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RealTime IT News

Yahoo! to Tech Shoppers: Research This!

When it comes to purchasing electronics online, product information is often as important as price. And now Yahoo! has acknowledged that truism, launching a new comparison shopping site called the Yahoo! Shopping Tech Center.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo! said the shopping destination offers a product catalog with "nearly half a million consumer electronic products for sale" as well as "objective editorial content."

Content providers for the operation include PC World magazine, GamePro.com and in an expanded agreement with Yahoo!, Consumer Reports. Rival retailer Amazon.com offers customer ratings on its electronic products.

The Tech Center offers a comparison shopping engine and the individual product pages provide product descriptions, star-based product ratings from PC World (when available), rating by consumers, a list of retailers and/or manufacturers selling the product, price, estimated tax and shipping costs, and direct links to additional information including both free and must-pay-for reviews from Consumer Reports.

For IT folks, the center also has a Business Solutions category that will provide small to medium sized businesses with a one-stop resource for technology research and purchasing. The category will help IT managers and buyers find deals from manufacturers as well as information on computers and networking systems, software, business supplies and mobile phone plans.

Brand name products in the Tech Center come from Sony, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, Toshiba and Palm, and merchants include retailers such as Circuit City, Office Max.com and Wal-Mart.com.

The Tech Center launch is clearly a step, and probably one that had to be taken, according to one e-commerce analyst.

"If Yahoo hopes to be a viable shopping destination, it has no choice but to develop or acquire content that helps consumers make product decisions -- investments that the company has been reluctant to make historically," said Ken Cassar, a senior analyst at Jupiter Research.

Meanwhile, taking a page from Amazon's on personalized recommendations, Yahoo! Shopping recently launched a recommendation engine that evaluates a consumer's search and purchasing history and sifts through Yahoo! Shopping's product catalog to present relevant or similar items. The recommended products are saved and registered consumers can reference their recent searches and suggested items at any time.