Saturday, June 19, 2010

another travel shopbot

Here is another travel shopbot, Cheap Flights Services, it help you check lowest fares from other travel shopobots. It doesn't search the airline companies or even other travel shopbot at all. Instead, it popup a window and transform user queries into each specific travel shopbots.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Comparison shopping for Limo service

Find a nice comparison-shopping site for Limo rental service:
It provide easy to use interface for users to compare and book limo service from airport pick up to trip between cities.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

comparison-shopping on healthcare

There are a lot of inflated cost in health industry. However, there is comparatively little efforts in bringing in comparison-shopping to reduce cost. I did a collaborative study about this and it was published as a chapter in a book titled "Healthcare and the Effect of Technology: Developments, Challenges, and Advancements" edited by Dr. Kabene. In that study, we investigated the comparison-shopping practice in health industry ranging from health insurance, pharmaceutical, hospital service, physician service, etc. We found that the most developed sector in this field is comparison on health insurance. Services like,, and, emerged quickly in the late 90s. Comparison-shopping for the selection of prescription drugs, hospitals, and physicians are next but lagging behind.We attribute this lagging behind to three factors: the lacking of commercial motivations from comparison-shopping service providers, relatively scant data available for comparison compared with the health insurance field, and concerns of copyright violation when the comparison-shopping service providers have to retrieve data collected by non-profit and private organizations like Joint Commissions.

Some state governments have begun to provide state specific hospital information for their resident patients. Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP), for example, is an independent state agency that monitors the quality of health services in Massachusetts. It provides side-by-side comparisons on clinic data via different search criteria based on different information needs. MHQP also looks at the quality of health service through patient experiences. Patients complete surveys and rate what it is like to work with their doctors. This information is then used to compare patient experiences across the state.

Some state government began to provide comparison-shopping on physician services. For example, New York State provides such a service and allows individuals to review a physician’s profile that includes their medical education, legal actions taken against the doctor, translation services available at the doctor’s office, etc.

Probably, the most widely available comparison-shopping services are prescription drugs prompted by increasing costs in recent years. These are mainly provided by state governments. For example, the Connecticut attorney general’s office provide a comparison-shopping service on prescription drugs and allows patients to compare pharmacy prescription drug prices across the state of Connecticut. The State of Illinois makes similar comparison-shopping information available to its residents.

According to a recent article by New York Times, some entrepreneurs will launch a service called Castlight that allow patients to compare cost of procedures. The data will come from insurance company since they paid for that. This is a clever idea cause insurance companies certainly have the incentive to reduce such cost. However, price may not be the most important factor in the decision by patients. The reputation of the doctor and hospital is more important. Also, if patients don't need to pay much for the service, there is little incentive for them to comparison shopping for that.

Currently, this new service is signing contract with companies because employers have the incentive to reduce cost too. So they may either persuade or push their employee to use it.

It is interesting to see what will happen next.

Sunday, June 06, 2010 and its lawsuit against Google is a comparison-shopping site that fully utilize the product category and search features. Its homepage is fully dedicated to different product categories and sub-categories. It encourages shoppers to type in the product keyword in the search box and it will return comparison information for the products pretty accurately. Recently, it launched a lawsuit against Google.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Product Data Feed Management for Shopbots

There are many product feed management services to help online vendors manage their product listing on various shopbots. Most data feed management service allow a vendor to manage their data feed to all major shopbots from Googe Product Search,, Kelkoo, MySimon, NexTag,,,, Yahoo Shopping, MSN Shopping, etc.

Here is a list of such feed management services:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Comparison-shopping for online travelling

Probably because of the SABRE system was one of the first online traveling system being developed, Web-based online traveling information comparison is a very sophisticated and developed comparison-shopping category. The current top 3 online travelling portals are,, and

These three portals consolidated flight, hotel, and car rental information.A consumer could book and compare a complete travel package by using any of them. They also provide search engine for numerous online travel service companies like In addition, services like allows a consumer to offer a price for a flight, hotel or other travel services, and vendors to compete for the business.

There are also second generation comparison-shopping services in this category like, which retrieval information from the top 3 portals as well as other airline companies and then compare them for consumers to find the best air travel deals. did similar things for hotel reservations.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Search Neutrality

A recent article by New York Times about the anti-trust against Google mentioned a lawsuit launched by a UK couple and owner of one of the top UK-based shopbot, According to them:
"in 2006, Google’s supposedly objective algorithms suddenly dropped Foundem into the netherworld of Google search results. They say Google also raised the rates Foundem had to pay to advertise alongside search results. These moves, the couple say, pushed their comparison shopping site out of view, and Google later put the spotlight on its own shopping listings."
Thiscouple raised an interesting issue of search neutrality. How to define search neutrality. According to them, search neutrality is
"the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet."
"search neutrality is about equal access to the Internet. In our view, search engines should not be permitted to use their market power to discriminate against competing applications or content. Just as telephone companies are not permitted to tell consumers who they can call or what they can say, search engines should not be allowed to use their market power to control activity online." 
The idea of regulation on search control has important implications to the Web. Shall Google have impartial attitude to all Web sites it listed on its search outcome? How to define impartial here? It seems we use Google is not because Google give us impartial results, it is because Google help us find things we want to find easier compared with other search engine. As to whether this result is being manipulated by Google, most users probably do not care about. To certain extent, all search outcome are manipulated by certain algorithms. In the case of Google, it is PageRank plus some proprietary tweaks we don't know.

On the other side, US government does have regulations on search outcome in the case of American Airline. When SABRE system was found to display American Airline's flight information on top of the search outcome compared with the same route offered by other airline companies, the Congress forced it to eliminate such bias.

So the case probably will be determined by whether there is a strong evidence that Google did manipulate the search outcome to benefit its own business interests.