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Press Releases

Oct 15, 09

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SANTA CLARA, Calif (October 15, 2009) - Today, IMshopping, a human-assisted shopping recommendation platform, is announcing its spot among the Top 50 Shopping Sites, according to Consumer Reports ShopSmart Magazine. 

In a national survey from the current October issue, women who have shopped online in the past 12 months report that they're spending 61 percent of their time on the Internet, up 50 percent from February 2007. Due to the notable growth in online shopping, Consumer Reports commissioned a team of researchers to uncover the best shopping sites that consumers might not be using yet, but should. 

Their conclusion:IMshoppping is the best shopping site for consumers looking for hard-to-find items and deals. ShopSmart praises IMshopping's real, live human experts who do all the digging to find the best products for consumers, and how consumers can also use IMshopping through Twitter at @imshopping. 

The researchers also listed some old shopping standbys with fun extra features such as Zappos.com, Blue Nile and Sears, and top shopping phone apps such as Epicurious, CardStar and Check Please.

"It's an honor and privilege to be selected as one of Consumer Reports best shopping sites," said Prashant Nedungadi, CEO and founder of IMshopping. "The top ranking among highly reputable shopping sites, such as Zappos, affirms the value of the service we provide to consumers. "
IMshopping was launched in April 2009 as the first human-assisted shopping website and Twitter shopping service where knowledgeable shopping guides respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations to online shoppers. The site offers the experience of going into a store, speaking with a real person, and receiving suggestions on the best products. 
 
In addition to asking at www.imshopping.com, Twitter users can ask shopping questions by messaging @IMshopping and receive recommendations within a short period of time, usually within 15 minutes, or less time than it takes to walk into the nearest Best Buy or Nordstrom.

About IMshopping 
IMshopping is a shopping assistance community and communications platform for online retailers. The company's Merchant Answers service helps online retailers convert shoppers into buyers, drive additional organic traffic, recruit shopping experts for pre-sales assistance, and connect with their customers through social media like Twitter.IMshopping was named of the top 50 shopping sites in the October 2009 issue of Consumer Reports ShopSmart Magazine. The company is based Santa Clara, California and is backed by SK Telecom. 
 

Sep 10, 09

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Twenty pilot customers see improvements in conversions and organic traffic

SANTA CLARA, Calif (September XX, 2009) - Today, IMshopping, a human-assisted shopping recommendation platform, is announcing the general availability of its Merchants Answers service to all online retailers. Any retailer wishing to add a shopping community to their site can now easily sign up at http://merchants.imshopping.com.

IMshopping is also announcing that twenty retailers have already launched Merchant Answers service on their websites as a way to increase sale conversions, drive new visitors and offer a better shopping experience online. Retailers such as BargainCell, AMB Furniture and Rainbow Appliance have all created shopping communities powered by IMshopping on their sites.

IMshopping customers realize the importance of human assisted shopping as a key differentiator for this holiday shopping season, where social media and human recommendations are playing an increasing role in shopping purchasing decisions. According to Harris Interactive, 4 in 5 adults who have purchased items online in the last six months (77%) say they would be interested in getting help from a real person before making certain online purchases. However, over 4 in 5 (82%) say there have been times when they have not been able to get help from a real person. Over half of those who haven't been able to get the help they needed from a real person say it's affected their decision to not purchase the product. 

Leveraging community for pre-sales and organic traffic ? How It Works: 

IMshopping Merchant Answers allows customers to ask shopping questions directly on e-tailers' sites via a lightweight widget that appears on any page. Each question is then routed to shopping guides for an answer. Guides can be employees of the e-tailer or recruited from IMshopping's own community of shopping guides. Next, customers quickly receive real answers to their questions with embedded product recommendations. IMshopping's back-end tools make it easy to integrate merchant product catalogs and attach relevant products that fit customers' needs. Customers benefit from a personalized shopping experience and e-tailers are able to convert more customers into buyers. Additionally, the question and answer format creates valuable user-generated content that drives additional organic traffic beyond the initial customer inquiry. 

It is also proven that positive customer service experiences yield greater sales. A recent survey from the Society for New Communications Research shows 74% of consumers agree that they choose companies and brands based on what others say online about their customer service experiences. 

"After integrating IMshopping on our site, we immediately saw a spike in conversions to purchases," said Jacob Maslow, VP of Marketing for Rainbow Appliance (http://www.rainbowappliance.com), one of the largest retail suppliers of household appliances in the US."This summer season was a critical one for us, and IMshopping helped us compete with the big guys - Amazon and New Egg.We've had our best summer season yet, thanks to IMshopping."

"In just three months we've seen increasing demand for our B2B Merchant Answers platform, proving that consumers want human help when shopping online," said IMshopping CEO and Founder, Prashant Nedungadi. "With more retailers recognizing the value of human assistance and social media, IMshopping?s easy-to-use customer support platform is core to their revenue models. They're noticing improved results while saving on costs to support pre-sales efforts." 

Retailers can take a quick look at what the IMshopping widget would look like on their site by visiting the IMshopping demo at: http://www.imshopping.com/widgetdemo.action?url=

About IMshopping 
IMshopping brings a human touch to shopping on the Web. We make finding products easier with the help of real people who search out deals, read reviews and share this valuable information with you and the greater community. The company's Merchant Answers service helps online retailers convert shoppers into buyers, drive additional organic traffic, recruit shopping experts for pre-sales assistance, and connect with their customers through social media like Twitter. The company is based Santa Clara, California and is backed by SK Telecom. 

Aug 25, 09

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Santa Clara, CA (PRWEB) August 25, 2009 -- Americans shopping online are missing the personalized experience of visiting a brick and mortar store, leading to a decrease in purchases, according to recent survey commissioned by Santa Clara-based IMShopping and conducted by Harris Interactive. The survey of 2,274 adults, ages 18 and older, measured consumer sentiment on receiving human assistance while shopping online.

The results found that:

Nearly 3 in 4 U.S. online adults (74%) have purchased items online in the past 6 months. These adults are most commonly purchasing clothing (44%), books (38%), music (28%), health and beauty products (28%) and travel related items (28%). A few have even purchased things like sporting goods (9%), automobiles (4%) and real estate (1%) online.

About 4 in 5 online adults who have purchased items online in the past 6 months (77%) say they would be interested in getting help from a real person before making certain online purchases. Of these adults, over half say they'd want help from a real person before purchasing things like real estate (56%), automobiles (54%), and insurance (51%). Many would also like help from a real person when it comes to purchasing things like personal computers (42%), computer hardware/software (39%), home appliances (35%) and mobile phones (31%).

While the majority of online adults who have purchased items online in the past 6 months say they would be interested in getting help from a real person before making the purchase, over 4 in 5 (82%) say there have been times when they have not been able to get the help from a real person.

Most strikingly, over half (52%) of those who have not always been able to get the help they needed from a real person say it's affected their decision to not purchase the product at least sometimes, while 16% say it's affected their decision not to purchase the product almost always or often.

Automated assistance not cutting it:

The vast majority (93%) of those who have purchased items online in the past 6 months say they have had a question about an online purchase, and over half (58%) say the question cannot be answered from the information on the website at least sometimes, while 16% say their question almost always or often cannot be answered from the information on the website.

"No level of automation can replace the human touch. The results indicate that shoppers still want real people to help them purchase products, even in a digital setting," said Prashant Nedungadi, CEO and founder of IMshopping, a social media shopping firm. "Many retailers have started taking steps in this direction and we believe it will be the single biggest push for the retail industry over the next several years."

About Harris Interactive:
Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive? serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

About IMshopping:
IMshopping brings a human touch to shopping on the Web. We make finding products easier with the help of real people who search out deals, read reviews and share this valuable information with you and the greater community. The company is based Santa Clara, California and is backed by SK Telecom.

About the survey:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via the QuickQuerySM online omnibus service on behalf of ImShopping from June 12 to 16, 2009 among 2,274 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,767 have purchased items online in the past 6 months. Results were weighted as needed to reflect the composition of the U.S. online population of adults ages 18+ using targets on the basis of Internet usage (hours per week) and connection type as well as by age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Alisa Davis alisa (at) vscconsulting (dot) com.

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Jun 15, 09

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IMshopping Expands Human Powered Recommendation Platform to Retailers and Etailers Online

Early tests show human powered recommendations generate e-commerce conversion rates of 15%, according to IMshopping


SANTA CLARA, Calif. June 15, 2009 - Today, IMshopping, the leading human-assisted shopping service, is extending its successful recommendation platform to retailers and etailers. Now, etailers can create a virtual salesforce for increased conversion and customer retention via user participation online and via social media.

Since IMshopping's beta launch in April 2009, the site has answered more than 14,000 questions. Early tests indicate a jaw-dropping 15.48% customer conversion rates and 71.43% click-through rates (CTR). 

IMshopping Conversion Rates Compared to Industry Average
15.48% 4.40%

Percentage of customers who purchased one of the recommended products

Global conversion rate*
* Source: Fireclick 

How it works:
This offering allows merchants to switch on branded microsites, easily integrated with widgets, so customers can ask questions directly from etailers? sites and receive real answers with product recommendations. Customers benefit from a personalized shopping experience and etailers re-engage customers and generate new qualified buyers. The question and answer format is designed as an optimized search engine to drive additional traffic beyond the initial customer inquiry.

A merchant designs a microsite to reflect the look and feel of the retail brand with easy-to-edit design tools. The merchant also uploads their product catalog into the microsite. When a customer visits a merchant website, he/she can ask a shopping question directly on the microsite. The question is then routed to IMshopping guides chosen by the merchant who reply with answers and product recommendations from the merchant's catalog. From here, the customer is notified in real-time and email of his/her shopping response.

"After seeing significantly high conversion rates and traffic growth after our launch, we decided to extend our platform to etailers," said IMshopping CEO and Founder, Prashant Nedungadi, "We're looking forward to providing a vital component missing from so many online retail platforms - human-assisted shopping suggestions."

IMshopping's platform is unique in that it allows users to ask product questions to experts and friends via Twitter. Research shows that now, more than ever, consumers are more likely to trust a personalized shopping suggestion from a fellow consumer. According to a recent survey from MarketingSherpa, 86.9% of respondents said they would trust a friend's recommendation over a review by a critic, while 83.8% said they would trust user reviews over a critic. In addition, positive customer service experiences yield greater sales. A recent survey from the Society for New Communications Research shows 74% of consumers agree that they choose companies and brands based on what others say online about their customer service experiences.

About IMshopping
IMshopping brings a human touch to shopping on the Web. We make finding products easier with the help of real people who search out deals, read reviews and share this valuable information with you and the greater community. The company is based Santa Clara, California and is backed by SK Telecom.

Apr 29, 09

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The Experience of Going Into a Retail Store and Talking to an Expert Now Brought to Twitter and Web

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--With millions of products and a confusing scattering of retailers on the Web, researching consumer products has become a time-consuming and frustrating experience. Now, relief has arrived. Today IMshopping (http://www.imshopping.com) officially launches in beta as the first human-assisted shopping website and Twitter shopping service http://www.twitter.com/imshopping where knowledgeable shopping guides respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users. It's like a Shopping 411 information service. The site offers the experience of going into a store, speaking with a knowledgeable expert and being guided to the best products for your needs.

The company is also announcing that it has closed a $4.7 million Series A round of funding from SK Telecom with Min Park and Soo-Hyuk Lee, both SVPs at SK Telecom joining the board.

IMshopping delivers a mix of recommendation technology and real human assistance, aiming to create a more efficient way to find products online. The company's research has shown that consumers are now more interested in getting hard-to-find answers to specific technical and qualitative questions, while most e-commerce sites are primarily focused on price and reviews. This deeper level of e-commerce allows consumers to receive a higher level of personal service on the web and make better buying decisions.

How It Works:

Twitter users can directly ask questions by messaging @imshopping. The shopping guides in the community and trained experts offer detailed responses within a short period of time, usually in less time than it would take to drive to Best Buy or Home Depot, wait in line and get your question answered. Shoppers can use these responses to instantly make purchases or save to their own folders before making a product decision.

Online shoppers can instantly look for specific products, search IMshopping's database for product questions that have been already answered, or pose their own shopping questions.

As shopping guides craft their response, they review a detailed analysis of the product, including specifications, reviews from third-party sites, blog buzz and price. This response is then delivered to the shopper and also archived anonymously for review by future shoppers. All public questions and responses are searchable via Twitter or can be viewed by following @imshopping. Today the site launches in beta with 20,000 questions already answered and available for public search. An example of questions already answered can be found at http://search.twitter.com/search?q=imshopping.

IMshopping CEO and Founder, Prashant Nedungadi, is a pioneer in e-commerce who previously co-founded Andale, the largest third-party tool provider on eBay. Nedungadi successfully merged Andale with Vendio, one of the premier small business e-commerce players.

"We believe human assistance will create a deeper level of e-commerce satisfaction that doesn't exist on the Internet today," says Mr. Nedungadi. "There is a lot of information out there, but very little help when online shoppers need specific answers that will make or break their purchasing decision. At brick and mortar stores, human experts fill such a void, but on the web, it doesn't exist. We developed IMshopping to bring the same level of personalized assistance to online shoppers. Twitter is the ideal medium for having a conversation; Online shoppers have the option to communicate privately with the expert on Twitter, or publically so others can benefit from the right choices."

About IMshopping

IMshopping brings a human touch to shopping on the Web. We make finding products easier with the help of real people who search out deals, read reviews and share this valuable information with you and the greater community. The company is based Santa Clara, California and is backed by SK Telecom.

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