Mountain View Voice

- December 17, 2010

Shoppers get an edge with TheFind

by Angela Hey

It is good to see Mountain View's TheFind.com making 12th place in Inc. magazine's Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies. TheFind's website is really useful in searching for items when you know what you want to buy. You can use it to buy online, at places like Amazon.com, or at a retail store, like Best Buy.

TheFind also helps you look for green products, very useful for me as I'm biking 320 miles from Eureka to San Francisco on the Climate Ride. I have been looking for ways to charge my iPhone as I pedal. An iPhone cannot last all day if you use it as phone, Web browser, camera, route tracker and bike computer. Whereas it could replace my cyclometer, it's an expensive option. A dynamo is probably the best way to get power when biking, but I'm not about to reconfigure my bike. So I looked for "solar powered cell phone charger" on TheFind.com. Unfortunately leading companies like Novothink haven't quite released their iPhone 4 model yet, but TheFind.com does show some options.

Beware! If you intend to buy online check out the vendor, its return policies and its reputation. TheFind makes it easy to find store information, by encouraging merchants to sign up for its UpFront program. It creates an online "shop window" that shows shipping and payment information, certifications, like Verisign Verified for secure transactions, and social networking buttons.

You can use TheFind.com from a computer, or using one of two iPhone applications. TheFind — BeatThisPrice tells you where you can get the best price for an item when you are out shopping. TheFind — Shop Nearby shows you nearby stores where you can search for items.

A great feature of TheFind is that it allows you to choose your favorite store. If you hate shopping at Nordstrom and love Walmart, or vice versa, you can state your preferred store. I found this feature a little slow. I clicked on several stores, but it reloads the page after each one, so not all my options were chosen. You can also choose your favorite brands. If you've ever spent time online hopping from one site to another to find a good product review, TheFind puts multiple reviews about a product on one screen.

TheFind.com also allows you to look for goods by color. I looked for a turquoise cardigan and it brought up many choices, all turquoise, except one from Ralph Lauren, which was pink. No doubt, Ralph Lauren also sells it in turquoise. I also looked for shoes and was a little surprised to find Radio Shack came up. However, Radio Shack does sell Style Savvy for the Nintendo DS, a game with over 10,000 fashions, including shoes. So like other search engines, its searching isn't perfect, but it's faster than using a general purpose search engine. For fashions you might want to try Glimpse.com, TheFind's site that focuses on fashions. If you want to be really fashionable try TheFindBuzz.com. It shows the latest spring 2011 fashions, as well as those for fall 2010. It lets you check out what celebrities are wearing and what the latest brands are offering.

Inc. claims that TheFind's revenue grew from just over $150,000 in 2006 to over $15 million in 2009. It searches over 500,000 stores with over 17 million unique monthly shoppers, making it the world's biggest online shopping mall.

Angela Hey can be contacted at amhey@techviser.com and followed on Twitter at amhey.

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