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LJ World & News - Sep 30, 09

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LJ World & News - Even if you're trying to cut back on spending, let's face it, you still have to shop - and maybe even treat yourself to the occasional splurge. If you have a juicy coupon or there's a big sale going on, it can be tough to resist. And there's no better place to troll for discounts than the Web. These days there are new technologies that allow you to shop - and save - in a whole new way. ShopSmart, the shopping magazine published by Consumer Reports, recently revealed the best new online shopping sites and phone applications that will help you buy what you need and get the best deal every time. "According to our new poll, among women who have shopped online in the past 12 months, a whopping 61 percent of their shopping is done on the Internet," said Lisa Lee Freeman, the editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "To help these tech-savvy women save even more time and money, we deployed a team of researchers to find the newest shopping sites and apps." Cool new shopping sites Alice (alice.com) lets you buy household staples like detergent directly from manufacturers for less. CouponWinner.com has loads of coupons from 7,000 retailers. Covet (covet.com) is a virtual personal shopper that helps find on-sale clothes in your style and size. IMshopping sends your shopping questions to an expert, who usually answers within a few hours. Like.com tracks down what you want by color, style, material or detail, such as pattern or shape. Modista zeros in on the exact shoe, handbag or other accessory to get to the right e-tailer in one click. NetHaggler has a Web tool called the hagglet that lets you "tag" an item and wait for a price drop, "nag" a merchant for a better price or "haggle" as a group for bargain deals. Top iPhone shopping apps Coupon Sherpa finds scannable coupons for shoes, clothing and even jewelry at major retailers. (iPhone; free) MobiQpons finds scannable coupons from your favorite stores and blocks offers from stores you don?t like. (iPhone, Blackberry, Google Android; free) Check Please lets you split the check and figure out the tip. (iPhone; free) Sale Price calculates the actual sale price of an item, factoring in coupons and tax. (iPhone; free) Epicurious lets you search for recipes and create a shopping list. (iPhone; free) Grocery Gadget Lite keeps your grocery list online, with photos, and arranges items in the order they're found in the store. (iPhone; free) ShopSavvy turns your phone's camera into a bar-code scanner to find prices locally and online, then gives you a link to the site or driving directions to the store. (Google Android, also expected for the iPhone; free)

Auctionbytes - Sep 16, 09

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Auctionbytes - IMshopping is capitalizing on the increasing role that social media and product recommendations are playing in shopping decisions. The company, which describes itself as a human-assisted shopping recommendation platform, announced the general availability of its Merchants Answers service to all online retailers. IMshopping Merchant Answers allows customers to ask shopping questions directly on retailers' websites via a lightweight widget that appears on any page. Questions are routed to shopping guides for answers, which are then sent to customers. Guides can be employees of the retailer or recruited from Imshopping's own community of shopping guides. IMshopping's back-end tools make it easy to integrate merchant product catalogs and attach relevant products that fit customers' needs. The question and answer format also creates valuable user-generated content that drives additional organic traffic beyond the initial customer inquiry. Twenty retailers have already launched the Merchant Answers service on their websites including BargainCell, AMB Furniture and Rainbow Appliance. Online retailers wishing to add a shopping community to their sites can sign up at http://merchants.imshopping.com.

Auctionbytes - Sep 16, 09

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Auctionbytes - IMshopping is capitalizing on the increasing role that social media and product recommendations are playing in shopping decisions. The company, which describes itself as a human-assisted shopping recommendation platform, announced the general availability of its Merchants Answers service to all online retailers. IMshopping Merchant Answers allows customers to ask shopping questions directly on retailers' websites via a lightweight widget that appears on any page. Questions are routed to shopping guides for answers, which are then sent to customers. Guides can be employees of the retailer or recruited from Imshopping's own community of shopping guides. IMshopping's back-end tools make it easy to integrate merchant product catalogs and attach relevant products that fit customers' needs. The question and answer format also creates valuable user-generated content that drives additional organic traffic beyond the initial customer inquiry. Twenty retailers have already launched the Merchant Answers service on their websites including BargainCell, AMB Furniture and Rainbow Appliance. Online retailers wishing to add a shopping community to their sites can sign up at http://merchants.imshopping.com.

Gaming Communities Blogspot - Sep 16, 09

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Gaming Communities Blogspot - PlaySpan's Technology Powers Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited In-game Store WESTWOOD, Mass. & SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Turbine, Inc., the premier creator and operator of massive, persistent online worlds, and PlaySpan, the leader in monetization solutions for online games, virtual worlds, and social networks, today announced an agreement to provide a comprehensive virtual goods marketplace for Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited (DDO Unlimited). DDO Unlimited is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) that delivers heart-pounding game play featuring the industry's best combat system, a massive world with state-of-the-art graphics and gameplay, and a rich set of features that until now could only be found in premium subscription-based MMOs. PlaySpan's microtransaction platform powers the new DDO Store that was recently introduced into the award-winning game. "We are excited and pleased to partner with PlaySpan to deliver the next evolution in online gaming to our players," said Jim Crowley, President and CEO of Turbine, Inc. "PlaySpan's in-game marketplace provides an easy to use experience that will enable our gamers to choose how they pay and play DDO Unlimited." PlaySpan's microtransaction platform enables gamers to stay in the game while shopping for wearables, weapons, potions, hirelings, and other helpful items in the integrated marketplace. In addition, the marketplace will showcase items based on the character's level, making shopping fast and easy. "Turbine is a leader in online interactive entertainment, and we're thrilled they selected PlaySpan as their partner to create new microtransaction-based business models featuring in-game digital goods marketplaces," said Karl Mehta, Founder and CEO of PlaySpan. "Turbine's selection of PlaySpan is a key endorsement of our market leadership and continued progress in powering virtual world economies for today's most popular online games." Fernando Paiz, Executive Producer for DDO Unlimited, will demo the game and its new digital goods marketplace powered by PlaySpan at the Monetization 2.0 Forum at GDC Austin today, between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. To learn more, or to register for the event, please visit: http://corp.playspan.com/gdc/. Demos will also be available at the PlaySpan booth #801 at GDC Austin. About Turbine Turbine, Inc. is the premier creator and operator of massive, persistent online worlds that foster powerful social gaming communities. Turbine has grown to become the largest privately-held online gaming studio in North America. Turbine has created some of the world's most popular and award-winning online games, including The Lord of the Rings OnlineTM, Dungeons & Dragons Online and Asheron's Call. For more information on Turbine, its products and services please visit www.turbine.com. About PlaySpan Inc. PlaySpan- is the leader in monetization solutions for over 1,000 online games, virtual worlds, and social networks. PlaySpan's patent-pending in-game virtual goods commerce and micropayment platform enables game publishers and developers to generate new revenues, acquire new users, and extend the loyalty of existing users. PlaySpan also offers global payment solutions through its subsidiary PayByCash with 85 payment methods in 180 countries. The ULTIMATE GAME CARD is used by consumers to pay for 300 multiplayer games and around 700 games on popular social networking sites. It is available in about 45,000 retail locations across North America and growing rapidly worldwide. Social network payment solutions are available through Spare Change. Acquired by PlaySpan in April 2009, Spare Change is the first and leading payments platform designed specifically for social networks. Featured on over 700 applications, across Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, Spare Change empowers developers to successfully monetize their applications through micro payments. The Spare Change platform enables users to make safe, convenient, and friendly 1-click purchases through a variety of funding sources. PlaySpan is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in Charlottesville, Virginia, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Mumbai. Investors include Easton Capital, Menlo Ventures, STIC and Novel TMT Ventures. The company has recently won the 2009 OnHollywood Category Award for Best Gaming Company. For more information about PlaySpan, visit http://corp.playspan.com For more information about Spare Change, visit: www.sparechangepayments.com

All Business - Sep 12, 09

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All Business - Sep. 12--There are so many great aspects to shopping online. Sitting at your computer with your hair uncombed, in your bare feet and favorite T-shirt, a Diet Coke -- or whatever beverage you like -- next to the keyboard and Johnny Cash blaring from the CD player gives one a feeling that cannot be replaced. A few keystrokes here and a credit card number there allows you to order products from all over the world without leaving your living room. But for increasing numbers of people, the online shopping experience is leaving them with a void: They miss the personal connection of buying products from actual, real humans. That's right, for those of you in the retail world, if you've noticed fewer customers who actually come into your store, well, many of those customers miss you. Retailcustomerexperience.com reports that a survey by Harris Interactive for IMShopping found that the majority of online shoppers who've bought something online in the past six months said they would like to be able get help from a real person before they make a selection. More than 80 percent of them, though, report that they've had trouble obtaining that help. More than half of those folks, the survey shows, say that lack of help caused them to hold off buying something. This is important because the Harris Interactive survey found that 74 percent of adults have purchased something online in the past six months. So it doesn't seem like people are going to abandon the comfort of their homes anytime soon. And those of you who shop regularly know that dealing face to face with another human does not in any way, shape or form ensure good customer service. Online shopping is here to stay and it seems that, for those of you who sell products online, a way to get a leg up on the competition is to offer human interaction to customers. "No level of automation can replace the human touch," said Prashant Nedungadi, CEO and founder of IMshopping, via a release. "The results indicate that shoppers still want real people to help them purchase products, even in a digital setting. 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." Brook Stockberger can be reached at bstockberger@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5457

TMCnet - Sep 12, 09

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TMCnet - Sep 12, 2009 (Las Cruces Sun-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- There are so many great aspects to shopping online. Sitting at your computer with your hair uncombed, in your bare feet and favorite T-shirt, a Diet Coke -- or whatever beverage you like -- next to the keyboard and Johnny Cash blaring from the CD player gives one a feeling that cannot be replaced. A few keystrokes here and a credit card number there allows you to order products from all over the world without leaving your living room. But for increasing numbers of people, the online shopping experience is leaving them with a void: They miss the personal connection of buying products from actual, real humans. That's right, for those of you in the retail world, if you've noticed fewer customers who actually come into your store, well, many of those customers miss you. Retailcustomerexperience.com reports that a survey by Harris Interactive for IMShopping found that the majority of online shoppers who've bought something online in the past six months said they would like to be able get help from a real person before they make a selection. More than 80 percent of them, though, report that they've had trouble obtaining that help. More than half of those folks, the survey shows, say that lack of help caused them to hold off buying something. This is important because the Harris Interactive survey found that 74 percent of adults have purchased something online in the past six months. So it doesn't seem like people are going to abandon the comfort of their homes anytime soon. And those of you who shop regularly know that dealing face to face with another human does not in any way, shape or form ensure good customer service. Online shopping is here to stay and it seems that, for those of you who sell products online, a way to get a leg up on the competition is to offer human interaction to customers. "No level of automation can replace the human touch," said Prashant Nedungadi, CEO and founder of IMshopping, via a release. "The results indicate that shoppers still want real people to help them purchase products, even in a digital setting. 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." Brook Stockberger can be reached at bstockberger@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5457 To see more of the Las Cruces Sun-News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.lcsun-news.com. Copyright (c) 2009, Las Cruces Sun-News, N.M.

iStock Analyst - Sep 12, 09

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iStock Analyst - Sep. 12--There are so many great aspects to shopping online. Sitting at your computer with your hair uncombed, in your bare feet and favorite T-shirt, a Diet Coke -- or whatever beverage you like -- next to the keyboard and Johnny Cash blaring from the CD player gives one a feeling that cannot be replaced. A few keystrokes here and a credit card number there allows you to order products from all over the world without leaving your living room. But for increasing numbers of people, the online shopping experience is leaving them with a void: They miss the personal connection of buying products from actual, real humans. That's right, for those of you in the retail world, if you've noticed fewer customers who actually come into your store, well, many of those customers miss you. Retailcustomerexperience.com reports that a survey by Harris Interactive for IMShopping found that the majority of online shoppers who've bought something online in the past six months said they would like to be able get help from a real person before they make a selection. More than 80 percent of them, though, report that they've had trouble obtaining that help. More than half of those folks, the survey shows, say that lack of help caused them to hold off buying something. This is important because the Harris Interactive survey found that 74 percent of adults have purchased something online in the past six months. So it doesn't seem like people are going to abandon the comfort of their homes anytime soon. And those of you who shop regularly know that dealing face to face with another human does not in any way, shape or form ensure good customer service. Online shopping is here to stay and it seems that, for those of you who sell products online, a way to get a leg up on the competition is to offer human interaction to customers. "No level of automation can replace the human touch," said Prashant Nedungadi, CEO and founder of IMshopping, via a release. "The results indicate that shoppers still want real people to help them purchase products, even in a digital setting. 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."

Startup Meme - Sep 11, 09

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Startup Meme - IMShopping, the human assisted shopping recommendation platform that makes it easier for people made an important announcement today as it made its platform available to all retailers. The service called Merchant Answers has already been implemented by 20 retailers. This would enable sites to maximize sales conversions with a better shopping experience. Sounds nice given that it's always the better services which improve loyalty of customers as well as boost sales. And with the implementation of Merchant Answers retailers would have a better possibility to turn the customers into buyers.

Las Cruces Sun News - Sep 11, 09

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Las Cruces Sun News - There are so many great aspects to shopping online. Sitting at your computer with your hair uncombed, in your bare feet and favorite T-shirt, a Diet Coke - or whatever beverage you like - next to the keyboard and Johnny Cash blaring from the CD player gives one a feeling that cannot be replaced. A few keystrokes here and a credit card number there allows you to order products from all over the world without leaving your living room. But for increasing numbers of people, the online shopping experience is leaving them with a void: They miss the personal connection of buying products from actual, real humans. That's right, for those of you in the retail world, if you've noticed fewer customers who actually come into your store, well, many of those customers miss you. Retailcustomerexperience.com reports that a survey by Harris Interactive for IMShopping found that the majority of online shoppers who've bought something online in the past six months said they would like to be able get help from a real person before they make a selection. More than 80 percent of them, though, report that they've had trouble obtaining that help. More than half of those folks, the survey shows, say that lack of help caused them to hold off buying something. This is important because the Harris Interactive survey found that 74 percent of adults have purchased something online in the past six months. So it doesn't seem like people are going to abandon the comfort of their homes anytime soon. And those of you who shop regularly know that dealing face to face with another human does not in any way, shape or form ensure good customer service. Online shopping is here to stay and it seems that, for those of you who sell products online, a way to get a leg up on the competition is to offer human interaction to customers. "No level of automation can replace the human touch," said Prashant Nedungadi, CEO and founder of IMshopping, via a release. "The results indicate that shoppers still want real people to help them purchase products, even in a digital setting. 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." Brook Stockberger can be reached at bstockberger@lcsun-news.com; (575) 541-5457

SmartBrief - Sep 11, 09

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SmartBrief - Merchant Answers from IMShopping lets shoppers ask questions via chat on a retailer's site. The service also provides assistance on Twitter as it seeks to help make the onlineshopping experience more personal. TechCrunch (09/10)

Tech Crunch - Sep 10, 09

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Tech Crunch - IMshopping, a human- powered shopping search site and Twitter shopping service, is rolling out a new feature, Merchant Answers, that lets consumers ask shopping questions directly on retailers' sites via an embeddable chat widget. We reviewed IMshopping's May launch here. IMshopping's site is a shopping 411 service in which human guides on call respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users about what product best suits their needs. IMshopping's Merchant Answer's feature is similar in functionality, except it is branded and specialized for a particular retailer's site. As a consumer is shopping on an e-commerce site, he or she will see a "get assistance" or similarly worded button on the site. When consumers click on this, they will be led to a window where they can ask a shopping question specific to that site. The question is routed to human shopping guides for an answer. Guides can be employees of the retailer or can be from IMshopping's community of trained shopping guides. Answers are given back to the consumer with links to the product in question. Shoppers are also shown recent questions asked by other users on the retailers page. Merchants can also use Twitter to help answer consumer questions. The merchant can link their Twitter account to their IMshopping account and once that is done, any Twitter user can send a message to the retailer's account and the Tweet will automatically be answered by a shopping guide, with the answer sent back as a direct message. IMshopping hopes to fill the gap of personalized, detail-oriented service that e-commerce sites dont have, since these sites are focused less on answering technical questions about a product and more on price and reviews. IMshopping's standalone site also leverages Twitter, so that users can directly ask questions by messaging @imshopping on Twitter and receive a direct message with the answer and product details. So how is IMshopping making money from this new venture? The site has implemented a monthly subscription pricing model based on the volume of questions asked. For $300 per month, a retailer can get 300 questions answered, which includes the payment for IMshopping's guides. For $1000 per month, a retailer can have 2500 questions answered, with additional guides included. Twenty online retailers including BargainCell, AMB Furniture and Rainbow Appliancehave already created shopping communities powered by IMshopping on their sites. Since the startup's launch in May, the site has delivered 52,000 human recommendations via Twitter and web. But as we've said in the past, human search hasn't been to successful in the past; as evidenced by ChaCha's former business model. While human assistance is definitely a powerful part of the shopping experience, many online retailer have online chat assistance to help with the process. IMshopping's tool may resonate with smaller sites which have trouble doing this in-house but many major retailers already have this functionality.

AffiliateTip.com - Sep 10, 09

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AffiliateTip.com - IMshopping, a shopping site that answers shopping questions with answers that include affiliate product links, is now self-service for any retailer to sign up. Previously, the platform was full-service offering to select retailers. The IMshopping service has delivered 52,000 human recommendations via Twitter (@IMshopping) and the Web since May to people looking for products to purchase. Merchants can sign up at http://merchants.imshopping.com/. Also, the company has announced that their IMshopping Merchant Answers Program, which allows customers to ask shopping questions directly on retailer sites, is now being used by 20 retailers. See http://www.imshopping.com/marketing.action for an example of how the IMshopping Merchant Answers Program integrates and looks.

Newstin - Sep 10, 09

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Newstin - Twenty pilot customers see improvements in conversions and organic traffic Santa Clara, CA September 10, 2009 -- Today, IMshopping, a community platform for shopping assistance, reviews and recommendations, 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... [read full story: http://www.newstin.com/go-to-link/144081291/http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/09/prweb2855084.htm]

Digital Media Buzz - Sep 10, 09

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Digital Media Buzz - IMshopping, a human- powered shopping search site and Twitter shopping service, is rolling out a new feature, Merchant Answers, that lets consumers ask shopping questions directly on retailers' sites via an embeddable chat widget. We reviewed IMshopping's May launch here. IMshopping's site is a shopping 411 service in which human guides on call respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users about what product best suits their needs. IMshopping's Merchant Answer's feature is similar in functionality, except it is branded and specialized for a particular retailer's site. As a consumer is shopping on an e-commerce site, he or she will see a "get assistance" or similarly worded button on the site. When consumers click on this, they will be led to a window where they can ask a shopping question specific to that site. The question is routed to human shopping guides for an answer... [read entire story http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/09/10/imshopping-opens-human-and-twitter-powered-shopping-search-engine-to-retailers/]

BizReport.com - Sep 09, 09

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BizReport.com - Consumers' buying decisions are being affected by the lack of human contact offered by e-commerce stores, according to a recent survey by social media shopping company IMShopping and Harris Interactive. Of the 2,274 U.S. adults surveyed, over half (52%), said that their decision not to purchase a product was made "at least sometimes" due to the inability to get help from another human being. Sixteen percent said it affected their decision not to purchase "almost always or often". So what is driving consumers to seek out the human touch online? Much of the time it is down to the fact that not enough detailed information is present on an e-commerce website in the form of FAQs, forums or customer service functions. Consumers are left with nagging doubts and questions to which they want immediate answers. These questions are pertinent enough to put a consumer off a purchase if they remain unanswered. Other times consumers may just need reassurance that what they are buying is right for them. This is particularly so with big-ticket items such as real estate and cars, and with commitment-based purchases such as insurance or personal loans. Of those surveyed who had made an online purchase in the last six months, 93% said they had a question about a purchase and over half (58%) could not find the answer on the e-commerce website "at least sometimes". Sixteen percent said their question could not be answered via the website "almost always or often". "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. "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." One way to lessen anxiety in consumers is to ensure product descriptions, delivery details and payment functions are clear and detailed. Errors in product descriptions can lead to increased returns and lack of consumer confidence, payment complications lead to lack of trust and bad delivery experiences generate their fair share of complaints and negative word of mouth.

DM Confidential - Sep 03, 09

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DM Confidential - Though "human" is not typically a word associated with online purchases, a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive for IMshopping seems to indicate that maybe it should be. According to the August survey, 77 percent of U.S. Internet users who have made an online purchase in the past six months said they would be interested in receiving help from an actual person before buying certain items online. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they would like live help before making a real estate purchase online, while 54 percent said they would like help from a human before making automobile purchases online. Half of the respondents (51 percent) said they would like live help before making an insurance purchase online, 42 percent said the same about a personal computer purchase online, 39 percent said the same about computer hardware/software purchases, 35 percent said the same for home appliance purchases and 31 percent said the same for mobile phone purchases. A rather large chunk of respondents, or 82 percent of them, said they have not received live help when making online purchases in the past, and 52 percent of this group said this lack of human help has negatively affected their purchase decisions. A separate survey conducted by Bold Software found that live chat is somehow correlated with how frequently online shoppers make purchases. The survey, from March, found that 12 percent of U.S. online buyers who have used live chat made several online purchases per week, compared to 8 percent of those who have never chatted live. Twenty-eight percent of U.S. online buyers who have chatted made online purchases once or twice per week, compared to 14 percent of those who have not chatted. This means that 40 percent of U.S. online buyers who have used live chat make online purchases at least once a week, compared to 22 percent of those who have not. The survey also found that attitudes toward live chat among U.S. online buyers were more positive for those that used live chat more frequently. The Harris Interactive and IMshopping survey found that 74 percent of U.S. adult Internet users made online purchases in the past six months. The most popular products purchased online were those that were less likely to need live human help, including clothing (44 percent), books (38 percent), music (28 percent), health and beauty products (28 percent), and travel-related items (28 percent). Nearly 70 percent of U.S. Internet users ages 14 and older will be online buyers in 2009, according to eMarketer's estimate. This figure will rise to 74.2 percent in 2013, according to the company.

Adotas - Sep 03, 09

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Adotas - DM CONFIDENTIAL - Though "human" is not typically a word associated with online purchases, a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive for IMshopping seems to indicate that maybe it should be. According to the August survey, 77 percent of U.S. Internet users who have made an online purchase in the past six months said they would be interested in receiving help from an actual person before buying certain items online. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they would like live help before making a real estate purchase online, while 54 percent said they would like help from a human before making automobile purchases online. Half of the respondents (51 percent) said they would like live help before making an insurance purchase online, 42 percent said the same about a personal computer purchase online, 39 percent said the same about computer hardware/software purchases, 35 percent said the same for home appliance purchases and 31 percent said the same for mobile phone purchases. A rather large chunk of respondents, or 82 percent of them, said they have not received live help when making online purchases in the past, and 52 percent of this group said this lack of human help has negatively affected their purchase decisions. A separate survey conducted by Bold Software found that live chat is somehow correlated with how frequently online shoppers make purchases. The survey, from March, found that 12 percent of U.S. online buyers who have used live chat made several online purchases per week, compared to 8 percent of those who have never chatted live. Twenty-eight percent of U.S. online buyers who have chatted made online purchases once or twice per week, compared to 14 percent of those who have not chatted. This means that 40 percent of U.S. online buyers who have used live chat make online purchases at least once a week, compared to 22 percent of those who have not. The survey also found that attitudes toward live chat among U.S. online buyers were more positive for those that used live chat more frequently. The Harris Interactive and IMshopping survey found that 74 percent of U.S. adult Internet users made online purchases in the past six months. The most popular products purchased online were those that were less likely to need live human help, including clothing (44 percent), books (38 percent), music (28 percent), health and beauty products (28 percent), and travel-related items (28 percent). Nearly 70 percent of U.S. Internet users ages 14 and older will be online buyers in 2009, according to eMarketer's estimate. This figure will rise to 74.

eMarketer - Sep 01, 09

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eMarketer - Impersonal e-commerce doesn't always cut it Despite Americans' widespread adoption of e-commerce, sometimes there is no replacement for the personal touch. According to an August 2009 survey conducted by Harris Interactive for human-assisted shopping site IMshopping, 77% of US Internet users who made an online purchase in the past six months would be interested in help from a real person before buying certain things on the Web. Those who wanted human help were most likely to be interested in purchasing real estate (56%), automobiles (54%) and insurance (51%). Though a majority of online shoppers reported a desire for help at least some of the time, 82% of respondents said they had not been able to get that assistance in the past. And more than one-half of that group said it had affected their purchase decision negatively-at least some of the time. "No level of automation can replace the human touch," said Prashant Nedungadi, CEO and founder of IMshopping. "The results indicate that shoppers still want real people to help them purchase products, even in a digital setting," Some e-tailers provide help via click-to-call or click-to-chat services, which allow online shoppers to interact with customer service reps in real time. (For more information, see "How Helpful Is Live Chat?" link: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007235) Harris and IMshopping found that overall, 74% of US adult Internet users had made an online purchase in the past six months. The most common Web purchases were items less likely to require human assistance before buying, such as clothing (44%), books (38%), music (28%), health and beauty products (28%) and travel-related goods (28%). eMarketer estimates 69.7% of US Internet users ages 14 and older will be online buyers in 2009, rising to 74.2% in 2013. Higher usage of services that allow shoppers to interact with real people during the e-commerce process could provide the reassurance that some Web users need to boost penetration.

Auctionbytes - Aug 30, 09

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Auctionbytes - Do you like to read what other people have said about a product before making a purchase? And do you leave reviews about items you've purchased? There have been many times I've researched product features on search engines and looked at product reviews on ecommerce websites. In fact, there are times when I trust online product reviews more than a sales clerk in a store. Amazon.com is particularly good at providing product reviews, but these days many ecommerce sites offer them thanks in part to services like PowerReviews.com, which outsources customer reviews so merchants of all sizes and verticals can serve up reviews to their website visitors. Now there are sites like TurnTo that bring social components to making purchases. You can see what your friends and family have said about items you're considering purchasing. IMShopping goes even further - you can ask a question about a product, and receive an answer back from a real person (the company calls itself a"human-assisted shopping service"). According to a survey commissioned by IMShopping and conducted by Harris Interactive, 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. 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. 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. Where do small online sellers fall in this area, are they advantaged by being small and personable, or disadvantaged by not having budgets for third-party shopping-assistant services? And is social shopping a viable phenomenon?

WebProNews - Aug 28, 09

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WebProNews - Decisions Affected by Lack of Human Assistance Earlier this month comScore released its Q2 retail e-commerce sales estimates, which indicated that US online retail spending dropped from the same period from last year. This is only the second time that has happened. Sure, you have to take the economy into consideration, but there are other factors that can keep people from making purchases online. A new poll from Harris Interactive found that a lack of human assistance is one of those factors, and a big one at that. Here are some interesting findings from that poll: - 4 in 5 online 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 (52%) 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. Just look at the following graphs: "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, who commissioned the survey. "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." The following graph shows some of the types of items people really want human assistance with before making purchasing decisions. Out of the people who have purchased items online in the past six months, the most commonly purchased items include clothing, books, music, health and beauty products, and travel-related items. While it is a good idea to make the online purchase as easy on your customers as possible, from simply the design and usability standpoint, you may consider whether or not you are offering enough human assistance, and how easy that is for the customer to obtain.

Retail Customer Experience - Aug 28, 09

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Retail Customer Experience - 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 percent) have purchased items online in the past 6 months. These adults are most commonly purchasing clothing (44 percent), books (38 percent), music (28 percent), health and beauty products (28 percent) and travel related items (28 percent). A few have even purchased things like sporting goods (9 percent), automobiles (4 percent) and real estate (1 percent) online. About 4 in 5 online adults who have purchased items online in the past 6 months (77 percent) 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 percent), automobiles (54 percent), and insurance (51 percent). Many would also like help from a real person when it comes to purchasing things like personal computers (42 percent), computer hardware/software (39 percent), home appliances (35 percent) and mobile phones (31 percent). 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 percent) say there have been times when they have not been able to get the help from a real person. Most strikingly, over half (52 percent) 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 percent say it's affected their decision not to purchase the product almost always or often. Automated assistance is not cutting it: The vast majority (93 percent) 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 percent) say the question cannot be answered from the information on the website at least sometimes, while 16 percent 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."

TMCnet - Aug 28, 09

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TMCnet - There is no doubt that online shopping brings piece of mind and convenience, especially during the holiday season when most Americans rather get a root canal then step foot in any retail store. However, according to recent survey commissioned by Santa Clara-based IMShopping and conducted by Harris Interactive (News - Alert), of 2,274 adults, ages 18 and older, are missing that personalized experience given to them in a brick and mortar store. The survey found that nearly 3 in 4 U.S. online adults, 74 percent, have purchased items online in the past six months. Commonly purchased items were clothing - 44 percent, books - 38 percent, music 28 percent, health and beauty products - 28 percent and travel related items - 28 percent. Sporting goods - 9 percent, automobiles - 4 percent and real estate - 1 percent, was found to be also purchased online. On average, 4 out of 5 online adults who had purchased items online in the past six months - 77 percent say they would be interested in getting help from a real person before making certain online purchases. Over half said they'd want help from a real person before purchasing things like real estate - 56 percent, automobiles - 54 percent, and insurance - 51 percent. Other categories included live assistance when purchasing personal computers - 42 percent, computer hardware/software - 39 percent, home appliances - 35 percent and mobile phones - 31 percent. Many online stores have live chat capabilities, however if such services aren't available many say the lack of getting the help they need when purchasing a product is a deciding factor. Over half - 52 percent -who have not always been able to get the help they need from a real person say it had affected their decision to not purchase the product some of the time, while 16 percent said it has affected their decision not to purchase the product almost always or often. "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."

AffiliateTip.com - Aug 27, 09

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AffiliateTip.com - Americans shopping online miss the personalized experience of visiting a brick and mortal store, according to a recent survey by Harris Interactive. The survey found that nearly 4 in 5 online shoppers (77%), who have purchased items online in the past 6 months, would like to get help from a real person before making certain online purchases. The survey, commissioned by IMShopping, was based on a sample of 2,274 adults, ages 18 and older. I smell an affiliate opportunity here. Live chat shopping advice coupled with an affiliate-powered comparison shopping site? More details at http://www.entrepreneur.com/PRWeb/release/19701.html.

Website Magazine - Aug 26, 09

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Website Magazine - Harris Interactive and IMShopping released a new survey that shows American consumers want the same personalized customer experience they receive in brick-and-mortar business when they shop online. And the lack of assistance can prevent them from making a purchase. Not surprisingly, most of the survey respondents do shop online (74 percent). And of that amount, 77 percent would be interested in assistance from a real person before making an online purchasing decision. But the most insightful result from the survey was how not getting assistance can prevent online shoppers from making a purchase -- 52 percent. As an e-commerce merchant, the results of this study should encourage you to revamp efforts to connect with your consumers. Do you have online chat available for those who have questions? Are you proactive and reach out to those who mention your company on various online platforms? Do you facilitate easy ways for potential customers to contact you if they have questions? All of these things can increase your customers? experiences which can possibly turn them into reoccurring customers. "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. 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," the CEO and founder of IMShopping, Prashant Nedungadi said in the news release. How do you increase your customers? experiences? Comment below.

USA Today - Aug 25, 09

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USA Today - Online shoppers who say they'd like to have contact with a real person before they make a purchase. 23% No 77% Yes Source: Harris Interactive for IMshopping June 12-15, 2009

Reuters - Aug 10, 09

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Reuters - (Reuters) - Buying something online can be a frustrating process. The shear numbers of websites offering the same product can lead to endless hours of surfing to try to find the right deal. Consumers often become overwhelmed and end up not buying anything at all. Prashant Nedungadi has been one of those people and decided to use that frustration to launch IMshopping.com , a website that utilizes a combination of software and sales experts to direct buyers to the precise product they're looking for. The following is a personal five-day journal written by Prashant Nedungadi exclusively for Reuters.com on his work and life: ***************************************************************************************** Day 1: Monday July 5, 2009 After a long weekend and an exciting quarterly offsite, most of my time today was spent in reviewing the offsite discussions and putting together the roadmaps, deliverables and specific goals for Q3. I plan to have a company meeting this week to share this with the group. Kevin, my VP of Marketing and Business Development also closed three sales deals today.... you're the man! Speaking of offsites, I typically have an offsite once a quarter where the executive team, customer facing teams and marketing teams get together, review our strategy and make plans and commitments for the coming quarter. When we first started, these offsites were a lot more chaotic and focused a lot more on business strategy. This is typically a sign that the business model is not yet there... and that is OK. Our January offsite focused the business on Human Assisted Shopping service. Our March offsite expanded this concept to allow businesses to offer human assistance on their website. Our June offsite was all about execution and revenue goals for Q3. Before I jump into the July offsite, I want to talk about my philosophy about startups, offsites and strategies. It is important for a CEO to be the biggest salesman of his company, but at the same time, be honest to himself/herself if something is not working. The worst situation is when your employees also stop telling you the truth and when CEOs start "drinking their own Kool-Aid." In an early stage startup, there are too many variables: is what you are offering a vitamin or painkiller? Will there be competition from existing players? Can there be an execution risk? Is it the right team? My goal is to reduce the number of variables. Easier said than done. I use the following strategy... "Iterate fast, fail fast." This involves: 1. Strategy review... at least quarterly 2. Execute and iterate quickly... weekly releases of the product 3. Get qualitative feedback... Show it to real customers early and get their feedback 4. Get quantitative metrics... Measure everything... usage, traffic, conversions 5. If you get good feedback, move to execution phase... otherwise go back to step 1 I wish I could say that it will take 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 iterations to get the strategy right. The amount of money in the bank determines how many times you can iterate. Luckily for us, the July offsite was a move to the execution phase of the business. We are now locked in on our strategy. The feedback from merchants has been very positive and we have already received more than 25 pilot-customer requests. Our organic traffic in our B2C service has also been growing fast. Now we face execution challenges, which was what was the focus of this offsite: 1. Getting the product ready before mid July 2. Getting the pilot customers up and running before late July and being operationally ready 3. Putting a staffing plan for an outbound sales team 4. Pricing model 5. Self service signup... so we don't miss the holiday season The discussions at the offsite were great. We only focused on sales and revenue goals, pricing, PR and go-to market plans, product roadmap and staffing for sales. We plan to launch our pilot in late July and our public launch of our B2B service in early September. Most of my time today and tomorrow will be spent in putting together the roadmap for our pilot launch and for our public launch. I plan to share this with our board and our employees this week. It's a good feeling. Day 2: Tuesday July 6, 2009 We have two interns who are spending a couple of months at IMshopping. Sam has more of a product/UI and has been helping product management with some new features for our B2B service. Brandon is much more interested in sales/customer service and has been supporting us on some of our outbound sales effort. Each day, I spend a few minutes with each of them to see how they are doing with the job and getting their feedback. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Brandon had signed up a customer. Very cool!!! Sam was working on some specs for customer signup pages. I see the excitement in each of them and the passion for the job that is very refreshing. In the morning, we had a strange problem with our site. It kept getting slower and was intermittently down. For a web-based business like ours, this is the lifeblood of our business and causes a lot of anxiety for everyone. I was looking at the traffic and revenue numbers and there is a clear drop in both. The engineering/ops teams are on it. I hope this can be fixed quickly. Most of the afternoon was spent in finalizing the pricing sheet with Kevin. Took a couple of hours, but it looks good. After that, I made a few calls to prospective customers. Salesforce has been good for management of the pipeline, but I still miss the simplicity of a spreadsheet. Spent late afternoon reviewing some of the specs Mary sent over for review. We are a small company, and as a CEO for a small business, I never want to take myself off of the product. Before going home, spent sometime with one of the sales reps about his compensation/commissions structure. Right now the sales reps are working part time, but I plan to move to a full-time model as soon as we go live with the service. Day 3: Wednesday July 7, 2009 Started the day with a weekly marketing meeting. This is always an interesting meeting. We are working with a marketing firm, OuterJoin, who helps us with SEM campaigns, SEO efforts and other user acquisition strategy. Some of the team members are in India and Ukraine, so we have these meetings early in the morning. We discussed different ways to accelerate our traffic growth and reviewed results from prior efforts. Spent a couple of hours working with Kevin on follow up sales calls. We still have a number of merchants we met at the conference who are waiting for us to go live. Spent early afternoon meeting a couple of billing vendors. I am hoping we can finalize on a service provider by next week. We are experimenting with a number of pricing models and from my previous experience, you don't want to spend a lot of time building your billing/collections system. Nice to see there are SAAS services out there that offer this. Later in the afternoon, I spent time to Mary, our head of products, on the roadmap and release later in the day. It is great to have her on the team. Mary is a rare combination of someone who is creative and who is process driven. She rarely drops the ball. She is responsible for a big part of the success of our product. Day 4: Thursday July 7, 2009 Had our U.S. staff meeting. Our weekly meeting is when the team gets together and updates each other on what we are doing. We bring in lunch from different places, so that is definitely a highlight. Updates are a little informal and some of the members bring in their laptops to show what they are doing. Since we are moving so fast, this is a good time for everyone to get in sync about things. Dheeru, our data mining researcher, showed us some of the improvements made to auto-tagging of product. Hongbiao showed us the templatization infrastructure. There was also a good discussion on pricing when I announced it to the team. Spent the afternoon reviewing the financials, cash position and preparing for a meeting with the board next week. We spent a little over our plan last month, because of conference expenses and a couple of other expenses. Hopefully, we can bring that down next month. After dinner, had a late-night call (11:00 pm to 1:00 am) with Alex and Alexey of our Ukraine team, going over the affiliatization plans. It has been a long day. Day 5: Friday July 9, 2009 Spent the day at the Crunchup live event in Palo Alto. The event was interesting, with a number of roundtables and demos. I think, however, that monetization and revenue models were not really clear and most of the startups were trying to do some kind of simple user apps that show trends or allow you to personalize your feeds on top of Twitter, Digg and other live streams. The big challenge that everyone is facing is how do they make money? And how to get out of Twitter's shadow when you talk about live search, streaming? I think live updates and streaming can have an impact on e-commerce: from keeping track of deals; imaging giving merchants the ability to post deals that are currently on; allowing shoppers to post and see deals anywhere (offline or online); or giving customers live updates on what products are being discussed about right now. Live streaming is inherently part of what IMshopping does and that is what makes it exciting. Went home early to spend some time with family. Took my kids to the driving range. My son is 4 years old, but can hit the ball about 50 yards! You never know, he may have a career as a professional golf player?

Reuters - Aug 06, 09

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Reuters - Reuters Small Business presents expansion pitches from upstarts across the country: With the online retail market flooded with options, Prashant Nedungadi saw the opportunity to help retailers differentiate themselves through personal service. His product, IMshopping, is a virtual community of sales reps who provide advice and product suggestions to potential customers, with retailers paying a fee to access the service. Here is Nedungadi's pitch: [video: www.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=109181&videoChannel=5]

India West - Jul 16, 09

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India West - IMShopping launched the first human-powered, Twitter-based shopping service Apr. 29, shortly after receiving a $4.7 million first round of funding from the Korean mobile phone giant SK Telecom. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company, founded by Prashant Nedungadi, allows Twitter users to ask direct questions by messaging @imshopping. Responses from what the company terms "trained experts" are returned within about 15 minutes. An excerpt of the response -- with the question -- is posted to IMShopping's Twitter feed, with a link to the longer response and sponsored products. Recent questions to the site included simple queries, such as the best gift ideas for Father's Day -- answers from the expert monikered shoptiludrop: "Beer of the Month" club membership, golf lessons, massage equipment -- to more complex ones, including where to find an antique, illustrated Bible, or the best digital camera under $600. Around 2003-2004, Nedungadi -- who in 1999 co-founded Andale, a provider of tools and management services to online merchants such as eBay -- told India-West he started to notice that many retailers were shutting down their online operations. "There was little differentiation between sites," he said. "We were able to get users to a Web site but weren't able to convert them to customers. The margins were very low," he said. "I started thinking about how to solve the core problem of differentiating between sites and how to get customers to buy from them." The megalithic Web offers consumers a lot of information to parse through, noted the 39-year-old Nedungadi, who sold Andale to Vendio in 2006. "But fundamentally, customers are looking for help," he said, adding, "when people actually get assistance, then the ratio of buying goes way up." "They need someone to reassure them, which works very well at a retail store," said Nedungadi, adding that his vision for IMShopping was to create an "in-store" experience online. IMShopping has hundreds of what it calls "community-based experts," home-based employees who answer the queries routed to them from Twitter or the Web site. Products are integrated into the expert's response and the company makes its money on click-throughs to the featured products. Nedungadi admits the reviews may be biased towards the featured products. The Web site -- launched in beta five months ago -- now has 10,000 users, while the Twitter feed has 385 followers. And though IMShopping is not yet a Facebook application, users can get feedback on their queries from their Facebook friends by clicking the "Ask on Facebook" button on IMShopping's Web site. In a recent review, Information Week noted in its "Over the Air" blog that the Web site was not cell-phone friendly, and did not detect the reviewer's browser on a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone. Those with Android or iPhones would fare better, concluded blogger Ed Hansberry. After some initial criticism from users who noted the poor quality of reviews, Nedungadi told India-West he has received a lot of very positive feedback. He has also received queries from major retailers who want him to create a similar environment for their Web site. Nedungadi, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1993 to study at Stanford, lives in the Evergreen district of San Jose, Calif. His wife Deepa is the director of finance at Fusion. The couple has two children, Sonia, 6, and Neil, 3. Nedungadi earned a bachelors of science degree from IIT, Delhi and a masters in electrical engineering from Stanford.

Indus Business Journal - Jul 08, 09

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Indus Business Journal - SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The explosion of Internet shopping over the last decade is often considered to be fueled by the thought that it is easier and more convenient to shop from home, but what has found to be missing is the quick customer service assistance to product questions. Prashant Nedungadi's IMshopping Inc. is bringing that personal customer service touch back to online shopping. The Santa Clara-based company has just launched the first public test version of its Web site at www.imshopping.com that delivers what the company calls "human assisted shopping." As Nedungadi explains it, through IMshopping, "shopping guides" respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users. Guides' responses are based on an analysis of the product, including specifications, reviews from third-party sites, blog discussions and price. According to Nedungadi, questions receive a response in a short period of time, and usually within an hour. Responses are delivered to the specific shoppers who ask questions, but are also archived for review by future shoppers. In this way, every question and answer continues to build the information imshopping.com has on specific products. The site launched with 20,000 questions answered and available for public search. Nedungadi said that the site already has a product catalogue of 25 million products, which means users can search for the Web site's information on specific products or pose their own questions on new products. In conjunction with its Web site, IMshopping is launching a shopping service through Twitter at www.twitter.com/imshopping and Twitter users can directly ask questions by messaging @imshopping. SK Telecom Ventures has thrown it weight behind IMshopping, investing $4.7 million of first round funding into the company. In addition, SK Telecom's Min Park and Soo-Hyuk Lee have joined IMshopping's board. Headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif., SK Telecom Ventures has $100 million under management and has primarily focused on technology companies that can work with the firm's sole limited partner SK Telecom, a South Korean mobile and Internet services company. Nedungadi's belief is that IMshopping will create a better e-commerce experience for shoppers and bring back the strength of the customer-service support shoppers get when they visit traditional, brick-and-mortar stores. More than anything, though, he believes IMshopping's strength is in its ability to wade through the glut of product information available on the Web, and get shoppers the specific and helpful details they really need. "The information [on the Internet] does not equate to help," Nedungadi said. "We are trying to bridge the gap between information and help." "Customers like the fact that they get the level of service they expect," he added. "The number one requirement from consumers is, 'I need unbiased and I need good quality service.'" IMshopping is banking on online shopping surveys and research that has found that many shoppers visit retail Web sites, but do not buy products because there is no assistance to help them in their purchase. These reports suggest that live chat assistance increases the likelihood that shoppers will buy products. However, Nedungadi believes IMshoppings model is more effective for shopping assistance, because guides have the time to research all the information at hand before making a recommendation and those best suited to answering questions can respond. At the heart of what IMshopping does is its "guides," which Nedungadi explains as consumers and experts from around the Web. When IMshopping launched the site had just a couple of hundred guides, but the company expects this number to grow. Guides are paid per answer they give about products and are regulated by an incentive program based on user feedback and the quality of answers. "In this economy, we are seeing lots of people wanting to do this because it is an easy way to make money, all you have to do is impart your knowledge," said Nedungadi. IMshopping's business model is to work with retailers to get their products into the Web site's catalogue. There are two ways in which the company makes money from retailers: if shoppers click on a product it gets a fee or if shoppers buy a product it gets a percentage of the sale. The product is the lead generation and IMshopping is offering retailers a way to get more shoppers to view their products and in a scenario in which they can make an informed decision to buy, according to Nedungadi. "It is a very simple value proposition, but we hope it is a very powerful one for retailers," he said. As is often the case with the best of Internet-related services, IMshopping scores on its ability to connect consumers with a specific demand. "We are really a platform that is connecting retailers with shoppers, with these guides," Nedungadi said. IMshopping also plans to launch a business service version of its Web site soon, which will allow retailers to host a version of IMshopping on their own company Web sites. The questions asked by consumers on these retail sites will be routed to IMshopping's experts who will provide answers that are then sent back through the retailer's specific site, according to Nedungadi. In the long term future are plans to develop a local version of IMshopping that could be tailored to fit specific locales, so consumers could get assistance wherever they are. Founded in late 2007, IMshopping has approximately 25 employees in Santa Clara and a back-end office in the Ukraine. Prior to starting IMshopping, Nedungadi co-founded Andale, an e-commerce service provider for small businesses. Started in 1996, Andale grew to have approximately 1.5 million online sellers and generated million of dollars in revenue. The company was sold in 2006. A native of New Delhi, India, Nedungadi came to the United States in 1993. He has a bachelor's degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and a master's degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Prior to starting Andale, Nedungadi worked at Triquest Design Automation, Cirrus Logic Inc. and Texas Instruments Inc.

Auctionbytes - Jun 21, 09

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Auctionbytes - AuctionBytes Editor Ina Steiner attended the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) in Boston last week where she chaired one day of the Small Retailers track and visited the exhibit hall to talk to vendors and merchants. Here's her recap of the conference. Internet Retailer is the largest conference geared to all levels of online sellers, and this year, it attracted 368 exhibitors and 5,000 attendees (including speakers, vendors and retailers). There were 91 sessions and 178 speakers with tracks on managing technology; merchandising and website content; marketing; operations; corporate management; small retailers; and web-only retailers ("nothing but 'net"). There were plenty of opportunities for retailers to network, including casual "tweet-ups" (meetups organized by participants via Twitter) and a "women in ecommerce" get-together. SLI Systems sponsored several cocktail parties in the exhibit hall, and Alibaba.com sponsored a networking dinner on Tuesday evening at the Boston World Trade Center. Yahoo merchants were treated to a harbor cruise on Wednesday evening and were able to participate in the first "Yahoo! Merchant Summit" on June 18th. Overstock.com and eBay Speak to Online Retailers It was interesting to note that there were no B2C marketplaces in the exhibit hall. However, executives from two marketplaces - Overstock.com and eBay - were featured speakers. Overstock.com founder and CEO Patrick Byrne gave the keynote address on Tuesday, where he had specific recommendations for retailers in today's economic environment. He said online retailers should measure everything (bookkeepers are vital); outsource anything they are not great at; control expenses (especially payroll and inventory); and look for new business combinations (he sees mergers and acquisitions in the years ahead). Halfway through his presentation, he gave the audience a choice of listening to him speak about his battle with Wall Street, which he said was related to "the economic storm," or stopping to take questions. The audience overwhelmingly chose to hear Byrne's presentation on his battle with Wall Street to fight naked short selling of company stocks. eBay Senior Vice President and General Manager of eBay North America and Global Platform Stephanie Tilenius was a featured speaker on Wednesday and told attendees eBay wanted to partner with them and explained how eBay is different today. She touted features such as Daily Deals and eBay's new Large Merchant Services API, reporting that third-party solution provider Mercent helped launched MyJewelryBox.com using the LMS API. She also said eBay is able to play matchmaker for large retailers as it did with BCBG, finding it a large eBay PowerSeller to sell on their behalf. Tilenius told attendees that Zappos launched its liquidation brand using its new Large Merchant Services API. I checked in with the shoe retailer, and Steve Hill, Vice President of Merchandising at Zappos, said, "We did a small test on eBay but are not currently planning on moving forward with it." (We have a question in to eBay on this.) Tilenius also revealed that eBay may roll out a new program in the fall to enable the best sellers to differentiate themselves. While she revealed few details, she may have been referring to a Certified Seller program hinted at in a seller survey eBay conducted earlier this year. eBay is testing "flash sales," which appears to be similar to its Daily Deals feature but on a category basis, in the Clothes, Shoes & Accessories (CSA) category in which it offers limited-time offers on certain products. eBay plans to expand the program to other categories after experimenting in the CSA category. She also showed a video of an advertisement geared to holiday shoppers, but did not say if the company would resume television advertising in the fall. Social Networking (of course) It seems all conferences these days have social networking on the agenda, and Internet Retailer was no exception. In the Small Retailers track, Forrester Research Senior Analyst Brian Walker and Golfballs.com President & CEO Tom Cox spoke in a session called, "To socialize - or not to socialize," and in the Marketing track, Ilana Rabinowitz of Lion Brand Yarn and Paull Young of Converseon spoke in a session called, "Social Media: If Not Now, When?" Rabinowitz said 20% of shoppers who come to the Lion Brand Yarn website from one of the retailer's social presences buy merchandise, and Lion Brand Yarn social media users are 83% more likely to be very loyal to the brand compared with those shoppers who don't use social media. Social networking also came up in other sessions, such as this one on marketing - "Balancing audacity with caution: marketing in a time of uncertainty," where Geary Interactive President and CEO Andreas Roell said, "93% of users of social media expect retailers to be present, and 85% want to interact with retailers." Ecommerce Solutions for Everyone In the exhibit hall, retailers could find services to help them with shipping, payment processing, site search, fulfillment, marketing, product sourcing, shopping carts, ecommerce hosting, gift-wrap solutions, market research, consulting, email marketing, analytics, shopping engines and more. Some vendors showed off services designed to help retailers take advantage of social networking ("social shopping"), such as IMShopping (the founder was one of the co-founders of Andale) and TurnTo. You can listen to a podcast interview with TurnTo CEO and founder George Eberstadt on AuctionBytes' Ecommerce Industry Soundbytes. AuctionBytes also interviewed Rob Ulveling of TheFind.com to learn more about the shopping search engine and its latest offering for merchants. Retailers had a chance to speak to representatives of the major search engines - Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, which was showing off its newly named Bing search engine that features a shopping component. Microsoft's Jacob Horn said Microsoft has plans to launch campaigns around Back to School and holiday shopping for the Cashback program, in which eBay participates and seems very popular with shoppers. Small Retailers Adapt to Changing Economy As Chair of the IRCE Small Retailers track, I listened to many retailers talk about their businesses and share their success stories. Not surprisingly given the current economic downturn, some sellers addressed the painful topic of layoffs. So it was great to listen to a session on negotiation with Joel Lederhause of DiscountRamps.com as a way to cut costs. Some of his advice: don't get stuck on negotiating solely on price - there are lots of areas you can get vendors to nudge on, like terms, leasing versus owning, service and maintenance agreements and more. Educating yourself and going into negotiations armed with information is key. He sells items made of steel, and knowing that the price of steel was down helped him negotiate with suppliers. If you don't ask, you won't get it, and in today's economic climate, vendors are expecting you to negotiate, he said. The same principle applies to shipping carriers, vendors and suppliers. Devon Rifkin of Hangers.com also talked about not getting hung up on price when dealing with new suppliers. He sources products internationally, and said building a relationship with a supplier is critical. He said in this environment, look for ways to cut costs, simplify business, and look for opportunities as a result of the downturn. He believes his practice of inserting a catalog in every box that gets shipped to customers helps generate repeat purchases. Au-Co Mai, founder of Emitations.com, said she has her photographer shoot product shots and then send them to Vietnam where workers do the PhotoShop cleanup at less cost. AuctionBytes Coverage You can see some of the AuctionBytes coverage coming out of the conference in the following articles. Zappos Launches Liquidation Brand on eBay (link) Recap of Small Retailers Track at Internet Retailer (link) Overstock.com CEO Speaks at Internet Retailer Conference (link) Lots of Bing at Internet Retailer Conference (link) Internet Retailer is holding its next IRCE conference in Chicago next June, and it will be held in San Diego the following year. We'll keep you posted.

Internet Retailer Conferece and Exhibition - Jun 19, 09

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Internet Retailer Conferece and Exhibition - This Week's Focus Topic Is: Report from IRCE 2009 ... Press Releases from IRCE 2009 (Releases issued during the Internet Retailer 2009 Conference & Exhibition) Amadesa Adds Site-Side Behavioral Targeting to its Continuum of Personalization Solutions Bold Software Extends Presence in Enterprise Market with Launch of BoldCCM ClearSight Interactive Unveils First-of-its-Kind Behavior-based E-mail Marketing Solution for Internet Retailers DecisionStep announces partnership with Buy.com to offer consumers ShopTogether social shopping functionality Demandware Announces ExpertCommerce Program for Fashion Retailers and Branded Manufacturers FitForCommerce Unveils FitBase and Partners with The E-tailing Group Gilt Groupe Selects Quiet Logistics to be its Fulfillment Partner IMshopping Expands Human Powered Recommendation Platform to Retailers and Etailers Online MarketLive Forms Strategic Alliance With Bronto Software and MyBuys Melissa Data Announces Guaranteed ROI Pricing Plan at 2009 Internet Retailer Show NeuStar Addresses Fundamental DNS Vulnerability with Cache Defender, a Secure DNS Authentication System RatePoint's Product Reviews Move Out of Beta with Enhanced Features Research Reveals 88 Percent of American Web Users Unable to Spot Phishing Sites Shop.Com Strengthens Commitment to Women 35-Plus With ?30 Days Of Feeling Good,? Musicshop, Price Drop Alerts and Money-Saving Rebates TheFind Introduces UpFront, The Newest Way To Bring Shoppers And Retailers Together Venda Launches Powerful New Flash Merchandising Module Where 2 Get It Announces Search Locator for Online Retailers ...

WebProNews - Jun 16, 09

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WebProNews - IMShopping Extends Its Services to Online Retailers A while back, I wrote a piece on a company called IMShopping, which was using Twitter for a fresh approach to eCommerce. Essentially what the company was doing was using a Twitter account to answer questions consumers have about products they are seeking, aiming to bring a human element often lacking in the online retail world. "Just send any shopping question as an @IMshopping within Twitter (i.e. @IMshopping Where can I find an authentic Larry Bird jersey for under $100? OR @IMshopping Where can I find a LG stainless steel, bottom-freezer refrigerator for under $1000?)," a spokesperson for IMshopping explained to WebProNews. IMshopping on Twitter The company was utilizing Twitter in a way that now is actually pretty common. Like Danny Sullivan was recently telling Mike McDonald of WebProNews at SMX Advanced, a lot of Twitter searching is done simply through tweeting. Now IMShopping has announced it is extending its services to be actually used on retail sitesthemselves. Here's an example of how it could look: [picture: IMshopping on eCommerce Sites] "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." What About Those Conversion Rates? Want some numbers? Since IMshopping's beta launch in April 2009, the site has answered more than 14,000 questions. Early tests indicate 15.48% customer conversion rates and 71.43% click-through rates (CTR) according to the company.

Budget Fashionista - Jun 10, 09

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Budget Fashionista - One of the biggest challenges of online shopping is that you are, in every practical sense, on your own. You can search items to your heart's content, and read every description word by precious word, but if you have a question, or don't know exactly what you're looking for? You're out of luck. But not at IMShopping.com, where they boast "human assisted" shopping. At least that's the theory. Let's see if it checks out. Our Review: First things first--at first glance, the site is not as navigationally-friendly as we'd like. Confronted with a list of recent random questions and answers on various shopping topics and some visual clutter, we really weren't sure where to start. Since we're in the business of shopping, however, we pressed on, and soon realized that this is not a shopping site per se--it's a community site that helps you figure out where to get what you're looking for. Okay, so the "shopping" part of the "IMShopping" moniker confused us, but moving on... Once we got a handle on what the heck we're doing here, we, naturally, clicked on over to "Clothing and Accessories" to see what other shoppers are looking for. A whole lotta things, as it turns out--from someone seeking cute AND comfortable sandals to a shopper on a quest for Ed Hardy clothes, to a bride-to-be wondering if she should wear a tiara for her wedding. Sooo, that last one is not exactly a shopping question. In fact, much of what we saw were not shopping questions per se, but more opinion/recommendation questions. All of which seemed a little broad for us, until we really got in the swing of it. Posing a question about where to purchase pretty colored bras on a budget, we found some interesting related questions about finding hard-to-fit bra sizes, etc.--all of which had at least one seemingly-helpful answer from an "expert"--which convinced us this might be a useful stop after all. Especially when our question was answered in about 10 minutes complete to links with some inexpensive options. Nice! One bonus: register and you can get paid if you have provided the best "expert" answer (usually a buck each, but free money is free money). The Verdict: Yea. Here at The Budget Fashionista, we're all about community and sharing information with our peeps--so we can easily get behind a site like IMShopping. Though, since it's not technically a "shopping" site, we STILL think the name is misleading...

Waxmama - Jun 09, 09

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Waxmama - Remember that time when you spent two straight days researching new phones, only to realize that a new one came out ten minutes after you swiped your card? And, what about those crappy towels that you bought that one time--the ones that were uber fluffy in the store but fell apart after the first wash? Just makes you want to SCREAM! No more, dear mamacitas. Now, before you buy anything, or waste one more second scouring the web for the best deal, send a message to the shopping experts at IM SHOPPING. They literally have people standing by, waiting to do all of the research for you. (Do you mean that someone in this world actually helps people for FREE?!! Sweet daddy!) After you submit your question(s), sit back and wait, and they will email you a response. Or, if you simply can't wait, send them a tweet at @imshopping and they'll be even faster Johnnies-on-the-Spot. We tried out the service when we needed new computer monitors for the office and, yep, it only took five minutes for them to email us an answer. And, it was a good one too (because we already knew the answer...sneaky dogs). Easy as pie.

Baby Cheapskate - Jun 05, 09

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Baby Cheapskate - Here are five practical Twitter uses for parents that will convince you once and for all that Twitter's so much more than a bunch of bored people talking about what they had for lunch. It's an efficient, valuable way to get information busy parents need and to interact with the people behind the brands parents depend on. Use #1: Let stores and manufactuers know what you think about their products and services, whether good or bad, in 140 characters or less. Tweet with a real, live customer service person to resolve an issue or ask a question. Every time I've done so, I've received a thoughtful, non copy-and paste-answer. Sooo much nicer than sitting on hold for an hour only to listen to someone read from a script! I've even been contacted by company reps after Tweeting general grouchy comments about a product or service (like the fact that our UPS guy throws packages down the stairs to my front door). It's enough to restore your faith in customer service! You'll find that most baby product manufacturers and stores already have a Twitter presence. Use the Twitter search bar to find them. Every day, more and more baby product companies are signing up. Plus, by following your favorite stores or manufacturers, you can often find about sales, deals, and new products. Heck, you can even contact many members of Congress through Twitter.Find stores and manufacturers: The Ultimate List of Stores on Twitter @ Shopping Journal Major Manufacturers on Twitter @ Grocery Price Blog Use #2: Ask followers for advice and get it. Want to know what folks think of that product you have your eye on? Just ask! Or use the search tool to look for a product and see what's already been said. Use #3: Get news of baby product recalls. Follow @usrecallnews, @FDArecalls, @kidsindanger and/or @safetysquad and get recall updates and relevant safety information. It's a lot more timely than reading about recalls in next month's Parents magazine. Use #4: Find deals, coupons and more. Start with following @BabyCheapskate for up to the minute deals and tips. @Freebies4Mom is a great one to follow for freebies. There are lots more great bargain hunters out there, too! Search for your all of your favorite deal bloggers to find their Twitter usernames. Use #5: Shopping concierge services help you find what you're looking for even if you haven't quite figured that out yourself yet. Tweet "human-assisted shopping" service @IMshopping questions like "Where can I find a unique Father's Day gift for my golf loving husband? And a will scout the internet and deliver an answer. The question: The answer: Other practical info I get from Twitter: local TV news and weather updates, special events notices from area attractions, national and local newspaper and magazine feeds, and more.

ecommerce-guide - Jun 01, 09

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ecommerce-guide - IMshopping is a service that aims to bring a human touch to online shopping.With the IMshopping social media site, CEO and Founder, Prashant Nedungadi, said the company has created a level of human assistance resulting in a deeper level of e-commerce satisfaction that doesn't exist on the Internet today. "There is a lot of information out there, but very little help when online shoppers need specific answers that will make or break a purchasing decision," said Nedungadi."At brick-and-mortar stores, human experts fill such a void, but on the Web, it doesn't exist." The IMshopping service also fills an information void in online shopping. Most shopping sites tend to focus on providing answers to technical-focused questions, not the general shopping and product questions that shoppers submit on the IMshopping Web site. How it Works for Consumers IMshopping was developed to bring the same level of personalized assistance to online shoppers that consumers expect to find at brick-and-mortar stores.On the IMshopping Web site, consumers ask shopping questions, and a staff of human shopping guides answers them. The Web site offers responses and recommendations to more than 20,000 questions, such as "Can you help me find good men's watches?" and "Where can I find the best iPhone deal?" For each question asked, a human IMshopping guide or community member provides a brief summary and can also link to products he or she recommends. Consumers can register on the IMshopping site to save answers and product recommendations in a personal folder that they can browse at a later time. Registered users can also rate the answers provided by the IMshopping guides. Also, consumers who use Twitter can message @imshopping to submit their shopping questions instead of going to the IMshopping Web site. IMshopping Opportunities for Retailers Currently, retailers can join the IMshopping community and answer questions being asked by shoppers. A retailer could recommend their own products or recruit community members to answer questions on his or her behalf. When promoting your business on a social media platform, industry experts recommend that you be upfront and state that you are the business owner, or an employee of the business being recommended.On IMshopping a retailer answering questions asked by shoppers could use phrases such as "My Web shop has", or "I sell a product" in the response to show your affiliation. Retailers can also capitalize on advertising opportunities by sponsoring IMshopping answers.This works much the same as sponsored ads on search engines and other Web sites: a shopper might see five answers to their question, with the first response being the sponsored--or paid for--answer from a Web retailer. As part of its merchant package, retailers are able to upload an entire catalog to IMshopping and display product images in sponsored answers and recommendations. Creating an account to answer questions and sponsored ads are currently available to online retailers, however the company also expects to launch an additional retail product in the coming months. This additional merchant opportunity will allow an online retailer to provide the IMshopping experience to customers on its own Web shop.Nedungadi said the company is currently running several test pilots to provide a shopping guide microsite to individual retailers.Interested merchants can contact IMShopping to request beta test details. IMshopping, which is currently in Beta, has just recently raised $4.7m from SK Telecom Ventures in funding, and expects to collect revenues when shoppers purchase recommended products through affiliate links.

Newser - May 16, 09

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Newser - Online shoppers have discovered "a world beyond Amazon," Ben Parr writes on Mashable. Now they can swap advice, start up shops, and even get to know designers on sites like: * Pikaba. Post requests for purchases ("I need to buy a new laptop for $500"), receive merchant offers, and trade suggestions via Facebook and Twitter. * IMShopping. Ask experts or fellow shoppers for advice via Twitter. * Tigerbow. Give gifts more easily. The site contacts recipients for their address before sending your package. * Shopflick. See videos introducing you to new clothing and jewelry, and their designers. * Zlio. Open your own store and promote it via social media. * Shopseen. You and other shoppers can upload pics of items you've spotted real-world, and yack about them. Source: Mashable

AppVita - May 15, 09

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AppVita - If you've ever missed the joys of human interaction during an online shopping session, IMshopping just might be your answer. But don't worry: IMshopping isn't your average, boring shopping website?not by a long shot. In fact, it seems they've kicked online shopping up a notch, offering an interactive virtual shopping experience using human guides available to answer all of your shopping questions. The best part is that it's ridiculously easy to use. Just ask your shopping question, enter your product category (electronics, clothing and books are some examples they give) and input your email address. The minute an IMshopping expert is available to answer your question you'll receive an email with the answer and a link to your product. In addition, you can ask the experts virtually anything related to shopping. From the specific (Where can I buy a medium blue polka dot dress for under $40?) to the vague (What should I get my mom for Mother's day?). What's great about IMshopping is that the experts will give their unbiased answers while still providing practical opinions. IMshopping also has a Twitter page, making an already convenient website that much more convenient for Twitter users. Practical Uses: * Compare prices and get answers before purchasing that brand new Plasma TV * Discover new places to buy that hard-to-find pair of favorite sunglasses * Get new opinions and inspiration on gifts for your spouse Insider Tips: * Use the wishlist to save any products you might want to buy later on * Add IMshopping to your toolbar and bookmark items from others websites visited * Check "Ask Facebook" before submitting questions to get your friend's opinions first * Browse recommended items to find things you never even knew you wanted What we liked: * Incredibly simple website navigation * Social networking features such as "Ask Facebook" and Twitter * Quick responses to the questions asked (many are answered within minutes) * Sign-up is painless What we didn't like: * Human guides does translate into the occasional mistake but we don't think this is big problem Alternatives: * FriendShopper- www.friendshopper.com * iShopWiser - www.ishopwiser.com * Kazowie - www.kazowie.com Company Info: * Launched: April 2009 * Owned by SK Telecom * Headquarters: Santa Clara, California * Founded by: Prashant Nedungadi * Web site: www.imshopping.com Costs: * Free, supported by advertising Rating: * 5 out of 5 (wow)

Mashable - May 15, 09

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Mashable - Online shopping is a relatively old concept on the Web, but the art of buying the right gift has been enhanced by the power of social sharing, collaboration, and networking. Many of us go to malls with friends, so adding the social experience to online purchasing simply makes sense. Social media, though, has done even more for shopping than we might have expected. From creating your own store to making local store-browsing an easy experience, these tools, resources, and methods for online shopping will open your eyes to a world beyond Amazon. Have your own favorite method of shopping that utilizes social tools? Let us all know in the comments. 1. Pikaba The winner of last year's Mashable Open Web awards, Pikaba is a marketplace where you can post purchase requests (i.e. I need to buy a new laptop for $500) and merchants in return can make offers. In addition, Pikaba is equipped with social media integration (blogs, Facebook (Facebook reviews), Twitter (Twitter reviews), etc.) that makes it easy to ask friends what they think of an offer or a product. It's quick to understand. Best for: Getting friends' input, shopping when you know exactly what you want 2. IMshopping IMshopping is about getting answers to your shopping questions from helpful experts or the shopping community. Ask a question via their website or @reply their Twitter account with your question and they'll provide you an answer. Best for: Getting shopping questions answered via Twitter 3. Tigerbow Finding out a friend's actual address and then putting that information into Amazon so you can finally send a gift can be a hassle, especially if we want the gift to be a surprise. So Tigerbow takes a couple steps out of the gift-giving process by having gifts sent virtually, via email, Twitter, or a social network. Once you've picked a gift and sent it, Tigerbow will connect with the recipient and ask for their address on your behalf. Once done, they'll send the gift, making your life easier. In addition, if they don't accept the gift, there is no charge. Best for: Delivering physical gifts without an address via social media 4. Shopflick Shopflick, which we recently reviewed, is designed for fashionistas. It mixes community aspects with online videos so that you not only get complete information on a piece of clothing or jewelry, but you also have a chance to get to know the designer. It's great for both designers and shoppers. Best for: Using social media to understand and shop fashion 5. Zlio Zilo Screen Seriously, Zilo does one thing really, really well - creating your own store. You have a ton of customization options, easy payment options, and best of all, social media tools to help promote your wares. What if you're a shopper? Well, there's also a Zilo community utilizing a Reddit-like voting system to rate stores submitted to the system. An easy way to find quality stores that have the expertise you're looking for. Best for: Setting up your own shop, finding great small online shops 6. Shopseen Shopseen strength is not selling you actual items. Instead, it specializes in local shopping discovery. Users of Shopseen take pictures of items of interest and upload them. It's a way to see what's available near you without ever leaving your home. Most members taking photos leave helpful information too! Best for: Local shopping discovery

Fashion Indie - May 15, 09

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Fashion Indie - This content is RAW. It was pulled from another source and was not written by Fashion Indie. To see the original source, Click Here. [link to Mashable story] Online shopping is a relatively old concept on the Web, but the art of buying the right gift has been enhanced by the power of social sharing, collaboration, and networking. Many of us go to malls with friends, so adding the social experience to online purchasing simply makes sense. Social media, though, has done even more for shopping than we might have expected. From creating your own store to making local store-browsing an easy experience, these tools, resources, and methods for online shopping will open your eyes to a world beyond Amazon. Have your own favorite method of shopping that utilizes social tools? Let us all know in the comments. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Pikaba -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The winner of last year?s Mashable Open Web awards, Pikaba is a marketplace where you can post purchase requests (i.e. I need to buy a new laptop for $500) and merchants in return can make offers. In addition, Pikaba is equipped with social media integration (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that makes it easy to ask friends what they think of an offer or a product. It?s quick to understand. Best for: Getting friends? input, shopping when you know exactly what you want -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. IMshopping -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- IMshopping is about getting answers to your shopping questions from helpful experts or the shopping community. Ask a question via their website or @reply their Twitter account with your question and they?ll provide you an answer. Best for: Getting shopping questions answered via Twitter -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Tigerbow -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Finding out a friend?s actual address and then putting that information into Amazon so you can finally send a gift can be a hassle, especially if we want the gift to be a surprise. So Tigerbow takes a couple steps out of the gift-giving process by having gifts sent virtually, via email, Twitter, or a social network. Once you?ve picked a gift and sent it, Tigerbow will connect with the recipient and ask for their address on your behalf. Once done, they?ll send the gift, making your life easier. In addition, if they don?t accept the gift, there is no charge. Best for: Delivering physical gifts without an address via social media -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4. Shopflick -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shopflick, which we recently reviewed, is designed for fashionistas. It mixes community aspects with online videos so that you not only get complete information on a piece of clothing or jewelry, but you also have a chance to get to know the designer. It?s great for both designers and shoppers. Best for: Using social media to understand and shop fashion -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5. Zlio -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Seriously, Zilo does one thing really, really well - creating your own store. You have a ton of customization options, easy payment options, and best of all, social media tools to help promote your wares. What if you?re a shopper? Well, there?s also a Zilo community utilizing a Reddit-like voting system to rate stores submitted to the system. An easy way to find quality stores that have the expertise you?re looking for. Best for: Setting up your own shop, finding great small online shops -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6. Shopseen -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Shopseen?s strength is not selling you actual items. Instead, it specializes in local shopping discovery. Users of Shopseen take pictures of items of interest and upload them. It?s a way to see what?s available near you without ever leaving your home. Most members taking photos leave helpful information too! Best for: Local shopping discovery

ecommercetimes.com - May 13, 09

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ecommercetimes.com - One would think that the cost of doing business on the Web is so small that it would be almost negligible, but that's not the case with many e-tailers, which is why many of them fail. It's also why Prashant Nedungadi decided to launch IMshopping, an online company that's trying to emulate offline customer service. Nedungadi used his experience as cofounder of Andale (now part of Vendio), at one time one of the largest third-party e-commerce service provider for small businesses on the Web, to hatch IMshopping -- which launched its beta site recently -- and tap SK Telecom for US$4.7 million in venture capital for first round funding of the idea. That's no mean feat in these trying economic times. He recalls talking to small merchants several years ago and finding many of them deserting eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) More about eBay. "What they were finding," the CEO and founder of IMshopping told the E-Commerce Times, "is that it was becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive to sell online because conversion rates had dropped dramatically." From 2003 to 2006, for example, conversion rates dropped from 3.6 percent to 2.1 percent. That kind of drop can be devastating to many online businesses that operate on razor-thin margins, Nedungadi maintained. That conversion rate drop, he continued, corresponded to another interesting development on the consumer side of things. During the same time frame, the time a consumer spent online before making a purchase jumped from 19 hours to 34 hours. "That had a direct correlation to conversion rates because people were visiting more online stores but not buying," he said. That's when Nedungadi began to ask himself, "How can we maximize the likelihood that a consumer will make a purchase?" It turns out that the answer was wet-tech. "Human assistance turns out to be a huge catalyst for people to make a decision," he asserted. The Human Element One reason human assistance is important is that consumers now have a greater desire than ever to get answers to specific technical and qualitative questions, answers that can't be readily obtained with a search engine or even from reading user reviews, according to the company. Moreover, a major provider of these answers -- sales assistants roaming the floors of brick-and-mortar stores -- are becoming a vanishing species as more and more retailers disappear from the scene. However, human assistance is only part of IMshopping's strategy. Ubiquity is a key component, too. Consumers looking for answers need not go to the IMshopping site to garner their knowledge. They can use social networking tools like Facebook More about Facebook and Twitter More about Twitter, or an instant messaging client. There's an iPhone app in the wings, too, according to Nedungadi. Short and Long Terms In the short term, IMshopping will be concentrating on growing its user base and providing value to the shopper, the CEO said. The medium-term objective of the company is to "think of IMshopping to go," he continued. "Shoppers should not have to go to IMshopping to get the benefit of it." "You should be able to be doing your work," he said, "and we will bring IMshopping to you." In the long term, he added, IMshopping will be brought to merchants. They'll be able to tap into IMshopping resources to boost the value of their Web sites. Rather than paying a person by the hour to answer a few questions, Nedungadi explained, a merchant can pay IMshopping by the question. "They can route their questions into our cloud and our assistants are going to give your customers the answers they need but from their Web site," he observed. While there are social shopping sites like Kaboodle, ThisNext and StyleHive, IMshopping's addition of a human element, coupled with its goal to reach shoppers wherever they are through an array to technologies, makes it a unique offering. Is it one that will fly? "Not everyone shops the same way or makes decisions the same way or finds the same type of process valuable," Forrester Research Vice President and Research Director Patty Freeman Evans told the E-Commerce Times. "If this can provide a way for someone to discover products in a form that's easier for them, then it's great," she added. "It could be a nice thing. It's not going to be for everybody."

CRM Buyer - May 13, 09

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CRM Buyer - As he developed the idea for IMshopping, Prashant Nedungadi saw two problematic trends emerging. First, merchants were fleeing big sites like eBay due to sinking conversion rates. Second, e-tail customers were spending more time online before they closed purchases. His answer: real people. "Human assistance turns out to be a huge catalyst for people to make a decision," he said. One would think that the cost of doing business on the Web is so small that it would be almost negligible, but that's not the case with many e-tailers, which is why many of them fail. It's also why Prashant Nedungadi decided to found IMshopping, an online company that's trying to emulate offline customer service. With Nedungadi at the helm as CEO, IMshopping recently launched its site in beta. Nedungadi used his experience as cofounder of Andale (now part of Vendio), at one time one of the largest third-party e-commerce service providers for small businesses on the Web, to hatch IMshopping and tap SK Telecom for US$4.7 million in venture capital for first round funding. That's no mean feat in these trying economic times. When Conversion Rates Decline Nedungadi recalls talking to small merchants several years ago and finding many of them deserting eBay. "What they were finding," he told the E-Commerce Times, "is that it was becoming increasingly cost-prohibitive to sell online because conversion rates had dropped dramatically." From 2003 to 2006, for example, conversion rates dropped from 3.6 percent to 2.1 percent. That kind of drop can be devastating to many online businesses that operate on razor-thin margins, Nedungadi maintained. That conversion rate drop, he continued, corresponded to another interesting development on the consumer side of things. During the same time frame, the time a consumer spent online before making a purchase jumped from 19 hours to 34 hours. "That had a direct correlation to conversion rates because people were visiting more online stores but not buying," he said. That's when Nedungadi began to ask himself, "How can we maximize the likelihood that a consumer will make a purchase?" It turns out that the answer was people. "Human assistance turns out to be a huge catalyst for people to make a decision," he asserted. The Human Element One reason human assistance is important is that consumers now have a greater desire than ever to get answers to specific technical and qualitative questions -- answers that can't be readily obtained with a search engine or even from reading user reviews, according to the company. Moreover, a major provider of such answers -- sales assistants roaming the floors of brick-and-mortar stores -- are becoming a vanishing species as more and more retailers disappear from the scene. However, human assistance is only part of IMshopping's strategy. Ubiquity is a key component, too. Consumers looking for answers need not go to the IMshopping site to garner their knowledge. They can use social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter, or an instant messaging client. There's an iPhone app in the wings, too, according to Nedungadi. Short and Long Terms In the short term, IMshopping will be concentrating on growing its user base and providing value to the shopper, the CEO said. The medium-term objective of the company is to "think of IMshopping to go," he continued. "Shoppers should not have to go to IMshopping to get the benefit of it." "You should be able to be doing your work," he said, "and we will bring IMshopping to you." In the long term, he added, IMshopping will be brought to merchants. They'll be able to tap into IMshopping resources to boost the value of their Web sites. Rather than paying a person by the hour to answer a few questions, Nedungadi said, a merchant can pay IMshopping by the question. "They can route their questions into our cloud, and our assistants are going to give [their] customers the answers they need, but from their Web site," he explained. While there are social shopping sites like Kaboodle, ThisNext and StyleHive, IMshopping's addition of a human element, coupled with its goal to reach shoppers wherever they are through an array of technologies, makes it a unique offering. Is it one that will fly? "Not everyone shops the same way or makes decisions the same way or finds the same type of process valuable," Forrester Research Vice President and Research Director Patty Freeman Evans told the E-Commerce Times. "If this can provide a way for someone to discover products in a form that's easier for them, then it's great," she added. "It could be a nice thing. It's not going to be for everybody."

Mom Central Tech - May 13, 09

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Mom Central Tech - IMshopping announced the beta launch of their human-assisted shopping website and Twitter shopping servicewhere knowledgeable shopping guides respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users. How It Works Twitter users can directly ask questions by tweeting @imshopping or on the IMshopping website . 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. 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. The beta site has launched with over 20,000 questions answered and available for public search. You can see an example of questions already at answered IMShopping here. A word from the CEO 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. He says, ?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." Try it out I sent a query to @imshopping about eco-friendly paints and business cards. I received a response in about 10 minutes and the answers were top notch. Try out @imshopping yourself and report back on how their service works for you.

Star News Online - May 07, 09

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Star News Online - Do you shy away from online shopping because you prefer human interaction? If so, don't put down the mouse just yet. There's a new service that can help. IMshopping offers free, human-assisted shopping questions and answers for those who don't think online product reviews are specific enough to guide them. Shoppers can ask their questions at www.imshopping.com or @reply to @IMshopping on Twitter to get a detailed answer about whatever they want to buy. Answers include research information from an individual as well as recommended products to purchase with pictures. Questions to IMshopping via Twitter this week included: Where can I find a leather ottoman with storage? What would be a great gag gift for a 37-year-old woman? Does anyone still sell Zip drives? What is the hot Mother's Day gift? To see other questions and their answers, go to www.imshopping.com.

Social Networking Blog- Sociableblog - May 06, 09

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Social Networking Blog- Sociableblog - Just read Social Guy's post on CheapTweet and wanted to fill you in on a new shopping service that launched this week called IMshopping. It's a Twitter-based shopping service that brings a human touch to online shopping. For those who are deal-hungry, but unable to sift through thousands of products, IMShopping allows the users to simply pose a question to the ether and wait for a reply. Within the hour users recieve answers from the IMShopping team of experts (real people!) with recommendations and links to the good deals. You discussed CheapTweet in terms of the unique, the social, and the deals. Frankly, I think that IMShopping trumps CheapTweet on all three fronts: Example of the Twitter experience @IMshopping Unique : IMshopping is a human-powered shopping site where consumers can ask any question from experts, just like going into a Best Buy. Just send any shopping question as an @IMshopping within Twitter (i.e. @IMshopping Where can I find an authentic Larry Bird jersey for under $100? OR @IMshopping Where can I find a LG stainless steel, bottom-freezer refrigerator for under $1000?) Social : IMShopping brings you into the social space by allowing the users themselves to also contribute their own opinion on products, or take a shot at answering each other's questions. If you choose to use the Twitter element alone, you can read the list of other's questions and the feedback they received. Comment, critique, shop! Do it all. Deals : Quality over quantity. The responses received are a direct answer to your consumer query. They also usually include a range of prices for the product, allowing you to fine tune which model you would want and what your price options are like. Example of Answer from a Guide @IMshopping The service comes from e-commerce vet Prashant Nedungadi. Prashant founded the largest third-party e-commerce tool company Andale and is back with what he believes in the answer to traditionally declining e-commerce conversion rates.

Into Mobile - May 06, 09

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Into Mobile - We know SK Telecom has prepared tons of money for growth, but we haven?t expected this kind of an investment. Rather, we though they?ll strictly focus on mobile services, rather than on, let?s say, mashups. Whatever the reasoning behind their move is, we?re now seeing them investing $4.7 million in Series A round of funding in Twitter-based shopping service - IMshopping. That said, I?ve no doubts they expect to see the company releasing the full blown mobile client, or simply allow users to follow their activities on any Twitter client. As for IMshopping, it?s the first human-assisted shopping website and Twitter shopping service, ?where knowledgeable shopping guides respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users.? You can find out more about the service from their website? We?ll certainly watch carefully where this SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM)?s investment goes. Stay tuned.

Tech Crunch - May 06, 09

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Tech Crunch - Last week we wrote about a startup called IMshopping, which lets you ask questions to human shopping guides about products to buy. One of the ways you can do this is directly through Twitter by asking a question to @imshopping. I tried this earlier today by asking for Mother's Day gift suggestions. Imagine my surprise when I started getting back answers not only from @imshopping, but also from @answers, lots of them. The @answers account belongs to Mahalo Answers, the Q&A site that is run by Jason Calacanis. Could it possibly be that Mahalo Answers is hijacking questions directed at IMshopping. Yes, it is. My question is now posted on Mahalo Answers, where anyone there can answer, and every time they do I get another message on Twitter. I never posted this question on Mahalo Answers nor asked them to. Mahalo Answers is stealing my question, isn't it? Calacanis (who is our partner in organizing the TechCrunch 50 conference), confirms, "We pull in about 100-200 questions a day from twitter... Usually anything with 'does anyone know...'" And only "less than 1%" of Mahalo's total traffic comes from Twitter. I asked that also. Finally, Calacanis points out: "It's all public, so folks love it (ie free research)." I am not sure about the loving it part. If I ask a question on Twitter, usually I am looking for an answer from people who are following me. I don't know if there is such a thing as answer spam--I mean, I did put the question on Twitter--but this comes pretty close. In the two hours since I posted my questions (I also asked for gift suggestions for my wife since we have children), I've gotten three answers on Twitter from IMshopping and 11 from Mahalo answers. Both link to a page where the question is posted, along with all the answers. IMshopping doesn't send you a new tweet every time there is a new answer, which is a far less spammy way to do it. Actually, I don't really care that Mahalo is hijacking these questions if I end up getting better answers as a result. And there is an evil genius component involved which is admirable in its sheer audaciousness. Who steals somebody else's questions? So how do Mahalo's answers stack up to IMshopping? To be honest, I found both sets of answers equally unsatisfying. The guides on IMshopping suggested a "personalized oversized metal family tree sculpture," an engraved wooden keepsake box, personalized throw, and chocolates. The folks from Mahalo Answers came up with a digital picture frame, a gift certificate (thanks), tea, and time with her grandchildren. I am still looking for a good, original answer--something that is not too tacky would be nice. If you have one, please leave it in comments.

Killer Startups - May 06, 09

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Killer Startups - In case you are looking for a human-assisted shopping site, this is the right site for you to take a look at. This company offers an interesting service that can be accurately defined as the digital equal to a knowledgeable salesperson you can talk with at a store. IMshopping was specially created with the intention to give users all the answers they need in order to select the right products to buy. Therefore, if you want to purchase any product and you are not totally convinced about it, you can ask all your questions and a highly qualified team of professionals will give you the answers you need. This is a new way to know which the right product is for you. IMshopping gives you the chance to find products in an easy and detailed way. This site is actually very clear and simple to navigate though, and if you want to know who are the people involved in this project you can do it by taking a look at the "About" section. On that section you have all the information you might need about the company's main executives with pictures of IMshopping entire staff. It is time to buy with the right shopping assistance, and you can take a look at this site and start asking your questions. In their own words "We have saved shoppers over 6,000 hours!" Why it might be a killer Because it will be used by people who want to make sure they are spending their money for a quality product. Some questions What happen if you do not find the right answer? Is the site related to any brand?

Lockergnome - May 05, 09

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Lockergnome - The idea of using Twitter for shopping would have been deemed as insane a mere few months ago I suspect. Today, I see this as a completely different story. Enter IMShopping. It's kind of like a 411 service for those seeking shopping advice whether it is based on a specific desire or a particular product at a good price. Either way, it seems clear that IMShopping is a solid first step. While still new from what I can tell, it seems that the service is hoping to become a bridge between product and person with Twitter being used as a vehicle. Where I see it going, is sort of acting as a natural extension of Yahoo Answers. How well will a service like this do in such a rough economy, this is difficult to discern to be honest with you as I am still unclear as to how easily it is going to be able to build up a sustainable business model. I mean, all of this human interaction is fine, until a lack of monetization fall through that is.

SFGate.com - May 01, 09

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SFGate.com - Workday in Pleasanton raised $75 million in Series E funding from New Enterprise Associates, Greylock Partners and co-founder Dave Duffield, who also founded PeopleSoft. Workday makes human resources and financial software and also hired a new vice president of marketing, Clark Newby. Marin Software in San Francisco raised $13 million in Series C financing led by DAG Ventures. The company manages paid search campaigns for advertisers. Quantenna Communications in Fremont, which makes high-speed wireless chipsets for home electronics, raised $14 million in Series C funding led by Southern Cross Venture Partners. IMshopping in Santa Clara, an online shopping guide based on Twitter, raised $4.7 million in Series A funding from SK Telecom. Trend Micro in Cupertino will acquire Third Brigade, and Symantec in Cupertino acquired Mi5 Networks, both to bolster their security offerings. ShotSpotter in Mountain View acquired an acoustic gunshot detection system from QNA/PSI.

Information Week - May 01, 09

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Information Week - There is a new account on Twitter that gives you shopping assistance and since Twitter works on your mobile phone, this can be a useful companion when looking for something or when you have a question about a product. You just send @imshopping your question, in 140 characters of course, and it will respond with the information you are looking for. The response is a TinyURL link to a page at IMshopping.com that will give you a longer answer than Twitter would allow. If you are logged in to their site, you can add additional information or respond to other product queries to add to the original answer. The response will be to @YourTwitterID so you simply need to check the Twitter site and click on your @ link that will show you your replies, or use the @replies feature found in most third party Twitter clients. "We believe human assistance will create a deeper level of e-commerce satisfaction that doesn't exist on the Internet today," says IMshopping CEO and Founder, Prashant 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 publicly so others can benefit from the right choices." One of the recent questions asked was "What cell phone companies have phones with SIM cards." The answer, AT&T (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile, shows that this is a US centric site. Other questions posed have been "What is the best way to kill fire ants and keep them from coming back", "Where can I get a good deal on a PowerMac" and "What is a good Mother's Day gift for a 32 year old under $100." Those questions are difficult to ask a machine, like Google (NSDQ: GOOG). You are typically overwhelmed with various websites hawking their wares. I've used the Google pricing service via SMS on my phone, but it wasn't of much value beyond that. IMShopping seems to give answers that are at least partially useful and will leave you more informed than you were when you asked the question. A word of warning though. Their website is not, mobile friendly, or at least it didn't detect my mobile browser on a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone, so there was some side-to-side scrolling and weird formatting. Those with Android or an iPhone will fare better.

Internet Retailer - Apr 30, 09

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Internet Retailer - Shopping experts on IMShopping.com compete to provide the best answers to questions posted by consumers in search of specific types of products. Launched this week after a four-month test period, IMShopping has close to 10,000 users and 20,000 stored questions and answers, CEO Prashant Nedungadi says. IMShopping gives online shoppers what they get in physical stores help from knowledgeable people to find what they want, says Nedungadi, who is the former chief technology officer of Andale, a company he founded to provide software applications for eBay sellers. IMShopping.com is integrated with the online product catalogs of several e-marketplaces, including Commission Junction, Shopping.com, LinkShare and ShareASale.com. When a shopper enters a question on IMShopping.com, or sends a question to its page on the social networking site Twitter.com, sha'll receive one or more answers from IMShopping.com's network of some 100 shopping experts, or guides, who will use IMShopping.com's technology to scan the databases of its e-marketplace partners or search the web for a shopper's desired product. Each set of questions and answers is displayed on IMShopping.com or Twitter for public view. One question posted this week on IMShopping.com, for example, asked "What`s a good Mother's Day gift for a 32-year-old under $100?" It received two answers: One provided a link to a $49 necklace with a link to a buy page on FashionJewelryForEveryone.ecrater.com; the other suggested building a personalized DVD with the shopper's own photos at OneTrueMedia.com. On IMShopping.com's Twitter page, a shopper recently asked, "Where can I find Alice + Olivia pastel madras shorts online (not the dark colors, the light pastel) in size zero?" A single answer said she could find light pastel blue shorts in that size and brand on NeimanMarcus.com and provided a link to the Neiman Marcus home page, where a search for "Alice + Olivia shorts" produced a page with the pastel blue shorts among other Alice + Olivia products. The answer also recommended a pair of Alice + Olivia Bermuda shorts with a link to a buy page on Nordstrom.com. "Our job is to connect shoppers, guides and retailers," Nedungadi says. He adds that IMShopping.com uses software that automatically places the most relevant answer at the top of each answer list, then pays the guide who produced that answer a small fee. Shoppers can also search on IMShopping.com for answers to questions that may have already been asked by other shoppers and stored on the site. Eventually, IMShopping.com may provide its technology and Q&A content as an application designed for individual retailers that they will be able to feature directly on their retail sites, Nedungadi says. IMShopping recently closed a $4.7 million Series A round of funding from SK Telecom Ventures, Nedungadi says. SK Telecom senior vice presidents Min Park and Soo-Hyuk Lee have joined IMShoppnig?s board of directors.

AffiliateTip.com - Apr 30, 09

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AffiliateTip.com - IMshopping, a shopping site that answers shopping questions, has launched a Twitter shopping service where shopping guides respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users. The way it works is that shoppers post an @ reply to @IMshopping to ask a question about some product or service. And then shopping guides respond with a recommendation. The answer is posted to the IMshopping site and a link with an @ reply is posted to Twitter to the person who answered the question. While the answers are currently provided by guides, the site is expected to scale through the involvement of community answering questions. The answers provided include affiliate product links.

ProTwitterNews - Apr 30, 09

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ProTwitterNews - Can Twitter;s millions of users provide the missing component for online shopping: the human touch? Startup IMshopping, which recently gained $4.7 million in startup funding, believes it can cash-in on the microblogging platform's e-commerce potential. South Korea's SK Telecom provided the first-round funding. The idea is, rather than browsing an online store, you ask the @IMshopping Twitter account for advice on finding a particular product. "Twitter is the ideal medium for having a conversation; Online shoppers have the option to communicate privately with the expert on Twitter, or publicly so others can benefit from the right choices," IMshopping CEO Prashant Nedungadi told WebProNews. Unlike online shops with virtual assistance, Nedungadi promises personal replies, either public or private.

Yahoo! Buzz - Apr 30, 09

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Yahoo! Buzz - [from Lifehacker] IMshopping takes the Mahalo route with product recommendations, using humans to research and answer questions submitted on its site, or through a Twitter. And it seems to actually work, for the most part. The answers depend, of course, on what you're asking about, and whether IMshopping has someone on hand (or just awake) that knows about your specific field. On the site this morning,? [link to full story on Lifehacker]

SheFinds - Apr 30, 09

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SheFinds - Online shopping at work can be dangerous--if you're in a cube farm, you never know who's peeking over your shoulder to make sure you're using the company's time "efficiently". IMShopping, the first human-assisted shopping service on the web, minimizes the risk (and is a heck of a lot more personal than Google) with a community of expert shoppers on hand to tailor search results to your specific needs. You can ask questions directly on the site, or receive an answer via Twitter.I tweeted a request for a cute, non-black laptop case with a sturdy shoulder strap and had five options within an hour. I don't know if I would have found NicoleJane.com's chic black-and-white leaf bag for only $35 if I'd spent an entire lunch hour looking. Tweet your questions to @imshopping or log in to the site and outline your search criteria there. With your personalized answer, you'll also get links to similar questions. And speaking of Twitter, follow the SheFinds' editors:@SheFinds, @SheFindsBryn, and @SheFindsRebekah to get our site's updates in real time.

Tech Crunch - Apr 29, 09

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Tech Crunch - IMshopping has launched a human-powered shopping search site and Twitter shopping service designed to help consumers find niche products on the web. It's sort of like a shopping 411 service, which human guides on call respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users about what product best suits their needs. IMShopping tries to simulate the experience of going into a store, speaking with a sales person and being guided to the item that works best for you. IMShopping also closed a $4.7 million Series A round of funding from SK Telecom Ventures. IMSHopping hopes to fill the gap pf personalized, detail-oriented service that e-commerce sites don't have, since these sites are focused less on answering technical questions about a product and more on price and reviews. Twitter users can directly ask questions by messaging @imshopping. The shopping guides in the community and trained experts offer detailed responses within minutes. Shoppers can use these responses to instantly make purchases or save to their own folders before making a product decision. Shoppers who are asking questions on IMShopping's site can search IMshopping's database for product questions that have been already answered, or pose their own shopping questions (the site currently has an archive of 20,000 questions). As the 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. Consumers can also ask direct questions via Twitter that are not made public. The guide will give you an answer of where to find your desired item and also provide you with links to sites where the item can be purchased. You can also rate the response you received from the guide-the guides are paid based on the quality and etail of their responses. The site is really designed to get answers on where to get hard to find or obscure items-like what electronic toy is best for a hyperactive two year old. If you already have a specific item in mind, the site may be useless to you. As a business model, IMShopping collects revenue when consumer buy products that are recommended through the site. The problem is that when a consumer finally gets the right product for their needs, what is there to stop them from then searching for the produt on Google. The company is staying quiet on future business plans we are told that over time the company will roll out programs for general consumers to earn value from assisting on searches and getting rated for the quality of their answers. Human search hasn't done well in the past; take a look at ChaCha's former business model. It's hard to understand how human guides could do better than Google or Yahoo unless the guides are experts in electronics, clothes etc. IMShopping is hoping to add the human touch to the online shopping experience but increasingly retail sites employ staff to conduct live chats with potential customers.

Auctionbytes - Apr 29, 09

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Auctionbytes - IMshopping is a new "human-assisted" shopping website and Twitter shopping service where knowledgeable shopping guides respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users. Prashant Nedungadi is CEO and founder of IMshopping and previously co-founded the largest third-party tool provider on eBay and led the merger of Andale with Vendio. IMshopping delivers a mix of recommendation technology and real human assistance, aiming to create a more efficient way to find products online. 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. 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. "We believe human assistance will create a deeper level of e-commerce satisfaction that doesn't exist on the Internet today," said 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 publicly so others can benefit from the right choices." The company also announcing 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.

Mashable - Apr 29, 09

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Mashable - Shopping online at websites like Amazon or ThinkGeek is generally pretty easy - click, confirm, and pay. But there's something to be said about shopping in-store, especially when you want to ask whether a product is right for your needs. Even Amazon reviews can't replace this interaction. A new social service has launched to address the issue: IMshopping. IMshopping is a human-powered shopping assistance tool where users can ask complicated shopping questions via its website or on Twitter. Yes, by @replying IMshopping, you can find out everything from the best cookware to where to find authentic sports memorabilia. Once you've asked IMshopping a question (it can be on practically any shopping-related topic), the service will send you back an @reply with a link to the answer of your question. Answers include research information from an individual, as well as recommended products to purchase with pictures. One of the best features of IMshopping is the ability to follow-up, just as you would in a store. If IMshopping hasn't gotten to what you want, you can clarify or ask another question until you find the right product. Sometimes the additional inquiries are answered by the same person and sometimes by a different person. Clearly people believe in IMshopping's potential, as well as its business model. The service intends to generate revenue by collecting affiliate revenue if a user buys products recommended via the IMshopping website. The company also announced $4.7 million in funding from SK Telecom. We like the idea of a human experience for shopping, but wonder if the company can fund all of those people answering questions round-the-clock. Good, productive people are expensive and a person can only answer so many questions in an hour or a day. IMshopping intends to allow customers to become human shopping guides as well, although how that will works is uncertain. One other potential problem with IMshopping is speed. The reason people ask for help in Best Buy isn't because they want to have a human experience, but because a human can help us accomplish our goal (to find and buy something) faster. If IMshopping can't get information to users in a reasonable time, people will turn to the faster search engine, even if it may be less precise. Then again, having someone else do the research for you isn't a bad thing, either.

Venture Beat - Apr 29, 09

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Venture Beat - IMShopping launches today, offering online shoppers the chance to ask for advice or recommendations from real life, human shopping guides via its web site and Twitter. Now, as you browse, you can get answers to your questions on-demand, just like you would by asking a clerk for help at a store. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., the company has also raised $4.7 million in a first round of funding. IMShopping says its concept is based on research showing that online consumers want more than simple price comparisons and peer-generated product reviews' they want analysis and technical know-how too. For this level of detail, IMShopping users can message @imshopping on Twitter to tap into a network of experts who will respond in a short (though unspecified) amount of time. In addition to responding to questions as they pop up, IMShopping is also recording previous questions in an ever-growing, searchable database, allowing users to find answers even before contacting an IMShopping expert. Already, the company has 20,000 questions logged on its site and its Twitter page questions like "Why should I buy an iPhone over a Blackberry Bold?" and "What's a good Father's Day gift for a husband who's really into Rock Band?" These are good questions. See the answers here and here. To craft useful responses, the company says its shopping guides read several product reviews, familiarize themselves with specifications, get a sense of the blog buzz and pinpoint price ranges. How they do all this in the short time span before users accustomed to instant gratification get frustrated, I'm not so sure. IMShopping doesn't actually say how long it takes only that it's less time than it would take for a user to drive to their local Best Buy to ask an employee there. That doesn't sound terribly convincing, but it seems like IMShopping's potential for data mining has piqued investor interest anyway $4.7 million is a pretty handsome chunk of change for a Twitter-based internet startup in this economic climate. But after all, any service that gathers thousands of consumers' attitudes, sentiments and complaints about retail products is an advertising gold mine. The financing came from Menlo Park, Calif.-based SK Telecom Ventures. Based on the mobile nature of shopping, an iPhone app and text-message platform for the service (something resembling SMS answer engine ChaCha, perhaps) can't be too far behind.

WebProNews - Apr 29, 09

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WebProNews - WebProNews looked at some interesting research from Forrester and Shop.org this week, which indicated that while online retail sales have been increasing, those for the majority of web-only businesses have actually remained flat or on the decline. One startup launching this week thinks injecting a little human touch into eCommerce can be a way to combat this. Naturally, Twitter is the medium the company's using to do this. The company is called IMshopping, and aims to provide an online version of the salespeople who answer your questions in a brick and mortar store like Best Buy or Foot Locker. Basically the concept is that consumers ask IMshopping questions through Twitter about products they are seeking, and IMshopping points them in the right direction. "Just send any shopping question as an @IMshopping within Twitter (i.e. @IMshopping Where can I find an authentic Larry Bird jersey for under $100? OR @IMshopping Where can I find a LG stainless steel, bottom-freezer refrigerator for under $1000?)," a spokesperson for IMshopping tells WebProNews. The site is launching with human guides answering questions and over time the company will roll out programs for general consumers to earn value from assisting on searches and getting rated for the quality of their answers. "We can't comment more on this program right now but it will be a game-changer in terms of community incentives," the spokesperson says. I am reminded of ChaCha, but this is strictly for shopping, and has the potential for gaining a larger following, simply because of the Twitter factor. IMshopping does have a web site that can be used just the same, but with the right marketing, I can see avid Twitter users going this route simply for the convenience factor. Yes, consumers could simply search for what they're looking for on Google or another search engine, but we've seen examples in the past of businesses using Twitter to help users find what they were looking for, and with this as a primary goal of IMshopping, there could be a place for it. Prashant Nedungadi - CEO of IMshopping "We believe human assistance will create a deeper level of e-commerce satisfaction that doesn?t exist on the Internet today," says IMshopping CEO and Founder Prashant 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 publicly so others can benefit from the right choices," he adds. Is the service going to change the face of the web? Probably not, but it's an interesting look into how Twitter can be implemented directly into a business model. IMshopping has secured a $4.7m round of funding from South Korea Telecom Ventures. As a business model, IMShopping collects revenue when consumers buy products that are recommended through the site. The spokesperson tells me that he company is staying quiet on future business plans but Prashant's background (he founded Andale, which is now Vendio) seems to suggest there may be bigger B2B plays as well.

Lifehacker - Apr 29, 09

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Lifehacker - IMshopping takes the Mahalo route with product recommendations, using humans to research and answer questions submitted on its site, or through a Twitter "@". And it seems to actually work, for the most part. The answers depend, of course, on what you're asking about, and whether IMshopping has someone on hand (or just awake) that knows about your specific field. On the site this morning, questions about iPhones and Apple laptops were often replied to with suggestions to wait until after Apple's announcements at the World Wide Developers' Conference (a pretty smart move, usually), while a more generic question about USB key drives was met with a semi-helpful suggestion to check out a discount site like Tiger Direct. So, in some cases, you're going to get an answer that's the very friendly equivalent of "Google it." There's a chance, though, that you'll get a link you didn't know about, or advice that's coming from a fairly independent voice. Signing in through the site lets you save your answers and recommendations to a "folder" you can browse through for purchasing later. Free to use, requires sign-up to save recommendations.

The Inquisitr - Apr 29, 09

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The Inquisitr - A new Twitter-based shopping advice service is publicly launching today. IMshopping lets you communicate with a staff of "shopping experts" to get any product questions personally answered any hour of the day. IMshopping On Twitter IMshopping works by its Web site and by Twitter (@imshopping). All you do is send an @ message to the account, and one of its guides will respond with an answer. You can also do the same thing directly on the IMshopping.com Web site. It's like ChaCha, but far more specific. "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's launch announcement states. IMshopping Responses IMshopping says its experts will respond to queries within a "short period of time." Looking at some Twitter-based questions from this morning, it looks like thus far, responses are taking around 40 minutes. One does wonder, however, whether the wait will increase as the service becomes more widely known and used. Also not yet clear is how the company intends to monetize its service. IMshopping says it's already answered more than 20,000 questions during its private beta testing period. You can track the Q&A on the company's Web site or by doing a simple Twitter search. IMshopping is operating with a $4.7 million round of Series A funding. It's backed largely by South Korean mobile provider SK Telecom. The company is based in Santa Clara, California.

Wireless Week - Apr 29, 09

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Wireless Week - WirelessWeek - April 29, 2009 - Nokia is now offering the Nokia 5800 Comes With Music device in Brazil. TIM will be the only operator selling the solution during the first month of launch. - Wireless carriers are increasingly losing control of location-based service (LBS) provisioning to Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo and to handset vendors like Nokia, according to a Strategy Analytics report. The report singles out Google and Nokia as significant threats to carrier ambitions. - The IMS Forum and Aricent announced the launch of www.TestNGN.org, a site hosting an industry-wide collaborative platform of test cases for the validation of IMS and NGN equipment and services. - American Tower Corporation reported total first-quarter revenues increased 6.9%, to $408.7 million, and rental and management segment revenues increased 5.9%, to $395.9 million. Net income was $58.6 million. - CommScope reported a first-quarter net loss of $21 million compared with a net loss of $11 million in the year-ago quarter. - IMShopping launched a Twitter-based shopping service with $4.7 million in series A funding from SK Telecom Ventures. The new service will allow Twitter users to directly ask questions by messaging @imshopping. Shopping guides in the community and trained experts offer detailed responses within a short period of time. Shoppers can then use those responses to instantly make purchases or save to their own folders before making a product decision. - Quantenna Communications announced that it has received $13.85 million in Series C funding led by new investor Southern Cross Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors Grazia Equity GmbH, Sequoia Capital, Sigma Partners and Venrock Associates. With this latest round, total investment in the three-year old semiconductor company now exceeds $42 million. - Sorenson Media says its Sorenson Spark video decoder has been licensed by Qualcomm for chipsets targeted at the next generation low-power and multimedia-rich mobile phones, mobile computing devices and other consumer products. The Sorenson Spark video codec will enable devices to play a variety of videos available on the Internet.

e-consultancy - Apr 29, 09

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e-consultancy - As much as I love buying things online, there's a lot to like about the in-store shopping experience. Being able to see, touch and try a product in person can play a major role in a purchasing decision. It also helps to have a member of the sales staff handy to answer questions. But a startup that launched today is hoping to make the online shopping experience a little bit more like the offline one. IMShopping bills itself as 'human assisted shopping'. It's the brainchild of Prashant Nedungadi, who founded Andale, and has raised $4.7m from SK Telecom Ventures. According to Nedungadi, "Human assistance will create a deeper level of e-commerce satisfaction that doesn?t exist on the Internet today", providing the same sort of service that consumers are used to offline. The IMShopping website functions much like other Q&A websites, such as Yahoo! Answers. If you have a shopping-related question, it's easy to post it and view the responses when they come in. There's also a Twitter interface. Tweet a question to @imshopping and when an answer is provided, a response will be sent to you. Nifty. Overall, the IMShopping website is simple and easy-to-use. Even if the idea of an ecommerce-focused Q&A site isn't entirely original, I definitely think that some consumers will find value in a service like this. But as for bring a little bit of the brick and mortar experience to the internet, I think that's probably not the ideal positioning for IMShopping to seek out. There are some major obstacles here: For IMShopping to be truly useful, the recommendations have to be diverse and they have to be credible. That's a tough challenge. Take the example of a user looking for a recommendation for a gas heater. He was provided with only three suggestions, all from the same brand, by an IMShopper user who we know almost nothing about. This user has answered 165 questions on everything from netbooks to crib bedding. The skeptic in me can't help but wonder if this user is really answering questions based on personal knowledge and experience or is simply going out and performing web searches to answer questions (which is admittedly the case here). Even if that's not the case, I have no way to know otherwise. That's quite a bit different than walking into a store and asking a question of a trained member of the sales staff. Some of the responses don't inspire confidence. One starts off "I am excited to present you with a variety of HD Camcorders. Record HD MP4 video and 5.0MP still images with the Sony Webbie HD camera". Another begins "Looking for a tasty grilled sandwich in the comfort of your own home?" They sound too canned to be authentic; indeed, it appears that IMShopping has hired 'guides' to answer questions. That's probably a necessity to get the site going but when it becomes too obvious, it's a turn off. According to VentureBeat, IMShopping will generate revenue when recommended products are purchased through affiliate links. This creates a potential conflict, as there's always the risk that the company will tend to favor product recommendations that lend themselves to an affiliate link, even though a better recommendation or lower-priced retailer may be available. When it comes to big-ticket items, such as consumer electronics, I think the in-store experience is often very critical to closing the sale. According to Forrester, over 50% of the consumers who avoid online shopping do so because they want to see the product first. After all, would you spend $2,000 on a plasma TV sight unseen? At most, I think a service like IMShopping could be part of the research process but that for certain types of purchases, the consumer is still likely to drop by a store to check things out, even if the eventual order gets placed online. At the end of the day I'm not so sure that we'll ever replicate the offline shopping experience online and while I think a site like IMShopping can be useful, I believe the biggest improvements to the experience can be made by the retailers themselves. From ratings and reviews to phone sales/support to better product photography to cross-channel integration, if the online shopping experience is ever going to rival the offline shopping experience, it will be the work of the retailers that does it.

Washington Post - Apr 29, 09

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Washington Post - IMshopping is launching a new service in beta today that allows people to comparison shop and get advice on products using Twitter. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is also announcing that it has received $4.7 million in a first round funding from SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM). The site was started by Prashant Nedungadi (who founded Andale, the largest third-party tool provider on eBay). Min Park and Soo-Hyuk Lee, both SVPs at SK Telecom, joined the company's board. IMshopping said it hopes to make money through referral fees when someone buys a product that is recommended through the site. Consumers get help shopping by asking questions online or by Twittering questions to @imshopping.Live examples include: Can someone help me find vintage floor fans?, Where can i find the best deal on the latest version of the palm treo phone?, Why should I buy an iPhone over a Blackberry Bold? And even timely questions, like "I need a surgical mask to make the SARS - I mean swine flu go away. Got any?" The company said "trained experts" offer detailed responses with information pulled from a variety of sources, including reviews from third-party sites and blogs. The answer is also archived for future review if a shopper opts to communicate publicly. The idea is to give the same level of service as in-store clerks, but online. The site is launching with 20,000 questions in the database. In a release, Nedungadi said: "At brick and mortar stores, human experts fill such a void, but on the web, it doesn't exist?Twitter is the ideal medium for having a conversation."

Financial Times - Apr 29, 09

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Financial Times - IMShopping, launching today,is the latest web service to leverage Twitter. Users can ask questions on Twitter about where to buy products or on the IMShopping website and receive answers from human guides. IMShopping also announced $4.7m in first-round funding from Korea?s SK Telecom.

San Jose Business Journal - Apr 29, 09

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San Jose Business Journal - Twitter-based shopping service IMshopping Inc. launched in beta Wednesday and said it closed a first round of funding with $4.7 million. Santa Clara-based IMshopping said funders included SK Telecom Co. Ltd. with Min Park and Soo-Hyuk Lee, both senior vice presidents at Seoul, Korea-based SK Telecom who will join 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 said. Twitter users can directly ask questions by messaging @imshopping and get responses, the company said.

MocoNews - Apr 29, 09

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MocoNews - IMshopping is launching a new service in beta today that allows people to comparison shop and get advice on products using Twitter. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is also announcing that it has received $4.7 million in a first round funding from SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM). The site was started by Prashant Nedungadi (who founded Andale, the largest third-party tool provider on eBay). Min Park and Soo-Hyuk Lee, both SVPs at SK Telecom, joined the company?s board. IMshopping said it hopes to make money through referral fees when someone buys a product that is recommended through the site. Consumers get help shopping by asking questions online or by Twittering questions to @imshopping. Live examples include: Can someone help me find vintage floor fans?, Where can i find the best deal on the latest version of the palm treo phone?, Why should I buy an iPhone over a Blackberry Bold? And even timely questions, like "I need a surgical mask to make the SARS - I mean swine flu go away. Got any?" The company said "trained experts" offer detailed responses with information pulled from a variety of sources, including reviews from third-party sites and blogs. The answer is also archived for future review if a shopper opts to communicate publicly. The idea is to give the same level of service as in-store clerks, but online. The site is launching with 20,000 questions in the database. In a release, Nedungadi said: "At brick and mortar stores, human experts fill such a void, but on the web, it doesn't exist?Twitter is the ideal medium for having a conversation."

Industry Standard - Apr 29, 09

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Industry Standard - IMShopping launches today, offering online shoppers the chance to ask for advice or recommendations from real life, human shopping guides via its web site and Twitter. Now, as you browse, you can get answers to your questions on-demand, just like you would by asking a clerk for help at a store. Based in Santa Clara, Calif., the company has also raised $4.7 million in a first round of funding. IMShopping says its concept is based on research showing that online consumers want more than simple price comparisons and peer-generated product reviews they want analysis and technical know-how too. For this level of detail, IMShopping users can message @imshopping on Twitter to tap into a network of experts who will respond in a short (though unspecified) amount of time. In addition to responding to questions as they pop up, IMShopping is also recording previous questions in an ever-growing, searchable database, allowing users to find answers even before contacting an IMShopping expert. Already, the company has 20,000 questions logged on its site and its Twitter page questions like "Why should I buy an iPhone over a Blackberry Bold?" and "What's a good Father's Day gift for a husband who's really into Rock Band?" These are good questions. See the answers here and here. To craft useful responses, the company says its shopping guides read several product reviews, familiarize themselves with specifications, get a sense of the blog buzz and pinpoint price ranges. How they do all this in the short time span before users accustomed to instant gratification get frustrated, I?m not so sure. IMShopping doesn't actually say how long it takes only that it's less time than it would take for a user to drive to their local Best Buy to ask an employee there. That doesn't sound terribly convincing, but it seems like IMShopping's potential for data mining has piqued investor interest anyway $4.7 million is a pretty handsome chunk of change for a Twitter-based internet startup in this economic climate. But after all, any service that gathers thousands of consumers' attitudes, sentiments and complaints about retail products is an advertising gold mine. The financing came from Menlo Park, Calif.-based SK Telecom Ventures. Based on the mobile nature of shopping, an iPhone app and text-message platform for the service (something resembling SMS answer engine ChaCha, perhaps) can't be too far behind.

Techmeme - Apr 29, 09

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Techmeme - IMshopping has launched a human-powered shopping search site and Twitter shopping service designed to help consumers find niche products on the web. It's sort of like a shopping 411 service, which human guides on call respond to product questions and provide personalized recommendations for users about what product best suits their needs. IMShopping tries to simulate the experience of going into a store, speaking with a sales person and being guided to the item that works best for you. IMShopping also closed a $4.7 million Series A round of funding from SK Telecom Ventures. IMSHopping hopes to fill the gap pf personalized, detail-oriented service that e-commerce sites don't have, since these sites are focused less on answering technical questions about a product and more on price and reviews. Twitter users can directly ask questions by messaging @imshopping. The shopping guides in the community and trained experts offer detailed responses within minutes. Shoppers can use these responses to instantly make purchases or save to their own folders before making a product decision. Shoppers who are asking questions on IMShopping's site can search IMshopping's database for product questions that have been already answered, or pose their own shopping questions (the site currently has an archive of 20,000 questions). As the 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. Consumers can also ask direct questions via Twitter that are not made public. The guide will give you an answer of where to find your desired item and also provide you with links to sites where the item can be purchased. You can also rate the response you received from the guide-the guides are paid based on the quality and etail of their responses. The site is really designed to get answers on where to get hard to find or obscure items-like what electronic toy is best for a hyperactive two year old. If you already have a specific item in mind, the site may be useless to you. As a business model, IMShopping collects revenue when consumer buy products that are recommended through the site. The problem is that when a consumer finally gets the right product for their needs, what is there to stop them from then searching for the produt on Google. The company is staying quiet on future business plans we are told that over time the company will roll out programs for general consumers to earn value from assisting on searches and getting rated for the quality of their answers. Human search hasn't done well in the past; take a look at ChaCha's former business model. It's hard to understand how human guides could do better than Google or Yahoo unless the guides are experts in electronics, clothes etc. IMShopping is hoping to add the human touch to the online shopping experience but increasingly retail sites employ staff to conduct live chats with potential customers.

VentureWire - Apr 29, 09

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VentureWire - Twitter-Based Shopping Co. IMshopping Bags Series A VentureWire, April 30, 2009, 267 words English IMshopping Inc., a Twitter-based service and Web site that enables shoppers to compare notes and ask questions, has raised a $4.7 million Series A round from the venture division of Korean phone service provider SK Telecom...

Triangle Business Journal - Apr 29, 09

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Triangle Business Journal - Twitter-based shopping service IMshopping Inc. launched in beta Wednesday and said it closed a first round of funding with $4.7 million. Santa Clara-based IMshopping said funders included SK Telecom Co. Ltd. with Min Park and Soo-Hyuk Lee, both senior vice presidents at Seoul, Korea-based SK Telecom who will join 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 said. Twitter users can directly ask questions by messaging @imshopping and get responses, the company said.

Tech Wack - Apr 29, 09

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Tech Wack - IMshopping: Shopping suggestions via Twitter! IMshopping is a new web service that is designed to help you shop for that perfect gift. The service works through its website and also through Twitter. All you need is to send them a question regarding what you are looking to buy. IMshopping operators would then research and reply back with suitable shopping items. Users also get to continue the conversation to clarify any doubts or mistakes. The service is free and the operators are aiming to generate funds through affiliate shopping provided the user buys the products through them. It remains to be seen if the service can really work out for complicated queries.

Startup Meme - Apr 29, 09

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Startup Meme - When it comes to shopping, finding the right product out of the millions available is always a tough ask as it consumes enormous time and is equally frustrating. We often ask our friends to recommend where we might find the right thing with favorable offers. Well you don't have to call your friends anymore as IMshopping comes out making waves. The site is powered by humans, meaning that you get recommendations from knowledgeable shopping guides who respond to your shopping related queries with recommendations most suitable to your needs. The experience is like talking to a real person in a shop who has the right information to provide you with. Plus it also offers the same for Twitter. Meaning that you can send your message to @imshopping and you get an informative reply in a short time. The idea to use Twitter makes it pretty quick and would definitely make things easier for the countless shoppers. The launch comes with the announcement of the startup closing its Series A round with a healthy $4.7 million.

USA Today - Apr 29, 09

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USA Today - [from the Industry Standard] IMShopping launches today, offering online shoppers the chance to ask for advice or recommendations from real life, human shopping guides via its web site and Twitter. Now, as you browse, you can get answers to your questions on-demand, just like you [link to full story]

DMB - Digital Media Buzz - Apr 04, 09

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DMB - Digital Media Buzz - This new "social shopping" site with the slogan "human-assisted shopping" is a must see for all E-commerce insiders. This site is not your typical shopping experience. The mix of social features, such as posting a question that is re-routed to one of their experts who provides unbiased opinions and links to products, speaks volumes of their mission to shape the future of online shopping. The site also offers a good comparison shopping tool and an easy purchase experience. Online business owners have been asking us what's next for E-commerce. Visiting IMshopping will give you an answer. Giving consumers the ability to interact with like-minded shoppers and having community shopping experts available to help with product questions, suggestions and your purchase is the future. Social shopping sites have the potential to convert at a much higher rate then your average E-commerce site, but we will wait to see the data on that one. Features: * Simply type in a question and they will route it to experts who can provide unbiased opinions and links to products. * Get notified via email when your question has been answered. * Click the answers link and find your answers and relevant product ideas. * Use wishlists to save products and to help you choose what to buy. * Click save on any item in an answer to one of your questions or, grab items from any website using the bookmarklet tool and save directly to a wishlist. * Find other recommended items and questions from within a wishlist. * IMshopping To-Go - Twitter, Facebook and others coming soon.

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