Yahoo is stepping up its holiday promotions this week, bringing a giant snow globe to Times Square to promote the recently updated Yahoo Shopping service. The push is an effort to capture a greater share of usership for the shopping search service during what’s expected to be a hot — and competitive — season for online holiday shopping.
The snow globe, which will be located in New York City’s Times Square this Friday and Saturday, will feature “Comparison Shopping Santa” and his elves. Wi-fi Internet kiosks will be available for online shopping, viewing and emailing links to photos with Santa
“This event emphasizes the fun, ease and ultimate convenience of online shopping, whether people start shopping now or wait until the last minute,” said Rob Solomon, VP and GM, Yahoo Shopping.
In addition, Yahoo today launched a “Wish and Win” sweepstakes where consumers can enter to win a personality-themed wishlist or $10,000 if they create their own wishlist with the new “Save and Share” feature on Yahoo Shopping.
Themes for the wishlists include “playful,” which includes a plasma TV and hot tub; “fun-loving,” with various sports equipment; “contemporary,” with a Blackberry and iPod; “trendy,” with satellite radio and a Segway; and “adventurous,” with skis and camping gear.
Yahoo recently expanded the product search engine that powers Yahoo Shopping, adding the ability to narrow by attribute for many “soft goods” products, a feature that was previously available for feature-heavy categories like electronics. Users can narrow results for “shoes,” for example, by gender, age, shoe style, brand, store, price, and special deals.
Yahoo achieved this level of detail by having human editors go through its product feeds and assign attributes to each product, Solomon said. “For merchants, what we find is the more relevant the results of a search, the better the conversion,” he said. “Search is going to be a big driver of e-commerce revenues.”
Yahoo Shopping offers comparison shopping tools and services like side-by-side product comparisons, buyer’s guides, price alerts, merchant and product ratings and reviews. Visitors can shop for products that carry a guaranteed on-time delivery promise, or products that are available with free shipping.
“In this comparison shopping universe, price is one of the key drivers but brand and trust are equally important,” Solomon said.
Yahoo Shopping has also set up a holiday gift center, where it has created several top 10 products lists for personalities like the “trendy wife,” or “tech-savvy sister.” The site also aggregates editorial content from sources like Glamour, PC World, and Consumer Reports.
Forrester Research expects a lukewarm holiday shopping season this year, both online and off. Its analysts predict online holiday retail sales will increase by 20 percent over 2003, to $13.2 billion. In comparison, last year’s growth over 2002 was 31 percent. It expects retailers with an offline sales channel to focus promotions on driving customers to stores.
“As online shopping becomes more mainstream, online growth will begin to mimic lukewarm offline sales,” said Forrester analyst Carrie A. Johnson. “And, because stores are the channel most at risk of missing sales forecasts this year, retailers will scale back online promotions, such as free shipping, and will promote large in-store discounts as a way to drive customers to stores.”
Yahoo Shopping competitor Shopping.com gave its first quarterly guidance as a public company today, predicting its revenues to be in the range of $33.5 million to $33.8 million, up 33 percent over last year’s fourth quarter. Yahoo does not break out performance of its shopping service in its reported numbers, but Solomon said he expects a 25-percent to 30-percent growth in traffic over last year’s holiday season.
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