There's a heavy emphasis here on community reviews as a way to "filter" information. There are also degrees of trust built into the system (i.e., my community, friends of friends). What Yahoo! has done with Shopping is similar to what it did with travel in its Trip Planner product.
There are some nice additional features, such as the ability to see deals and rebates on the product pages. There's also a multi-platform push (as well as an affiliate push). The site offers integration with 360 — as with Local, product reviews from 360 will show up, in this case on Shopping. And the community features offer intriguing possibilities to take the site way beyond traditional comparison engines (i.e., the "Pick Lists").
At a "meta" level, there's an effort here to "rationalize" or structure the entire purchase cycle and provide resources at each step of the way (Yahoo! has tried something similar with Mindset). There are a lot of interesting elements in this upgrade. But the personalization and social/community components are the primary differentiators from the many other comparison engines.
It will take time, however, for consumers to discover and adopt all the functionality that is being offered. The phrase that Yahoo! is using is "from e-commerce to me-commerce." This is consistent with the larger theme the company has been stressing: "from mass media to my media."
Here are the traffic rankings of U.S.-based shopping engines, according to comScore, for August 2005:
- Shopping.com sites (eBay)
- Shopzilla/BizRate sites (E.W. Scripps)
- Yahoo! Shopping
- NextTag sites
- inStore (AOL)
- ShopLocal (Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune)
- Froogle (Google)
- CNET Reviews
- Monster Marketplace.com