Watch CBS News Give Bargain Hunters More Options Online

Driven by the recession, retailer opportunism and an increasing sophistication among consumers about the potential the Internet has to make purchasing easier and less costly, online shopping has become a hot bed in recent months with new and updated coupon, review and specialty product services launching across the web, yet one that actually went live today wants to do it all for consumers. relaunched as what its developers call a "buying engine." The site was designed to provide shoppers a range of tools to make more satisfying purchasing decisions. It aggregates product search, coupon search, review search, local shopping search and green shopping search into a single "universal" search engine where consumers can check out 350 million products from 500,000 stores and online sellers. It also is focused on consumer needs, unlike some search engines that push products or retailers that have cut special deals with the site. Siva Kumar, CEO and founder, responded to Bnet's inquiry about what kind of advance TheFind represents.

Bnet: How was founded and how has it developed in terms of what it offers and its functionality?

Kumar: TheFind received its first venture funding in early 2005. The company was started with the vision of applying state-of-the-art search technology, machine learning and semantic processing to the shopping domain to create the best consumer experience for shopping search.

After 18 months of technology development with multiple patents filed, launched during the 2006 Holiday shopping season. added local search capabilities in late 2007 and, in 2008, introduced an iPhone application for shopping search on the go. Since then, traffic has grown organically to over 13 million monthly visitors. With the recent announcement, is evolving into the first-ever 'buying engine' with capabilities for not only product search but also coupon search, review search and local shopping search, just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Bnet: What does bring to the consumer that is unique and how does the site differentiate itself from traditional shopping or coupon sites?

Kumar: is the first shopping search engine to focus on delivering a compelling consumer experience that is comprehensive and relevant and visually appealing. searches more than 500,000 online stores and Web sites, 100 times more than typical comparison shopping sites, and finds over 350 million products, 20 times more than typical comparison sites. The relevancy ranking of the results is algorithmic based on patented market factors calculations, which is consumer-centric compared to pay-to-play relevancy of the comparison sites.

With the advent of the new buying engine experience, uniquely delivers green shopping search for items that are environmentally friendly, local" search to find nearby stores and comprehensive store information: trustmarks, payment methods, shipping and return policies, ratings/reviews, social network links. The new experience also includes the first ever comprehensive coupon search experience and integrated product review search information. alone is providing this wealth of information to the time-starved shopping public to make money saving decisions quickly. is not a coupon site or a review site but comprehensively searches all coupon and review sites, both expert and consumer, available on the Internet to find everything the consumer needs. No one coupon or review site has all of this information, so is very useful in bringing everything together in one place, making it fast and easy.

Bnet: How has Internet shopping been evolving and are consumers looking for more today from operations that help facilitate their activities?

Kumar: Over the last 10 years, the costs and technical difficulties in selling online have gone down significantly. This alone has led to an explosion in the numbers of online stores, with over 500,000 in the U.S. market, and to a flood of types and varieties of online products. Consumers have also become extremely comfortable buying online and looking for shopping information. Recently, the changes are related to the growing use of smart phones with unlimited data plans and the explosion of bargain hunting and coupon usage, both of which have direct effects on e-commerce and shopping. delivers the comprehensiveness of searching every store to find every product and also handles all of the shopping information consumers are looking for, such as store information and local availability. also searches for reviews and coupons, and has an application available for the iPhone and mobile browsers for other smart phones.

Bnet: How have Internet couponing and other forms of discount seeking evolved and has the recession affected that evolution?

Kumar: Since the start of the recession about a year ago, coupons searches have spiked up significantly. Many more e-commerce sites are putting out coupons and free shipping offers in order to sell. This in turn has spiked up coupons searches even more. Consumers are now developing new habits of finding the lowest prices and then looking for even better deals by searching for coupons.

Bnet: What are consumers looking for primarily: Dollars off? Multi-purchase deals such as buy-one-get-one-free? Free shipping? What is the biggest lure?

Kumar: Consumers are looking to buy essentials that they need at lowest cost available. This is evident from lower conversion rates as people look at many stores before buying, lower dollar value shopping baskets as people look to buy lower cost, generic alternatives instead of more expensive brands/models, and search for coupons and free shipping offers to reduce the amount spent even further. The use of e-commerce has also broadened as, in many cases, shopping online allows consumers to avoid sales taxes. BOGOs are not really effective in this environment except in rare cases as consumers are really looking for lower prices for the essential items and not deal hunting in general.

Bnet: Will recessionary shopping sleuths remain as committed to using the Internet in their consumer behavior post recession, and what other factors may weigh in, such as baby-boomer retirement, mobile phone usage, etc.?

Kumar: This is the million dollar question. Many analysts and shopping experts do believe that habits like looking for deals and coupons and price shopping are here to stay post-recession. The Internet itself makes it easier to find all of this information helping to engender such thrift habits. However,'s new buying engine with an integrated experience for finding the lowest prices, finding all of the coupons and free shipping offers will make it even simpler to keep up such bargain hunting behavior through the growth period following the downturn.

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