TheFind launches price comparison service
TheFind • TheFind.com
Today, TheFind introduces a new price comparison service on top of its product search. Not really innovative as all the “classic” price comparison services (think Shopzilla, Shopping.com, PriceGrabber, Kelkoo…) do it for years? True, but TheFind had some real challenges to solve on introducing such service:
- Being the most comprehensiveness shopping search engine today and partly relying on web crawl can lead to display 100+ offers for a single product. In this situation, does comprehensiveness really help the consumer or lose him? How to help him make a choice among all those offers?
- The strength of TheFind is its comprehensiveness especially on soft goods (fashion, health&beauty…). How to offer a true price comparison service on soft goods? Nobody has really succeeded to this challenge…
Quick review of this new service called “Best price search” (launched in beta, so likely to evolve)…
When you do a search for a product on the find, you can now choose to see the “best price” view. For now, the feature is only available for electronics and appliances, which amounts to around 40 million products (or 10 percent of the total index) indexed by TheFind. The search engine will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. It will automatically try to detect your location and list the best prices from local retailers. The engine will also list the items that have the lowest verified price.
- I like the “Find the best price” wording as opposed to the classic “compare prices”. Still it’s not all about the price, as we will see later…
- A new option called “Flag for review” is now available in the extended view – it is labeled with “Incorrect price ? Out of stock? Flag it”. At first glance, it doesn’t seem related to the “Best price search” feature… but it is as we will see.
- Today, when browsing TheFind, I quickly noticed the “Flag for review” feature… Quite visible in the extended view… Then I said to myself “maybe there are other new features”… And then I spotted the “find the best price” links under each offer… I feel this “find the best price” link should be in the extended view in a quite visible way, while the “Flag for review” should be less proeminent…
Clustering vs matching
Doing a search on “canon eos 40d digital camera 28-135” and finding similar offers… Most of the offers displayed are relevant for the query, but not all of them sports the new “Find the best price” link, suggesting some improvements are still needed to extend coverage.
Clicking on each ‘”Find the best price” link… Each leads to a different product page, with different offer / store numbers…
Yes, as opposed to other price comparison websites that most of the time rely on matching against a product database to build product pages, TheFind uses clustering technology. The main benefit is that such technology works on hard goods but also on soft goods… I.E: a search on “digital camera bag”. Should be quite computing-intensive on a data set of 400M offers!!!
I have noticed each “product cluster” triggers offers with similar images… I may be completely mistaken, but TheFind may use image similarity along with text analysis to create those clusters… When they tested visual search a few months ago, such image similarity was used to create the same kind of “product cluster”…
Let’s have a look at the product page itself:
- Offers displayed in list view; with image / title / price / shipping costs / store infos columns. Classic.
- The latest column is really interesting and innovative: it gives an idea of the freshness of the offer and its reliability. With such mentions as “lowest verified”, “$99 more then lowest verified price”, and the new option “Flag for review” option, it gives the feeling to the user he’s in control to do a smart decision… Clever.
- Guided navigation on the right-hand side, as on the product search results.
- The product page inherits the “offline store / online store” filter available on search results; a first and convenient way to reduce number of results…
- Two very interesting filters: “Payment options” / “security certifications”. Indeed, price matters; but the reliability of the store is important as well.
- The “color” filter is a good reminder of the challenge to build useful product aggregation. Should the “apple ipod green” be in the same cluster as the “apple ipod blue”? Or should it be two different clusters? For me, YouTellMe, a dutch CSE, has found the best compromise so far, based on a very detailed product database; I’m intrigued to see what is possible to do with clustering…
At first glance, the introduction of price comparison on TheFind is a follower move; that’s basically what the TechCrunch article published today and all its comments say. But looking more closely, we can feel the approach is quite innovative. Clustering technology, while requiring further tuning, fixes the problem with soft goods. Well thought filters on merchant reliability and indication of reliability for each offer is a way to tackle the issue of crawling rates and comprehensiveness. Really nice.