Decide.com’s Shopping Engine Now Tells You What To Buy, Not Just When To Buy It

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Decide.com, the shopping engine that tells you when to buy, is expanding into a new frontier: it’s now going to tell you what to buy, too. The service, launched last summer by former Farecast engineers following that company’s acquisition, has come a long way since its original debut where it was positioned as an electronics-only shopping service. Today, Decide offers “buy or wait” recommendations across 150 product categories, and will now start the rollout of its new product recommendations across 16 categories within the electronics and appliance verticals, with more to come.

Says Decide CEO Mike Fridgen, the company is on its way to becoming the “big data technology version of Consumer Reports.”

Decide, for those unfamiliar, has been working to become a consumer-facing solution for product research, aggregating data across hundreds of sources to tell consumers if they should buy now or wait for a new product release or for the price to drop, for example. It’s similar to the Farecast model  - which watched airline ticket prices for fluctuations – but is applied to new categories of purchases, ranging from consumer electronics to home appliances and more.

Today, however, the company’s focus is expanding. “This is more about when you’re earlier in the process, when you want to decide what to buy,” says Fridgen. “This has been a problem for people – they’re inundated and don’t even know where to start,” he explains. Starting now, Decide will also offer a “score” (1-100) alongside its buy/wait predictions telling you whether “we love it” (scored 90 or above), “we like it,” “you can do better,” or “don’t buy it.”

Like the shopping engines from Google and Bing, Decide aggregates data from millions of user reviews and expert sources around the web, including sites like Amazon, Best Buy, Consumer Reports, Cnet and more. But the aggregation itself is not what makes Decide.com special – it’s the algorithms it applies afterwards. Using its own proprietary recommendation technology, the service can normalize the user reviews, discounting things like astroturfing, and older, out-of-date reviews.  This is Decide’s key advantage. “We apply hardcore tech here,” Fridgen says. “We have a team that’s uniquely positioned to extract the insight from the data.”

Product recommendations will first appear in categories like TVs, phones, tablets, cameras, grills, espresso machines, refrigerators and more, but will eventually roll out site-wide.

While Fridgen declined to talk user numbers or monthly growth, saying only that it’s “positive,” he did mention that the iPad application has been downloaded over 100,000 times and Decide has served up 7 million recommendations to customers to date. That translates to $75 million in potential savings, he notes.

The company is also soon expanding its partner lineup, which has included Consumer Reports and Bizrate previously. Two more partner deals are in the works, one being a “major shopping engine,” says Fridgen. But going the brand partnership route is not Decide’s key interest, he adds: “we’re focused on building a brand that consumers rely on for credible recommendations,” Fridgen says. “Big data has created all kinds of opportunities to do this at scale for more products, to become more precise about these recommendations. That’s really what we’re aiming to build – a next-generation consumer advocacy service.”