Yahoo! Embraces Word-of-Mouth in Shopping Redesign

Yahoo Shopping is expected today to unveil a redesign that incorporates word-of-mouth concepts and lets marketers participate in the conversation.

The key new feature is called a Pick List, which lets users make lists of their favorite products. Yahoo has put together a page it calls the Shoposphere, which aggregates Pick Lists and lets users access the lists of friends, acquaintances and strangers — including online marketers.

The new community features are consistent with other initiatives that Yahoo has undertaken recently, including allowing users to share travel advice in Yahoo Travel and reviews of local merchants in Yahoo Local.

Pick Lists are somewhat similar to Amazon.com’s Listmania Lists. They let users compile groups of products available on the service that adhere to a certain theme — books for new parents or Yankees memorabilia, for example. The shopper can then review those products or simply add thoughts or a description.

Yahoo Shopping takes the list concept a step further than Amazon, however, allowing people to comment on each other’s Pick Lists and subscribe to each other’s lists via RSS. The RSS feature also allows users to easily syndicate their lists — or others’ lists — to their blog or other Web site. The feature is integrated with Yahoo’s 360 community service.

Yahoo says it will encourage product experts and merchants to participate in the Pick Lists program. It will also enlist celebrities to choose products. The redesign, which comes as the holiday shopping season begins in earnest, is aimed at increasing the site’s utility and revenues.

“Our goal is to make online shopping socially interactive by allowing shoppers to create, build upon and share their areas of interest and expertise,” said Rob Solomon, vice president of Yahoo Shopping Group, in a statement. “We’re excited to deliver a more personalized and entertaining online shopping experience by pioneering innovative products that usher in an era of social commerce.”

Additionally, the shopping search site has redesigned its results pages in a way that reduces the number of Yahoo Search Marketing links. The company says beta testers have responded positively to the changes. The company has also added functionality that displays deals — rebates or other offers — beside products in search results.

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