Yahoo Unleashes a User-Plugged Shoposphere

Is Yahoo embracing a Web 2.0 future of online commerce with its latest Shoposhere launch?

Yahoo Inc. took a plunge into social commerce this morning with the beta launch of the Shoposphere and its user-generated feature, Pick Lists.

"We think that the community of people shopping on the Web is a fantastic source of information. What we are trying to do is create a place where people can find and discover really interesting products that they will eventually want to buy," said Chris Saito, senior director of product management for Yahoo Shopping.

With Pick Lists, Yahoo appears to incorporate some of the social aspects of tagging and sharing programs like into shopping.

Pick Lists are publicly viewable at a permanent URL, and Yahoo members can comment on, review, vote or subscribe to the RSS feed for a list, with all comments and reviews linking back to the individuals Yahoo 360 profile.

The more people vote that they like a list, the higher it will be ranked within the Shoposphere.

"It is not unintentional that Shoposphere sounds like blogosphere," said Saito. "What we like about blogs is that bloggers are creating their own content. We wanted Shoposphere to be a hub for interesting user-generated content."

Yahoo Shopping unveiled other new features today, including a Deals link on many product pages which aggregates sale offers throughout the Web on that product and an improved UI on product pages, putting all information in a single space.

Yahoo also added a feature known as "My Lists," in which users are able make shopping lists for different people and share them with others. In addition, Yahoo is offering an open API for Yahoo Shopping to the Web development community.

In the near future, Yahoo plans to add tagging to the Shoposphere—a feature that they hope will be useful in promoting Long Tail products—and revenue sharing, where people have the opportunity to make money from sales generated by the content of their popular lists, or ad clicks from their lists pages.

While social commerce is a fairly new concept in online shopping, it is quickly gaining momentum, as more online vendors realize that there are few more powerful sales forces than a personal recommendation, picking up where comparison shopping engines leave off.

"The biggest driver for me in terms of making a purchase decision is still a personal recommendation. Also, the higher the ticket price, the more Ill talk to friends before making a purchase… Comparison engines do a great job of telling you where to buy and how much to pay for a product. But answering the question of what to buy is a different ball game," writes Brian Smith of and are two of the early social commerce programs.

Wists is a visual bookmarking program wherein users install a bookmarklet into any browser, and pull anything they find of interest throughout the Web. Wists then gathers all the images it finds on the current page, asks which is to be used as part of the bookmark, and allows users to change the default title, add tags and a description.

These visual bookmarks can be shared with anyone or kept private. Users may also add allowed items from others lists onto theirs with a single click. Wists is used to power the shopping blog. works in a similar fashion to Wists but goes one step further by adding a comparison shopping element, wherein users can line up their choices on a single page. One can even invite other Kaboodle users to vote for the best item on a page.

/zimages/6/28571.gifYahoo redraws online maps. Click here to read more.

Last month, Om Malik, a prolific blogger on all-things-Internet rightly anticipated that social shopping programs would "be easily imitated by the big three [online shopping programs]—Yahoo, Google, and MSN."

But one online social-shopping executive, David Galbraith of Wists, has a more positive view on Yahoos Shoposphere. "…To be honest Yahoo scores on two fronts at the moment—the Yahoo team have more media experience and they have a some very good Web 2.0 people (the Flickr, Oddpost, Upcoming guys)."

And Galbraith isnt the only one to see these pro-Web 2.0 moves as smart moves on Yahoos part.

"Yahoo is starting to see how user-generated content, or social media, is a key weapon in its war against Google," writes Erick Shoenfeld in the latest Business 2.0 issue. "That upstart in neighboring Mountain View may have a better reputation for search, it may dominate online advertising, and it may always win when it comes to machines and math. But Yahoo has 191 million registered users.

Schenfeld looks into the future as well with this: "What would happen if it could form deep, lasting, Flickr-like bonds with them—and get them to apply tags not just to photos, but to the entire Web?"

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