Today is a very big day for MSN Shopping.  As many of you know, our team has been hard at work building a great comparison shopping experience for consumers.  I am extremely pleased to announce that the beta has now gone live.  This release (which was in beta for the past couple of weeks) includes a significantly expanded selection of items for sale and has many new features that help consumers quickly and easily find the right product for them within all of that selection.

Here are some of the new features:

  • Selection - we have a vastly improved selection, with 6 times more items and over 100 times more merchants. For example, in Athletic Shoes for Men, we have 9,779 items today, up from 61 on our previous site.
  • Spelling correction in search - this is helpful, especially for someone who spells as poorly as I do.
  • Find - our integrated search and browse system has consistent refinements in category, price, brand and seller that allow users to find what they are looking for.  In addition, there are category specific refinements (like resolution, camera type, screen size and zoom in digital cameras) that really help users narrow their results. 
  • Multiple Views - results can be viewed in three different views, list (what we had before), grid and text.
  • Product compare - powerful, new comparison tools make it easy to get great deals and identify differences on pretty much anything.  You can compare multiple laptops side-by-side.  You can even compare unrelated products.
  • RSS feeds - MSN Shopping allows the user to pull Shopping content from any results page.  So the user can see the data that they want, not just the precanned ones made by us.  The work we have done with category refinements make this feature incredibly useful.
  • Ratings and reviews - we already over 70,000 product reviews and over 170,000 merchant ratings.  Consumers can now also add to the existing ratings and reviews.  This will give the user a new set of data that they can use to make a confident purchase decision.
  • Recently viewed - this personalization feature will help users have a more continuous shopping experience across sessions with recently viewed products, categories, searches and saved pages.
  • Clean and consistent UI - the UI is fresh, clean and simple; it does not get in the user’s way (like our old purple background did).
  • Merchandising - the site continues to have the great merchandising that consumers find very useful.  This includes category pages, guides and shops, editor’s picks, newsletters, consumer reports and more.

One thing to note.  The right rail on many pages will show our featured stores like you can see on the homepage today.  We did not get them populated across the entire site (we just could not get everything done in time for launch).  So you will see those getting built out across the next couple of days.

Please check this blog over the next couple of days.  We will share with you our calendar of upcoming blog posts.  We will have several members of our team posting on their areas of expertise.  This will provide you more details on what we have built and the direction that we are going.

Please let us know what you think about it.  This release is the first step and your feedback will help us get it right.

Scott Austin
Director of Programming
MSN Shopping