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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2547 - May 20, 2011 - ISSN 1539-5065    2 of 5

For Zoovy, Sears Integration Continues Shift toward Marketplaces

By Kenneth Corbin
EcommerceBytes.com
May 20, 2011




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After nearly two years of an experimental beta trial on the Sears.com marketplace, ecommerce software provider Zoovy recently decided that it was "ready for prime time," and announced the general availability of its integration.

Zoovy CEO Brian Horakh explained that many of the features of the Sears marketplace track closely to Amazon, and that a seller's experience on the ecommerce giant might be a good indicator of the viability of setting up shop on Sears.com.

"The top-performing categories for us are in line with what we'd expect from sellers based on their Amazon performance - meaning more successful sellers on Amazon seem to be substantially more successful on Sears, whereas clients who are only moderately successful on Amazon see little to no success on Sears," Horakh said. "Another way to phrase that would be: if you're not already dominating your category on Amazon, then Sears may not be worth the time."

Horakh said the rules and regulations closely mirror Amazon's, which leaves the available categories broadly open.

"Sears is a general merchandise retailer, so anything that is pretty mainstream seems to do well," he said.

At the same time, he noted that the cross-selling feature doesn't stack up to Amazon's, which has been renowned for making successful recommendations of products that consumers didn't search for.

Sellers can find more information about fees and merchant services available on the Sears marketplace here.

More broadly, Horakh sees the maturation of marketplaces like Sears.com and Buy.com, with which Zoovy also recently integrated, as a signpost on the road toward a profound shift in ecommerce as aggregation becomes the preferred method of shopping for most consumers, and looking for products through a Web-wide search engine is gradually marginalized.

"We believe the majority of ecommerce consumers would prefer to have a relationship with an aggregated marketplace, which offers a consistent shopping experience, predictable shipping/returns and secure payment processing," Horakh said. "Today the incentives are clear: having one place to look up all order statuses, one return process, and only one big vendor to hold credit card information just makes sense - even if consumers have to pay a little more, they'll get it back in membership rewards or some other incentives."

Down the line, he looks for a handful, perhaps as many as five, marketplace giants to emerge and distance themselves from the fringe players. To Horakh's mind, Amazon has already secured its place among the elites. He sees eBay as a strong incumbent, if less of a certainty. In the next tier down, vying for position, is a pack of competitors that includes Sears, Buy.com, NewEgg Mall, Overstock.com and Walmart with the semi-closed platform it runs in partnership with CSN.

Those marketplaces can be expected to further differentiate their shopping experiences through interfaces outside of the Web such as iPad apps, along with integrations with social platforms like Facebook, where merchants can mine relationship and preference information to develop detailed consumer profiles.

"I'm not predicting the end of the "search on Google, find a website, and buy it" Web-based shopping paradigm that we use today, but I'm saying 10 years out, it's an absolute certainty that it's a dramatically smaller piece of the landscape than it is today," Horakh said. "Any retailer that isn't pursuing a website-plus-multi-marketplace aggregation strategy today will be like retailers who "forgot to get websites" in the late 90s."

About the Author
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here .

About the author:

Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects since 2007, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here.

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