October 12, 2006, 12:00 AM

Shopping.com to test new shopping cart with attached wallet

A cart that lets shoppers buy from multiple merchants across Shopping.com without having to transfer to the merchant’s site starts tests in Q4. Shopping.com will get a percentage of sales instead of click fees.

Comparison shopping engine Shopping.com expects to start testing an integrated shopping cart with attached wallet functionality early in the fourth quarter, Internet Retailer has learned. The cart will allow shoppers to purchase items from multiple merchants across shopping.com directly from Shopping.com, using one cart, without having to visit the merchant’s site to compete the purchase.

The goal of the test is to determine whether eliminating a potential point of confusion in the shopping process-the point at which the shopper, having clicked a Buy from Merchant button on Shopping.com, suddenly is transferred from Shopping.com to the merchant’s site-reduces cart abandonment and improves conversions for the merchants. Shopping.com doesn’t publish its sales to conversion rate, but “We have pretty good faith that this is going to improve it,” says Rob Goldman, vice president of Shopping.com’s U.S. business unit.

When shoppers click to buy from a merchant on Shopping.com, they currently may still need to complete six to 10 pages on the merchant’s site to make the purchase, Goldman notes. “This happens to be where many abandon the transaction,” he says. In the test, for participating merchants there will be a different treatment at the merchant’s user interface in the engine, allowing shoppers to click a Buy button that lets them purchase the item directly from Shopping.com.

It’s a revenue-sharing arrangement, in which Shopping.com will take an undisclosed percentage of each completed sale, with those percentages negotiated between the merchant and the engine. For merchants, the new program aims to improve the yield from the traffic they have by helping them to sell more, and aims to remove merchants` risk by not requiring them to pay for a click that does not result in a sale, according to Goldman. “This moves from cost per click to cost per sale,” he says.

The Shopping.com shopping cart is powered by assets from parent company eBay Inc., which means that to use the cart, the 90 million-plus registered eBay users don’t have to enter their information again, if they sign in under their eBay account. The sign-on places them right in the shopping cart. At checkout, they only need to provide payment and shipping information.

Goldman notes that shoppers using the cart don’t have to use PayPal but can use the payment method of their choice. PayPal powers payment even if the shopper elects to use a credit card-which allows shoppers to use their credit cards for the purchase without having to supply credit card information directly to the individual merchants.

Tests of the new cart will begin on Shoppng.com in selected categories with selected merchants. “Conversion rates vary widely by category and by a merchant’s merchandising strategy within a category,” says Goldman. "In all cases, we think that improving the checkout and flow will improve conversion. And if it improves conversions, we will roll it out more broadly.”


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