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Whatsbuzzing: The start-up that lets you window-shop

Whatsbuzzing is a Silicon Valley start-up with a new take on online shopping.

It wants to let you window-shop online. It has just launched.

Anand Jagannathan, the founder, dropped by to show us the product of the San Jose company. Most leading online shopping sites are useful if you know exactly what you are looking for, he said. But what if you want to buy a gift for Father's Day, and you think you want to browse for men's clothes for fall fashion, but you don't really have your mind made up? That's what Whatsbuzzing wants to help you with. "No one else does browsing," Anand declared, as began his demo of the product for us. Below is a screenshot of the home page (click to enlarge), where you start your searching.

To start with, in his testing (Beta) phase of the site, he's drawing on information -- including sales, and other offers -- released from some 200 merchants. He is doing this via RSS. He pulls all this together, and introduces the latest Web 2.0 features to make the browsing experience as easy as possible. In the diagram below (click to enlarge), you'll see on the bottom left hand corner a place to keep track of the "tags" you are assigning certain sites as you browse. For example, if you find a good shoes site, you can tag it "shoes." You can choose to share your findings with others, and likewise, you can access the tagging others have done.


Above that box, there is a pane called your "browse list," which is designed to help you narrow your search to those categories or merchants that you are interested in. The "Merchants" tab displays the list of all merchants who are registered with the service, by category. The "Favorites" tab displays the list of merchants that you have identified as your favorites, and that way you can keep track of the various sales and other offers that your favorite store is making (this is done via RSS).

He is still playing with the best way to present information. For now, when we search for Father's Day gifts, it defaults to its first merchant, The Sharper Image. You see other tabs for other merchants atop, which let you browse other merchants, but we'd rather have a long scrollable list (which, we note, Anand had originally had, before this latest change) with some sort of relevance ranking. That way, we don't have to take the time to click away from the default merchant, which may be of no interest to us.

He makes money if someone clicks through from his site to buy a product from a merchant (there is typically a 5-8 percent kickback referral commission). It will be tough for this company to get visibility, given its arrival at a time when there are so many other competitors. The trick at this point will be to make it super useful and to become the place where people really want to browse. It has some way to go in the selection that it offers, but at least it has planted a seed in our head as a place to consider when we are at a loss about what to buy.

Right now, the site makes you register if you want to use any advanced feature, such as adding tags, or picking your favorite merchants. It makes you select a username and password, and asks for a first name and an email address. Once you tag things with your own handle, your wife or kids can go to the site and look for the things you've identified as interesting -- and then buy them.

Anand is a veteran, having founded three companies, Banyan Systems, Reach and Responsys. Kriyari is the name of the company running the Whatsbuzzing product. He said his previous companies have all raised venture capital, but that this time he is going it alone.

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Yawn. Site is slooow and confusing. Hard to use.

Testing BOB on June 2, 2006 9:47 AM
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You lost me at, "Above that box, there is a pane called your "browse list..."

I would've driven down to an actual store by then.

patrick on June 2, 2006 2:12 PM
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The site is way to complicated, has too many widgets and buttons. The average person would be so lost. I think the site is going for the cool factor instead of usability factor.

In it's current form, it's way to busy. AND I won't be buying anything from site with frames inside a site. Could be a fishing/redirecting scam.

JJ on June 3, 2006 8:05 AM
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anybody know what [url=http://www.arcon5.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=370]RFID[/url] is?

used in supermarkets

tom on June 3, 2006 10:27 AM
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It is definitely not buzzing!

I don't get it! Sorry :-(

anon on June 3, 2006 5:19 PM
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Thank you all for the comments. Our design focus was on building a 'Window Shopping' application rather than a comparison shopping search site. So there are a lot of features (i.e widgets, buttons etc.) that help a consumer browse and search across many online stores. In a sense our goal was to aggregate the latest display window from lots of stores into one site.

We recognize the two issues - performance in terms of the load time to download the application, which is must faster the second time around if the application is cached by the browser and the usability for a consumer doing a simple search. We will be addressing both issues in the near future.

Our hope is that the unique content that we have at the site, which is timely updates from all the stores with the latest promotions and seasonal trends will be valuable to consumers.

Anand J on June 4, 2006 10:40 AM
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Come on, give them a break. The information they are collecting, which are weekly marketing promotions (not coupons, not spam) from a lot of merchants is unique and I have not found this in any other site. This is what I need for shopping, instead of visiting each website or getting email in my mailbox.
I assume they are going to keep adding to their content and list of stores. There is a link on the main website where you can suggest a store also.

Peter on June 4, 2006 10:58 AM
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Come on, give them a break. The information they are collecting, which are weekly marketing promotions (not coupons, not spam) from a lot of merchants is unique and I have not found this in any other site. This is what I need for shopping, instead of visiting each website or getting email in my mailbox.
I assume they are going to keep adding to their content and list of stores. There is a link on the main website where you can suggest a store also.

Peter on June 4, 2006 11:00 AM
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Anand, how do you aggregate the shopping info (pomotions, etc.)? Fed by merchants? If so, how many merchants will participate?

I'd like to know if there are a lot of merchants to provide info in your site. And for a consumer, that's what "one-stop" shopping means.

Kevin on June 4, 2006 5:26 PM
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Kevin, we currently aggregate the shopping information from a couple of hundred merchants and we are early with the program. You are right, to be a 'one stop' shop, our plan is to continuously build up the list of merchants. The process of collecting and updating the shopping info is automated as is the process for adding new merchants. However, we do manually review each merchant for content quality at the time of adding a merchant to the list.

Anand J on June 4, 2006 7:11 PM
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This site could be super useful for me since I could funnel all my marketing e-mail here rather than in my Outlook inbox. I really don't want to see that great offer from Saks in my Outlook at 8:00 am on Monday morning! Plus, I can see what a lot of reputable merchants send out each week without having to actually sign up. Thumbs up!

Jimmy G on June 4, 2006 9:38 PM
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Jimmy.. I don't see how this site will stop the SPAM in your outlook. From the look of things, It'll just generate even more.

JamesM on June 5, 2006 6:54 AM
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James, maybe I can jump in to clarify this. You can use the service as your marketing mailbox by getting an email address "yourname@whatsbuzzing.com" and use it to sign up at various merchants. The personalized email sent to you from these merchants will be automatically indexed and organized in your Favorites view. You can then search, browse by category/merchant and tag this email. Any SPAM sent to this address does not get indexed or organized.

You do not have to be signed up at a merchant to see the latest information from any merchant.

The service is independent of Outlook and does not cause any email to be sent there unless you request a specific copy. Perhaps Jimmy was referring to the fact that you can now stop receiving all your marketing email in Outlook and use the Whatsbuzzing service instead. You now have a SPAM free address that you can use safely.

Anand J on June 5, 2006 9:54 AM
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This site is very useful if you want to see the latest marketing stuff that a lot of online retailers are sending to their customers. Maybe this doesn?t come across but also think of receiving all your marketing email at this site and then having it automatically organized and searchable. Unlike regular email, I don?t have to sign up with sites that I don?t visit regularly but can still check out what they have.

Joseph on June 5, 2006 5:32 PM
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