Yahoo Tries "Social Commerce"

Yahoo Inc. is testing what it calls "social commerce" capabilities to its Yahoo Shopping product comparison Web site, the Sunnyvale, California company plans to announce on Tuesday.

The new test features are designed to let Yahoo Shopping users create, find and share product information, such as reviews and recommendation lists, said Rob Solomon, vice president of Yahoo Shopping Group.

One new feature, called Pick Lists, lets users create their own Web page within Yahoo Shopping (http://shopping.yahoo.com) where they can create lists populated with any of the about 90 million products found on the site, along with descriptions, reviews and notes.

As in a Web log, users can comment on others’ Pick Lists and subscribe to them via RSS (Really Simple Syndication). Later, Yahoo plans to establish a revenue-sharing program in which a Pick List publisher would get a cut every time a user clicks over to a merchant site from his or her Pick List, Solomon said.

Reviews have existed on Yahoo Shopping for years, but they are attached to the corresponding products, so that reviews of an iPod would appear when a user searches for that product. A Pick List, however, is focused on the likes and dislikes of individual users, which is a different approach and promotes a social commerce experience, Solomon said.

Meanwhile, the Shoposphere is a new area of Yahoo Shopping where Pick Lists are aggregated, creating a shopping social network users can visit to search for products that have been reviewed and listed by other shoppers.

Other new and improved features on Yahoo Shopping include:

-- A streamlined user interface;

-- The ability to create lists of favorite products that the user can share with a select group of acquaintances, as opposed to Pick Lists, which are available for all visitors to see;

-- The placement of coupons, rebates and other offers next to corresponding products, instead of being located in a separate section of the Web site;

-- Mobile access to Yahoo Shopping;

-- Open application programming interfaces (APIs) to let external developers integrate Yahoo Shopping features with their own applications.

Yahoo Shopping competes against eBay Inc.’s Shopping.com, Google Inc.’s Froogle, Shopzilla Inc. and PriceGrabber.com LLC.

By Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service

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