Yahoo Merges Shopping with Searching

Sep 24, 2003
Rick Moss

By Rick Moss

Yahoo launched an upgrade to its online shopping service yesterday that incorporates side-by-side comparison tools to aid shoppers in their journey through the millions of products offered by over 17,000 Yahoo online merchants. In essence, the new service is a tighter integration of Yahoo Product Search, utilizing algorithmic search and Web crawling technology, and the company’s base of Yahoo Shopping e-merchants. Keyword searches for specific branded products return lists of choices along with summary product descriptions, prices, thumbnail product photos and links to online vendors.

Although not a unique idea, comparison shopping offers a distinct competitive challenge to rivals, and eBay. Smaller web shopping services such as, mySimon, BizRate, and PriceGrabber are using similar techniques, but industry watchers see the move by Yahoo as the first major effort to dominate a somewhat fragmented field.

According to Dow Jones Business News, Yahoo plans to make use of the technology in its other content areas, including movies, music, travel and autos. The initiatives are part of an overall strategy to pull in more shoppers to Yahoo pages, thereby enabling the company to raise prices for ads and search engine referrals.

Moderator’s Comment: Will Yahoo’s new comparison shopping allow it to play catch up with Google and eBay?

Quick story: Came home last evening to learn that our 4 month old puppy had devoured large portions of my teenage daughter’s prize Birkenstock sandals.
I figured, a search for Birkenstock Boston clogs would be as good a test as any. The new Yahoo Shopping feature was impressive. “Birkenstock Boston” yielded a great selection
of e-vendors, with prices ranging from $86.99 to $109.95. Then I tried Google…or more accurately Froogle. The results were nearly identical, down to the look of the displayed
items, descriptions and links. In either case, I thought I’d be a hero when I showed my daughter. “Oh that’s OK, Dad,” she said. “It looks like I can nab a new pair on eBay for
about $50.”

My thoughts: a) Why isn’t Froogle a household name? It’s been available for months, and b) nice try, but why fight it? eBay is truly the most important
retail innovation of the last twenty years…IMHO.
Moss – Moderator

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