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Buzzillions reviews: aggregated, tagged and messy

Buzillions LogoEver since I wrote about PowerReviews in October 2006 I have not heard about the review-aggregating startup that much, until today when I discovered the fact that they did launch their promised shopping portal after all. Bazzillions is the name.

As much as I liked the original idea of in-sourcing the product reviews from merchants in exchange for the leads the merchants get back from PowerReviews, just as much I don’t like how the shopping portal that is supposed to generate these leads is implemented. I think it really lacks structure and looks somewhat incomplete.

OK, without going into too much of a rhetoric, let’s get hands on. Bazzillions is a fresh site so to avoid glitches caused by lack of reviews I look a look at “Video Cameras and Camcorders”, the category PowerReviews have been working with for some time. I have then used the links to the left to further narrow it down to Sony Camcorders thus filtering out professional equipment and other brands.

Sony Camcorders at Buzzillions

What I have as the result is a list which doesn’t even have a camcorder as the first product, it is a carrying case made by Sony (see the screen shot above). OK, could be a bug. Looking closer I notice that the products are sorted in a strange fashion. The ratings have a tendency to go down but sometimes you can find a lower rated product up in the top and vice versa. There could be some sense in it but I just don’t get it.

Mislabeled products

I quickly scrolled down the list and what I found is a camcorder labeled “Sony High Definition Handycam Camcorder” which judging by the image is the HDR-CX7 model I currently have. Obviously a search by “HDR-CX7” doesn’t produce any result since the product is mislabeled.

Very few merchants

Another thing that disappoints is the limited number of merchants listed offering the products. I understand these are the partners who provide Buzzillions the reviews however with major retailers missing I feel reluctant to use Buzzillions for my shopping. I might well be missing out on the best deal out there - can’t afford that to happen. ;-)

Buzz Guide is ineffective

And the last, the green box in the middle labeled “Buzz Guide” simply doesn’t cut it. I understand the theory. PowerReviews makes merchants ask these questions to their customers as a part of after sale survey and then uses the answers to generate product recommendations on Buzzillions based on your preferences. The result however is somewhat mixed to say the least. What lacks is the quantitative ranking of the products based on the qualities I select. I.e. when I click on “Comfortable to operate” tag I want to know how well the recommendation stands (how many people made it) for each product without having to click on the “Compare” button and examine the aggregate of all the qualities. Without it the results are too unpredictable.

Conclusion

The bottom line is, the idea is great but the implementation has a long way to go before it becomes a place of choice for shopping, at least for me. If all you are looking for is quality reviews on technology products, I recommend SmartRatings, a site I recently reviewed. Retrevo is another alternative. They are not trying to accomplish as much in guiding you (so far they only quantify overall product features vs. price) but the implementation is so much better.

PowerReviews – Web 2.0 approach to Product Reviews

PowerReviews A small California based start-up has recently made appearance with a sneak peek at their soon to be shopping portal full of consumer product reviews. Earlier this year this same company started offering product reviews outsourcing to big and small retailers for free. That is right, they offer service that such companies as BazaarVoice.com are charging thousands for. How is it possible? Here is their story on it. In a nutshell:

  • PowerReviews will use the reviews they collect from their clients customers to build their own shopping web site and will monetize it via affiliated sales commission.
  • PowerReviews will license the technology to businesses who themselves want to maintain the product reviews database.

The idea sounds great and PowerReviews team is working hard to get into the market. Among other things, they are patenting a number of leading edge technologies to make use of their services by retailers as easy as possible. The real question is, as a portal will they be able to compete with the behemoths like Epinions and Amazon who currently dominate the market? The answer to this question ultimately defines if they stay afloat 2 years from now or not.

My personal opinion is that they have a very good shot at it. Unlike TheFind – one of the price comparison engines I reviewed earlier – PowerReviews doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the information they provide by taking a different approach to monetizing their idea. Their business model looks sound and they should be able to pull it off.




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