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Feb 2 2006
StepUp to the Future of Online (Local) Shopping
When StepUp launched a couple of years ago with the intention of delivering real-time inventory information and product availability to the Internet it was met with considerable skepticism, along the lines of "yeah, how are they gonna do that?" and "good luck."

But now that the company has a deal with Google to provide local shopping information, it's clear that other shopping search engines have to take notice. (CNet and Yokel offer versions of this.)

As we've pointed out before, e-commerce (though impressive and growing) is only 2.5 percent of all U.S. retail spending, according to the U.S. Commerce Dept. (Forrester has a somewhat larger number). It doesn't matter, however, whether the actual number is what the U.S. says it is or Forrester's larger projection. Even in the most "optimistic" scenario, online shopping is no more than 5 percent of total retail spending.

Yet our data show that 70 percent of local consumers (which is everybody ultimately) are using the Internet to find products and services locally. That doesn't mean they're not using other traditional media. However, it does mean they're online doing research and price comparisons � and then spend their money in a physical store (whether it's a mom-and-pop or a Best Buy).

So what does this mean? It means that consumers are generally not finding information about where they can buy products locally online or they're having great difficulty in doing so.

Google's decision to be "agnostic" about whether consumers buy something online or locally is smart, given consumer interests and behavior, and I would expect other shopping engines to follow suit this year.

If they don't they may put themselves at a competitive disadvantage and potentially leave money on the table. E-commerce isn't going to take over the world as everyone once thought; it's just one channel.

The far larger channel � but increasingly influenced by the Internet � is offline/local shopping.

__________

Some interesting data compiled by eMarketer on multi-channel/big-box retailers.
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  08:51 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
WLL Super Bowl Mashup
Here's a fun and timely one: The Windows Live Local Super Bowl mashup. (So there's a football pun/joke in there, but I'm going to leave it alone.)

Here's the official MSN/WLL word on the site:

[MSN has] created a Super Bowl mashup to help the thousands of fans expected to travel to Detroit for the game navigate their way around, look for parking, hotels and directions to the stadium, as well as find good places to eat, drink, or to pass the time before Sunday�s game ... [P]eople can view a map of Detroit with information on local attractions, such as the Motown Museum or the Detroit Opera House. Also, we�ve just added Detroit to the list of major cities with birds-eye aerial imagery.

I continue to be amazed by the "bird's-eye" imagery. Too bad it's not real time so you can actually see how many parking spots are left in that Historic Trinity Lutheran Church parking lot.

Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  07:03 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]



Feb 2 2006
Simply Hired Is Simply Fascinating
A couple of days ago I met with Simply Hired. Beyond some interesting things that they were telling me about their roadmap, I was fascinated by the "vertical"' vs. "horizontal" search discussion we had.

My personal belief is that the more verticals there are, the more people will "default" to general search engines because they're overwhelmed and confused. However, there are lots and lots of interesting things going on in "vertical search" or verticals where search is the primary navigation tool.

Simply Hired is a "metasearch" engine for jobs (job search is inherently local), but on top of search results the company is building lots and lots of added value. In other words, aggregating the listings from multiple providers (including the big three) is just the beginning.

Look at this result for "marketing" + "new york." Beyond the filtering of results by selected criteria (e.g., location, education level, company size, etc.), one can save jobs, rate jobs, map jobs, virally e-mail jobs, do salary research and, perhaps most significantly, network via linked-in (find contacts who work or have worked at the company).

All these additional job-specific services illustrate the value verticals can bring to the user experience that is hard for general search engines to duplicate for many reasons.

As I've remarked before, we're seeing the development of an "ecosystem" in which the general/horizontal search engines are where many "verticals" are discovered by consumers and in the subsequent exploration or drill down within the vertical is where the potentially best hand-off is to the advertiser (or at least this is the vertical argument. But this is seemingly proven in IYP contexts; IYPs aren't a "vertical" per se, but see below.)

In this "vertical environment" is also where you're likely to find the bulk of local businesses going forward, for many reasons. (This applies to newspapers and Yellow Pages sites as well, which are obviously not "verticals" but stand in the same relation as verticals to general Web search in the broader structure of the ecosystem.)
Blog: Local Media Blog
 
posted by  Greg Sterling at  05:12 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]





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