Late last night, Become.com launched an updated version of their shopping search engine that features comparison price shopping. The news comes just weeks after another update that added product news to the search results at the shopping search engine.

The new service adds access to over 5-million products and services from a variety of online merchants and has been tightly integrated into Become.com's existing index of over 3-billion product research pages. With a clean, uncluttered interface that offers the choice to "research" or "shop," Become.com delivers quick and easy access to a variety of product related information.

A late-comer to an already cluttered field of comparison shopping search engines, Become.com's founders are hoping that past experience will help them pave the way toward future innovations. Co-founders Michael Yang and Yeogirl Yun are well-known within the industry as the founders of Become.com competitor, mySimon.

"Existing search engines provide general results that are manipulated in favor of stores, and comparison shopping engines lack the comprehensive research information necessary to choose the best product for your needs," said Yang.

"Become.com is fully integrated and allows consumers to first research a product, find the one they want, comparison shop for that product, and if they desire, research it again against other comparable products - all on a single site. This helps people to shop more effectively and make better use of their time and money."

When I asked Yang what he and Yun hoped to accomplish with Become.com that they hadn't been able to accomplish with my Simon, he pointed to the integration of product research with a comparison shopping feature. Yang went on to point out that while mySimon was a powerful comparison shopping engine, it was primarily aimed at shoppers who already had a particular product in mind. Yang explained that the world of comparison shopping has been fairly stagnant for the past five years and hopes that the new integration of features at Become.com will be a step forward in the marketplace.

The comparison shopping side of the new launch is similar to that found on other engines. Entering a product name and then selecting "research" results in the typical Become.com search results along with a list of images, prices and product names that users can click on to find more information. Users that select the "shop" option at the start of a search results will see a full page of product listings along with several columns designed to help narrow a search. Users have the option to refine their search by product price, brand, or even the category. As with other shopping search engines, users can compare the product price (including taxes and shipping) from a range of stores before heading off to one to make their purchase.

As of the launch, Become.com's research consists solely of third-party content that has been found and indexed in the engine's search results. Become.com does not currently allow for user generated reviews. Yang cites the ability to integrate user reviews from other web sites, but admitted that the team behind Become.com hadn't yet ruled out creating their own user review system.

Another new addition to the site is a feature called "My Favorites" that allows users to save product information for later reference, or to flag multiple products for a side-by-side comparison. Products saved in my favorites can be from multiple categories, allowing users to build a true wish list for their next shopping spree. The feature works by storing products in a user's cookies, so there is no need to create a user account or log on to the site.

The new launch completes a whirlwind round of updates since the site launched last year and follows on the heels of announcements like Become.com's patent pending Affinity Index Ranking (AIR' technology), product-focused spell-check, dynamic search suggestions and product news search.

Web site owners interesting in having their own product feed included in the Become.com engine are invited to contact merchant services at merchant@become.com.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
July 19, 2005





Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.







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