Innovation in Search: How to Generate Incremental Revenue

One of the few bright spots in the economic landscape is the overall growth of e-commerce fueled by financially conscious consumers who increasingly turn to the Internet to evaluate competitive brands, find bargains and locate retailers that stock desired products. The Web has become such an integral part of the retail picture that more than 85 percent of consumers actually start their product searches online prior to an in-store purchase.

So, with a captive audience of consumers focused online, retailers are evaluating new ways to parlay consumer attention into increased sales and profits during the holiday season and beyond. However, given the current economic climate, the challenge is in doing so without tying up IT staff and, more importantly, without investing a penny. What many retailers are starting to realize is that the solution is simple. By combining proven in-store merchandising strategies with the targeting, relevancy and immediacy of the Web, they can generate incremental revenue at no additional cost.

Consider the following statistic from Jupiter Research, a whopping 72 percent of shoppers only click on products within the first page of search results. Makes it pretty clear that a manufacturer's position in an online shopping queue is essential, right? Just as manufacturers sponsor kiosks, end-cap and eye-level displays at the point of purchase in the brick and mortar world, retailers can translate these practices to the Web - by retooling traditional search results to integrate manufacturer's bids for preferred placement across their product listings. It's virtual shelf space as a means of capturing buyer attention and mindshare. And just like in-store, it's an opportunity to monetize a greater percentage of your real estate on the Web.

Providing brand managers with the opportunity to bid on premium shelf space across leading retail sites is a win-win for manufacturers looking to sell more product, retailers looking to create an additional line of revenue and buyers looking to make informed decisions. There is absolutely no investment required from the retailer. Advertiser bids are treated as an additional business rule, or weighting factor, in determining sort order. As such, retailers maintain complete control of the role those bids play, managing them in the same way that rules for margin, inventory and popularity are handled. And, because it's all managed in the background, there's absolutely no disruption to the user experience.

Whether online or in-store, the challenge for retailers is to connect manufacturers to consumers and to sell more products. By leveraging proven merchandising best-practices for which manufacturers pay dearly in-store, retailers are now able to monetize new areas of their Web sites while staying true to their consumers. All without spending a penny.

John Federman is president and CEO of Searchandise Commerce, the first e-commerce Ad Network for product manufacturers and online retailers. John can be reached at: [email protected].
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