Kurt Peters , Senior Executive Editor
Breakthrough Performance in Holiday Season Is Driving Force Behind Company`s Emergence as a Leading Comparison Shopping Service
Brisbane, Calif., - February 4, 2003 - Epinions Inc., a leading comparison shopping service, announced today that it completed a stellar 2002 and achieved profitability for the year in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). In the fourth quarter alone, Epinions doubled site traffic to more than 20 million unique visitors and tripled the number of leads sent to its merchants to more than 12 million, as compared to the same period in 2001. For 2002 overall, the company reported a year-over-year doubling in the number of unique site visitors to more than 50 million and a year-over-year tripling in the number of qualified shopping leads delivered to merchants to more than 31 million.
"This performance validates our business strategy," said Nirav Tolia, CEO of Epinions. "Over the last 18 months, we have built on our strength in consumer-written reviews to develop a robust comparison shopping service that now includes millions of products, reviews and prices from across the Web. Our financial results are a great testament to the value we are providing to shoppers and merchants alike."
Epinions` unique combination of product and price information - including more than one million consumer-written reviews - provides shoppers with all the information they need to determine what products to buy, where to buy them, and how much to pay.
"Comparison shopping is emerging as both a valuable tool for shoppers and a profitable business opportunity," said Safa Rashtchy, Senior Internet Analyst at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray. "We`re seeing that comparison shopping services are delivering highly qualified leads to merchants. Within a comparison shopping site, consumer-written reviews are very helpful in pre-qualifying shoppers and Epinions has a lead in this space as the pioneer of the consumer review category."
Epinions currently delivers qualified leads to its growing network of more than 450 leading online merchants. These merchants identified Epinions as one of the best online sources for obtaining the kind of informed shoppers who are ready to buy.
"During the important holiday season," said Zoltan Rosenberg, Vice President of Marketing, B&H; Photo-Video-Pro Audio, "Epinions sent more qualified leads than any of our other comparison shopping partners and helped to fuel a great fourth quarter for us. We are thrilled with both the quantity and quality of leads from Epinions."
"With its helpful and detailed reviews," said Cindy Choi, Marketing Manager, Cooking.com, "Epinions attracts a particularly targeted and savvy shopping audience. We have been particularly impressed with the sales we`ve garnered from Epinions shoppers. Epinions leads all comparison shopping players with a conversion-to-sale ratio that is 50 percent higher than the others."
In 2003, Epinions expects to continue its pattern of profitable growth, driven by the increasing number of online shoppers, the addition of hundreds of new merchants and continued enhancements to the Epinions service. Early results from January 2003 support the company`s projections, showing few signs of the traditional sharp post-holiday drop in online shopping.
Epinions (http://www.epinions.com), the world`s most comprehensive comparison shopping service, currently serves more than 12 million visitors each month. Through its unique combination of reviews, ratings and price information, Epinions offers shoppers all the information they need to decide what products to buy, where to buy them and how much to pay. For merchants and partners, Epinions delivers informed shoppers who are ready to buy, making Epinions one of the best online sources for highly qualified leads. Founded in May 1999, Epinions has received financing from Benchmark Capital, August Capital, Goldman Sachs, BV Capital, Dell Computer Corp., and Bowman Capital. The privately held company is headquartered in Brisbane, Calif.