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Chapter 14


Using the Shoping Directories and Retailers

Finding The Shopping Directories
The following directories are probably the most important shopping directories that you will want to research. Go to each one and try to find information about signing up and uploading your data. In some cases the process is simple - the directory wants you to join, so you find a link that sys something like sell on our site, or Merchant info. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper because the information is not clearly visible
· Google Catalog: catalogs.google.com
· Froogle: www.froggle.com
· Yahoo! Shopping: shopping.yahoo.com
· Shopping.com: www.shopping.com
· PriceGrabber.com: www.pricegrabber.com
· Bizrate: www.bizrate.com
· Nextag: www.nextag.com

Most of these systems expect you to pay if you want to play - generally you pay each time someone clicks a link to your site. Some let you list your products, and receive traffic at no cost.
· Free: You have no direct control over your position, but you don't have to pay for any traffic you get from the site. Google and froogle catalogue are of this type.
· Pay Per Click, fixed Fee: Yahoo! Shopping is of the type. You don't have any control over position because there is no bidding.
· Pay Per Click Bidding: Most of the other systems charge per click, but have bidding systems that help determine your position on search results pages.
What will you pay for Pay Per click Systems?
· In most cases, PPC systems don't charge a listing fee.
· You have to begin by funding your account.
· You pay each time someone clicks your link. Click vary in place,, generally from ten cent up.
· In systems that accept bids, there's minimum click rate but the actual rate is dependent on how many people are bidding and their pain threshold; in some cases, clicks could even cost several dollars.
· You may be charged other fees, such as a fee to place a store logo next to your listing.

Google Catalogs
A very simple one. If your company publishes a catalog of some kind, get it to google catalogs right away. Visit catalogs.google.com and click the info for catalog vendors link. The page that appears provides the address to which you should send your catalog. Simply add this address to your subscriber list so google Catalogs gets the next edition; drop a copy of the current edition in the mail; and then email google letting it know. Google claims to scan every catalog it receives within a few days. It also OCRs them; that's a new verb derived from Optical Character Recognition. This means the text in the catalog is converted from images to computer text that can be searched. Click a catalog, and you are inside that catalog. One more click, and you are reading a catalog page. The controls at the top let you move through the catalog page by page, or you can search for a particular word. At the time of sriting, Google Catalog is in beta. It's not on the main Google site, Though for a while in the summer of 2003 it was incorporated into Amazon.com. You may see more of Google Catalogs - certainly on the main google site and perhaps elsewhere. One theory for why google catalogs has been in beta for a couple of years is that it may be merely a way for google to test OCR on a large scale for various other purposes. Getting into google Catalogue is so cheap and easy, Though, that you might as well do it.

Froogle
Froogle is google's product directory, and late in 2003, the Google folks began to incorporate the main google site. They have added a Shopping? Try link onto the main page and are also experimenting with providing Froogle results and links to Froggle results on some search results pages. Getting into froogle is easy. Although the instructions say that froogle will take five to ten days to respond, it will probably send you instructions within minutes of signing up. The system is entirely free. Froogle displays products in search results and channels traffic to your site at no cost whatsoever. Working with froggle is also simple. You have to submit a datafeed file - a simple text file containing the product data, but froggle doesn't display a lot of information about each product. It doesn't require much information from you; a link to the information page on your site, a link to an image of the product , the name and description , a price, and a category.

Yahoo! Shopping
You can get Yahoo! Shopping two ways. You can either use Yahoo! Shopping cart system - Yahoo! Store as your site e-commerce system, or you can buy your way in. You are paying either way:
· If you use Yahoo! Shopping cart, you pay the monthly fee and a small commission on each sale that is derived from Yahoo! Shopping.
· If you don't use the Yahoo! Shopping cart, you have to pay a per click charge each time someone clicks a link to your site.

Yahoo! Shopping works a little differently from froogle. Yahoo! Does a product search, rather than a merchant search. While Froogle provides lots of individual matches from individual merchants, yahoo! Finds the product and then, when you click the link to the product page, finds merchants that sell the product. The all costs depends on the product category. Unlike some systems, Yahoo! Charges a fixed a fee per click that varies among categories; other system charge a fee that is dependent on bidding, like the PPC systems.

Shopping.com
Shopping.com is also a pretty important shopping directory. It also charges by the click, and each category at a minimum rate. E.g. the following list shows a few minimum CPCs.

Books $0.05
Cables and Connectors $0.10
Computers $0.30
Drive Cases $0.10
Furniture $0.05

Remember, these are the minimums; your mileage may vary. Unlike with Froogle and Yahoo! Shopping, the higher your bid in a system such as shopping.com, the higher you'll initially appear on the product page. However, at shopping.com, a site visitor can sort the product page by price, store name and store rating, so as soon as a visitor sorts the page, most of the benefit of the higher bid price is lost. Bids are placed per category, by the way not per product. As with most shopping directories, you can provide a datafeed file to Shopping.com. But it also has another service, by which it grabs the information from your website for you. This costs $75 to set up and $50 per month fee, but the directory will crawl your web site every day. Shopping .com was formed by a merger of Dealtime and Epinions, the most popular product-comparison sites on the Web. Two separate sites, Shopping.com and epinions.com, now exist; Getting into shopping.com gets you into both sites.

PriceGrabber and PrecioMania
PriceGrabber and its Spanish language hermano PrecioMania claim to send over a billion dollars in customer referrals each month. Pricegrabber is a significant shopping directory in its own right because it feeds data to various other shopping directories. This system works tw ways. You can pay per click for traffic sent to your web site, as with most of the other shopping directories, or you can use the PriceGrabber Storefronts system and let PriceGrabber take the order and send the information to you to shop the product.

BizRate
Bizrate is another popular system/per click site. It charges a minimum fee per category, typically $0.10 to $0.30, with the actual rate dependent on bidding. Again merchants with the highest bid are listed first, until the visitor resorts the list.

Nextag
Nextag yet another popular site, is also a PPC site with a category minimum and bidding for position. You don't pay a setup fee, but you do have to fund your account before you can get started. That's the norm with all these PPC shopping directories, but Nextag's $250 minimum to start is a little high. Nextag is one of the few shopping systems that list not only tangible products but also services. If your business sells auto insurance or long distance telephone service, you can be listed at Nextag. You can load data into a web-form system if you have only a few products. If you have more, you'll want to use a datafeed file. Nextag will take any datafeed file; if you create one for yahoo!Shopping, you can use the same one for Nextag, Just send the Yahoo!one to your Nextag Account manager, and he or she will handle it.

Price Watch
Price Watch is not well known outside of geek circles. Many people in the computer business use Price Watch to buy their hardware after checking pricing at the site - the site is limited to computers, and accessories. This is a crude system that appeals to UNIX geeks in particular. It's fast and has no graphics on the search page. The Price Watch folks claim to serve over 200 million pages each month, so if you have products in their categories, you may want to look into working with them. They don't necessarily make that easy. Contact them and see if they get back to you.

PriceSCAN
PriceScan got off to a good start - it was one of the earliest shopping or price-comparison directories - but it seems to have been superseded by the other systems. However, PriceSCAN has one great advantage over most of them; As with froogle, you can list your products for free. The directory does sell advertising, but the price comparisons are intended to be unbiased by fees or PPCs. Email the site at vendors@pricescan.com and who know someone even respond.

More Shopping Services
Here is a quick rundown of some other places you can list your products:
· StreetPrices.com: A PPC site that claims to get 200000 visitors each month, generating $90 million per month in "sales leads". It takes from $0.45 to 0.55 cents per click,
· iBuyernet.com: Is there anyone home ? Who knows? This site doesn't seem very interested in signing up new merchants.
· Ask Jeeves Shopping,Dogpile, Metacrawler and PricingCentral.com. All these systems use PriceGrabber; get in there and you'll in here, too.
· Lycos Shopping: Uses Bizrate.
· mySimon and Shopper.com: These are important sites, but because they don't make it easy for the average store owner to work with them. Owned by CNET these systems don't have the automated feeds set up for merchants. You need to contact them directly for information about how you can work with them. They have a variety of programs from simple PPC text links to featured advertising positions.
· AOL Shopping: A very exclusive property, if you want to work with AOL Shopping, you have to negotiate directly.
· MSN Shopping: no quite as exclusive as AOL; but if you want to be in MSN Shopping you still have to negotiate directly.
· Kelkoo: don't forget about shopping directories outside the United States. Kelkoo is one of the better-known systems in Europe.

Third Party Merchant Sites
It's the one step over the line between being in a search directory and being sold on another Web site. Many merchants use the aution site as a way to generate traffic to their Web sites. By placing links in the ads, you can bring new customers directly to your site, and by carefully using price reserves, you can ensure that any sales you make through an auction are not at a loss. Check out the following sites to find out more about working with third-party retail sites:

· Amazon.com zShops: This is a retail site where people searching at Amazon may run across your products. See www.zshops.com
· Amazon Marketplace: If you sell the same products Amazon sells, you can place links to your products from the same pages on which Amazon sells its products.
· Half.com: Owned by eBay, this is a huge retail products site.
· eBay: This is the world's most popular ecommerce site, with billions of dollars of products being sold here. www.ebay.com
· Amazon Auctions: It's not amazon's core business, but it's worth checking out: auctions.amazon.com
· Yahoo! Auctions: did you even know Yahoo! Had auctions? Well it does, see, auctions.yahoo.com

Creating Data Files
Before you sign up with the shopping directories, you probably need a data file containing information about your products. This is a simple text file, though carefully formatted using the correct layout. A datafeed allows you to quickly upload hundreds, even thousands, of products into the directories within minutes. Although the datafeed file can be a simple text file, creating it is a little difficult for some people. Of course, if you have geeks on your staff, they can handle it for you. The ideal situation is one in which all your product data is stored in a database that is managed by capable, knowledgeable people who know how to export to a text file in the correct format. All you do is give them the data-file specification from the shopping directory, and they know exactly what to do.

If you have a large number of products, you may already have your data in some kind of database format. But you may have to manipulate your data - clean it up - before you can use it. You should a spreadsheet program to create your data file. Creating the file in a text editor is difficult and error prone, especially if you have a lot of products. Also remember that each shopping directory is a little different, requiring different information. The spreadsheet file is your source file, from which you create the various text files as needed. You may already have a spreadsheet program; Microsoft Excel is hiding on millions of computers around the world, unknown to their owners. Or you may have Microsoft Works, which also includes a spreadsheet
Program. Various other database programs are available - Staroffice and Apple works contain spreadsheets too. You don't need a terribly complicated program, because the work you do with the file is pretty simple. However you want to use a program that can have multiple sheets open at once and allows you to link from a cell in one sheet to a cell in another. You can also use a database program to manage all this data. It's just simpler in some ways to use a spreadsheet.

The Data You Need
Take a look at the type of data you are going to need for your data file. It requires the following data.
Froggle, Google's shopping directory contains the following data
· Product_url: a link to the product page on your web site.
· Name: the name of the product
· Description: a description of the product
· Price: The price
· Image_url: A link to the image file containing a picture of the product
· Category: The category in which you want to place the product

Each service is different. Here's the data that can be included in Yahoo1 Shopping.

· Code: An SKU or other kind of identifier
· Product_url: A link to the product page on your web site
· Name:The name of the product
· Price: the Price
· Merchant-category: Your own product category based on how you categorize products on your site.
· Shopping-category: The Yahoo! Store category under which the product will be placed
· Description: A description of the product
· Image_url: A link to the image file containing a picture of the product
· Isbun: if the product is a book, the ISBN number
· Medium: If your products are music or videos, the medium
· Condition: the product's condition.
· Classification: A product type, such as new, overstock, damaged, returned, refurbished and so on.
· Availability: information about the product's availability
· Ean: The European Number, a number used for barcoding system
· Weight: the weight of the product
· Upc: The Universl Product Code number, another barcoding system
· Manufacturer: The Manufacturer's part number
· Model-no: The product's model number

Only five of these fields are absolutely required. Begin by creating a spreadsheet file containing all the data you have about your products. At the very least, include this information:
· Product Name
· Product Description
· Product Price
· Product Category
· A URL pointing to the product's Webpage on your web site.
· A URL pointing to the image file containing a picture of the product, on your site.
You also want to include any other information - ISBN numbers, SKUs, EANs, media types and so on.

Formatting Guidelines
Each shopping directory varies slightly, but datafeed tiles typically conform to the following criteria:
· They are plain text files. That is don't save them in a spreadsheet or database format; save them in an ASCII text format. Virtually all spreadsheet programs have a way to save data in such a format.
· The first line in each file contains the header, with each filed name - product_url, name, description, price and so on.
· Each subsequent line contains information about a single product; the fields match the headers on the first line.
· The last line of the file may require some kind of marketer, such as END.
· In most cases, you cant include HTML tags, tabs within fields , carriage returns, new line characters within fields and so on.

Creating Your Spreadsheet
Each row in the spreadsheet is a product, and each cell in the row - each field is a different piece of information about the product. Although the final product will be a text file, you want to save the spreadsheet file in a normal spreadsheet file format. When you ready to upload data to a shopping directory, then you save it as a text file.

Getting Those Product URLs
To do this spreadsheet business right, you need the URL, for each product's Web page. If you don't have many products, this is easy - just copy and paste from your browser into the spreadsheet. Many companies have a source data file that they use to import into an e-commerce program. For this to be useful to you, you have to figure out what page number the e-commerce program is assigning to each product. E.g. one e-commerce system creates its URL like this:

http://www.yourdomain.com/customer/product.php?productid=18507

Note that the productid number is included in the URL. Every product page uses more or less the same URL - all that changes is the productid number. So there's one simple way to deal with this situation. Suppose you have a data in which you have a product ID or code in one column, and an empty column waiting for the URL pointing to the product page. /start by copying the blank URL - a URL without the product ID in it. Some spreadsheet programs try to convert the URL to an active link, on you can click to launch a browser. You might want to leave the URL in that format so later you can teat each link. Next you create a macro or use a programmable keyboard that will, with a little keystroke, copy the number in the code field and paste it onto the end of the matching URL. If you don't have a programmable keyboard, the spreadsheet you are using may have a built -in macro program that allows you to program actions onto a single keystroke. Another option is to use a macro program that you download from a shareware site. If you have only 20 or 30 products, programmable keyboards and macros don't matter too much. If you have a few thousand products, it's worth figuring out how to automate keystrokes!

Creating Individual Sheets
After you have all your data in one sheet of the spreadsheet file, you can create a single sheet for each system to which you plan to upload data: one for froogle, one for yahoo! Shopping and so on. Each system requires different information, under different headings and in a different order. E.g. if you are selling books, Yahoo! Shopping wants pretty much all the information you have got, including the books' ISBN numbers. Froggle, on the other hand, doesn't care about the ISBN number. Froggle provides just a little information - an image, a title, a description and a price - excepting the searcher to click over to the merchant's site for more detailed information. So you need to link information from the original sheet to each individual sheet. You don't want to actually copy this information. Say that you have five shopping directories that you are working with, and after you finished everything, you discover that you made a few mistakes. If you copied the data, you have to go into each sheet and correct the cells. If you linked between cells, you can make the change in the original sheet, and the other five update automatically. Here's how this works in excel. I will assume two sheets one named Yahoo! and other Yahoo!. And you want to place the information from the productid column in the original sheet into the Yahoo! Sheet, under the column named code. Here's how yo9u do it in Microsoft Excel:
· Click the Yahoo! Tab at the bottom of the window to open the yahoo! Sheet.
· Click cell2 in the code column.
· Press the = key to begin placing a formula into the cell
· Click the original tab at the bottom of the page to open the original sheet.
· Click cell 2 in the productid column.
· Press Enter: The program jumps back to the cell2 in the code column of the yahoo! Sheet, places the data from the original sheet into that cell, and then moves down to the cell below.
· Click cell 2 and then look in the formula box at the top of the window. See the formula ():=OriginalA2. this means "Use the data from cell A2 in the sheet name Original. "You haven't copied the data; rather you are linking to the data, so that if the data in A2 changes, so will the data in this cell.
· With cell2 in the code column of the yahoo! Sheet selected, press ctrl+C or choose Edità copy from the main menu to copy this data into the clipboard.
· Press the down arrow to select the cell below.
· Hold the Shift key and press PgDn multiple times, until the cursor has selected as many as cells as there are products.
· Press Ctrl+v or choose edit à Paste from the main menu to paste the formula into all these cells.
· Press the Esc key to stop copy mode.
If you go to the Original sheet and change data in the productid column, the cells are now linked. Change data in a productid cell, and it changes in the appropriate code cell, too. Repeat this process for all the columns you need and for all the different sheets you need, and you are ready to export your text files.

Creating and Uploading your data files
After you have created your sheets, you can export the text files you need to give to the shopping directories. Each spreadsheet program works a little differently. With some programs, you may find an export command, and in Microsoft excel, you use the save as command. Here is how to export the text files from Excel:

· Save the spreadsheet file in its original spreadsheet file format, to make sure that any changes you've made are stored in the original file.
· Click the tab for the sheet you want to export to a text file.
· Choose file à Save as from the main menu to open the save as dialog box.
· In the Save as Box, select the appropriate file type from the Save as Type drop-down menu.
· Provide a filename in the Name field.
· Click OK, and you see a message box saying that you cant save the entire file: that's okay, all you want to do is save the selected sheet, so click yes.
· Now you see a message box telling you that some features cant be saved as text. That's okay. You don't want to save anything fancy, just text, so click yes.

That's you have saved the file. It's still open in Excel, with the other sheets, so close this file. If you want to export another text file, reopen the original spreadsheet file and repeat these steps. After you have created the text file, you are ready to upload it to the shopping directory. Each directory works a little differently, so refer to the directory's instructions. These data files expire. They last only one month at froogle, e.g. Check each system carefully and remember to upload the latest data file before it expires or when you have any important changes.




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