March 22, 2007, 12:00 AM quadruples site traffic since November launch reports that visitors do an average four to six searches per visit, shop for more than six minutes and see an average of five merchant page views at the new shopping engine, which focuses on soft goods from more than 500,000 web sites.

Shopping engine, which launched in November, already is seeing the effects of its approach to online shopping for soft goods. Though he did not disclose numbers, founder and CEO Siva Kumar says traffic quadrupled between November and March, and that the average visitor to the shopping engine does four to six searches and remains on the site an average of six minutes or more. Searches on the site are resulting in an average five page views.

“The first generation of shopping engines was built around easily comparable items electronics and computers. What people wanted to do is compare features and prices. We saw the growing area for e-commerce was in soft goods," he says. searches product pages in over 500,000 retail web sites and indexes over 150 million products, about half of which are populated in its index via spidering and half from data feeds. Beyond a few paid positions on each results page, it ranks its results based on what is most relevant to the consumer’s search, using an algorithm based on real market demand and supply data gathered by its spiders and through product feeds.

When purchasing soft goods such as apparel and baby gear, consumers don’t shop by feature or price-they want to look at visual imagery, style and brand, according to Kumar. So at the bottom of each product image presented in search results on are four buttons, including Find at More Stores, Find Similar Items, Save in My Finds and E-mail a Friend. Rather than a grid-based comparison of product features, it’s a more gradual way of getting product information and narrowing the field, which Kumar calls “discovery shopping.”

“Online shopping continues to grow rapidly, but until today no one had created a comprehensive product search engine with an unbiased, consumer-oriented product ranking for results,” says Kumar. “A lot of merchants don’t see themselves fitting well into the comparison shopping experience. If you’re not a merchant selling cameras or computers or electronics, you are disappointed in the branding experience and search experience you get out of those sites. We are first to push discovery shopping for lifestyle products.”

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