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The Google Shopping Launch That Grew Revenue by 109% in the First Year

THE SCOOP

Founded in 1991 as a small shop in Buffalo, N.Y., Dave & Adam’s Card World now operates two physical locations and an online store, offering sports cards and collectibles, as well as board and card games. The retailer tested Google Shopping during the channel’s early days, but didn’t have the bandwidth to launch a formal effort. Dave & Adam’s sat Google Shopping on the bench in 2015.

Still, the retailer recognized it could gain an important revenue stream in Google Shopping—if it had an experienced partner to handle management. The retailer drafted Sidecar’s machine learning technology and team of Google Shopping experts to unlock the opportunity. 

PROFILE

Retail Category
Collectibles
Website
Headquarters
Tonawanda, NY

The Problem

Lean Team Tight on Bandwidth 

Eric Cholis remembers the days of Froogle—the unpaid predecessor to Google Shopping.

“We’ve been involved with Google Shopping here and there since its inception. Over time, its value has increased as the ads have become better integrated into the search results page,” commented Cholis, Director of Web Technology for Dave & Adam’s Card World.

The retailer’s brief tests of Google Shopping delivered encouraging results. But as the channel grew in complexity and switched from free to paid in 2012, the retailer’s lean marketing team lacked the bandwidth to confidently manage campaigns.

“It was challenging to review Shopping campaigns, make all the necessary changes, synchronize those efforts with other marketing initiatives on our site, and make sure everything was effective,” said Cholis. “And managing down to the category and product level was difficult. We just didn't have the time to do it.”

Dave & Adam’s paused its Google Shopping exploration in mid 2015. Cholis explains: “We didn’t have the ability to stay on top of Google Shopping 24x7, so we turned off our campaigns to prevent any wasteful spending.”

The retailer knew, however, that it would reignite its efforts if it gained the support and guidance to strategically manage the channel. It wasn’t long before Cholis discovered the ideal partner in Sidecar.

After first learning about Sidecar from an industry colleague, Cholis realized that sustained success on Google Shopping—with no hassle or added workload—was possible. And, he’d be able to easily manage the channel against his highest priority metric—cost/sale.

“I liked that Sidecar’s machine learning technology would allow us to boil all relevant data into a single, trusted focal point—a cost/sale goal—around which we could manage campaigns,” he said. “We wouldn’t have to think about anything else. Sidecar would let us control our spending, which is our stakeholders' biggest concern.”

Knowing that Google Shopping campaigns require diligent management, Cholis also wanted a solution that was hands off for his team, adding, “I wanted to not worry about it and trust that our partner was managing it effectively.” 

BY the Numbers

18,500
Products
in catalog
16%
Below Cost/Sale Goal
90 days after launch
109%
Revenue Growth
by the end of the first year
0
Hours Spent Internally
on Google Shopping management

The solution

Worry-Free, Hands-Off Approach 

Cholis began working closely with Sidecar’s team to formally enter Google Shopping with the strongest start possible.

Sidecar’s team optimized Dave & Adam’s product feed for Google Shopping, helped the retailer install Sidecar for Google Shopping, devised a channel strategy suited for the retailer’s conservative budget and cost/sale goals, and created a fresh set of campaigns. Cholis and Sidecar held weekly phone calls to coordinate these activities, which led to a smooth launch completely handled by Sidecar.

It’s important to note here that historical AdWords data is critical to informing any Google Shopping strategy and campaign structure. But what happens when a retailer is new to Google Shopping and has little or no AdWords data, like Dave & Adam’s? That’s where Sidecar’s machine learning algorithms start coming into play.

The moment Dave & Adam’s campaigns went live, Sidecar’s technology began ingesting the data vital to understanding the retailer’s product catalog and competitive landscape. This includes Dave & Adam’s AdWords data, product feed, sitewide data, and goals, as well as consumer search behavior. This dataset is called the Sidecar Product Index.

Since then, Sidecar has continued to become more customized and efficient as it ingests Dave & Adam’s data over time, deepening its understanding of product performance amid changes in consumer search trends and Google’s algorithms.

This machine learning approach enables the technology to make increasingly accurate and precise bidding decisions for each individual product—providing the granularity Cholis was seeking. In the three months after launch, Sidecar’s technology made 2,227 automated bid and campaign changes to maintain or beat the retailer’s cost/sale goals while growing revenue.

“Sidecar’s data-driven decision making process is a big factor for me. AdWords provides a lot of data, but digesting it all is difficult. Using that data instantaneously and making adjustments on the fly—instead of sitting on it—is key,” said Cholis.

Sidecar’s team is on hand to navigate the tech and put Cholis’ mind at ease by continuously monitoring the account and recommending next steps to drive success. The weekly calls continue to be Cholis and Sidecar’s major touch point, the time when everyone can discuss new results, data trends, upcoming sitewide promotions, larger marketing initiatives, and refinements to the Google Shopping strategy.

“My experience with Sidecar’s customer success team has been outstanding. The phone calls are a critical piece and allow us to have a good conversation about the health of the account,” said Cholis. “That said, our call frequency has actually gone down to every other week—and we could even decrease it further—because I know Sidecar has it covered.” 
It feels like we insourced Google Shopping. Sidecar implemented a worry-free, hands-off approach led by trusted advisors.
Eric Cholis
Director of Web Technology for Dave & Adam’s Card World

the results

a growing slice of the pie

In the first 90 days after launch, Sidecar’s technology beat the retailer’s cost/sale goal by 16%, turning a small investment into a significant portion of topline revenue.

Encouraged by early performance, Dave & Adam’s doubled its monthly budget for Google Shopping over the next nine months. With this infusion of spend, Sidecar was able to take the retailer’s performance to even greater heights. By the end of the retailer’s first year in Google Shopping, revenue was up by 109% and cost/sale was 7% better than the retailer’s goal.

“The return on investment from Sidecar and Google Shopping is outstanding—and we’re not spending a ton. Allowing data to influence the decisions creates a more trusted ground,” said Cholis.

Google Shopping has continued to provide a growing and efficient revenue stream for Dave & Adam’s. When comparing the retailer’s first 90 days with Sidecar to the same period the following year, Google Shopping revenue grew by 48% and cost/sale fell by 19%.

Shopping ads are also raising the visibility of the Dave & Adam’s Card World brand among a new crop of customers. In the first year of going live, Google Shopping ads drove over 745,000 shoppers to the retailer’s e-commerce website, a valuable bonus for a niche business that thrives on winning new customers and keeping them coming back for more.

“Because we have such a wide range of products, surfacing them all consistently as organic results is not realistic. It’s critical that we supplement those organic results with Shopping ads,” explained Cholis.

And exactly as Dave & Adam’s wished, Sidecar transformed Google Shopping into a set-it-and-forget-it, hands-off proposition.

“It feels like we insourced Google Shopping,” said Cholis. “Sidecar implemented a worry-free, hands-off approach led by trusted advisors. They follow the goals we set down while also making solid recommendations to ensure the success of our campaigns. I don't have to think about it.” 

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