerce growth for most of  2013, Search  had a strong December. Some of that is due to Cyber Monday being in December, but also looking at the internals I direct your attention to the nice move up on Orders - driven by a material bump in conversion rate (CR). AOV was also up nicely (probably driven by improved economic backdrop primarily).

Looking at the data here combined with what we are seeing in Google Shopping, I think Google's approach of having the two offerings (PLA+AdWords) is improving the results of both programs - indicating it is definitely a better buyer experience.  Think of it from this perspective:

As consumers work through their purchase decision and can broadly be put into two buckets or modes:

  1. Research mode - "What kind of camera, toy for a my niece who is 8, tablet, HDTV, boots should I buy?"  These consumers are going to be drawn to the AdWords part of the page.  By effectively moving the transactional types of ads (economically at least) out to PLA the quality of the AdWords improves for these consumers.  Instead of "Uggs for $199!" I get "find the right boots for you" in AdWords and the Uggs are over in PLA.
  2. Buy mode - "I know I want the Playstation 4, where can I a) find it and b) get the best price/shipping/service/etc." Conversely if you are ready to buy, you don't want to slog through 30 AdWords results looking for it - you want to find it faster and know the price, availability, merchant, etc. PLA/GS is perfect for this.  Yes, I want those Uggs and $199 is the perfect price -boom.

Certainly the conversion rate moved up due to macro-economic factors and seasonal factors, but this is one of the largest conversion rate improvements for AdWords we have ever seen and we believe it speaks to some structural improvements driven by the 1-2 punch of PLA+AdWords.

Supplemental data for Google Shopping

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

  13_dec_sss_gs_details

GS/PLA SSS were up 90% y/y, which is substantially faster than e-commerce.  A large part of this growth is the fact that last year 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.  During the Holiday both Google and retailers really poured on the PLA spend, product and search coverage.

Google Shopping AOV increased 2.6% y/y largely driven by category mix changes. Conversion rates showed a decrease due to the fact we have more ads showing up for many, many more searches.   You can't argue with 90% y/y growth so this is quite minor compared to the broader opportunity.  In fact, we continue to believe that retailers are under-investing in this important channel.

Conclusions 

We hope you are able to use the data provided here and our holiday coverage to understand how your sales on all e-commerce channels compared with those of your peers.  The 'Thanksgiving shift' / six missing days forced retailers of all sizes to bring their "A Game" in terms of operations and logistics, and given the nature of y/y metrics, these comps  will follow us into 2014.  

Our next SSS post will be in February when we look at the January 2014 data to get a feel for how the new year is kicking off.

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

2014 ChannelAdvisor Same Store Sales Backgrounder and Schedule

2014 ChannelAdvisor Same Store Sales (SSS) Backgrounder

 Since 2009, ChannelAdvisor has been producing a monthly report we refer to as “Same Store Sales” (SSS) as a benchmark for our customers and the industry.  These reports are intended to measure the relative performance of various online channels (e.g. eBay, Amazon, Rakuten Shopping (Buy.com), Search, Comparison Shopping Engines (or CSEs) , etc.) through which our customers, who are online retailers, sell their merchandise, and this information helps our customers make educated decisions about their use of various channels.  Unlike survey-based reports or reports based on small sample sets, the ChannelAdvisor SSS data is created using the real transactional data captured by ChannelAdvisor's software across our global customer base of thousands of online retailers, hundreds of e-commerce channels and billions of dollars in Gross Merchandise Value.  

Gross Merchandise Value (or GMV) is commonly used in the e-commerce world because for some channels product sales are different than revenue, so a new metric was created, GMV, to represent the overall volume of product sales that go through a channel.  For example, eBay's GMV is a very large number (> $60b) and their revenue is a subset of that based on their take rate (the % they charge retailers for selling on their platform and other associated fees).   Search engines like Google recognize their revenue based on advertising spend in the form of costs-per-click, but again, we are focused on GMV.  We focus on GMV because that is what matters to our customers, the online retailers, plus we believe it is the best way to measure the impact that a channel is having on the overall industry.

ChannelAdvisor SSS Methodology

The way SSS is compiled is as follows:

  • Each ChannelAdvisor customer's GMV  is recorded on a monthly basis by channel.
  • We think of a “store” metaphorically as one customer selling through a particular channel – in other words, one of our online retailer customers can have multiple “stores” if they use more than one channel to sell their merchandise.
  • Once a “store” has been active with ChannelAdvisor for a year (that is, the customer has been with us for at least a year and has been utilizing the particular channel for at least a year), then we begin to include it in the SSS data.
  • If a customer stops working with ChannelAdvisor or stops selling on a particular channel, then that combination of  customer and channel, that “store”, is no longer included (assuming it made it past the year mark in the first place).  Whenever an online retailer stops selling on a channel or stops utilizing ChannelAdvisor, they are immediately taken out of the SSS data. 
  • GMV is measured in native currency and compared in native currency.

Here is an example of how this works:

Customer A first began selling on Amazon in mid-April 2013.  This customer’s Amazon GMV is first included in the monthly SSS calculation in May 2014 and will be first reflected in Y/Y Amazon comparisons in the monthly report for May 2014.

The end-result is a SSS metric that is equivalent to that used by offline retailers like Walmart, Target, etc. called same-store sales metrics - in other words it is designed to take out the skewing effects from new customer additions and to give a clear year-over-year growth picture.  Our customers have found this data to be very helpful for several use cases:

  • Existing channel benchmarking - You are a online retailer participating in Search and CSE.  You are growing at 10% in search y/y and 5% y/y in CSE - by using the ChannelAdvisor SSS data, you can benchmark how you are doing against your peers.
  • New channel expansion - If you are an online retailer and you are active in Search and CSE, and want to explore new channels, the SSS data can be a guide to finding those channels that are growing at rates you find attractive.

We also publish data in many of our SSS reports that show the breakdown of overall traffic  by device type (e.g. Computer, SmartPhone, Tablet, Total Mobile ).  This is simply a calculation of how much of the traffic driven by search and CSE channels across our platform during the relevant period originated from the specified types of devices.   (Computer + SmartPhone + Tablet = 100%.   Total Mobile = SmartPhone + Tablet.)

SSS Disclaimers

There are many reasons this data is not a proxy for overall e-commerce activity as well as individual channel total performance including, but not limited to:

  • Customer variance - ChannelAdvisor's customers may not be representative of the overall customer mix of any individual channel.  For example, on eBay, our customers are skewed towards a larger eBay customer set, not the average.
  • Category variance – ChannelAdvisor’s customers are over-represented in some categories (electronics, sporting goods and auto parts) and under-represented in others (collectibles, BMV/media, etc.)  For example, on Amazon, ChannelAdvisor has very few media customers so we have no visibility into that large chunk of Amazon's business.
  • Cross-Border Trade variance - While ChannelAdvisor does have a fair amount of non-domestic GMV, our mix of domestic and international customers is not necessarily equivalent to that of other e-commerce players.
  • Software Impact - At the end of the day, we are a software company. Some of our features cause a short-term bump in sales that may skew results high at the beginning and then lower at the end of a one year SSS cycle.
  • Channel impact - Certain changes at e-commerce channels may cause disproportionate good or harm to our customer base, category mix, international mix and software.  While the data shows these changes, because we are not a material part of every channel, over 90% of that channel's business may not have the same impact (positive or negative).
  • SSS is a metric unique to ChannelAdvisor- eBay, Amazon, Google and other e-commerce businesses do not measure SSS.  They look at overall growth when they report their financial metrics. We believe SSS is important to our customers from a benchmarking standpoint, which is why we do it this way - it is not intended to be a proxy for the overall performance of any of these e-commerce channels.

How should online retailers benchmark with the SSS?

For online retailers, we recommend looking at your Y/Y performance on each of the channels and comparing it to what we are reporting here to see how you are doing compared to your peers.  For example, you may feel that your 25% January 2014 vs. January 2013 growth on Amazon is very strong, but when you compare to the 34.3% share we are reporting across our customer base, you are effectively behind the average and may need to re-evaluate what looked like a great result to see why you are lagging and/or losing share in this channel. There are a lot of 'dials to turn' to increase your performance on any channel and we can work with you to formulate a strategy to get back to above-market sales growth.

Conversely, maybe you are growing at 15% on CSE and feel that wasn't strong enough, but you look at the ChannelAdvisor SSS and realize you may be being too tough on yourself because you are actually growing close to double what we are seeing out there as the average. You are effectively gaining share in this channel when compared to your peers.

Finally, maybe you are only selling on one channel and want to pick a channel that is going to super-charge some growth.  Hopefully you can utilize this data as one input into that decision.  For online retailers that want a category view or deeper dive into any of these, we do this on an on-demand basis.  Contact your ChannelAdvisor sales rep/account manager to learn more.

2014 SSS Schedule

Here is the schedule for 2014s SSS releases:

  • January 9th - December 2013 SSS
  • February 10th - January SSS
  • March 10th- February SSS
  • April 8th - March SSS
  • May 12th - April SSS
  • June 6th- May SSS
  • July 9th - June SSS
  • August 11th - July SSS
  • September 10th  - August SSS
  • October 8th - September SSS
  • November 11th - October SSS
  • Holiday 2014 - TBD - we will have our usual regular updates through the 2014 Holiday season and will post a Holiday SSS schedule in early November.

 

SSS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. You said eBay (or Amazon, Google) did X and when they reported their earnings it was Y - why were you so wrong?

A: The ChannelAdvisor SSS data is in no way a prediction of any e-commerce channel's (eBay, Amazon, Google, etc.) results.  It is designed to be a benchmark for ChannelAdvisor's customers to give them an idea of how they are doing vs. their peers.  While we have over 2000 retailers as customers and over $3b in GMV through our system which we believe makes this data a meaningful benchmark, there are many reasons (outlined earlier in this post) our data does not correlate at all with the performance with companies.  

We have a different international, seller, category mix and also those companies are not reporting SSS they are reporting all-in sales so it is quite apples and oranges on all levels.

Q: What do all these acronyms you use mean?  SSS, AOV, ASP, CR, GMV, CPC, 

A:  Here is a quick dictionary of common TLAs we use:

SSS - Same store sales - see above for details.

CSE - Comparison Shopping Engines - We track over 100 global CSEs including Shopping.com, PriceGrabber, Shopzilla, Kelkoo, Google Shopping, etc.

AOV - Average Order Value - The average value of an order - in other words when we look across our vast network at all of the carts going through checkout, what is the average cart value?

ASP - Average selling price - for a specific product (e.g. an iPad) you can track the selling price of that product over time.  Before eBay had a cart we used ASP in the industry because there was only one product being purchased at a time and now generally use AOV. 

PLA/GS - A Google program with two names Product Listing Ads and Google Shopping - this is their paid comparison shopping engine that shows up embedded in search results.

CR - Conversion Rate - retailers spend a lot of time and effort acquiring traffic -only a small % turns into an order - that % is the Conversion Rate.  traffic * CR * AOV = GMV

GMV -Gross merchandise value - the value of items being sold through any given e-commerce channel.  We use GMV instead of revenue because the two are actually different in the world of marketplaces. For example, eBay and Amazon may facilitate of $1,000,000 in GMV - but their revenue/sales are 10% or $100,000 - therefore in the industry we use GMV to make that clear.

CPC - Cost per Click - The typical way retailers pay for traffic from search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing) and Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs) Google

FBA - Fulfillment by Amazon - Amazon's program that allows retailers to use their large fulfillment center network.

FC - Fulfillment Center - a warehouse that is oriented towards individual package fulfillment for e-commerce

DC - Data Center - a nice cool dry house for a bunch of servers

Q: You said the results would be out on X day, and they have not come out yet - why?

A: We make every effort to adhere to the schedule, but our top priority is our customers and sometimes that can create delays in getting the data out.  We reserve the right to issue the data after the scheduled date.

Q: How can I be notified by email or sms message when new SSS data is out?

A: Since this is a blog with RSS you can use a service like feedburner or blogtrottr to automate the creation of emails.  You can also subscribe to the blog via the 'subscribe' field.  Also, within minutes of a new blog we will tweet via:

ChannelAdvisor's main twitter account: www.twitter.com/channeladvisor

Scot Wingo's main twitter account: www.twitter.com/scotwingo

Twitter gives you flexibility to receive SMS messages and emails when new tweets arrive. 

Questions?

If you have any questions about ChannelAdvisor's SSS data, our methodology, the disclaimers or the schedule, feel free to ask in comments.  

Updates to this post:

This placeholder will note any changes we make to the SSS 2014 post in the future.

December 24, 2013

Holiday 2013 ChannelAdvisor SSS - Late December Update

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.

First I wanted to wish all blog readers, ChannelAdvisor customers, partners and employees a Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!  2013 has been a truly exceptional year for ChannelAdvisor and we owe it all to you! I hope everyone has a great time with friends and family and enjoys delay-free travels wherever the Holiday takes you.

Sadly, this is our last SSS report of 2013 and for the Holiday.  We'll be back in January with a December wrap-up as well with our take on how Holiday 2013 played out.

Holiday 2013 Mid December update

Today we are releasing new SSS data through the first three weeks of December.  Because of the unusual holiday this year, we have been 'date shifting' the days in our comparison to make sure we are aligning the key days of the Holiday.  In today's data, we have provided the results from the Cyber Five (Thanksgiving-Cyber Monday) in the first column for comparison and the first-week shifted (12/8) in the second column, the second week (12/15) in the third column and the new data (third week of December) is in the right column labeled 12/22.

Dec_13_wk3_shifted

As you can see the momentum slowed a bit in the third week.  Looking at the data, this is essentially due to the date-shifting - we are now essentially including in the 2012 data only through mid-Dec and in the 2013 data we extend through 12/22. A couple of reasons this slows down the growth:

  • In 2012, we had a lull from 12/16-12/20 - that is not captured here, so we are comparing a lull period in 13 vs. a spike period in 12 due to the shift.
  • In 2013, Holiday shopping started much earlier than in 2012, so by aligning Thanksgivings we essentially miss some pretty active days 
  • eBay was particularly slow in third week period relative to the second week period.  Not many sellers offer 2-day shipping at reasonable rates, so we typically see see eBay sales taper off in the December 17-19 period.  This year Amazon and other retailers (captured in CSE, GS and Search) did not seem to have those concerns as many of them made clear and affordable expedited shipping past those dates.

That being said, if we think of e-commerce as growing at 15%, it does look like holiday 2013 outpaced that when you look at the whole quarter.

Non-date-shifted third week

To illustrate the effects we are seeing here where the date-shifting is creating a bit of a headwind, here is third week of December without date-shifting. We have also included device data trends.

Dec_13_wk3_not_shifted

In this data, 2013 is now compared to 9 days before Christmas to 3 days before Christmas - effectively aligning to  Christmas vs. Thanksgiving which is an easier comp now that we are at the end of the holiday.  Here you can see that eBay performs much better to the same period last year as does Amazon.

What is most interesting is the device data.  We are holding at ~40% for mobile device traffic (tablets and smartphones) through the holiday.  40% has effectively become the new normal whereas last year 30% was the mobile device baseline with spikes up to 40%.  At this pace, we could be up to 50% mobile by Holiday 2014!!

Up next...

In early January we will post the 2014 SSS schedule including December y/y results.

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