Wednesday, December 11, 2013

SimplePart November Update Part 2

You can read Part 1 of the November update here.

Industry News

Google News
Google has begun integrating reviews from Google Trusted Stores into AdWords ads across its network. Included in this display for merchants participating in the Trusted Stores program are statistics on order fulfillment time, returns and email response time from StellaService.

Google Maps, which you likely have embedded (for free) within your dealership website today, has just been updated by Google. Among the updates, embedded maps will now show ads. Please be aware that this means that a competing dealership can now cheaply and easily show a nice big ad on your very own website, if you use embedded Google Maps.

It is believed that Google rolled out an update on November 14th, though we have seen no signs yet that it has affected any client websites. On this date, many webmasters (including SimplePart) received warnings that Google was experiencing DNS issues accessing websites. This could be a coincidence, but lines up remarkably well with the shift in ratings – it’s possible this brief change in rankings was a Google bug.
In response to FTC warnings, Google is testing bright yellow “Ad” labels attached to Display Ads in search results. Changes over the last few months have obscured the fact that these ads were ads, causing confusion among users and shifts in performance of paid vs. SEO efforts. These changes would help make it easier for users to distinguish ads from organic results and will affect paid performance. They also draw the eye – some predict this may actually make users gravitate to paid results.

Google collects reviews from sources around the web (including Google properties), and uses those reviews to rank your website in search results and displays them to shoppers. Google has just added a means for you to see the reviews they have collected about you in a central place – Google Places for Business, in a new section called “Reviews”. Within this new section, you are able to respond to customer reviews – if you’re on our PRO services package, we are already doing this for you.

Google now has a physical debit card, which is attached to a Google Wallet account. If you have money in Google Wallet, Google will now send you a physical debit card to access that balance. According to reports, the card has no service fees and will notify users instantly by email when they’ve made a purchase using the card.

Google has updated its Shopping engine (which accounts for 8.7% of orders) for the holiday shopping season. Among the listed improvements:
·         Google will show “visually similar” products to what you’re currently viewing. This suggests that Google has the ability to algorithmically compare images of products. One assumes this will be done within the current category of items, and for Parts may mean that your OE products might be suggested alongside Aftermarket items, and vice versa.
·         Google has added a wishlist feature called “shortlists” which can be saved and shared with friends.
·         Google has added interactive 360 degree views of products.
Amazon has had a connection with Facebook to allow shoppers to share their purchases with Facebook friends for some time. Now, Amazon will begin to show suggested products that are on a Facebook friend’s wishlists and reviews of products written by Facebook friends. Amazon will also tailor your product suggestions based on what brands you (and your Facebook friends) have Liked in Facebook.

Amazon has begun offering Sunday delivery via USPS. Says Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO of USPS, “As online shopping continues to increase, the Postal Service is happy to offer shippers like Amazon the option of having packages delivered on Sunday.” If you are interested in offering Sunday delivery to your customers, please reach out to your local Postmaster.

Amazon now will collect 6.35% Connecticut sales tax, bringing it to a total of 15 states (51.6% of the US population) in which it must collect sales tax.

Amazon is reportedly giving free products to people in exchange for reviews. It seems that Amazon posts a list of items twice each month, and reviewers can choose two items to receive from each list – so long as they agree to write a review within 30 days. These reviews are tagged as “Amazon Vine Reviews.” Says one reviewer, “I’ve had everything from very cheap ear buds, to $500 multifunction laser printers. I’ve gotten a spin bike, which probably valued at closer to $1,000.”

Amazon has added Auto Parts to its Canadian website:
The auto store is larger than the grocery store, with millions of products including replacement parts, car electronics, interior and exterior accessories and auto fluids, for many types of vehicles, including RVs, motorcycles and ATVs. More than 63,000 of those items are eligible for free shipping and, as usual, Prime members can also buy select auto parts with free two-day shipping.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group (Taobao and Tmall) plans to go public next year and booked $170 billion in sales in 2012 - nearly double Amazon’s $92 billion sales. This is an area of e-commerce where we can expect to see a great deal of movement over the next few years. I’ve included a basic primer here comparing Amazon to Alibaba:
·         Where Amazon sells its own goods in addition to a marketplace of items from other merchants, Alibaba provides only the merchant marketplace.
·         Amazon takes an estimated 10% commission on sales within its marketplace.
·         Amazon’s average order is $220, while Alibaba’s is $178.
·         Amazon competes directly with Alibaba already via its website; it is expected that Alibaba will sell in the US soon.
·         Amazon’s largest category is Media, while Alibaba’s is Apparel and Electronics.
·         The USA has 254.3 million Internet users, while China has 571.1 million – Alibaba serves a much larger pool of users.
·         81% of the US population uses the web, while only 42.3% of China’s population does – there is a huge untapped market.

Facebook VP David Lawenda said this month: “We want to help auto marketers use the power and reach of Facebook to build their brands and drive sales” and backed that up by hiring Michelle Morris away from Google. In her previous role at Google, Morris led Google’s North American car advertising team for seven years, and before that she worked at an ad agency representing Chrysler. Facebook has had a rough time courting ad dollars from auto manufacturers and dealers – GM famously pulled all of its Facebook ads last year – and this hire is clearly designed to rebuild those relationships.

Facebook is now showing star ratings front and center on your business Facebook page, driven by reviews collected from Facebook users. These ratings have always existed but now are being shown prominently and may become as important as the number of Likes you have – certainly since they are more obvious now, at a minimum you can expect more users to provide reviews.

Facebook is testing a new wishlist feature called “Save for Later” to compete with Google, Pocket and 
Pins. It is designed to let you save links shared within Facebook to a list.

Bing’s strategy for search is all about Social Media, which drives ranking and is a cornerstone of their algorithm. This month, Microsoft renewed their four year old partnership with Twitter, which gives Bing access to “all of the public content that Twitter’s users create.” In addition, Bing has close ties with Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, Foursquare, Klout and others – content from these providers features in a prominent “social sidebar” alongside search results.

Bing has “retired” its separate Comparison Shopping engine, and fully integrated comparison shopping into its regular search results. Bing’s shopping engine is not officially accepting new merchants, though we have been able to get some of our clients “in” with Bing. We have no data yet on how this change in display affects performance but will update you as soon as we do.

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