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Microsoft's New Shopping Search

enge-eric
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One of the intriguing things about the Microsoft Searchification event that took place on Wednesday of this week was the new shopping search offering they demonstrated. It truly does offer some unique and interesting stuff. In this post, I will show you a couple of sample screen shots, and talk about some of the more interesting aspects of this new offering from Microsoft.

Let's start with a screen shot for the search "ipod":

MS-ipod-search.jpg

There are two things to observe here:

1. The 4 thumbnails of the most popular related products, which includes pricing and rating information.

2. The Related Searches information on the right rail, above the sponsored ads.

So far this is interesting, but not exceptional. Where it gets more interesting is if you click on one of the thumbnails. When you do that it brings you to a detailed product overview page such as the one in this screen shot:

MS-ipod-shopping.jpg

On this page you get user reviews aggregated from many sources. On the left rail, you can get user ratings across more than 30 categories. The cool thing about this is that it is dynamically extracted by Microsoft from the user ratings themselves. This includes extracting the categories of things commented on by users, as well as whether or not the user rating was positive of negative.

Instead of the single rating per product that is typical of most sites, you get a quick visual blow by blow review of many important product factors. Even if the product has a 4+ star rating, if you look at the details and see that it has a Customer Service rating of 0, you might choose to not buy it.

It all depends on what is important to you, and this quick snapshot allows you to find that level of detail quickly without having to pore through dozens of reviews. The aggregation is important too, because even if you find a review that comments on the attribute you care about, it's only one opinion. The aggregation is what gives you a balanced view of the product.

Unfortunately, the detailed product pages are currently only available for consumer electronics, but, overall, I found the change innovative and interesting. I know that when I next buy some electronic gadget that I will check it out here.

It's a critical step for Microsoft to take - that of differentiating their search offering. This was just one component of their strategy for doing that. It still remains to be determined how the market itself will respond, but it all starts with putting something interesting on the table, and that they have done.


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