Goodzer Takes Manhattan

Goodzer is the latest company to join the real-time product inventory fray. (I’ve written previously about the company.) Basically two people (though not in a garage), the company launched what it sees as a “proof of concept” site in New York, including all five boroughs.

Co-founder and CEO Dmitry Pakhomkin told me that the company has indexed product inventory from 65% of all the retail stores in and around the city. Pakhomkin says that the technology and methodology makes Goodzer’s approach globally scalable. “We could have done the whole US but we decided to start with just New York,” he said on the phone the other day. New York was picked first because of its density and visibility as a market.

Without knowing a ton about “what’s under the hood,” my understanding is that Goodzer is crawling websites and matching products to store locations. It then instructs consumers to call stores to confirm in-stock availability:

This crawl-and-match approach was taken by shopping site TheFind a couple of years ago but on a less ambitious scale. Milo’s Jack Abraham critiqued this approach on the phone with me, saying that accuracy was going to be low and the site is essentially “guessing” at what’s in the store. Milo uses a combination of approaches to get inventory data, including direct retailer feeds. Google, for its part, is not crawling for inventory data but getting feeds as well.

Krillion and NearbyNow (just acquired by JiWire) get feeds from retailers; and the latter uses a concierge service (call center) to confirm in-store availability for consumers. Newcomer Retailigence is trying to integrate with retailer inventory systems on the back end.

No system is totally accurate and no system (yet) is comprehensive. But the combination of companies and initiatives now working on inventory data makes the effort to get offline products online a much more real phenomenon than it has been in the past.

Goodzer is the first company that does seem to be able to get to scale on a global basis. There’s very little going on in Europe around real-time inventory (one effort in the UK and another in The Netherlands). So Goodzer could quickly develop a massive global database of stores and products that might be “good enough” for a large number of consumers and/or publishers. I don’t recall whether Goodzer is going to syndicate its data; I know it has ambitions of being a destination. I do believe however there will be a syndication play at some point.

Putting aside the accuracy question — I didn’t call stores to figure out whether items were actually there — every product search I conducted returned results. However there were imperfections. I had trouble refining by zip and some of the results were overbroad for popular categories because the crawler is picking up keywords. But it’s a very promising start. The company also has an iPhone app, which offers a more user-friendly UI, in line for approval. They’re hoping it comes out this week.

If Goodzer is a bit rough here and there it’s partly because Pakhomkin wanted to get the site up and out for the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Ironically, one could use Goodzer as an e-commerce search engine too because almost everything on Goodzer will be available for sale online.

Update: TheFind’s CEO Shiva Kumar took exception to my characterization above and argued that TheFind’s data are at least as comprehensive as Goodzer’s in New York.

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8 Responses to “Goodzer Takes Manhattan”

  1. Tweets that mention Goodzer Takes Manhattan -- Topsy.com says at

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Greg Sterling and Ray, Goodzer Inc.. Goodzer Inc. said: RT @gsterling Goodzer Crawls Manhattan (for Products Inventory) http://bit.ly/fy7BEc [...]

  2. Malcolm Lewis says at

    “It then instructs consumers to call stores to confirm in-stock availability”
    I think that’s the bit that dilutes its value. We want smart computers (and companies) to do that bit for us. I think the inventory feed approach makes more sense, though obviously harder to manage. Google is the one to beat now given their recent deals with 70+ main street retailers. 

    Goodzer finds more stores with the following search, but Google tells me which stores have it in stock:
    http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=nikon+d7000&hl=en&biw=1280&bih=675&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=14292397897212757643&sa=X&ei=FTTtTOWHL4a8sAP_5q21Dw&ved=0CFkQ3QswAA&os=local-sellers#

  3. Greg Sterling says at

    I agree that Google is the one to beat. Goodzer, Retailigence and most of the others (with Milo as the lone exception) ultimately become data vendors to others who want to add local products to a broader shopping proposition or another local proposition.

  4. Siva Kumar says at

    Hi Greg,

    Great post on the growing momentum for local availability of products. Kudos to Goodzer for entering this ambitious space. Having been doing this for a while at TheFind, the crawl approach certainly works well for broad coverage and that’s what we seek to deliver. Integration with in-store POS to get availability is just starting out with folks like Milo, Google and Retailligence doing it for a few store/chains – narrow but hopefully richer information. Good food for argument here but consumers gets to pick and choose so they are the real winners. Adding POS data to augment crawled information is probably a good balance for the state of technology today/near term. No reason such an approach could not be tried with Milo or Retailligence.

    By the way, for Manhattan, trying out TheFind, using the SHOP NEARBY tab on the top, would get you great results for pretty much any type of product you want to buy this Holiday in NYC. Try out “lasko cyclone ceramic heater”, “christian louboutin peeptoe pumps” etc. for zip 10012. You also get a good feel for online prices vs. local availability, all in one place.

    You can also do this today on our new mobile app – TheFind Mobile Shopping available in the iTunes store and the Android marketplace. It even comes with a superior bar code scanning solution.

    -Siva

  5. Malcolm Lewis says at

    Not to take anything away from Goodzer and the other folks working on this. Great to see the progress.

    I’m looking forward to the day (coming soon I think) when I can get recommendations from people like me along with a list of nearby stores/businesses where I can go consume the recommended products/services right now. Basically personalized recommendations blended with local product inventory (expanded a bit to include restaurants and other local services with online availability). 

  6. Greg Sterling says at

    Yes . . . the where you can buy it nearby data will be broadly disseminated. You’re going to start seeing it in display ads in the not-too-distant future too.

  7. Dmitry Pakhomkin says at

    Malcolm,
    we will do all it takes to show current in-stock data where retailer’s web-site has the indication of that. Not a very complicated script –  It just takes a bit of time to perfect it and as Greg mentioned it’s just two of us. 
    If the store doesn’t have in-stock verification, I think you would agree that even giving user the knowledge that the product he or she is looking for is listed in the stores around is extremely useful.
    Coverage is king :)

  8. Malcolm Lewis says at

    Dmitry,
    Agree that knowing which stores “carry” an item is useful. Your suggested enhancement to indicate which items are listed on the store’s site as “online only” and/or “available for preorder” (ie not available yet) will make it even better. I imagine stores will soon start posting availability on their websites, which will make your crawling approach even more viable. For two guys, your site is impressive. Kudos!

    PS, IMHO Coverage + Availability is king ;)

  9. Mike says at

    I think Goodzer may be tackling a more broadly needed function of where to find something locally, beyond what can be done with direct inventory feeds from large chains.

    For example, I was in New York last week, and I wanted to purchase KidRobot products for gifts: Milo – nothing; Google Shopping (in stock nearby) – nothing; TheFind – 3 Urban Outfitter locations; Goodzer (of course after I leave …) – returns 18 locations including several Urban Outfitters, Toy Toyko, other stores and a company Kid Robot store. In this case, getting the broader list of potential start points is very valuable.

    It’s interesting that the Milo CEO would take the time to critique an approach he in fact employed at iPad launch. He had no idea of inventory, but thought it would be ‘useful’ to show all Apple retail locations where you ‘might’ find one, next to his Best Buy results that did have inventory status. I like Milo, but I think not showing potential matches (w/o inventory) is their Achilles heel –  right now a Milo search for Ipad, that only returns Best Buy and Target (near example NY), is an obviously incomplete search result to a ‘local’ consumer that knows there are Apple stores.

    Congratulations on the launch Goodzer!

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