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Mercent Updates Its Comparison Shopping Site

Mercent announced yesterday the release of an updated version of its on-demand platform, Mercent Retail. The improved platform enhances a user's ability to place a retail product within the correct category on a comparison-shopping Web site.

The existing Mercent Retail platform lets retailers successfully place their products on 21 different third party Web sites, like Amazon.com and Shop.com. The platform helps retailers determine the most profitable online shopping portals for a product.

The fifth update of Mercent Retail allows retailers to specify the best category in which to place their products on a shopping platform, like Shopzilla.com. Platforms only allow retailers to place their products within one category on their Web site, said Mercent CEO, Eric Best. For instance a CD of a novel could only be placed in either the music or books category.

The updated technology allows marketers to compare the Cost per Click (CPC) rate of individual product categories versus the sales of the product in a particular category. This allows retailers to determine which product category (i.e. books or music) is most cost effective.

The updated software also includes the benefits of the previous versions. Mercent Retail allows retailers to determine their products' profitability across different online shopping portals. This allows retail marketing managers to make data-based decisions on where best to promote their products online.

Mercent Retail combines the cost of goods sold and the ad spend of transactions to determine the most profitable third party comparison-shopping Web sites for a marketer's particular product. The software forms a report that compares the conversion rates on various shopping portals side by side, allowing non-technical marketers to make informed placement decisions.

The Mercent Retail software also breaks down the common assumption that all products perform equally on all channels, Best said. Best believes the right mix of products on one online shopping platform is different to the optimal mix on another, resulting from the different buying patterns of consumers on various portals, the competition on the portal and the product's profitability.

Retail marketing managers within Mercent Retail can define business rules to determine unique product assortments for each channel. Criteria such as product price, cost of goods sold, gross margin, inventory status and brand can all be manipulated to develop the ideal assortment of goods on a particular shopping portal, Best said.

Other benefits of the software include reducing the cost of individual channel relationships, as all relationships can be managed from the Mercent Retail interface. Mercent Retail also allows marketers broader distribution, Best said. Marketers previously had to integrate their individual e-commerce websites with individual shopping platforms one at a time, which is costly.

Mercent, Seattle, WA, has 40 customers nationwide, including GUESS?, Lucky Brand Jeans, Gaiam, Proflowers, PetSmart, Celebrate Express and Crabtree & Evelyn.

The company was founded by Amazon.com veteran Eric Best.

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