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6 posts from November 2011

November 28, 2011

Amazon sales growth dominates holiday weekend

Considering that Black Friday was ChannelAdvisor’s highest day of Amazon GMV in company history, we're anticipating another record-breaking day today. Amazon same-store sales growth reached 58% this weekend, steadily climbing each day as we moved closer to Cyber Monday.

Here are some highlights from the entire holiday weekend (Thanksgiving Day through Sunday) that show growth on all channels as the weekend progressed:

  • E-Commerce same-store sales started with 17 percent growth on Thanksgiving Day followed by 20% growth on Black Friday, 21% growth on Saturday and 27%  growth on Sunday
  • Amazon same-store sales increased from 30% on Thanksgiving Day to 50% on Black Friday followed by 49% on Saturday and 59% on Sunday
  • eBay same-store sales remained steady all weekend with approximately 15% growth
  • Paid Search same-store sales increased by 19% on Thanksgiving Day, 22% on Black Friday, 27% on Saturday and 34% on Sunday
  • Comparison Shopping Engines gained extreme momentum as well starting on Thanksgiving Day with a 4% increase and finishing out the weekend on Sunday with a 14% increase over last year
  • Tablet and smartphone sales peaked on Thanksgiving Day (couch commerce at its best) at 10% and came in at 9% for the rest of the holiday weekend

For more details on our holiday weekend sales, visit http://bit.ly/ueUcn0 and additional media coverage can be found here: http://bit.ly/ux72Jb.

 

November 23, 2011

Cyber Monday Tip 9: Reuse Your Paid Search Keywords on Marketplaces

Black Friday is not for the faint of heart, and, in preparation for the madness, shoppers typically have a strategic plan for the day, including a list of the products they want. The same trend follows for Cyber Monday; shoppers are done with the research phase of the buying cycle and will have specific products in mind before hitting the web.

On marketplaces, the majority of customers aren’t browsers. In fact, approximately 80-90% use the search bar to enter long-tail searches that will take them immediately to the item of interest, and the holiday season always tips the scale toward even more product-specific searches.

Including keywords in your Marketplaces listings will help you capture the holiday traffic. But don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel—shoppers will be using the same phrasing in searches on Google and Bing as they will on eBay, Amazon and Buy.com, so take a look at your Google Analytics to see what keywords customers are searching for and reuse these in marketplaces listings. 

Keywords in listing title

Bonus: Searches on Google, Bing, eBay and Amazon now show auto-fill for customer convenience. Test a few of your hottest selling products to see what keywords appear, and make sure you’re attaching those keywords to your product listings.

Google Product Search

Check out our other tips to  make this Cyber Monday your best ever!

Tip #1: Add Gift-Themed Categories

Tip #2: Offer and Highlight Free and Expedited Shipping

Tip #3: Bid Up Early and Often

Tip #4: Comply with Google Product Search Changes

Tip #5: Add Videos to Product Details

Tip#6: Touch Up Your Listings on Marketplaces

Tip #7: Disable Google Ad Scheduling for the Holidays

Tip #8: Promote your Promotions with Social Media

 

November 21, 2011

Another Amazon pricing holiday study and our 2011 Holiday schedule

Wall St. Analyst Doug Anmuth @ JPMorgan is out this am with another pricing report (we covered DB here).  Doug came up with a holiday basket of ~40 items that had this category mix:

Jmp_holiday_11_1

They then ran those items through Amazon, Walmart, Bestbuy and B+N (Note: eBay was not a part of this comparison).  Their conclusion was that it's essentially a two horse race (Amazon and Wal-mart) and Amazon is the winning horse:

Jpm_holiday_11_2

 

Holiday 2011 trends and calendar

Based on all the pricing surveys, it looks like Amazon is set for a great Holiday 2011.  We'll be tracking that trend as well as 7 other trends starting on Thanksgiving over on sister-site eBay Strategies.  You can see the 7 trends and detailed calendar here.

 

Everyone have a great Thanksgiving, and stay tuned as we report on what we're seeing while you are eating Turkey and fighting for BlackFriday parking places.

 

SeekingAlpha Discloure - I am long Amazon and Google. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor.

 

 

November 17, 2011

Amazon news items: Amazon Phone!? and Holiday pricing

A couple of interesting Amazon items out today around a rumored Amazon phone and some interesting price comparisons.

Amazon Phone?!

Mark Mahaney - Top rated internet analyst and Conan O'Brien look-alike, has a note out today that suggests based on Asian supplier checks that Amazon maybe looking to put out their own Smartphone (I would guess Android-based) next year.  Here's a snippet:

Amazon smartphone may be coming next year  Based on our supply chain channel checks in Asia led by Kevin Chang, Citi’s Taipei-based hardware research analyst, we believe an Amazon Smartphone will be launched in 4Q12. 

 

This is already on top of speculation that Amazon already has a 10-inch Tablet on the way behind the Fire.

I'm sure many skeptics will have a lot of reasons this doesn't make sense, but what's intriguing to me (and long-time readers will know this theme) is this thesis:

  • Amazon sells a lot of smartphones today.
  • As a data-driven retailer, they presumably have a lot of data on what consumers are looking for and buying.  I would say probably more than anyone else - even Apple. e.g. Consumers don't look to apple for comparisons against Android phones.
  • They are smart and execute well and have a history of that.
  • Therefore (if these rumors are true), must see an opportunity/segment in the market that isn't being satisfied today that they think they can disrupt with their own phone.
  • BTW, if you havent' seen AmazonWireless, be sure to check it out and compare that experience vs. buying form Verizon and ATT. It is significantly better because, well, it's Amazon.

Only time will tell if this rumor is true, but it's interesting to try and understand what Amazon's up to here.

Holiday Price Check - Amazon set to dominate with 8-10% value advantage and awesome selection.

I always look forward to the e-commerce price analysis done by Jeetil+Team @ Deutsche Bank.  They have a database of 133 products across different top categories of retail and price check them against all the top online retailers.  In addition to pricing, they look at selection as well.  

The bottom line is that Amazon dominates in Selection and price - frequently 8-11% cheaper than other retailers.  This chart does a good job of summarizing their findings:

DB_price_1

Another interesting chart shows that over time, Amazon is pulling away (from a value perspective) from eBay and Wal-mart - the two closest competitors: (This looks at only 91 sku's as that's the LCD of the three)

Db_price_2

The way to read this chart is that in 2010, eBay was 1.8% more expensive and today it's 8.2%.  These are fully loaded prices - core+S+H+tax+etc.

Interestingly they did note that eBay is leading in Video games and Walmart is being very aggressive in media (books/movies). Also eBay has done a good job in beefing up their selection, last year it was a challenge and this year they have parity across the 133 SKUs.  These final two charts show the selection across several retailers vs. Amazon and you can see eBay has selection parity which is good to see.

Db_price_3

 

SeekingAlpha disclosure - I am long Google and Amazon. ebay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.

 

 

 

 

November 16, 2011

Kindle Fire - The first 24hrs - an e-commerce viewpoint (and Gadget Geek)

This is part I of a II part series:

  • Kindle Fire - The first 24hrs - executive summary (you are here)
  • Kindle Fire - Detailed review (coming soon)

I've been living with my Amazon Kindle Fire for about 24hrs now and I wanted to share my initial thoughts.  The goal of this review is to look at the AKF from a couple of viewpoints:

  • You are new to tablets, should you take the plunge?
  • You are already in the Kindle family, should you upgrade?
  • You have an iPad already
  • You are in the e-commerce ecosystem, what does AKF mean? (be sure to catch up on my initial thoughts here).

As you know, I tend to be somewhat verbose, so I wanted to start with an executive summary.

Executive Summary - Scorecard

First, I'll start with a scorecard:

  • Packaging - A+ - Very cool packaging and it's eco-friendly.
  • Setup - A+ - Wow, amazingly easy setup - the device was already wired to my account.
  • Overall device asthetic - B - It's a little heavier and thicker than I expected (iPad spoiled)
  • Screen/resolution - A - very strong and crisp
  • Speed - A - the device hums, I was only able to slow it down running 3 things in parallel
  • User Interface - A - very cool how they have hidden all the nasty Android stuff and the carousel/favorite shelf metaphor is very clean and cool
  • Apps - B - very good set of apps, missing three of my favorites though: Spotify, Twitter and WatchESPN :(
  • Books - A - The Kindle reader and store are excellent as you would expect
  • Music - A - I had tried the Amazon music cloud stuff, and the AKF brings it to life.
  • Movies/Videos - A - This is where the device really sings - the Prime instant video is amazing and a game changer and can't be good for Netflix.
  • email - C - The email client is pretty basic and lacks that iPad aesthetic.  It also doesn't work with exchange which is a problem for me. There is an App, TouchDown, that seems to bridge the gap.
  • Web - C - Text based sites were snappy, graphic heavy seemed very slow to me - could be a settings issue or maybe Silk will get smarter with time? Example - just loaded cnbc.com and it took 25 seconds?
  • E-commerce - A - The Amazon app is amazing, it also lets me install my favorite other apps (eBay, paypal, etc.).

In summary, overall I'd give the device a solid A- and if they could improve the browser speed, I'd get rid of that minus.

  • Exceeded expectations - The content apps (music, video, books) are very strong.  I did have a bug with one book (see below), but otherwise, everything in this area was very strong.  Having used an Android phone, the UI exceeded my expectations, it hides a lot of the Android warts and the app-store experience is much better than the junk in the normal android app store.  
  • Under expectations - With all the hype around the Silk browser, I was expecting it to be much much faster.  I'm still working on this/exploring, but it seems when I load image-heavy sites, the browser really crawls - 10+ seconds to load a page kind of slowness.  Text-based sites are very snappy though, so it seems to be something with the way the device is loading images.  I haven't played with settings to see if that's something I can experiment with and get it to be faster.

Executive Summary - Conclusions

Here's my conclusions based on the different scenarios:

You are new to tablets/ereaders: 

If you want a tablet primarily for media consumption, this is your best first tablet.  You get first-class book reading, movie watching and music and the Prime membership is a no-brainer.

If you want a first tablet primarily for email and heavy web surfing, you should wait to see if Amazon can get the browser to be faster.  Most business people will be disappointed, most consumers will be fine.  FYI, Facebook and many of the other apps are quite snappy.

You are in the kindle family:

If you are already in the Kindle ecosystem, this is a huge leap up from the e-ink displays.  While it has a glass screen and you'll have a bit of glare in some reading situations, I personally preferred backlit so I can read in low light situations.  What's awesome is you can do both - keep your old kindle and bring it to the beach, and then use the AKF for everything else.

The movies, illustrations, color, apps and what-not make this a clear 'yes' for Kindle users that are thinking of upgrading.  If you have kids, it's great to have access to children's books, or if you read books with illustrations, it's a much better experience.

You have an iPad already:

The AKF is 40% the price of an iPad, but 75% of the experience.  If you are already an iPad user, that 25% is very noticable - the email and browser are the biggest differences, but little gaps in the app experience, etc. mean that you'll probably gravitate to using your iPad vs. the AKF if you already have one.  I think a lot of the negative reviews (NYT are directly comparing the AKF to the iPad).I never was in the camp that AKF is some kind of iPad killer.  For a larger audience, it is a very strong first content-oriented tablet and for the Kindle folks, it's a great upgrade.

E-Commerce Ecosystem:

The Amazon integration (Amazon app, app store, book store, etc.) is amazing and I continue to believe this device is going to materially accelerate Amazon's business and be one of the hottest holiday gifts this holiday.  

Finally, as Bezos has said - this is a premium product at a non-premium price.  It's not an iPad, but it is a great step for Kindle users and a good first tablet for most non-business users.

SeekingAlpha Disclosure - I am long Amazon and Google. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.

 


November 14, 2011

Amazon news roundup - SMS, Browser Bar, Fire, Prime, Augmented Reality - phew!

There's been a ton of interesting news out on Amazon this week and some of it has been under the radar because of the Fire excitement, so while we all wait patiently for our Fire's to arrive, here are the highlights.

  • New Prime analysis from JPM
  • Kindle Fire orders up to over 5m?
  • Amazon SMS messages
  • Amazon's new toolbar
  • Amazon Flow - bringing augmented reality to e-commerce

New Amazon Prime analysis from JPM

ChannelAdvisor came out with our Amazon Prime analysis a while back and we believe there are 10-12m Prime members as of Q311. Doug Anmuth over at JP Morgan has an interesting Amazon Prime analysis out this am.  He took Amazon's Q3 disclosed shipping revenue and costs.  Using this approach (which is much different than our approach) he comes up with 13.2m Prime users.  He also believes there's a 3X bump in Prime subscriber purchases (we see it as more of a 4x).

This table does a great job of summarizing his analysis->

Amzn_prime

Doug also puts a 5% Prime attach rate to Fire (I think that's low), and that could add 1.2-2.6m new Prime subscribers in Q4 alone.

Kindle Fire orders up over 5m?

When Amazon announced the Fire, we came out with our 5m units in Q4 prediction based on the dual win of price and Kindle branding/family recognition.  Many analysts thought that number was pretty crazy and we took some heat for it.

Flash forward 60 days and now we have most stock analysts at 5m units, with several in the 6-7m unit range. Also this news item came out of Digitimes which is a publication that follows the electronics supply chain:

Amazon has recently increased its Kindle Fire orders to more than five million units before the end of 2011 as pre-orders for the machine remain strong, according to sources from upstream component suppliers.

Amazon SMS messages

This one isn't going to materially move the needle, but I wanted to point it out because it illustrates how Amazon is always polishing the consumer experience.  A while back I was tracking an Amazon package and noticed the option to enter the "Amazon Text Trace SMS Test".  I entered that program and it simply gave me the option to be notified of shipping updates via SMS:

Sms_shot1

What's awesome about this is that instead of an email (I get too many already), I get a message right on my phone whenever something ships, arrives, and essentially changes status.  Along the way they always give you the opportunity to get more information on your package through hot links.

Here's what the phone experience is like:

Sms_phone

Note that the tracking number is a live link for more information.  This is my Kindle Fire which is happily on its way!

Amazon's new BrowserBar

Browserbar_1

I have to admit that I was at first scratching my head when I heard that Amazon had a new toolbar for browsers, called Amazon Browser Bar (you can learn more here), then I installed it and after playing around with it, think this is a pretty clever next gen toolbar.  It is very useful on the PC web if you are in the Amazon ecosystem/prime user, but it could also be something they push down to the Kindle Fire (heck maybe it's already there and this is a PC version - won't know until tomorrow).

Here's what it looks like when you install it (Firefox only for now):

Browserbar_2

Here are the various items in the Browser Bar from Left to Right:

  • Amazon Button - quick access to your Amazon stuff - account, orders, kindle books, music, etc.
  • Today's deals - Quick access to deals going on Amazon.
  • Best sellers - Puts Amazons Window Shopping experience right in your browser toolbar (more below)
  • Wish List - Universal Wish List (more below)
  • Related items - more below
  • Search amazon/web - e-commerce search
  • A button- let's you configure the search functionality

The cool part of this BrowserBar is how it essentially makes sure you don't shop anywhere but Amazon, if it makes sense.

The 10 Best Sellers feature allows you watch the top sellers on Amazon - all-in or by category.  Here's the electronics category for example:

Browserbar_3

I like to keep an eye on top selling items as it can be a great way to track new books, music or gift ideas.

Next, the Wishlist allows you to wishlist any item on the internet and of course Amazon uses that as an opportunity to have you buy that at Amazon.  In this example, I was looking at a toy on Walmart.com and the browserbar made it easy to add it to my wishlist.

Browserbar_4

All of that is standard kinds of stuff you've seen in Browser toolbars before.  Here's where it gets cool. The BrowserBar is context-aware.  I was looking for a sports toy on Walmart.com and the BrowserBar noticed (click to enlarge and look at the area just below the toolbar) that Amazon has the product for $150 vs. Walmart at $168.  It does this for any website I tested.

Browserbar_5

Finally, not only does this work for standard e-commerce type stuff, but I was on google, searching for the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers album and 'pop', the Amazon Browser Bar detected what I was doing, set off the red 'related items' section and thus notified me they had something for me.  I clicked and sure enough, the bar saved me time to find this item.

Browserbar_6

Toolbars like this are only as good as their distribution so it will be interesting to see if Amazon scores a Firefox partnership or OEM deals with PC companies (hey maybe all PCs sold on Amazon should have this?) going forward.

Amazon Flow - Augmented Reality meets E-commerce

Amazon, via their A9 R+D arm, quietly launched a new mobile app that adds a really interesting new capability to their family of mobile apps.  The app is caled 'flow' and it is an interesting mariage of two types of mobile apps:

  1. e-commerce /bar code scanners - these are pretty well known and commoditized these days.
  2. augmented reality - you may not have played with any of these - Layar and Yelp are my two favorite.  Essentially how these apps work is you look through your phone's camera and then they add content to what you are seeing.

Here's how flow works.  In this example, I had a toy and flipped it over to see the barcode. Before I could do anything, Flow scanned the barcode and then hovered a product information pane right over the product.  From there I could click on the arrow for more info, or click on the buy now button.  Admittedly that's not too different from a RedLaser type experience, but what's nice is having it persist right over your camera and the scanner is amazing.

All of these little blue dots zoom over your image and find products to search - very cool and Terminator-esque.

Amzn_flow_toy

Next, I tried a book.  I placed the book on my desk and looked through the Flow and bam - it found the book instantaneously (Note: I didn't scan a bar code here, it found the product from pure image recognition!).  In this example, it even allows me to watch a little video in real time which is cool.

Amzn_flow_book1

Finally here's what it looks like for a book where you don't have the video.  It's pretty neat to be able to look at the product reviews and everything in real-time.

Amzn_flow_book2

 

Tomorrow is Fire Day!

That's all the news to report this week, tomorrow I'll be sharing some early observations from the Fire.

 

SeekingAlpha Disclosure - I am long Google and Amazon. eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.