Loren Baker writes about ShopLocal, a great idea which lists online and local deals on a wide range of products. Rather than visiting all your favorite online retailers and then switching over and visiting your top 10 local-retailers-with-websites, you can jump straight to ShopLocal and search within your ZIP code.
As somebody who is sometimes dismayed by online shopping simply because I would really LIKE to support my community, this seems like a great opportunity. Of course, right now, there’s a clear preponderance of big-box stores like Best Buy, CompUSA, and Target. These are not exactly what I have in mind as "local" shopping.
Still, there are a few aids for the locally-concerned consumer. Despite the lack of product listings from small retailers, the site does maintain a directory of true local retailers. Within whatever category you’re currently searching, you can see a list of smaller businesses off to the right of the product results.
For now, this is a great product for the days when I simply need to get something today – but if they manage to get small businesses on board and contributing their store data, this may be a great tool for all kinds of users.
There are some competitors in this field – StepUp offers stores and manufacturers the opportunity to list their products online, as well. They aren’t building their own brand however – their system is to syndicate stores products across "local web sites in addition to popular search engines". What I interpret from this is that the site will probably make use of Google Base and Froogle, in addition to other distributed product channels.
Cairo.com seems to be a competitor as well. However, Cairo has recently been sued by ShopLocal for content scraping, which doesn’t bode well for their business model. In addition, I was not able to locate their website too easily. Assorted searches on Google failed to turn it up – although I did finally
find reference to it. On Yahoo, they popped right to the top.
But they don’t appear to have been stripped from Google’s index – they had some 217,000 results turn up for a
site:www.cairo.com check. Clearly, from these results, they could use some search engine optimization, however. The final test, for me, was a visit to their own site. Nothing. Nada. Blank screen. End of the story? I can’t see Cairo as much of a competitor.