It is only October, but you hear the jingle bells. This is expected to be a break out year for the online retailers. US online retails sales for this holiday season are predicted to top $26.2 billion, up nearly 21.9% from last year. But if you are like countless Americans who gets frustrated by the online shopping experience, a little digital elf might be at hand to help your way: Kaboodle.
The Santa Clara-based start-up has come up with what I like to describe as an online blotter. The company basically gives you a little bookmarklet that installs on pretty much every browser. You like something you see, you click on the bookmarklet. Kaboodle then extracts the relevant information and creates an auto-summary, and puts it on a special page. You can tag this page, and if you want make it open for others to use when looking for similar stuff. David Galbraith’s Wists is another similar service. He is using Wists to power his Crib Candy site.
Say you are researching buying a 32-inch LCD television. You go to ten different websites, not to mention uber-comparison shopping sites like Shopping.com or Nextag. These sites give you a good over view of the best price. Often that information is not enough. You click, and go to say, J&R World, where you find all the information. If you are like me, then you essentially print out everything, and do the comparison and make your purchase. (Of course you can toggle between many different screens, and that’s not much fun.) Kaboodle does one better – it places all the “digital scraps” on a single page, and allows you to add tags to that page. In other words, it lets you built a tiny personal shopping page.
An eMarketer report suggests that the among the top reasons why consumers shop online, is because prices are lower, and wider selection. Kaboodle hopes to make the making a selection part even easier.
Manish Chandra started the company along with Chetan Pungaliya and Keiron McCammon after Chandra has a particularly hard time looking for deck furniture. After talking it over with others Chandra discovered that it was a common enough problem. The end result is Kaboodle, which he describes as a “decision engine.” Since this is particularly useful when say shopping for something on the web, Manish says the company will make money from contextual advertising. “You are so much further down the sales cycle when you are making this page,” he says, “And as a result there is a much higher chance of closing that transaction.” I am sure that’s the argument that helped him get angel funding from the likes of Ashish Gupta of Junglee fame. Rajiv Motvani, another well known angel with Google pedigree is a backer of the company.
Bottomline: I have not used the service as extensively to say I know all the ins and out, but from what I know, the biggest fear I have is that it can be easily imitated by the big three – Yahoo, Google and MSN. eBay might find it useful to offer it as an enhancement to its users. It will be interesting to see if the three co-founders can turn this nifty feature into a lasting commercial entity.