June 1, 2011, 10:15 AM

Sponsored Supplement - June 2011

(Page 5 of 9)

Another way to personalize marketing is to send a follow-up e-mail to shoppers who have placed items into a shopping cart but left the site without buying.

"A follow-up e-mail reminding a consumer about what's still in their cart or that an item in the cart is now on sale is a way to personalize the message," says Diane Buzzeo, CEO and founder of Ability Commerce, provider of integrated e-commerce and personalization solutions. "Retailers gather so much consumer data, but they don't always know how best to use it."

Before retailers can effectively leverage consumer behavior data across all channels they need to understand the nuances of each customer touch point. The small screens on mobile devices, for example, make it critical to immediately display items consumers are likely to buy once they arrive at the site, since mobile users are unlikely to spend as much time browsing as they would on the larger screen of a PC.

"Product recommendations in the mobile channel have to be put in front of the consumer immediately because consumer behavior differs in this channel from e-commerce," says MyBuys' Cell. "There's just not as much screen real estate to work with to guide consumers easily to the desired product."

Banner ads, on the other hand, are more about promoting the retailer's brand by showing products that can entice the consumer to buy later on, even if it is through another channel, since 92% of consumers don't ever click on banner ads, according to Cell. A shopper that has viewed children's clothes, for example, may be shown a banner ad for children's backpacks for school or an ad for luggage that kids can take to summer camp.

"If the information is served up through a banner ad and the consumer clicks on the ad, there is value in that. If she buys the item in the ad through another channel, there's value in that, too," says Cell. "The goal of personalization is to show fresh items and content the customer has not seen to demonstrate the retailer knows who she is and the type of products she is interested in."

Because MyBuys learns about a shopper with each click and interaction, the company can carry a shopper's profile across each touch point, and draw on that information every time she comes in contact with the retailer.

MyBuys' ad service identifies consumers that visited a retailer's site, and serves up ads featuring products specifically selected for them in real time as they visit other web sites. MyBuys works with several online ad networks so that it can engage consumers with 98% reach across the web.

As a consumer visits other sites within a partner ad network, MyBuys can serve up ads featuring products that are specifically aimed at her. MyBuys dynamically assembles the ad using parameters from the consumer's profile, such as brand, product or price preferences, and a retailer's brand assets. For instance, a mom who's known to be value-conscious might see a lower-priced backpack than a woman who has purchased top-of-the-line items.

Competitors' prices

But whatever type of shopper they are, most consumers want to know they are getting a good deal on an item before they click the Buy button.

"Reassuring consumers they are getting a good price by allowing them to perform a price comparison on the retailer's site helps retailers gain the trust of the consumer," says WinBuyer's Balin. "Giving the consumer information to verify they are getting a good price creates a shopping experience that translates into a sale."

WinBuyer's commerce information extraction technology lets a web retailer display on a product page the prices that competitors are charging for the product. Retailers can determine how many competitors they want to include in each comparison chart, decide to exclude certain competitors and choose what kind of price range they want to display by product category. For instance, retailers can show merchants charging similar prices, lower prices, higher prices or a combination of each.

WinBuyer's technology connects to the leading comparison shopping sites such as Shopzilla, Shopping.com and PriceGrabber.com, as well several retailers—more than 20,000 retailers and 20 million SKUs—to provide consumers with real-time pricing information. More than 350 retailers use the service.

"We can provide this service for big-box retailers down to mom-and-pop retailers," says Balin. "Retailers can use this for every SKU in their catalog to boost conversion rates and sell more overall."

WinBuyer integrates a standard free or premium version of its service, which is based on the SaaS model, onto retailers' sites by cutting and pasting the WinBuyer JavaScript code, which eliminates the need to create unique feeds into each retailer`s site. The JavaScript tool includes a feature for A/B testing, enabling e-retailers to test multiple versions of the price comparison chart and custom placements of it on a web site before rolling it out.

Retailers can increase conversion rates by 10% on average and boost their average order value by 2% to 5%, depending on the retailer's category and pricing, Balin says.

One retailer that has boosted its conversion rates using WinBuyer's on-site comparative pricing service is home improvement retailer Build.com. Because the home improvement market is price-sensitive, many visitors research products on Build.com, then go to a comparative shopping engine to find the lowest price. That costs the e-retailer money, because it may have brought the shopper to its site through a paid search ad, paying a click fee but not converting the sale.

According to a case study published by WinBuyer, Build.com tested a variety of comparison pricing grids. The winning implementation generated a 20% increase in conversion.

"Price comparison has evolved into a way for consumers to identity where they can get the best value, so it makes sense for retailers to provide this information through their own sites, eliminating the need to leave their site," says Balin.

Intelligent testing

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