Under the Radar: Adding social networking element to e-commerce

Four new companies say they can help online stores use customer reviews to boost sales.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval

Guiding consumers to products that they actually buy is supposed to be the Web's specialty. Then how come e-commerce growth is slowing down?

In the morning session at Under the Radar on Thursday, four companies explained why their technology would appeal to e-tailers.

The big crowd pleaser was PowerReviews.com, headquartered in Millbrae, Calif. The company aggregates and manages customer reviews. What makes the 26-employee company different, according to CEO Andy Chen, is that it's concentrating on products not typically reviewed on the Web, such as sporting goods, shoes, and backpacks.

"Online stores that want reviews can just turn us on and we're on their site," Chen said.

Criteo based in France and San Francisco, is yet another recommendation software that a consumer's behavior to offer products. Wize, based in San Mateo, uses a search algorithm to make suggestions.

They compute user and expert reviews by placing a numerical score to their level of satisfaction. The company also uses their system to present most relevant information first.

Santa Monica-based ThisNext.com got slammed following its presentation. They collect reviews from bloggers but what the company provides after that was too thin according to the judges at conference.