June 10, 2010, 2:02 PM

Footsmart.com sweats the details

Getting granular improves the retailer’s comparison shopping engine sales.

Mark Brohan

Research Director

Lead Photo

There are plenty of opportunities available with comparison shopping engines and third-party marketplaces. But e-retailers have to be quick on the draw to implement new technology.

They also need to pay careful attention to operating details, Footsmart.com director of Internet marketing Eric Heller told attendees yesterday at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition. He spoke along with Eric Best, president of Mercent Corp., a company that helps online retailers sell through comparison shopping engines and other third-party e-marketplaces, in an IRCE session entitled "Secrets to more nimble marketing.”

Heller said online marketing programs offer plenty of new ways to increase sales, boost ticket size and generate a higher conversion rate. But web retailers also need to be aware of today's complex and specialized formats and stay on top of new technology. "You have to show up for the game and understand what the game is all about," said Heller.

In particular with comparison shopping engines and third-party marketplaces, web retailers of all sizes need to:

  • Implement performance measurement at a granular scale
  • Know the difference between marketing management and marketing operations management
  • Build or buy flexible and scalable technology
  • Understand each shopping engine and marketplace's business model.

"You have to drill down," added Best.

Footsmart.com, which specializes in selling comfort shoes and leg health products for Baby Boomers, boosted web sales 11% to $66.8 million in 2009 from the prior year. It helped to drive that growth by making it a priority to provide more accurate information on inventory availability, and update data feeds more effectively to BizRate.com, Shopzilla.com and other shopping engines. By looking at conversion rates on a per-SKU basis, Footsmart also was able to update its data feeds faster with more popular and hot-selling products.

 By doing a better job of supplying shopping sites with faster and more comprehensive data, the revenue from comparison engines improved by 80% in 2009. "It's all about operational discipline," Heller said.

Footsmart is a unit of Benchmark Brands Inc., No. 183 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. 



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