Yahoo extends community strategy to shopping

Internet portal Yahoo! has introduced a new service to its shopping channel called the ‘Shoposphere`. The new service allows Yahoo! members to provide a ‘pick list’ of their favourite products and where to buy them.

A member simply creates their own ‘pick list’ of products along with a title, a description of the product and why it gets into the list. The picker can even add a picture of themselves if they wish.

In addition, Shoposphere users can share their lists in a number of different of ways apart from the web site itself. Pick Lists can be sent via e-mail or through RSS feeds that friends and family can subscribe to. Wedding lists via Yahoo! anyone?

Yahoo! says that this is a further extension of its communities strategy that allows members from around the world to share their knowledge and passion for everything from swapping Travel tips to sharing pictures via the Flickr digital photograph archive.

At the present time, the Shoposphere is not intended as an online classified ads system that would put it in direct competition with online auction giant eBay. The products on the pick lists come from those offered for sale via the main Yahoo Shopping portal. Currently the service offers some 90 million different products so there are plenty to pick from.

The idea is that people are more likely to buy if a product or its merchant is recommended by a real person. However, there is no immediate safeguard against people creating Yahoo! IDs and promoting their own product by impersonating an ordinary buyer.

Although the service is limited to products which are offered through Yahoo! Shopping, it is also not a million miles away from the so-called Google Base service which was ‘leaked’ by the search giant at the end of last month. Presumably, if Google Base appears anytime soon, Yahoo! could turn out a competitor rapidly.

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