AllBusiness, Shopping.com to Offer B2B Comparison Shopping

AllBusiness has added a “Shopping” section to its site where visitors can comparison shop, check prices, and analyze reviews of business products and services in 10 categories, including computers and accessories, office machines and supplies, cell phones and business services. Other site sections include forms and agreements, business guides, a business directory and business advice.

Product listings are published to the Shopping.com network by merchants who pay on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis for sales leads. Product search results are returned on relevance. Those with the higher bid are returned closer to the top of results when there are a number of exact matches. Minimum bids for the categories available to AllBusiness visitors range from $0.40 to $1.00, according to the Shopping.com site. Ratings and reviews are provided by Shopping.com’s ePinions Web site of consumer reviews.

The comparison shopping space is heating up on the retail side, with competition between Shopping.com, BizRate, NexTag and PriceGrabber. All major search engines have launched similar offerings. AOL debuted in-store.com this week. Yahoo launched a product-comparison search function as part of its search overhaul in April, 2003. Likewise, Google has its Froogle offering (still in beta), and Ask Jeeves launched its Smart Search for Products in November 2003.

Business-to-business search is getting attention, too, with recent offerings from ThomasB2B.com, Business.com, Find.com and Knowledgestorm.

“This is a great market to tap into. There is a great deal of opportunity out there and many B2B sites are not doing such a good job in helping customers buy from them,” said Jupiter Research analyst Patti Freeman Evans.

According to a July, 2004 study of retail marketing, less than 10 percent of consumers surveyed had researched an online purchase at a price comparison site like Shopping.com, MySimon, Froogle or PriceGrabber in the past year, compared with over half who had used Google for that purpose.

“It’s still a relatively small space, but for B2B, it could be interesting if purchasing people need to get multiple prices or bids easily,” Freeman Evans said.

Shopping.com declined to comment for this story, citing the SEC-regulated “quiet period” surrounding the company’s upcoming IPO.

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