If Bing can brand itself “decision engine” as a strategy to differentiate from the leading “search engine” so can shopping comparison site TheFind. The latter is now calling itself a “buying engine” as a way to emerge from the anonymous sea of shopping search sites out there.
This morning a redesigned TheFind went live with a range of new features, including enhanced product search, coupon aggregation for 50 million products, review search, local inventory and beefed up information about online stores. Beyond a somewhat new look and feel, review search and coupon aggregation are the truly new content areas for the site, which claims to have indexed more than 350 million products from over 500,000 stores through crawling.
TheFind’s CEO Siva Kumar told me that the new site and content is aimed at fulfilling consumer needs at every stage of the buying cycle from research to where to purchase locally. (Local data are from Krillion and NearbyNow.) Among other capabilities, the new capacity to search and filter by coupons, sales or free shipping should prove to be very popular with consumers. (Ask not long ago launched coupon and deal search to capitalize on the hot coupons trend.)
Kumar emphasized the company’s consumer orientation and focus. He added that because of this consumer focus the site is right now under-monetizing vs. its potential, in marked contrast to the bulk of “shopping engines” that have become largely advertising vehicles for e-commerce merchants or search arbitrage sites.
Beyond major branded retailers such as Target, BestBuy and so on, there are only a couple of true shopping “destinations” online, Amazon being one of them. A relatively new generation of shopping sites, such as TheFind or Wize, are trying to move beyond the me-too shopping experience of most comparison engines and appeal to consumers with content, comprehensiveness or features that make them top-of-mind destinations — rather than “one-off” visits through SEM or SEO links in Google. Meanwhile Bing has staked out shopping search as one of its four “strategic verticals.”
TheFind says that it now has 13.5 monthly unique visitors in the US and counting. Beyond the new site, TheFind has for some time had a nicely done iPhone app:
This mobile-PC shopping connection will grow more important over time as consumers with internet-capable handsets bounce back and forth between online and local stores, comparing prices, reviews and local inventory data online and in mobile.
Online comparison shopping is a relatively mature “vertical” but it’s ripe for (I won’t say “disruption”) change and evolution, especially as mobile becomes a more significant part of the experience for consumers.