Joining the ranks of a small but growing list of companies trying to connect online product research and offline buying, Krillion launched this morning. Other companies offering local product information to varying degrees in this segment are ShopLocal, StepUp, NearbyNow, Yokel, CNET, Froogle, Become.com and data provider Channel Intelligence.
Simply put, Krillion helps consumers find where they can buy products in their markets after conducting online research. It’s based on “from the ground up” search/crawling technology and has been in development for a year.
The site is starting with what Krillion CEO Joel Toledano characterized as the $14 billion home appliances category. But it will be branching out to other product categories very soon. The company is focused “considered purchase” items (more costly, more likely to be bought locally) and is directing people to big box retailers, which avoids the challenges of dealing with small businesses (a segment being tackled by SteUp).
Interestingly, Krillion does not consider itself primarily a consumer destination. It strives to offer a highly usable consumer experience but Toledano sees it largely as an advertising solution. He told me it solves “the last mile” problem for regional/national advertisers and manufacturers by directing consumers to where they can buy products in over 40,000 local markets.
Accordingly, the business model is retailer and manufacturer advertising. Toledano and his team aim to push out the content in SEO and through partner relationships to gain maximum distribution rather than relying heavily on building a consumer brand or destination.
While the site doesn’t guarantee the product information displayed is real-time inventory it offers “click to call” from eStara so that consumers can call local stores and ask whether items are in fact in stock. (Hopefully customer service at the stores will take this seriously and make an effort.)
As is often the case on the first day of launch, the site is currently down. But the various screen shots I’ve seen reflect an impressive amount of data and a user-friendly interface.
According to various estimates, non-travel e-commerce hit the $100+ billion mark this past year. That’s impressive but put in context of all U.S. retail it represents only a little over 3%. That means roughly 96% – 97% of transactions are offline. The “hidden” element in all this is that those offline transactions are increasingly influenced by the Internet.
Connecting the dots between the online and offline worlds is a tremendous challenge for marketers and for consumer-facing sites. The comparison engines, making anywhere from $60 to $150+ million in annual PPC revenues, are leaving huge amounts of money on the table and are in fact losing traction and share to branded retailer sites like Wal-Mart and Target, which ultimately drive buyers to local stores.
Consumer purchase behavior is becoming more complex. But, fundamentally, people want to find out where they can buy things locally. Without a doubt this is the next wave of development for online shopping.