We’ve been getting “just in time for the holidays” pitches for coverage from quite a few shopping sites lately but Seattle based number crunchers Mpire have come out with one of the best new shopping products I’ve seen yet. The company’s site launched in June of this year. It compares prices on items for sale at a list of online retailers and tracks eBay auction prices for items over time. The graph acts (and looks) like Farecast airfare predictions, but for past auction price trends.
Today’s new Mpire product is a browser plug-in that pops up when looking at an item on any of several hundreds of 3rd party shopping sites and provides you cross-retailer data, related deals and coupons around the web and a fetching graph of eBay final auction sale prices rising or falling for your item over time. The screen shot following this post is fuzzy and small, click on it to open a full sized version in a new window. The plug-in, which will be available later this afternoon, is for Firefox only right now. Hopefully they will be able to offer an IE version as well. Update: It’s available now.
A browser plug-in may be the missing ingredient to drive substantial use of this very interesting product; a destination site was far more inconvenient to use. Beside the full display on the bottom of your screen, the plug-in also displays new and used prices for an item on supported sites right next to the site’s native price display. Damon Darlin of the New York Times was disappointed in Mpire’s search results in an article last week; good search is part of the challenge but making a comparison shopping tool easy and compelling to use is a huge challenge as well. I think Mpire has done a very nice job of that.