Rather than licensing shopping software to portals and other content sites, Inktomi has created technology and product data that can be tailored to each site's needs. For example, an outdoor sports site can provide transactions and content on sports equipment.
Inktomi uses a similar revenue model for its search-engine business. The company makes money from the Shopping Engine in two ways: transactions and advertising. Every time a Web user jumps from an Inktomi shopping page to a merchant, Inktomi gets a finder's fee of between 5 percent and 15 percent for each purchase, according to Kevin Brown, Inktomi's director of marketing. That percentage is then divided between Inktomi and the portal partner.
"We craft a deal with each portal that takes these different revenue streams," Brown said. "It always includes the transaction piece and could include ads."
Targeted advertising will also be a source of revenue for Inktomi, which will put ads on each page of its Shopping Engine up until the sale is consummated.
Several portal sites, including Excite, have their own comparison shopping features. Amazon.com, the online bookseller that has been broadening its product selection, bought Junglee, developer of product search technology. Brown said components of Inktomi's Shopping Engine could be integrated into independently developed shopping services.