I market for a few small business e-commerce sites and have been doing so for over a year. Things were humming along nicely until September 2008. ROI was rising month after month. Then the credit crisis news hit in earnest. My sales took a 25% dive. Now it’s February and we are looking at 40% less in sales from the same period last year. Most of my client’s are well-known brand product based and I’ve used product feeds to get traffic. Based on the analytics I am looking at, a lot more people are window shopping compared to last year. Also, please are visiting the comparison sites and are willing to surf around and take extra time to find the best bargain possible.
Last year submitting to the product feeds, having a good price and free shipping was good enough. This year it’s having a rock bottom price, free shipping(but upping the minimum purchase so a profit margin is retained) and funneling more marketing dollars to the comparison sites. There are some major players in the industries that I market for and these sites have gotten very aggressive with pricing. Offering 20% off coupons and similar. This makes a small retailers job of competing difficult at best. Small retailers can’t lower pricing to the minimum, offer free shipping and offer coupons. That is a recipe for zero profits.