On Tuesday, February 13 2007, SDForumâ€™s Search SIG was held at the Yahoo! in Sunnyvale.
SIG chair David Beach of Wink introduced moderator Brian Smith of ComparisonEngines and a panel of product search experts including Siva Kumar of TheFind.com, Neil Mayle of Dotted Pair, Chris Saito of Yahoo!, David Weinrot of Shopzilla. They discussed the state of product search, monetization, user experience, e-commerce and feed management. The panel ranged from big corporations to start-up and had wildly different approaches to guiding customers to and through their site to find the right product at the right price.
Brian Smith of ComparisonEngines pointed to a Jupiter report saying e-commerce seemed to be slowing. He said that more consumers are doing research online before they buy offline. The panel didnâ€™t see any measurable decline in their sales.
Siva Kumar of TheFind.com is co-founder and CEO of a brand new start-up focusing on soft goods like clothing, home furnishings, health and beauty, toys, outdoor. Shopping for soft goods is very different than buying computers and technology. Hard goods can be sold by comparing hard numbers. Soft goods require aesthetic comparisons like style or color that require subjective decisions by customers. Kumar is trying to approximate the shopping mall experience online.
Neil Mayle of Dotted Pair demonstrated the most striking way to search product categories. In one way, it was like watching the Matrix where the characters were picking out weapons. In another way, it was like looking for a street on GoogleMaps. Imagine seeing little thumbnail images of shoes laid out in a grid pattern. Mayle zoomed in on one brand or style of shoe after another, always able to see the adjacent possible choices.
Chris Saito of Yahoo! works with Yahoo!Shopping and their real estate department. Yahoo! tries to include product rankings and price comparisons in the initial search results. This gives the customer a choice on which lead to pursue. Yahoo! creates web services APIs for internal and external use for companies like Circuit City. Saito showed CrispyShopâ€™s extraordinary statistical displays price and product information of where an iPod cost compares with other MP3 devices.
David Weinrot of Shopzillamakes sure Shopzilla customers find the merchandise they are looking for. Products are divided into structure and non-structured products. Digital cameras are structured and compared by model specifications and price. Womenâ€™s shoes are non-structured and compared by design and style.
Robyn Navarro and Scott Wainner
Off the panel I talked to Robyn Navarro and Scott Wainner of Resellerratings.com about improving consumer protection. Searching for the right product is one thing. Getting it is another.
Copyright 2007 DJ Cline All rights reserved.