Online shopping may not be broken, but it’s hard to argue it has fulfilled the full promise of the Internet. Nearly two decades in, the experience remains largely disjointed and inefficient. The best laptop for John is not necessarily the best for Jane. Unfortunately, the existing product search and recommendation engines cannot differentiate among the needs of individual customers.
Get.com launched a redesign of its ecommerce platform today to combine the best of the many disparate Web experiences into a “crowdsourced, free Consumer Reports.”
The result is that users can search for products that best meet their specific needs. Not just “What’s the best laptop?” but “What’s the best laptop, if I care most about price and storage capacity?” or “What is the best blender if I want to chop the hell out of some ice?”
Get suggests the specs that matter in a given category and allows users to rank products based on any combination thereof. Importantly, all the data comes from customer recommendations within its network, rather than from manufacturers or reviewing (oft-biased) journalists.
The site launched initially as a Q&A-based product discovery service in September of last year with $1 million in angel financing. It is now using the more 100,000 recommendations compiled via its community platform to algorithmically compare relevant product specs, popularity, and value.
As the company’s co-founder Steven Fruchter says, “Recommendations are far different than reveiws. Recommendations entail someone answering the question ‘What is the best X product for this specific need?’ Reviews simply answer ‘Do you like this product?’”
Many competing sites do price comparison as a standalone, in many cases aggregating data from Shopzilla and Google products. But none of these sites offer algorithmic ranking and as a result are much slower and less precise in the results offered by Get.
Get’s service is currently limited to consumer and household electronics like computers, cameras, and blenders. The company is working to broaden its product scope, but its founder points out that these are the most popular “comparison-shopped” items online.
Fruchter hopes to see Get become the single place everyone goes to when they want to buy something, but don’t know which product is best for them. This is a lofty goal, but one that seems likely to be achieved by someone. Unfortunately, for sheer scale, financial resources and engineering might, incumbent giant Amazon seems to have the best chance.