Krillion: A Smarter Way to Shop

Krillion tackles a problem many have failed to solve, that of “actionable local search.” We all remember Froogle (or do we?), which tried to provide shoppers with local pricing and availability information. The amount of data needed, not to mention the constant need for updating, proved too onerous in the end for even a giant such as Google. So how is Krillion doing it? Brilliantly.

An online resource for offline shopping, Krillion compiles information in five product categories, about pricing and special sales in users’ local markets. The company started with major appliances and now includes televisions, digital cameras, camcorders, and game consoles. (Dozens of other categories are planned for the coming year as well.) Krillion’s data extraction crawlers pull information on a daily basis from national manufacturers and regional retailers. Users searching for Maytag refrigerators, for example, enter their zip codes and are presented with a list of stores in their area selling the desired model, as well as the current price.

I reviewed the company back in March of 07 and part of the analysis now seems a bit naive:

We’re also encouraged by Krillion’s business approach, which is slow and steady. The company made a smart choice with major appliances as its first product category and has reasoned categories in the works for the future. A business model built solely on ad revenue could succeed, but Krillion isn’t content with just one path. Plans to syndicate content will ensure brand awareness across the Internet and the possibilities are almost endless.

Slow and steady? This company has come sprinting out of the gate. When I caught back up with them recently, the progress report was stunning. They’re now distributing their data across the sites of major retailers including Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Sears, Home Depot, and Target. Popular product search site TheFind announced implementation of Krillion data on its site last week. And tomorrow, Panasonic will announce Krillion as the provider for its local product search function on the US Panasonic consumer site.

There is all manner of data available – admittedly much of it from Krillion – on the prevalence of users researching major purchases online, then buying in-store. According to Krillion exec Joel Toledano, Circuit City found that 55% of its online purchases were picked up in the store. And even more seductive for retailers, those customers spent, on average, an additional $150 once they were in the store. I’m not surprised retailers are lining up to implement Krillion’s data. E-commerce didn’t pan out quite like we envisioned and brick-and-mortar stores need to find better uses for their sites; utilizing them as another path from which to pull in-store customers is the logical move.

Actionable local search isn’t necessary for smaller-ticket items of course and I think that’s a good thing. A ceiling on Krillion’s data will further ensure profit viability down the line, as will the sharp business minds behind this venture. My conclusion for Krillion a year ago still very much stands:

Krillion is in a sweet spot – a market hungry for a leader and lacking in competition, super-smart industry veterans at the helm, and a product that masterfully handles large amounts of unwieldy data. We don’t see much standing in its way.

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