Friday, June 24, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: WinBuyer helps ecommerce sites better monetize pages and shoppers

As we get more experience in online retailing, it’s becoming even clearer that the rules are different. Consuemrs have the ability to leave and enter stores by making a single click, and have greater desire for information and transparency when they are shopping online. Given these realities, online stores are best served by testing and defining the new rules of (r)etail, rather than blindly copying the old school models of brick and mortar.

A fascinating company called WinBuyer is at the center of such efforts, and has developed a line of products that help online retailers drive revenue in some cool and frankly surprising ways. This innovative company has challenged some of the basic tenets of retailing, and has great results to show for its efforts.

WinBuyer has three products that can be easily integrated into online shopping environments:

•Relevant Buyer Advertising: A complementary advertising engine that displays relevant brand advertising for related products on your product pages, Relevant Buyer Advertising offers retailers high CPM ad opps through its client base of high quality brand advertisers and the sophisticated product matching capabilities that power it. So, for example, if you sell computer monitors, the platform could display ads for laptop brands on . You can specify the advertisers and categories allowed, so your brand and your customer stream is protected. The branded ads might be for items you carry, or items that fit with your lines but are sold by others.

•Onsite Comparative Pricing: This tool enables you to give consumers the option to see prices for the same item from other retailers, so as to demonstrate the great value that you offer. By plugging into the APIs of leading shopping comparison sites, OCP offers precise item-level matching and information from leading online commerce sites. Now, if you price a lot higher than other retailers, I’m guessing this has about as much appeal as dead fish lying in the sun. But if you are competitively priced, you are giving consumers the valuable insight that by buying from you they are making a good financial decision – that there is no need to continue shopping for price. You don’t need to offer the absolute lowest price to be appealing to consumers. I can certainly imagine paying $5 more for something expensive simply for the convenience of staying where I am. But when you consider that the vast majority of your site visitors leave and visit other sites before they buy, it’s easy to see how this offering drives demonstrably higher conversion rates across your site. You probably won’t win every pricing shootout, but if your pricing is good, it can potentially drive a dramatic increase in people who buy immediately.

•Related Products Listing: This tool presents similar items from other retailers on your product pages. Now, hold the phone, don’t freak out about that. The idea is not for every site or every type of product. The way it works best is when a site has high traffic and low conversion categories. For example, jewelry. Driving clicks and visits to other retailers can drive YOUR revenue because you earn affiliate referral fees on every sale your direct to their sites. Think about it in the context of high subjectivity categories. You sell costume jewelry. The consumer is looking for a silver necklace. You might not offer the perfect item for her. So she leaves. That’s the existing scenario. Using the Related Products Listing, you present thumbnails of other silver necklaces available on other sites. She sees something she likes, clicks, and buys from them. You didn’t make a sale, but you DO get a percent of their sale.

We often apply faulty brick and mortar CW to online shopping. In brick and mortar, a savvy selection and sales team can convert a very high percentage of customers. An item might not be EXACTLY what the consumer had in mind, for example, but a good seller can showcase its charms and drive a sale. But in online, conversion rates are nearly always rather low. Consumers want perfect matches, and the costs of comparison shopping are near zero in both money and time. No gas. No driving time. No looking for a parking spot. Just point and click.

Given that absolutely different shopping dynamic, we need to rethink the rules about the things it makes sense to do on our pages. And as in the movie Miracle on 34th Street, sometimes it pays for Macy’s to tell people what’s available at Gimbel’s. So to speak.

Santa would be very proud.

Seemingly unusual ideas and concepts are worth serious consideration as we work to drive more from our online stores.

WinBuyer is an Israeli company with offices in Phoenix, AZ and London.

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