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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Google is my favorite company – it is THE apex of innovation. I truly admire the company’s ability to find ways to make more money and provide the best customer experience. It has been making great strides online, and its technology is second to none.

CPC-model is Google’s bread and butter. It started with an algorithm, and has grown into a giant empire. Last year, users were able to type a company’s name and a list showed up with the company’s URL directly in the search query options. While this meant that Google had to forgo CPCs, it provided for a much better customer experience.

In Nov 2009, Google introduced Sitelinks, which allows advertisers to add deep-links to the site on paid search ads. This allows for a more customized user experience, and allows advertisers to provide separate landing pages for each and hence increase qualified traffic and conversions.

In Nov 2009, Google also rolled out product extensions. Advertisers could display their product images in paid search ads.

Last year, Google started testing product listing ads on a CPA basis. If you searched for a product, say iPhone, Google showed ads for iPhone on the right hand side with product images from various sites/online sellers. Users tend to click on organic ads more than paid ads, and ads on the right hand side get even less attention. Having product images show up is an innovative way to increase (qualified) traffic and possibly conversions. We participated in the Beta and were happy with the results. Google talked about adding a promotion to product listing ads, but that has not yet materialized. Google performed various tests, and we never had visibility into any of them. The tests showed by as “Experiment 1” and so on.

This year Google unveiled its new look with several filtering options, and rose to the social media challenge by allowing Facebook and Twitter to show up in search.

Recently I noticed that ratings have started showing up on the right hand side for merchants. This is probably in beta, but its another way to increase clicks, CPCs, and conversions. The ratings are sourced from Bizrate, and I am willing to bet that they are being used from Google Shopping. Here is more information on ratings.

Google has also been using page recommendations at the bottom of search results. So if you type Groupon, you can see Groupon’s competitors at the bottom of the page.

Google has been using the Shopping data feeds in innovative ways for adding images to Google searches; I won’t be surprised if Google eventually does away with Shopping or finds a way to monetize that. Which is a pity because how will merchants justify investment in CSEs if there is no free Google or Bing Cashback anymore? CSEs will have to either reduce CPCs or do a damn good job of driving conversions to compensate for the cost. My peers and I find the CSE program to be the smallest and most expensive, but it is worth investing in because it drives a significant number of new customers. Whether the quality of customers is good is yet to be seen.

Google is trying to figure out how it can leverage its own real estate above the fold to make more money from merchants and yet not impact customer experience. Google never has a “me too” approach – it always stays miles ahead of the rest. Kind of like Amazon. A long time back I was asked in a job interview, “Tell me 3 of your favorite sites”. “Amazon” is always my answer. For the second site, I blanked out and said “Google”. My answer was declined because Google is not really a website, and I had to think some more.

Its amazing that Google never advertises — I remember the old saying that there is no need to advertise something good. Bing advertises on TV shows, online ads, etc., but their algorithm is so bad that I cannot bear to use the search engine. I tried using cashback, but for cashback alone because the search engine is far inferior. One smart thing Bing has done is showing up as sponsored listings on Facebook. So if you search for something on Facebook and scroll all the way to the bottom, you see Bing ads, not Google.

In the affiliate channel, Google has made many improvements to its interface used by advertisers and affiliates. I asked Google’s two biggest competitors —

  • Competitor 1 – Google has made so many improvements to its interface. Do you have any plans to make such improvements to your interface? Their response – “We focus more on growing through affiliate reach and relationships than technology, so no, in the near future we have no such plans.” What a shame. If you cannot fulfill basic data needs without having to go through a complex process, eventually clients will switch. Why not focus on both and stay a step ahead of Google?
  • Competitor 2 – How does your interface compared to Google? Their response – “Our interface is not as pretty”. Google’s interface is not pretty, just easy to use. Intelligent clients would never choose looks over ease of use and and business needs.

On the flip side, Google has certain processes in place and has streamlined all its newly acquired businesses. Which is good for Google, but not so good for clients. A lot of language in their contracts cannot be negotiated. Google is one of the few vendors that comes to meet clients in jeans, brings presentations on recycled paper even though they seem to be of poor quality, and they use both sides of the paper. Which is why I admire the company. Their employees do not need to bend over backwards for clients.

Google employees are happy people. They have a free cafeteria, can work from home, get maternity and paternity leave, and can relocate and still work with the same team virtually. The company truly cares about its employees. No wonder Fortune has listed it as the 4th best company to work for. However, I have heard that the company does not pay as much. And the titles are not as high. You may be a manager in another company and an associate manager at Google, although you have the same experience and possible same salary.

Google and Pixar are my favorite companies because of their innovation and creativity. I don’t hold Apple in as much regard because their technology is not as superior. I truly admire Google, and am looking forward to more innovation from the company.

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Delhi

AM is going to Delhi. I wanted to give him a long list of things to buy… but will he know what I want and like? It has been years since I went to Delhi. I went with my parents as a kid and stayed at an aunt’s place. She had a cute white dog. They went out every morning to work, her daughter to college, and we had a maid serve us breakfast and dinner. It was quite cold, and we were always caught in the Delhi traffic. Old Delhi was so different from new, but I LOVE LOVE history. I loved going to Red Fort and checking out all the buildings. I wish I could go back to Delhi. Its a beautiful city, especially shopping. All top designers have a store here — some of them don’t have stores in Mumbai but have them in Delhi. Bangle bazaar, Lodhi, all the top designers — JJ Vallaya, Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Arora. Of course there are tons of new ones now. I wish wish I could go to Delhi and spend 1-2 days shopping. I like Delhi more than Mumbai for shopping.

What should I ask AM to buy? Bangles? Jewelry? Tops? Stuff for our new apartment? Painted pots? Handicraft? How will he know what I like? Maybe he can send pictures form his Blackberry and I could ask him to buy… What a shame – he is going to Delhi and I don’t have a list for him.

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I LOVE LOVE LOVE Catherine Malandrino’s clothes.I first heard of her when Blair Waldorf wore the marroon dress in Gossip Girl, and I checked out CM’s website for gorgeous clothes.

I chanced upon the store in Meat market, and fell in love with absolutely everything. This is what you call design and fashion. Gorgeous use of pleats, fabrics, and vision. While I loved everything, I found three to be very interesting. I had seen them online but these clothes you have to see in person and touch and feel the fabrics to get complete pleasure of fashion. The first one is of using hands on her dresses. The hands feature on the shoulder and one side of the waist. In one case it looks as if someone is grabbing the breast, but it is done so tastefully that it comes across as more elegant than sleazy. The second is of an eagle. The eagle’s wings are across both shoulders that meet just above the waist and join to form the head, which extends to the waist. The eagle was used on another dress where the wings formed the sides of each waist and met majestically at the back of the waist. The third was of a face… the face was on the side of one waist with pleats coming out of the lips. I had the vision of water springing out of the lips and going in all directions which is where the pleats went.

The clothing had really experimented with ruffles and pleats, forming ringlets, rossettes, and ruffles in all areas of the dress. A lot of sheer fabric was also used as a top layer. I thought DVF dresses were good, but CM is MUCH MUCH better than DVF. This is what you call design, unlike DVF where the prints and fit do the job which has more to do with use of fabrics rather than design. Unfortunately most of CM’s clothing were sizes 2 and 4, which I could NEVER fit ever. Damn. I am sure she has more sizes online, probably just not in stores. I will go back to the store again, just to relive the fun and pleasure I had in just seeing the gorgeous designs come to life.

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Theory

Theory is a clothing (men & women), handbags, and shoes brand sold through department stores and its own stores. The brand is VERY pricey. Its USP is that its clothing is made of a lycra-like material that makes it stretchy and comfortable; the clothes last quite long. I wonder, will customers pay $150-$200 for clothing that is so basic when they can get something cheaper? Will the brand last in this economy? Its collection in Bloomingdale’s was better than the one in their store in Meat market. Good collection, I have eyed their clothing for a while but never purchased any. Most people buy the brand on sale. Its parent compeny is a Japanese company. I do wonder about its being a healthy going concern. If I had $300 to spend, I would spend it on ¬†Caltherine Malandrino dress… also, Theory’s collection features suiting and wear to work, meaning people don’t buy it as frequently. However, I have heard that the brand has a cult-following, and I so did like their denim pants in Bloomies. I have not seen that color used often. I also liked their ruffle plaid dress which had a sheer black overlay and looked cute.

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Herve Ledger is hands down my favorite designer. I love his bandage dresses. He is extremely creative in adding different elements of color and style to make his dresses all look different. Gilt had them on sale, $2,ooo pieces for $400-$500. Not surprisingly, within a day they were all sold out. They were such gorgeous pieces and such a pleasure to look at, every one of them. I looked at all of them very closely. You have to have a to-die-for hourglass figure to carry his clothes off. They are very fitted. Blair Waldorf wore one on Gossip Girl with a cardigan and looked gorgeous. Bloomingdale’s does not have the gorgeous ones that were on sale on Gilt. Anyway, enough of my blogging. I have to go check out appliances and my patient husband is waiting in the next room. Hee.

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CLI so badly want a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. I see them everywhere now. Khloe Kardashian wore them the day she was fired in Celebrity Apprentice 2. I saw it on a girl at work. And I have fallen in love with the red sole… so classy and sexy. But they cost a fortune!

My husband will flip if I buy them. Should I open a new bank account, deposit a check and spend that money on the shoes? That way the charge will not show up in the bank and credit card statements. Will he notice that one check has not been deposited? I hate Fidelity, where all the accounts have been combined so we keep track of all the money. Damn! One day…

I tell myself that if I lose xx number of pounds, I will have justification for rewarding myself. Or I could just buy and not deal with my husband, since he did not give me anything last Anniversary (recession…).

The website is so awesome.

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CLYelp lists Christian Louboutin as a best shopping stop in New York. After reading reviews I realized that CL’s trademark is the red sole. I checked out the collection on Neiman Marcus, and the heels are gorgeous. However, they do not justify the price tag. Do shoes with red soles justify the hefty price tag? Really? Maybe I need to check the store out – it is on my to-do lists. I have to see it now, what with the reviews raving about it. The red soles seem “sex-kitten”-like; maybe that is why people like them! I have seen Hollywood walk in CL on the red carpet, so either it is truly special or another over-rated and over-priced product. Seriously, what is the mark-up on this?

The brand also has wedges. If the USP of the brand is red soles, why would someone want to pay so much for a wedge from CL? Who would be able to see the red sole? I have to check this store out.

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