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In a move aimed at accelerating its path to profitability, BizRate.com launched a new e-commerce marketplace and began offering premium placement in a dynamically priced "Seller's Auction" in which merchants may bid for position in product category search results.
The new shopping area is called the C3 Marketplace, which the company says delivers consumers "choice, convenience and confidence."
Meanwhile the rating system, formerly based on a star ranking, has changed to decimal points to provide more distinction among competing merchants, BizRate said.
BizRate attracts about 6.5 million unique visitors a month, according to Media Metrix figures.
"C3, named after its consumer benefits, addresses the many frustrations online shoppers face today by providing consumers with a real choice of sellers and products, confidence to shop through our unique rating system and convenient shopping tools," said CEO Chuck Davis.
"At the same time, the Seller's Auction helps e-tailers achieve a better return on investment by allowing them to attract serious shoppers, not just browsers."
Consumers visiting BizRate.com now have two ways to shop: the BizRate.com C3 Marketplace and the BizRate.com Ratings Guide.
The C3 Marketplace provides consumers with a search engine that connects shoppers with specific products and a choice of sellers. Other additions include a downloadable personalized toolbar that remembers passwords, shipping and billing information and credit card details, a savings center for exclusive BizRate.com shopping deals, "hot" product listings and a themed gift-giving ideas section.
The BizRate.com Ratings Guide offers shoppers the ability to evaluate more than 1,300 sellers based on price; on-time delivery; privacy policies; customer support; quality of product selection; ease of ordering; order tracking; Web site navigation; shipping and handling and product information.
The Seller's Auction, separate from the customer-based ratings, provides e-tailers with a direct marketing tool, allowing merchants to target traffic buys, control their customer acquisition costs, and get instant access to traffic results. The pay-for-performance model charges merchants based on the traffic results BizRate produces for sellers.
BizRate.com got its start as a rating system, compiled exclusively from point-of-sale and fulfillment surveys of participating merchants on 10 metrics related to cost and service. Ratings appear on Consumer Reports Online and in Consumer Reports magazine, as well as on the Microsoft Network, AltaVista, GO Network, Go2Net, Snap, Citibank, iChoose, Brodia and CNET. The C3 Marketplace is also featured at Fleet Bank Services' online site.