BizRate Hatches Shopzilla Sibling

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California spawned yet another online comparison-shopping service with today's launch of Shopzilla.com, the new sibling flagship brand to BizRate.com and another product of the company formerly known as BizRate.com Inc.


The site at www.shopzilla.com goes up against Shopping.com, Yahoo Shopping, MSN Shopping, NexTag.com, PriceGrabber.com and Google Inc.'s Froogle. Except for MSN Shopping, all the sites are California-based.


Shopzilla.com is positioned as a sister service to 8-year-old BizRate.com. But Shopzilla.com is the larger sibling.


"There are millions of customers who are loyal to BizRate, but there are tens of millions of consumers who haven't shopped online, and for that greater mass we have built Shopzilla to handle every query for any product from any store," said Chuck Davis, Los Angeles-based president/CEO of Shopzilla Inc.


Shopzilla Inc. is the parent company of the Shopzilla.com and BizRate.com brands. It replaces the old corporate name of BizRate.com Inc.


Shopzilla.com indexes 25 million products from 45,000-plus stores online. It updates items, prices and availability several times daily to let consumers compare products and link to stores more effectively. BizRate.com indexes 20 million products from 38,000 stores. Shopzilla.com essentially includes every product and store on BizRate.com and more.


Shopzilla.com will use ShopRank, a proprietary algorithm used on BizRate.com. This algorithm weighs contextual relevance, price, availability, store ratings and popularity to return results. Shopzilla.com is built to automatically correct spelling mistakes and understand weights and measures. It also will correct brand names for the right products.


One tool launched in time for the holidays is SmartChoice, which finds the lowest price from a BizRate.com certified merchant who has the product in stock. Another tool is FlexiBrowse, letting shoppers adjust attributes when they browse for products.


A third feature, the Shopzilla List, gives the ability to create a personalized list of products and merchant links. Finally, Top Picks lists the most popular and best-priced products.


The site displays reviews from BizRate.com, which generates 1 million customer reviews and ratings monthly. Reviews are refreshed every 90 days to reflect recency and changes in customer service.


Shopzilla.com also has larger images compared with BizRate.com, close-up and 360-degree views of products along with demos and videos of popular electronic items to aid the shopping search.


Davis said Shopzilla.com operates on a referral, cost-per-click basis to generate leads for merchants. It will earmark the top three to five slots for featured stores. SmartChoice listings and others sorted by price follow.


Despite virtually no marketing to push Shopzilla.com, word of mouth generated 477,000 unique visitors in October as the site was in soft launch.


Shopzilla.com's arrival does not mean BizRate.com's demise. The older brand drew 13.2 million unique visitors in October, according to comScore Media Metrix. Davis claims the BizRate.com service is the second largest in its category after Shopping.com. There are no immediate plans to phase out BizRate.com. Shopzilla Inc. will continue to power shopping searches for Lycos and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL and Roadrunner.


Shopzilla Inc. will continue to promote both Shopzilla.com and BizRate.com. The media plan includes banner ads in December to drive traffic and awareness to Shopzilla.com. Ads will run in January and February on bus shelters and bus tails, with wild postings on scaffoldings and guerrilla marketing. Radio and taxi top ads will support. Cities covered include New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. Freelancers will create, execute and place the ads.


"There's a huge opportunity for shopping online and shopping search, in particular, which is the fastest-growing category online right now," Davis said. "We believe we're in the second innings of a long ballgame, and Shopzilla fulfills the need to find any product for any consumer."


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