Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

BrowseGoods launches: zoom, pan, and click to Shop

February 12, 2007

Dotted Pair Inc today launched its visual shopping engine BrowseGoods, which I think is a great way to find new products. All shopping is always visual, but in the end it boils down to how many items your need to scan through before you find something that interests you. BrowseGoods addresses this exact part very nicely. With its Google Maps like interface, you can zoom into your product category to browse over available items at a really fast pace. BrowseGoods currently lists products from 4 broad categories- Shoes, Toys, Sports, and Watches. Consider the case of shoes. With just 3 clicks you are taken from Men’s to Boots to Casual & Comfort and ready to look at images of thousands of shoes from all the major brands. A click on any item gives you a pop-up with a zoomed-in image, pricing information, and options to save, email, and buy the item which takes you to Amazon.

BrowseGoods is currently working with Amazon Affiliate program to generate revenues from click-throughs. Possibilities for BrowseGoods are endless as it can easily expand its product categories and work with other major retailers in form of a white-label solution or working with their API to broaden its product reach. The site does have few missing features, and issues with the zoom and pan controls, which I think the Browsegoods team will definitely fix in the next few releases.

Visual search idea is definitely interesting and application in number of places. BrowseGoods seems to get it right. Last year I had written about Quintura’s visual search engine, which discovers lot more relations in context to your keyword than you might ordinarily think about. The tiny problem for Quintura is it is competing with Google.

Links:
BrowseGoods

MyThings – Your product DataStore

January 23, 2007

UK based startup MyThings had a relatively quite launch for a very interesting implementation. MyThings lets you build social networks around the portfolio of all things you buy so that at a later day you can easily retrieve and share that information instead of looking at you paper trail. The Accel Partners and Carmel Ventures funded startup had raised $8 million in May 2006 for building this personal product network.

As a user you can quickly upload information to a wide range of product categories.  MyThings provides a  very comprehensive set of  product attributes that you can fill out including product images, description, model, year, make, data purchased, warranty expiration, condition, documents, any story around the purchase,…..Product attributes are flexible to some extent and change with the kind of product you are uploading. Like for cars you get option to add Make, Model, and Year, while uploading information related to laptops you can pick from an existing database of products or just add the make and model. From there on, you can take your product portfolio and share with other users at MyThings. Social part of MyThings is similar to any other site where you can view and comment on products, add others to your network, exchange personal messages,…

MyThings has plans to do much more than being just a product database. MyThings, with its existing relationships with various online retailers in UK, will drive in better deals for upcoming product upgrades, online registration at the point of sale, and provide other useful product information to the consumers.

Couple of issues that I see MyThings will face include it’s ability to maintain a clean product categorization and naming without the users getting lost or uploading the same information over-n-over. Also MyThings will have to build proper checks for retailer activity on the site so that the site maintains a user focus and does not end up being a sales shark land. Personally I like the idea of backing up all my product information to MyThings. Consider all the new long-term stuff we buy for our house like dishwasher, garage door opener, HVAC system,…. If you maintain the digital copy of all your information at MyThings I am pretty sure it will add to your sales pitch when you are ready to sell 5-6 years down the line.

Links:
MyThings

 

Wize men get richer

January 22, 2007

Wize.com, the product ranking and product search/ranking engine, has raised $4 million in Series A funding from Mayfield Fund and Bessemer Venture Partners. I had written about Wize just around the time it had launched in September 2006. Wize operates in a crowded shopping space where most of the new comers offer their advantage in some respect or other but none of them gets the full job done at one place. Latest and greatest shopping helpers,  besides Wize.com, are myTriggers, PowerReviews, Jellyfish, uGenie, and Retrevo.

As I noted before, Wize continues to operate with the cookie based approach that does not give the ability for users to signup and save product information to their account.

My favorites continue to be PowerReviews and myTriggers. As I have mentioned before, PowerReviews lets you reach the right products based on tag based attributes and real-buyer reviews, while myTriggers delivers almost-realtime price trends through email or RSS right to your desktop.

Links:
Wize

Booksprice launches persistent search; Pytagor’s WebOS

January 17, 2007

Booksprice: NYC based Booksprice has added a persistent search feature to it’s price comparison engine. RSS Price Watcher basically delivers price changes as RSS feeds which makes it easier for you to buy products at your target price. Booksprice enables search for Books, CD, DVDs, and Games from various online retailers including Amazon, Half.com, Barnes&Noble, and Buy.com. Launched 2 years back Booksprice claims to currently have an audience of 75,000 users each month. Besides the new feature release, the comparison engine delivers the capability to compare prices for all the items in your shopping cart at the same time instead of going one-by-one route. To get started with your comparisons faster you can install the Booksprice plugin for IE/Firefox to right click on item and search.

Couple of players that have similar features to Booksprice are- myTriggers that gives persistent search results  and uGenie that gives your the best price for multiple items in your cart.


 
Pytagor: Number of startups are experimenting with WebOS ideas. Pytagor is another one. The startup wants to host your docs, files, pictures, bookmarks, ….. everything. Once inside, application loads up pretty fast, right click gives you number of options like create folders, move folders, and options like document search. However Pytagor has a long way to go before it ends up anywhere. UI aside, companies like Pytagor need to build trust with users before they really upload their data. Having a blog, a user forum, and putting your address on the site can easily prove you are not just another runaway startup. Others in the market include YouOS, Challenger, XIN, and eyeOS

Amazon launches Endless for shoes

January 3, 2007

Number of new ventures from Amazon just keeps growing. Newest idea is close of what Amazon does best – Sell stuff. Only difference this time is that they are selling shoes and handbags under a new domain Endless.com.

With free overnight shipping, free return shipping, 110% price match guarantee, and one of the best online customer support team behind the new venture, this will for sure turn the heat on for guys at Zappos. And Amazon is serious with the new venture with ads already rolled out through Google Adwords.

Hey how about free overnight shipping at Amazon? Can easily send LicketyShip looking for something new.

Links:
Endless

Koodos – branded products at great prices

January 3, 2007

UK based startup Koodos wants to play the shopping game bit differently. Launched last month, Koodos makes available quality branded products to consumers in the form of Private Sales. Each product offered through Koodos is available in limited quantity and Koodos claims to offer significant cost savings as compared to retail prices. Koodos, a Atlas Venture funded company, is led by a management team(Miriam Lahage – CEO- previously of TJX) that has extensive experience in retail and online shopping.

Koodos is working on building partnerships with a number of top brands and retailers, as well as emerging fashion designers to overcome the common overstock problem and connecting that oversupply to consumers who are looking to buy quality branded products at lower prices. In addition to this, brand owners own their inventory, thus enabling them to maintain control of their pricing and maximizing their net yield. So while Koodos takes care of inventory glut, customers can take advantage of the special pricing offered. Looking at the UK online shopping market that accounted for half of retail growth in the UK last year, and forecast to grow at least 20% this year, Koodos does sound like good opportunity.

As for comparison purposes, Koodos might sound like Jellyfish Smack Deal of the Day or Woot, but differentiates itself by offering more than one high-end branded products at the same time. From the web site perspective, I think Koodos does need lot of work in terms of user experience and overall checkout process to bring it more in-tune with web20 world. Again till the time consumers are able attain significant savings, UI improvements can be put on back-burner.

Speaking of customer loyalty and brand relationships, I am eagerly waiting for the release of Eluma’s Brandable Desktop communities software that can let you stay connected with your brand community easily. Service like Koodos in conjunction with Eluma will be a great combination for building communities around brands and getting great deals on your favorite brands.

Links:
Koodos

 
 

myTriggers – shopping search engine done right

December 12, 2006

myTriggers is one of the highly focused startups to appear in the shopping search engine market. myTriggers Cost-per-Action(CPA) based search  results combined with its persistent search feature should definitely make a dent in the market share of Shopping.com, Pricegrabber, and Shopzilla.com. myTriggers based out of Columbus, OH, is lead by Glenn S. Meyers, former CEO of SkyTerra and founder and was also the former CEO of RareMedium Group. myTriggers crack team of around 20 engineers have developed one of the fastest shopping search engines I have come across.

myTriggers enables users to search for products and set a price they are looking for. myTriggers takes your search criteria and searches across more than 100 million items indexed by its crawler or added by its merchants, to provide you with stores and prices where the item is in-stock at your asked for price. The persistent search feature kicks in from here on. Any search you make, you can hit the ‘Trigger It!’ button to automatically get updated with the newer results. myTriggers search updates can be received by email, RSS, and SMS, and myTriggers team is working on delivering results to your IM, and voice app. myTriggers not only saves your search criteria, it also saves the results to your account so that you run your own analytics on the resulting data. myTriggers offers quite a few other techniques to further refine your search results including browsing by category, filtering by merchant, and brand, quite a few other options.

Coming back to the strategy side, myTriggers along with Jellyfish have been the prime voices against Google CPC based approach that always seems to be on a path to a higher priced keywords for retailers using Adwords system. Glenn thinks that Google’s dual search engine, where the regular search results drives traffic to CPC sites like Shopping.com and sponsored results send traffic to sites that pay Google, ultimately drives the cost up the merchant, which than gets passed on to the customer. Glenn claims that myTriggers differs from the traditional search engines by offering a Ad-free/Sponsor-listing-free search results. myTriggers delivers superior search results by searching product information from more than 1 million merchants, covering far more product categories than any of its competitors, and ranking the results purely on their relevancy. myTriggers takes care of its revenue by driving traffic to its merchants and sellers and taking a cut out of every item actually bought as a result of the clickthroughs.

The new wave of CPA based shopping search engines do make sense in terms of where the actual money should exchange hands for every customer delivered. This seems to just the start of the war that has the potential to reshape the online ad industry.

Links:
myTriggers

 

DaWanda Launches – Marketplace for customized products

December 8, 2006

DaWanda has launched its customized and handmade products market place targeted at European customers. DaWanda, bootstrapped by 3 friends based out of Berlin, Germany, offers similar experience as Etsy

DaWanda enables browsing of products by Tags, Colours, Materials, Techniques, and categories. Users can tag, rate, comment, add to pinboard any of these products. DaWanda team seems to working hard to provide a well thought UI to enhance customer experience. I especially like the workflow, similar to GAP web site, where items get added to your cart without you getting pushed onto a new page or the page getting refreshed. I also like the ability to add people to your pinboard which provides a social aspect to the site.

From the seller side, each DaWanda user can setup his/her own shop. You can easily list, view, edit your products, add up to 4 images for each listing, and review your orders, messages, and feedback. DaWanda is currently not charging any fee for listing your products, but charges 5% commission on the sales price of the item sold. This charge is higher as compared to  Etsy which  is charging $0.20 as listing fee and 3.5% fee on the final sale price of the item.

Although the site is currently focused at German community, DaWanda has developed the English version as well. DaWanda will be looking to expand to other EU countries early next year. They are also working on developing application that will automatically load items from catalogue, web site, and files. DaWanda will have to work really hard on building the social side of the site, which can lead to a richer and active marketplace.

Links:
DaWanda

Updates for Google, Microsoft, Etsy

November 15, 2006


Google Local Event Search:
Google Calendar team launched a new feature that enables users to search local events added by others and additional listing aggregated from it’s partners. You can quickly search for events by event name or category, city, or date. Results show up in the Google calendar and you can switch between various views including a list view. I am not sure for what radius Google searches for events when you search by city. Other players in this area include Zvents, and Eventful, both of which had closed new funding rounds recently.

 


Microsoft Office Live goes live: Today Office Live officially went live. Office Live is aimed at business users and provides various applications for managing your data related to Project, Sales, Employees, and Customers. Office Live subscription plans include Basics(Free, still need to give your credit card number though), Essentials($19.95/month), and Premium($39.95/month). Each of the plans vary in the diskspace offered, number of users that you can add, applications that will be available to you, and number of other options. However most of the apps are too web1.0’ish to even think of using them. I will stick to my ad-hoc collaboration toolset(Gmail+Writely+EditGrid+GCal) in the meantime.

 


Etsy V2 launches: Previously I had written about the imminent release of Etsy’s new version. Couple of days back Etsy went live with the new release. With the new feature set, Etsy team is definitely poised for the long run. You can the new site and my previous post for more details about the changes.

 

Insight Ventures invests in Threadless

November 9, 2006

Although the idea is not new, investment still keeps flowing into startups offering custom products like t-shirts. Threadless.com‘s parent company skinnyCorp yesterday announced that it has secured a minority investment from Insight Venture Partners. Threadless started by Chicago based designer Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart in January 2000.

Threadless is basically an on-going t-shirt design competition. Users can submit their design ideas, which if get an high enough score from the Threadless users, are printed and sold at the site. Typically Threadless is receiving more than 600 design submission per week out of which only 4-6 are chosen for production. Each winning designer receives $2000 in cash and prizes. Powered by the user collaboration and team work, Threadless site has a refreshing outlook with an amazing range of designs.

However this custom-design market has number of well funded startups. We have the market leader Cafepress which claims to have more than 2.3 million users. Cafepress which started in 1999 has venture backing from Sequoia Capital and PacRim Venture Partners. Than we have the Palo Alto based Zazzle which has the backing of Kleiner Perkins and Sherpalo Ventures. Zazzle has received $16 million in funding in its Series A and claims to have Zazzle nearly 1 million members. Another player Spreadshirt offers its customized products services in Europe. Last September Spreadshirt had received and undisclosed amount of funding from Accel Partners. And than we have the newest entrant GoodStorm that offers customized t-shirts with a dose of non-profit ideas to it’s business model.

Now I am not sure if combines effect of these companies is part of the problems faced by major retailers like Gap. Looking at recent news about Gap on Google Finance doesn’t paint a rosy picture about Gap’s future.

            

                                

Links:
Threadless
Cafepress
Zazzle
Spreadshirt
GoodStorm