October 31, 2003, 12:00 AM

The New Competition

(Page 3 of 3)

BizRate provides information on paid retailers and those who do not pay commissions to BizRate. “We would never lead with a merchant that was poorly rated, even if it did pay us,” Davis says.

Another big player in the market is PriceGrabber.com, a site with 8 million users and 500 large retailers. In addition, PriceGrabber provides a storefront to about 1,000 companies that want to sell via the web, but do not have their own online presence. The firm is paid on the basis of referrals.

When displaying merchants, PriceGrabber lists featured merchants first-those who pay more, but they are listed as such. Additional listings are based on popularity and retailer and product ratings. Also, customers can re-sort the listings by price or certain other features. “Everyone talks about listing by price, but 70% of shoppers do not choose products based on the lowest price, even on the same brand and models. They look at seller ratings and return policies and a variety of factors before choosing,” says Pourzanjani.

Watching the other big guy

While observers today are looking to see how Yahoo and Shopping.com’s new offerings change this market, they are also keeping an eye on Amazon.

The new A9 unit is very hush-hush about its plans, merely acknowledging the firm’s intent to deliver e-commerce search technology. The most the company would say is that the unit began development work in October with 30 employees and is headed by Udi Manber, former vice president and chief of algorithms for Amazon.

And many note that while Yahoo’s and Amazon’s Internet prowess makes them the players to watch, the battle for share is far from over in a rapidly growing market. “This is still a big field and there are a lot of people looking for stuff to buy on the web,” says Isolani.

Lauri Giesen is a Libertyville, Ill.-based freelance business writer.

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