nicolas leroy

The integration of NearbyNow local inventories into TheFind is now live

July 08, 2008

Announced 2 months ago, the integration of NearbyNow local inventories into TheFind is now live. When doing a mouse-over on some products, you now get a “Check local inventories” button next to product details.

check local inventories on TheFind

This button leads you to a page co-branded with NearbyNow, where you can choose the local shop you are interested in, give more details regarding the size / color / quantity you want, indicate if you want to hold the product at the store if it is available, enter your email / phone number to get info if the product is available or not… Yes, you cannot know in real-time if the product is available or not in your local store; you have to wait 10 minutes to get the answer via e-mail or SMS. It’s clearly not an ideal implementation as it’s somehow breaking the user experience – difficult to answer to the question: “should I buy online or offline” when you have to wait for 10mn to get results for a single shop – but we can only hope NearbyNow (or similar companies) will offer real “real-time” local inventories in the near future.

TheFind - Check local store

However, what is more disturbing for me is the way those “Check local inventories” buttons are displayed on the site. I searched for a “Canon EF-S macro lens – 60 mm” for my camera, with my local preferences set as the local stores within 10 miles of Santa Clara, CA (where Yahoo! has some offices :) ). I got 198 results with online+local merchants, and only 5 local results when filtering on local items. Out of those 5 local results, only one got the “Check local inventories”. It appears the “Check local inventories” buttons are added only on products whose seller has an online presence and also brick-and-mortar stores whose inventory can be checked with NearbyNow. This is a pretty restrictive implementation, and doesn’t really allow to choose to buy online or offline.

I think what I’m missing on TheFind is SKU grouping (product matching as we call it at Kelkoo): I’m looking for a “Canon EF-S macro lens – 60 mm“; I want to get all the online shops that are selling this product, but also all the offline stores close to the place I live; so that I can decide whether to shop online or offline.

Anyway, it’s great seeing this integration live:


1 commentaire

Siva
on Jul 10, 2008 / 7pm
Hi Nicholas

Thank you for covering the as yet unannounced integration with NearbyNow. This implementation is in the process of being rolled out to more products and more locations so hopefully the sparseness of availability checking feature will be a bit more reduced.

NearbyNow has its focus on the stores located in shopping malls and such stores are mostly in the lifestyle categories like apparel, home, health & beauty and kids. Major electronics stores like Best Buy and Circuit City typically are in shopping centers and not in shopping malls. This fact could explain why very few stores had availability checking capability via NearbyNow for the Canon camera example in your post. However, NearbyNow’s shopping mall focused capability meshes well with our traffic/usage that’s mostly in these lifestyle categories.

Another point is that we also work with Krillion (www.Krillion.com) which provides real-time availability information on appliances and large electronics items like plasma TVs from a set of major appliance and electronics retailers. Using Krillion’s integration with our search, you can actually check availability and buy online for pick-up at the physical store.

I agree with you that more instantaneous information on local availability would be useful but a more pragmatic side of me says that not everyone would make a decision on where to buy a $500 camera within 10-minutes hence waiting for an SMS alert would be acceptable. We do provide phone numbers (local) for all of the other stores that carry the same item so one could call and check the availability (price is already on the product tile) at the other stores. So the local vs. online information is readily available to the consumer in one search on TheFind.

We are working on a better local shopping search solution as regards the user experience and will be rolling it out in a few months.

Cheers
Siva