RealTime IT News

SuperPages Gears Up for Holiday Shoppers

Verizon SuperPages.com wants to tap into the holiday shopping rush by making it easier to buy things either locally or online.

On Tuesday, Verizon SuperPages.com introduced User Reviews, a feature that brings a community element to business listings. Consumers can rate any business among the 18 million-plus business profiles, alerting others to the hairdresser with the heavenly touch or that plumber from hell. Those in search of local businesses can click to read any available reviews among search results.

"There's a new look and feel to our shopping content, with some new functionality," said Robyn Rose, Verizon SuperPages.com director of e-commerce marketing. She said that both advertisers and companies in the general business listings will be open to review. In a future site update, Rose said, users will be able to specify the merchant rating in search queries.

To generate ratings, the company will promote the new service with a sweepstakes, while all listings will have a "rate this" button. The company designed a process to reduce comment spam and the irrelevant comments that can plague such services. First, software will scan ratings and flag questionable ones, which a human will then review. In order to prevent someone from submitting multiple negative comments, each user will only be able to do one per business. "They can complain once," Rose said, "but not multiple times."

User Reviews follows another new feature added last week: a three-in-one shopping search option offering side-by-side comparisons of both new products and used items. A product search will now return results with three columns: one for photos, user ratings, prices and price comparison and product research data; one for retailers and auctions; and articles and reviews.

The comparison services mixes stock databases from online retailers and traditional stores with eBay listings. "We 're going beyond traditional comparison shopping by allowing you to look at new or auction items, as well as do you research all on one page," Rose said.

The idea is to create what she called a "shopping continuum": researching and deciding on a product to buy, finding vendors and then, if desired, actually buying the product from the SuperPages.com site. (SuperPages.com gets a revenue share of sales it facilitates.) Rose said, "We're allowing people to go all along that process on our site."

Jupiter Research expects U.S. holiday online retail sales to reach $26 billion this year, a year-over-year increase of 18 percent. Jupiter expects growth to be fueled by an 11 percent increase in the number of people who shop online, as well as a small increase in the amount each of them spends. (Jupiter Research and internetnews.com are owned by the same corporation.)