Froogle gets UK launch for run-up to Christmas

Google launches its shopping comparison service, Froogle, in the UK this week. The move is likely to put increasing pressure on rival search-engine companies in the run-up to Christmas, traditionally the busiest period of the year as consumers search online for bargains and unusual presents.

Google engineering director Cosmos Nicolaou says: “Froogle allows UK users to search for offers relevant to them, with prices in sterling and shipping to the UK.”

Google is actively recruiting merchants to use Froogle UK. Nicolaou stresses that retailers do not pay for product listings, while searching is free for consumers. Google will make its money from advertisers buying keywords.

Google originally launched Froogle in the US in December 2002. Froogle works in a very similar way to Google – where users type in what they are looking for. They can also specify a price range if they wish. In addition to the general search facility, users can browse product and service categories, such as “baby”, “computers” or “office”. Wherever possible, results are accompanied by a photo of the relevant item.

The latest figures from Nielsen/NetRatings show that more than 7 million people visited a shopping guide or shopping directory site in July 2004, a ten per cent increase on July 2003.

Kelkoo, now owned by Yahoo!, is the dominant player in the market, taking an 11.7 per cent share, followed by DealTime on 7.7 per cent and Ciao! on 3.1 per cent. Nielsen/NetRatings points out that many users access more than one comparison shopping site, with 1 million visitors accessing both Kelkoo and DealTime in July.

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