Digital Folio today announced $1.2 million in funding that it will use to expand its comparison shopping technology and go after the crowded market.
That level of funding isn't going to grab headlines (oops, it just did) but price comparison engines are powerful and steady money makers. Look at the success of PriceGrabber.com, Nextag.com, Shopathome.com, Shopzilla.com, Pronto.com, ShopLocal.com, etc.
Founded this year and fresh out of beta, Denver-based Digital Folio lets shoppers drag and drop items from major retailers, including Amazon.com and Target, into one shopping list. Prices for the items are updated in real time and shoppers can share their lists with others. Digital Folio's twist on price comparison shopping even got the attention of the Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg.
"Shopping today is like listening to the radio in the '80s. People are still making mix-tape shopping lists," says Digital Folio president Patrick Carter. "They're bookmarking browser windows while they shop the way we used to set radio presets. Digital Folio is like an iPod revolution for shopping."
Perhaps it's Carter's confidence that got his investors' attention, although he won't say who his backers are.
Carter says we are in an era of "pricing pandemonium" with some online retailers changing their prices up to seven times a day. He's even seen prices on best-selling gadgets change by 40 percent in a few minutes. To keep track of those prices, Carter is tapping into the price discoveries of the collective Digital Folio community.
Growing that community is Carter's biggest goal. He hopes shoppers use Digital Folio frequently and effortlessly, providing everyone within the group a snapshot of online prices.
"This is more like a product Twitter," he says. "When someone adds a lower-priced item to their [Digital Folio] list they automatically notify anyone else with that same item on their list."
Carter says he is working on deal alerts and apps for Android, iPhone, and Windows 7 phones, which should be out by the end of the year. They will be tied via the cloud to your browser so your list will go everywhere with you. Digital Folio is currently available for PC or Macintosh on Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox. (Chrome and Safari users will have to wait.)
Carter's competition includes RedLaser, PricePad, and Smoopa. Smoopa includes shipping costs in its prices so you know if a trip to a nearby store would be a better deal. It also provides a price forecast for products in its database, so you can see if shopping now or later is better.