Live from eTail 2007: Five Steps to Effectively Using Comparison-Shopping Engines

Feb 15, 2007 7:06 PM  By

Palm Desert, CA — One in three Internet shoppers use comparison-shopping engines, John Lazarchic, vice president of e-commerce at pet supplies merchant Petco, told attendees at eTail 2007 on Wednesday. When used effectively, he added, those engines help to significantly increase traffic and sales. Plus, your competition is there.

So sure, you’ve got to “get onto the comparison-shopping engines,” but what does that entail? Lazarchic recommended deploying a robust feed distribution and management system for your products and the search engines you use, either inhouse or by contracting with a third-party vendor. The Petco executive suggested five other strategies for effectively using comparison-shopping engines:

1) Define your marketing objectives. Petco, said Lazarchic, treats comparison-shopping engines like its other channels by analyzing similar metrics such as sales and conversion rates and ensuring that customers are treated the same across all channels.

2) Optimize your product data. “Consumers can’t buy what they can’t find,” said Lazarchic. For instance, there are many search terms for “dog bed,” and Petco must be aware of them all so that it doesn’t miss out on sales. Unoptimized product data also lead to limited traffic, low conversion rates, and inappropriate clicks.

3) Advertise the right products. Comparison-shopping engines are not the place to stray from the 80/20 rule, but rather the place to sell those products that are most profitable. Lazarchic said that all comparison sites are not created equal, either. He explained that some of the sites Petco uses are more dog-centric, while others tend to sell more cat products. “I’m not sure why,” he said.

4) Minimize click costs. First, said Lazarchic, embrace product suppression by removing products that have low or no sales. Second, adjust bidding based on product performance by bidding higher on top sellers, placing minimum bids on moderate sellers, and offering zero bids (when a comparison-shopping engine will allow it) on poor sellers. Third, manage your programs by tracking trends and analyzing reports.

5) Maximize profitable orders. Marketers should actively manage channels by viewing reports frequently, looking at margin contribution dollars for each product, and suppressing poor-performing products, which, Lazarchic noted, will change depending on the season and peak sales.