Goodzer, a local shopping search engine which finds 'nearby' shops that stock the products you are looking for and plots them on a map launched last week ahead of Black Friday. Caught up in the shopping frenzy in New York City, a visiting friend from London, was struggling to find every item they were looking for in the Black Friday sales, so I suggested they try out Goodzer. What follows is a summary of first impressions from a visiting tourist.
Products They Were Looking For:
- Sigma 10-22mm camera lens
- PF Flyer Astor shoes
- Mou Suede boots
- Cooper Elliott jeans
Researching locations on Goodzer, they visited Saks Fifth Avenue, two boutique camera shops and boutique shoe shop.
Products They FOUND & BOUGHT:
- Sigma 10-22mm camera lens (worth $450+)
- Cooper Elliott jeans (worth $200+)
The jeans were found immediately at Saks. On the other hand, the camera lens was easy to find but, oddly enough, difficult to buy. The first boutique store was listed as open according to normal business hours, but ironically was not allowing customers in until midday due to AMEX 'small business day'. Where the camera lens was finally purchased was not at a store found via Goodzer, but in fact a shop they stumbled upon on a later date.
So Goodzer's search to purchase rate was actually 25% rather than 50%, but not through any fault of it's own.
Products They Could NOT Find & Did NOT Buy:
- PF Flyer Astor shoes (worth $80)
- Mou Suede boots (worth $170+)
The Mou Suede shoes were listed at being at Saks, but upon arrival they were informed that this product was only listed on the website and not actually sold in stores. Equally dissappointing, the PF Flyer shoes were listed as being in-stock at a boutique shop in Manhattan but upon arrival they discovered that the shoes were not in their color or size.
Mixed, But Promising Results
However, the disappointments were no fault of Goodzer, and they acknowledge the problem that they cannot actually guarantee that shops will be open or stock the products unless the indexed website provides real-time stock feeds - which is too expensive for most small businesses.
Nonetheless, our Goodzer shopper did note some very positive things about their experience:
- Goodzer reported a store selling every product they were looking for.
- Goodzer provided the ability to shop with a high degree of confidence - every search resulted in a visit to a particular store.
- Foot traffic generated opportunities to upsell related or alternative products to the customer.
Importantly, despite initial disappointments, our shopper continued browsing other products in the shop and found other suitable products - which they bought. An alternative set of sneakers of equivalent value were found at the boutique shoe shop and Saks stocked one of the two desired products, but actually our shopper went on to buy even more items than they originally intended.
Their strongest criticism of Goodzer was that where a product is not listed as in-stock, it needed to make it clearer that users should call in to see if the product is stock. Indeed, there is a message at the bottom of the listing which says "Please confirm availability and price by phone" but arguably it is too discreet and needs to be made much more explicit on the website.
Also, at the time, the Goodzer iPhone app was still not yet available for download - and this has a color coded stock map and, being a phone, has better call integration.
Noteworthy Shopping Behaviors for Search Marketers
All in all, Goodzer did drive footfall traffic and in-store sales. If you are wondering how nearby search engines may impact the retail sector, make a note of the following behaviors:
- Nearby search queries tended to be highly targeted - the customer knows exactly what they want and uses a product name query
- Nearby search drives foot traffic to stores
- Foot traffic creates in-store opportunities for upselling
- Nearby search can be done from phone or desktop, and actually works best on mobile
- Mobile search is likely to go beyond text queries and into image based, QR code or barcode comparison type queries such as can be found with Google Goggles.
- Whilst nearby in-store product search such as barcode comparison threatens to take shoppers away from your store, it is equally likely to bring shoppers in from other stores - which creates opportunities to sell related or alternative products.
In fact, the more retail stores of any size embrace real-time product feeds the more consumer confidence will grow to use nearby search and in-store price comparison apps - making the foot traffic market place more fluid. One out of stock product 'here', generates possibility of foot traffic 'there' and 'elsewhere'.
We may see a new wave of cross channel marketing tactics where products with strong upsell opportunities (such as cameras Vs alternative lens/ flash or consoles Vs games), get price slashed in the competition to generate high average order volumes from consumers. Meaning, Black Friday 2011 could be a wild time for mobile search savvy bargain hunters.