Time's Coolest Shopping Websites for 2005

50 Coolest Websites 2005: Shopping (

Shopzilla gets the nod for Comparison Shopping.

Time's Coolest Shopping Websites for 2005
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on August 7, 2005 at 12:04 PM
Archived at Shopzilla

Shopzilla's Robozilla

Back on June 22, Shopzilla announced their technology showcase, zLabs, and unveiled the first research project, Robozilla.

The announcement was mentioned here and here, but I have not seen any detailed reviews of Shopzilla vs. Robozilla. I recently spoke with Farhad Mohit, chief product officer of Shopzilla, to try and find out what this is all about.

The technology showcase zLabs, besides tapping into a larger audience of beta testers, has the added benefits of rewarding employees internally, and attracting new employees externally.

As for Robozilla, it is all about leveraging technology to scale beyond what can be done with human intervention. This has the potential to bring about more product offers with more structure than would otherwise be possible.

Currently, Shopzilla features 29,684,145 products. (The number is available near the top of their home page.) By comparison, Shopzilla throws the entire catalog at Robozilla, for a grand total of 50,981,674 products.

At the same time, Robozilla has the potential to bring structure to areas that have never had much structure. Take the example of the Luggage category, refined by the Samsonite brand at Shopzilla and Robozilla.

In this example, Shopzilla displays individual offers that go directly to the stores. It is still possible to compare prices, but it requires more work on the part of the shopper.

< The first picture is an example of a click-option at Shopzilla.

Robozilla, on the other hand, groups many offers, so instead of going directly to a store, you get an interim page with a side-by-side comparison of offers.

The second picture is an example of a click-option at Robozilla. >

A search for the related pages at, NexTag and PriceGrabber showed some grouping, but not as much as Robozilla. (And for an example of how thin these types of categories can be, see Yahoo Shopping.)

Also interesting is the first result for one dozen red roses at Robozilla. The search for one dozen red roses is already a pretty good one at Shopzilla. I think much of the improvement here comes to people who drill-down from Gifts, Flowers & Food > Flowers & Plants. In this sub-category at Shopzilla, the right-side content is less likely to be ripe for the clicking and probably requires more attribute-refinement from the left-side links. Yet in this same sub-category at Robozilla, the right-side content offers ready-made groups that could make additional attribute-refinement unncessary, in some cases.

"For the most easily structured data, everyone does this reasonably well," said Mohit. "What brings loyalty? The 'tail' searches." (reference: The Long Tail) In other words, if Shopzilla does a good job on searches like luggage, people will be more likely to use them to compare offers on common categories like digital cameras, too.

The automated structuring of offers could have additional benefits for shoppers. As Mohit explained, "once you free your people from normalizing, you have more time for better attribution, better sub-categories, clustering the stuff in Misc."

But for all its usefulness, Robozilla is still a demo site. Rebuilds are expected to occur twice weekly, to allow for algorithm tweaking. (The current version,, represents an algorithm upgrade that went live last Thursday.) The timing and the extent that Robozilla goes live on Shopzilla depends on how much progress can be made.

+ + +

related links: | view all categories at Robozilla

Shopzilla's Robozilla comments(2)
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on July 17, 2005 at 9:01 PM
Archived at Shopzilla

Is Shopzilla the Google of Comparison Shopping Engines?

Shopzilla Announces zLabs (press release)

"Manual operations don't scale well; great technology does. We still have a long way to go before every product in the world is stored, catalogued and structured perfectly on Shopzilla, and for that we need break-through technologies like Robozilla and beyond to best leverage our lean operations."

If you did not know the source and this did not include the company, you might think it came from Google:

(1) The relentless pursuit of automation.
(2) Organizing the world's information.

I am researching Robozilla, more on that in a week or two.

added: Shopzilla was also named one of the "Coolest Shopping Websites of 2005" by TIME.

Is Shopzilla the Google of Comparison Shopping Engines?
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on June 23, 2005 at 8:21 AM
Archived at Shopzilla

Farhad Mohit on Shopzilla vs.

A follow-up to David Jackson's post at the Interent Stock Blog:

Chairman and Chief Product Officer of Shopzilla on Shopzilla vs (SHOP)

He makes five main points on Shopzilla vs., starting with 1) Shopzilla has far superior technology. The rest of his response elaborates on this theme. A barn-burner of a good read, but it could use some balance.

for example,

"How else can you explain that with 22MM UVs they're planning on generating significantly less revenues than we will be with 14MM UVs?"

It could be superior technology, but that is not the only possible answer.

1) What vs. Where. In other words, when I am early in the buying process (What), I almost always use a site (Epinions) over Shopzilla, for a near-seamless transition of buying guides, attribute search and user reviews. When I am getting closer to making the purchase (Where), I might be more apt to check in on Shopzilla. Of course, clicks later in the buying process are far more valuable.

2) International Expansion.
How much are clicks on the European sites worth compared to their U.S. counterparts? looks like the only Bizrate/Shopzilla site that has gained any kind of traction outside the states. Compare that to and the sub-domains.

3) Distribution Partners. How do we ever know we are comparing apples vs. apples? For example, visitors from AOL InStore, surely they show up on the revenue side, but are they also included in the unique visitor count?

None of this is to take away from the strong results by Shopzilla, but comparing financial results is not always as straightforward as comparing product prices.

Farhad Mohit on Shopzilla vs.
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on June 8, 2005 at 10:16 AM
Archived at | Shopzilla

Shopzilla Speaks

Brian Smith of has a Q&A with Farhad Mohit, Founder and Chief Product Officer of Shopzilla.

Shopzilla Speaks
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on June 6, 2005 at 7:09 PM
Archived at Shopzilla

Alert: Shopzilla Acquired by E.W. Scripps

E.W. Scripps Company agrees to pay $525 million in cash for 100% of Shopzilla. press release

hat tip: The Tech Beat

Alert: Shopzilla Acquired by E.W. Scripps
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on June 6, 2005 at 5:16 PM
Archived at Shopzilla

Overstock Auctions Integrates with Shopzilla

see: Overstock Auctions Integrates with Shopzilla (Auction Bytes)

I have not seen this in action, but it sounds like a logical development.

Overstock Auctions Integrates with Shopzilla
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on April 28, 2005 at 6:22 PM
Archived at Shopzilla

Shopzilla in France

Wow, is this really as bad as it looks, or is the French version's traffic all on partner sites that do not count towards

Shopzilla in France
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on April 13, 2005 at 7:14 PM
Archived at Europe | France | Shopzilla

Farhad Mohit talks to Chris Pirillo at CES

I just stumbled across a brief interview with Farhad Mohit, Co-Founder of Shopzilla. It is mostly a "hi, who are you" affair... except for a little comment about a billion dollars in gross merchandise sales.

As a point of reference, for the first nine months of FY04, eBay reported $16.7b in Gross Merchandise Volume (source: Form 10-Q, Page 30). Yet there is only one eBay, and several leading shopping comparison engines. A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you are talking about real money flowing through the comparison shopping engines.

Farhad Mohit talks to Chris Pirillo at CES
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on February 12, 2005 at 11:58 PM
Archived at Shopzilla

Alexa Rank: vs. vs vs.

Not that Alexa is the most scientic source of traffic measurement, but it is interesting to see how the leading engines have converged.

Alexa Rank: vs. vs vs.
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on February 12, 2005 at 10:19 PM
Archived at NexTag | PriceGrabber | | Shopzilla

Alexa Rank: vs. went from a parked domain to the Alexa Top 2000 in no time flat, but it has a long "last mile" ahead to catch, according to

Alexa Rank: vs.
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on February 12, 2005 at 9:41 PM
Archived at Shopzilla

Shopping Search Week 2004 at Search Engine Watch (2 of 4)

Day #2 - summaries of BizRate/Shopzilla, Froogle and MSN Shopping.

Shopping Search Week 2004 at Search Engine Watch (2 of 4)
Posted by Sean O'Rourke on January 2, 2005 at 6:09 PM
Archived at Froogle | MSN Shopping | Online Shopping Engines | Shopzilla


Product Review Mini-Series: Features
Product Review Mini-Series: Numbers
Attribute-Based Shopping Search Shootout
More Context for Feature Finders
What if Popular Products had 1000+ Reviews?
Product Portals - How Big Are They?
Why I Don't Use Shopping Comparison Sites
How Many Shopping Engines Do We Need?
Thoughts on Aggregation (No Respect)
Feedback Engines (Why The Symphony Sucks)
Why the Lack of Attributes at
Study: Searchers Operating w/ Blunt Instruments


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