Thanks to our friends at Shopatron for this free Whitepaper from Ed Stevens, Founder and CEO, Shopatron, Inc. Read a sneak peek of the White paper below or click here to download in full.
Founded in 2001, Shopatron is the only eCommerce solution in the world that can drive more online sales while, at the same time, increasing a company’s sales through the retail channel. Working with almost 1,000 brands and 18,000 retail partners in over 35 industries, Shopatron offers an innovative and flexible approach to eCommercethat matches the unique needs of branded manufacturers and multi-channel retailers.
Shopatron clients include top brands such as Louisville Slugger, Suzuki, Polaroid, Mizuno, Ducati, Johnson Outdoors, American Tire Distributors and Sport Chalet. The company is headquartered in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Most branded manufacturer Web sites attract steady streams of traffic. You can turn this asset into sales (or “monetize” it). This article addresses the issues you face when comparing the options available for capturing sales from this Web site traffic.
The best methods for monetizing site traffic use promotions to drive sales, minimize conversion loss rates, leverage opportunities to increase sales with retailers, and provide accurate measurement of improvements.
There are four primary ways to convert your Web site traffic into product sales:
- Basic Dealer Locator: Refers shoppers to a list of dealer locations
- Product-to-Product Links: Link shoppers to online retailer Web sites where they can purchase products
- Manufacturer Branded Store: Sells products direct to consumers and fulfill the sales direct
- Manufacturer Branded Store + Retailer-Integrated Fulfillment: Sells products direct to consumers and integrates retailers as fulfillment partners
Some manufacturers deploy just one of these strategies, like a dealer locator. Others combine strategies, allowing shoppers to choose whether they link to online retailers, visit a dealer locator, or buy from the branded online store. When you decide which of these options to use, simplicity is key. Give shoppers too many choices and too many ways to make a purchase, and they may become confused and lose the impulse to buy. If you understand the options available for converting Web site traffic into sales, you and your company will be able to evaluate them more effectively.
Basic Dealer Locator
A Basic Dealer Locator directs shoppers to places where they may be able to buy products. A shopper selects a product on your site, then clicks the dealer locator page to find the phone numbers and, in some cases, the Web sites of your retailers. The shopper is then supposed to call individual retailers and ask if they have the product in stock, and, if so, at what price. If a shopper visits a retailer’s Web site from the locator, the shopper then has to navigate anew to find the desired product.
The dealer locator fails shoppers on many levels. First, it’s not possible to call dealers outside of regular business hours, so the shopper is frustrated and the sale is lost. Promotions that could drive sales are impossible to execute, since no automation connects your outbound marketing communication to the dealer with inventory. Even when a locator links to a retailer Web site, the shopper must click multiple times to re-locate a product, dropping conversion rates dramatically. And since the dealer locator has no information about which products are stocked by specific retailers, the shopper often gives up before finding the product.
So, although the dealer locator is a useful device for shoppers who are looking for a local retailer to call or visit, it is a poor stand-alone solution for converting Web site traffic into sales.
Product-to-Product Links, or P2P links, link a shopper directly from the product page on your Web site to the product page of an online retailer who (likely) has the product in stock. Since a P2P link is more convenient and more effective than a dealer locator, a shopper is more likely to use it. Also, retailers often commit to purchasing more products if you give them a P2P link from your site.
Although P2P links solve some key problems inherent in dealer locators, they still perform poorly in converting Web site traffic into sales.
First, a major conversion loss occurs when shoppers are sent to online retailers via P2P links. Since manufacturers usually list more than one online retailer, the shopper must decide which one to visit. Since manufacturers cannot seem to favor one retailer over another, the shopper has no direction as to the best option. Frequently, just thinking about which link would be best (price, security, availability, delivery time, etc.) causes shoppers to drop out.
Another issue is that it is nearly impossible to coordinate outbound consumer promotions with online retailers. If your marketing team wants to send shoppers a new product trial offer via email on the product launch day, all of your P2P online retailers must agree to have the product in stock (and honor the offer).
Promotions are especially difficult to coordinate with very large retailers, who often buy new products on cycles much slower than a manufacturer’s marketers would like. When customized logic is required so that P2P links can handle these variances, Web site costs spiral out of control.
Finally, competitor’s products are often available for sale not far from the landing page on the retailer’s Web site when P2P links are employed. Click to download the full whitepaper here.
About the Author
Ed Stevens, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Ed founded Shopatron in 2000, after more than 15 years of experience in retail and manufacturing.
Ed has a proven and varied background in both retail operations and in managing growing companies. Ed’s business experience began at age 14, working at his family’s retail furniture store in Akron, Ohio. Ed received his bachelor’s degree in Russian Literature from Stanford University and began his career working in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the marketing department of Pirometer JSC, a producer of aviation components. Efforts in Russia led to Ed founding NORVEL, Ltd., a US-based importer of components for the toy and hobby industries. Ed developed the brand name, market-entry strategy and distribution network worldwide for NORVEL.
During his time at NORVEL, Ed saw a fundamental disconnect in the eCommerce marketplace, as he found his efforts to sell online put him into a competitive position with his retail partners. Ed leveraged his experience at NORVEL to found FirePoppy in 2000, and developed the model for the flagship product, Shopatron. In 2006 Firepoppy was re-branded as Shopatron. Ed has served as Chairman and CEO since the company’s inception.