June 27, 2001
A New Level of Comparison Shopping
New software pushes Half.com ahead of the game for shoppers who like to compare prices
Because of the poor quality of most price comparison Web sites, many online shoppers crave a better way to find lower prices on items they want. Half.com, the largest online fixed-price person-to-person marketplace, must have heard the cries of frustrated shoppers. On June 12 it introduced Price Patrol, a free shopping companion for faithful Half.com shoppers or anyone who would buy from Half.com if it had the lowest price.
Price Patrol is a free download, but it's only compatible with Windows operating systems and Internet Explorer, AOL and MSN Explorer browsers. Shoppers can download Price Patrol from Half.com and run it while they shop at other online stores. When shoppers visit Web pages for products that are also available at Half.com, a small Price Patrol alert box will pop up. Shoppers can click on the alert to jump to the same product on Half.com. If the product isn't available at Half.com, the alert box still pops up, but it just directs shoppers to Half.com's home page, where they can access the site's shopping comparison agent.
"Price Patrol is like having your own investigative team scouring the Internet to know you are getting the cheapest prices on the books, movies, music and video games you buy," says Half.com President Josh Kopelman. By the end of the summer, Half.com says it will expand Price Patrol to include the site's newest products computers, sporting goods, consumer electronics and trading cards. No comment has been made on whether Half.com will expand Price Patrol to include auctions at its parent company, eBay.
Half.com's price comparison software isn't intrusive because shoppers choose to download and run it. However, because it's the shoppers' choice, it will most likely take a while for the software to catch on so other online stores don't need to worry just yet. Jewelry e-tailers don't need to worry at all about losing sales to Half.com, since the site doesn't sell any kind of jewelry, but if the trend catches on, it may not be long before there's a Price Patrol equivalent for online jewelry shopping.
- by Julia M. Duncan