RealTime IT News

Shopping.com, Switchboard Join Forces

Shopping.com has plugged into Internet yellow pages publisher Switchboard Inc.'s local search system to promote its comparison-shopping service.

Coming off a banner 2003 holiday season in which its unique visitors doubled to 58 million, Shopping.com has integrated links to its site into Switchboard's yellow pages listings. Within appropriate categories, a yellow box appears below Switchboard's own advertising clients' listings, linking users to a co-branded site where users can see Web-based retailers' offerings in the category.

The arrangement adds a new dimension for both companies. Switchboard, known for its local listings, historically has had few national or online business listings, and Shopping.com does not offer locally targeted listings.

"Typically, when you do a Switchboard search, you specify what you're looking for, shoes, for example, and your city and state," explained Dean Polnerow, president and CEO of Switchboard. "When you look for shoes in Berkeley, California, one of the selections is "department stores," and you'll find Bancroft Clothing Company, Best Buys Center and other stores in the Berkeley area. Now, you'll also find Shopping.com advertisers who want to sell you purses over the Web."

Shopping.com will pay Switchboard, which, with its affiliates, serves about 9 million consumers a month, on a per-click basis through the Internet yellow pages site's LocalClicks system. The cost per click depends on the category of goods offered.

People who click to the co-branded site can find Shopping.com product specifications, pricing and availability information for their areas. Customers can also access ratings and reviews from Epinions, a companion site to Shopping.com that offers consumer reviews.

The Shopping.com brand was created in September 2003 when shopping search engine DealTime, established in 1999, merged with customer review site Epinions and took a new name. The conglomerate has more than one million consumer reviews with price information on five million products from more than three thousand stores.

The newly re-named company had an impressive 2003 holiday season, with 69 million shopping sessions. Leads referred to merchants went up 123 percent to 29 million, and sales for them rose 132 percent to $181 million. Nielsen//Net Ratings rated the company fourth among U.S. multi-category e-commerce sites in November 2003, behind eBay, Amazon and Yahoo! Shopping.

Despite this good news, Shopping.com is up against a good deal of competition, which may have influenced the decision to team up with Switchboard. Other online price comparison sites include NexTag, BizRate, Pricegrabber, and most recently, a company called Priceflo, which launched in November 2003. Additionally, Yahoo! recently integrated its shopping area with product search. Google also offers a version of the service, though its Froogle.com site.