Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), the No. 1 search engine, seems to be the clear winner so far in the 2012 cybershopping competition, said Eric Best, CEO of private Mercent Corp., a marketing specialist.
That's not to say that other e-retailing giants including Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) aren't doing well this year, Best added. It's just that Google's new push into Google Shopping appears to have contributed to dramatic gains this holiday shopping season.
Best said analytical data studied by his Seattle-based company suggest Google's gain over last year is as high as 65 percent, simply because of the changes the Mountain View, Calif., company has made in getting advertisers who'd relied upon plain search to put extra cash into Google Shopping.
Best told investors on a call conducted by Cantor Fitzgerald Internet analyst Youssef Squali Thursday that year-over-year gains for Amazon look to be about 30 percent, with lesser gains for eBay.
Meanwhile, a new push into retail by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), the No. 1 social networking site, doesn't appear to have gained much traction yet, Best said. Facebook's recent move into gift giving, “wish lists” and “wants” seems to be taking off slowly, he said.
“Social media hasn't really turned the corner yet,” the Mercent CEO said. “At the end of the day, merchants have to sell something.”
The cybersales expert said investors should watch carefully what kind of online shopping traffic develops on Dec. 17, which he predicted would be the next peak for holiday sales. He didn't provide an estimate for gains.
But this year's sales on both Nov. 23, or Black Friday, and Nov. 26, Cyber Monday, combined with orders that already came in on Nov. 22, Thanksgiving, appear to have sent cybersales up between 15 percent and 17 percent over 2011, Best said.
The Mercent CEO said of the $2 billion in cybersales for those days monitored by his company, Amazon appeared to have captured about 75 percent of the total, with the biggest remaining part going to Google and the rest to others.
Best also said some experienced and well-financed retailers, such as Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE:JWN), did well, too, without providing sales statistics. He said some other well-placed specialty sites like Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) also saw gains.
Meanwhile, the Mercent CEO confirmed that prices for some goods, such as consumer electronics, may have risen slightly from mid-November to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday trade.
Amazon, also based in Seattle, seems to be thriving with its entire portfolio, but especially with heavy items like appliances and big electronics ordered under its “Fulfillment by Amazon” campaign. Best said some retailers are sending customers directly to the Amazon site because the company has negotiated cheaper and faster deliveries than they can muster.
Amazon's “same-day delivery” program “can mean the difference between winning an order or not,” Best said, if consumers are especially anxious.
Meanwhile, the Mercent CEO said analytics don't indicate consumers are worried about the so-called fiscal cliff talks in Washington, which could lead to tax increases for all on Jan. 1 if they fail.
“We haven't heard or seen anything that indicates consumers are being more conservative or that retailers are limiting their advertising,” Best said.
Shares of Google rose $4.33 to $692.15 in late Thursday trading, while those of Amazon rose 9 cents to $254.05 and eBay shares gained 38 cents to $52.40.
David Zielenziger is a veteran editor and journalist who has written for newspapers including the Baltimore Sun, Asian Wall Street Journal and EETimes, as well as for...