Local search engines, especially local shopping engines will continue to be important as most people still research online and then buy offline at local retailers. As Scott explained to me, “even people who go to online shopping comparison engines still buy offline. 98% of commerce is still done locally.” Yokel is set up to solve this problem. Scott continued “there seems to be a void. Yokel answers the question, where do I buy [product x] at a physical retailer near me?”
Scott admitted that we’re still very early in the shopping game. Yokel does not provide real-time local inventory information, but rather looks at ever increasing specificity questions. Consumers first want to know what stores carry a particular category of items, then a particular brand, and then a particular item. Consumers don’t start out knowing they want a HLR5667W (specific Maytag dishwasher). This also reflects the approach Yokel took to aggregating local information.
A local hardware store without a major web presence will not necessarily have 1000s of products listed on its site. However, Yokel still views such a store as important and would list the store on Yokel as selling a particular category of items.
Yokel covers about 1.5 million locations (not unique stores) at launch. The company is also digging especially deep in Boston with the launch of its first city centric site, http://boston.yokel.com.
Results for Yokel are culled in a variety of ways. Scott explained “Manufacturers know their authorized dealers, so we’ll know which stores carry GE products, for example. If stores have websites, we’ll get that information. We’ll have people on the street, too.”