Shopping.com aims to simplify comparison shopping

EBay will roll out Wednesday new features for its Shopping.com comparison shopping site.

EBay has upgraded its Shopping.com site with new features designed to make it easier for buyers to browse the popular comparison shopping site.

"We're providing a new set of tools to help customers navigate through our catalogue and find what they're looking for faster," said Rob Goldman, vice president of Shopping.com's U.S. unit.

The new features, which will be announced Wednesday, include a section on the home page called "What's Hot," where Shopping.com staffers will highlight what they consider to be remarkable products.

Also new will be the ability to group products by brands, as well as icons labeled "What's this" which, when clicked on, display explanations of product attributes.

Shopping.com will also feature "Top 5" sections of popular products on the home page and on specific category pages. The home page "Top 5" will be devoted to holiday and seasonal items, picked by Shopping.com staffers. The "Top 5" lists in specific categories will be determined by choices made by Shopping.com buyers.

Shopping.com makes money from banner ads and from pay-per-click deals with merchants featured on its site. A notable feature is its extensive database of product reviews submitted by shoppers.

There is an area where Shopping.com has no news to share: integration efforts with other eBay sites, like the core marketplace and the PayPal online payment service.

Beyond the fact that eBay listings appear on Shopping.com, there isn't any other integration to note at this point, over a year after eBay completed the US$634 million Shopping.com acquisition, Goldman said.

With the holiday season approaching, it's not surprising to see operators of comparison shopping sites rolling out enhancements.

Google, which is seen increasingly as pushing into eBay territory, is reportedly planning a major push in product search in the fourth quarter, according to people who attended a presentation given by a Google executive at a conference of eBay sellers last week.

Google apparently will focus on improving product-search capabilities in its main Google.com search engine by feeding it listings from Google Base, while de-emphasizing its Froogle comparison shopping site. Google also recently launched an online payments system called Google Checkout that rivals PayPal.

Shopping.com ranked first among comparison-shopping sites in August with about 20.3 million unique visitors, followed closely in second place by Shopzilla's Shopzilla.com with about 19.7 million, according to comScore Networks Inc.

Yahoo's Yahoo Shopping ranked third with 16.7 million unique visitors, while ShopLocal's ShopLocal.com came in fourth with 9.4 million. Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Shopping rounded out the top five with 9.2 million unique visitors. Google's Froogle nabbed eighth place with almost 5 million unique visitors.

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