ShopLocal Sees Shift to Local by 2007

ShopLocal, the women-oriented sales service from Tribune, Knight Ridder and Gannett, is breaking through on local and will see revenue from smaller, local stores outpace revenue from larger, national stores such as Target by 2007 , CEO Brian Hand told The Local Onliner.

Hand notes that the site gets 25 million unique users a month, and has been ranked by ComScore as one of the fastest growing sites anywhere on the Web. The traffic boost is the result of free print- and- online advertising from its partners, as well as carefully-placed SEM and SEO efforts.

Currently, the site has about 20,000 local advertisers. It is pushing to boost the count via local services directories, powered by Planet Discover. It is also getting heavy sales efforts by its newspaper partners, which include the TKG papers, as well as The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, The Houston Chronicle and The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The site also benefits from additional distribution from IYP/search sources such as Switchboard, SuperPages, Local.com and Froogle Local (and consequently, GoogleBase). In all, it has 400 distribution partners, including 150 private label sources. “I don’t care if they know ‘ShopLocal’ as a name,” said Hand.

While Hand said that advertising is going strong, ecommerce revenue streams may take longer to develop. Rival StepUp, for instance, has been promoting inventory listing and product descriptions as an effective method for driving customers to local stores.

StepUp CEO Kendall Fargo told the Kelsey Drilling Down Conference that store owners are “very excited” about inventory lists. “Typically, they’ll say things like: ‘I never knew that product drove people to my store,’” said Fargo. Such capabilities represent a new generation of marketing for store owners previously under-whelmed by their return on investment from websites, and then search engines, he added.

But Hand countered Fargo, noting that “we’ve been trying to do that for seven years. Nobody wants to give you inventory.” Hand also said that 75 percent of products are “soft goods” that simply don’t require boosts from descriptions and images.

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