Today a new local search player formally entered the ring. Krillion basically helps people research product online and then locate the best local retailer to go and buy the product (full disclosure: founded by my good friend Joel Toledano) .
How does Krillion work? Let’s say you’re looking for a new dryer. You enter your zip code into Krillion, type in “dryer” and voila, a list of stores like Best Buy and Home Depot within a few miles of your home that sell dryers. You can drill down and search by product name, price, distance from your house, etc.
Obviously, the concept of researching online and buying offline doesn’t work for every product. For example, you don’t need to know where the nearest bookstore is if you know the exact book you are looking to purchase. But for those “kick the tire” transactions – like a big appliance, a car, perhaps even consumer electronics – there is definitely a segment of people who need a service like Krillion.
As to the Krillion site itself, this first beta is pretty decent, but there’s definitely a lot more functionality needed to make it complete. For example, you can see results by brand, but you can’t really see results by cost (i.e., “dryers less than $500”). In general, the site is useful right now if you know exactly what you are looking for (this dryer by this brand), but the “comparison” features I’ve come to expect from shopping comparison engines aren’t there yet.
Oh, and the maps are powered by Google Maps – this with a former Yahoo guy as Krillion CEO . . . that tells you something about who the industry leader is in the maps category!
On the flip side, I will say that it was refreshing to go to a site that actually takes you directly to the information you need without trying to monetize you six ways to Sunday. With comparison shopping sites, you often feel that the goal is to get you to click on something that will make the site money, rather than to actually help you find what you are looking for.
Since every new Web site has to be a category killer of some old world business model, I’d label Krillion as the “circular” category killer. Every Sunday I get probably a dozen circulars in my newspaper. Most I throw away without reading. The ones I do read (like BestBuy) have 200 products that I could care less about, and maybe one or two that even catch my attention. Surely promoting your products directly to consumers actually looking for them online and then getting them to the store is a more targeted form of marketing.
Is Krillion as a replacement to circulars an impossible dream? Maybe, but I noticed that the “Jobs” section in this Sunday’s Chronicle was a) only eight pages long and b) co-branded with HotJobs, so don’t underestimate online alternatives to newspapers!
So congrats to Joel and Team Krillion for the successful launch. I’ll be looking for more exciting developments in the future.