MSN Shopping Updates Storefront

Hold on to your credit cards, there’s a newly revised shopping portal in

town.

After a two-week beta testing period, Microsoft has launched its revised MSN Shopping portal. The comparison shopping engine is now packed with more “stuff” and boasts a six-fold increase in items and a hundred times more merchants.

The new site has been rebuilt from the “ground up” according to

Microsoft. The new features include an RSS feed

function, which allows users to subscribe to an RSS feed from

any search results page. Users can now receive an update whenever a new item

or price is changed, via their subscribed RSS feeds.

MSN’s embrace of RSS comes as a recent Pew study found that 65 percent of Americans don’t know what RSS is. Forrester

Research has recently reported that only 2 percent of North American adults

currently use RSS.

Beyond RSS integration, MSN Shopping has also beefed up its search

capabilities, allowing users to search by price, features, name and user

rating. Ratings and reviews are another new feature, which now allows MSN

users to add their two cents about products.

A new “recently viewed” feature shows users

their last five viewed items. Scott Austin, MSN Shopping’s director of programming, said in the MSN shopping insider blog that this feature will help users have a more continuous shopping experience across sessions with recently viewed products, categories, searches and saved pages.

MSN’s shopping site enters an increasingly crowded space, which includes comparison shopping engines from Yahoo, Google,

AOL, Shopzilla and Shopping.com.

Though the space is filling up, the stakes in the online comparison shopping

market are high. According to a March study from Shopzilla, 59 percent of

consumers begin their shopping search at a shopping site aggregator as

opposed to going directly to a merchant’s site.

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