A Toolbar For Comparison Shoppers

Vendio, maker of sales management and merchandising software for online merchants, announced an open beta of a new toolbar designed for consumers.

The Dealio Toolbar is a free download that automatically provides comparison-shopping information as users browse the Web.

When a user clicks on an item at an online shopping site, the toolbar will become active if it has located the item in the product databases of participating merchants. If it has, it will display the lowest available price. Users who have told Dealio their zip codes can see the exact shipping price, as well.

Clicking on the alert in the navigation bar opens a sidebar within the browser window with a list other sites where they can purchase the product, along with the price charged by each.

While there are plenty of product search and price comparison sites already, Vendio thinks its toolbar positioning can give it an edge.

“The primary consumer advantage is that it saves you time,” said Rodrigo Sales, CEO and founder of Vendio, formerly known as AuctionWatch. Consumers may not want to bother to comparison shop merely to save five or ten dollars, he said, but they’d be happy if they could save the money simply by clicking on the Dealio alert.

The toolbar avoids trademark issues and adware complaints. The application doesn’t record users’ behavior, Sales said, nor does it generate pop-ups or other advertising on their PCs. U-Haul sued WhenU, an adware application provider, for trademark and copyright infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution and contributory infringement, because WhenU displayed ads over its Web site. Claria, formerly Gator, settled with a group of publishers that had sued for similar reasons.

But Delio displays competitive information in the browser toolbar, an area that still is considered to be within the control of the computer user.

“If users want to see results, they click on the toolbar, and results are presented in a side bar. We have no concern over any potential litigation,” Sales said.

Dealio launched with participation from “scores” of retailers, including Sony, Wal-Mart , Target, Amazon.com , Circuit City, Dell , Best Buy, Overstock.com and CompUSA.

Merchant inclusion is free, and Sales said Vendio hopes to keep adding merchants to the service. Product search results are listed by lowest total price first, including tax and shipping. But Vendio will post a couple sponsored links at the top in order to generate revenue, selling them on a cost-per-thousand basis.

“It’s a nice balance between enabling us to provide the best content for consumers and sponsorships,” Sales said.

Vendio’s main line of business was offering online sales management tools for sellers on eBay and other such services. While this is a completely different line of business, Sales admitted, he said there were synergies.

“We’re looking to provide incentives to the Vendio merchant base,” he said, “as well as leverage our merchants to help us distribute the applications.”

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