Krillion, a start-up with deep pockets from Hummer Winblad, launched the first iteration of its “localized search engine” today. The highly attractive, ad-supported service is kicking off with a dedicated appliance search. The next wave of localized searches will include seasonal appliances, consumer electronics, and lawn & garden.
For the appliance service, Krillion is crawling national retailer feeds for appliance availability, store location and sales info. Retailers include Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy, Ikea, Sears (and in the Bay Area, Orchard Supply Hardware). In addition to offering very good product and price information, Krillion provides a click-to-call capability via eStara, allowing consumers to check on inventory in a local store (since there is no inventory function, per se).
Company cofounders Joel Toledano and Roger Streen come from Yahoo! Search Marketing, among other places, and say that they have designed the company as a breakthrough “ready-to-buy” service several steps evolved from the print Yellow Pages. They also plan to differentiate their service by maximizing SEO and SEM, rather than necessarily bulking up as a destination service dependent on partner promotion. That may come later, as is evident by its Web site inviting partnerships.
Competitors such as ShopLocal, Yokel, Nearby Now and CNET provide similar services. ShopLocal, for one, would seem to have more data sources, since it sucks in all the retailer info from its newspaper partners; Run of Press and circular ads; as well as from a Web partnership with Shopping.com.
ShopLocal also benefits from the promotional might of its owners (Gannett, McClatchy and Tribune). Some might argue, however, that its ownership is a mixed blessing, since it needs to please many masters, incorporating local services, etc. But we shall see. For now, Krillion says its crawling is far more extensive than any of its competitors, with 275 million pages of relevant local search results displaying local product information for major appliances in every burg in the U.S.
One advantage Krillion has is the consulting services of several local executive veterans, including Yahoo!’s David Mandelbrot and former RHD executive Simon Greenman. Greenman says he’s been working with Krillion for the past six months, although more extensively since leaving RHD in December.
“It is an important piece of the local search puzzle,” says Greenman. “Very few providers can provide structured results.” He adds that most local results are like “Swiss cheese.” Greenman also says that the focus on national retailers is smart since the focus stays on big-ticket items, and “you get scale issues when you go local.”
But a question I ask is, Isn’t there a way to feature both the big-box stores and the local merchants? Sure, Krillion turns up an impressive number of GE Profile refrigerators from several big-box stores. ShopLocal, meanwhile, only turns up one (from AM Royal). But one of the biggest (and cheapest) stores in my hometown of Carlsbad, California, is actually Pacific Sales. It advertises heavily in local papers. Can’t someone find it?