I'm very psyched to officially announce that our new beta site is up & running.  This is MSN Shopping's most signficant upgrade in years, and includes a variety of new features that help consumers quickly and easily find what they are looking for amidst our significantly expanded selection of products and offers.  I'll post more numbers in this blog down the road, but the initial count increase is in the neighborhood of 30M+ items....a 4x increase from our old site, and we expect to continue to add to this as new merchants come on board leading up to Holiday.  This signficant change in direction was literally driven by our consumers, as we heard over and over, (and over & over) that MSN visitors value choice and the ability to compare products across multiple merchants.  (without having to do any fancy manipulation of data).  I'm very interested to hear what you think of our comparison shopping tools.

In addition to the increased selection and our focus on ease of use with our comparison shopping tools, we also have a number of other cool features.  Here are just a few:

  • RSS Feeds – it remains to be seen how aggressively consumers take to this, but I think it's super-cool how we are embracing an emerging technology.   
  • Ratings & Reviews - allows consumers to see what other consumers think of a product, providing them with increased confidence in their purchase decisions
  • Ability to browse our complete selection through an easy-to-understand taxonomy and powerful search
  • Refine searches with expanded, relevant criteria
    •  By price, rating, popularity, name, best match
    • Multiple Views - Results can be viewed in three different views
  • Usability enhancements:
    • Recently viewed – helpful little personalization feature that helps continuity between sessions
    • Compare prices across stores, find out who has free shipping, hot deals, etc.
    • Clean and consistent UI – The UI is clean and simple and designed to NOT get in the user's way
  • Useful Merchandising – Comprehensive set of merchandising, including the Gift Center, Seasonal Shops & Guides, and more

As you can see, this is not a typical release, and there are many more areas to discover.  My plan is to increase the number of postings in this blog over the next few months so we can share more of the new features and thinking behind this release, show off some tips/tricks, highlight our merchant alliances and also introduce some new people who have worked hard to make this release so good and provide with you with an inside glimpse into their thinking. 

Chris Jolley, Group Programming Manager, MSN Shopping

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I recently chatted with Brian Smith of CompasionEngines.com, who wrote about our new site: "Microsoft Officially Enters the Comparison Shopping Space".

Shout out to Dan and friends at reprisemedia: "MSN Shopping Beta Open to the Public".