Become.com CEO/Co-Founder Michael Yang said his team launched the site because of a consumer need for review information today. No argument there. But he added that the only sites that are being excluded are spam sites. A site that merely has bogus reviews will get in, he said.

“We don’t manually exclude sites,” Yang said. “Ultimately, it’s up to the consumers to decide.” He added that the site’s software will rank more “authoritative” sites higher, but it seemed that their software would equate popular with authoritative. That’s a dangerous concept as long as crafty corporate marketers are allowed to roam Wall Street. Remember viral marketing and the “consumers” loudly praising particular brands of beer at local taverns?

Another good recent example of the latest flavor of e-commerce is a site called SortPrice.com.

This was another excellent idea that isn’t quite being taken far enough to deliver on its potential. The concept: Take the shopping cart idea that has become so synonymous with e-commerce, but make it universal. What if that cart could hold—and compare—products from literally thousands of vendors?

But SortPrice places a significant limit on what they call their “Shop, Drag & Drop” technique. Their limitation reminds one of the nightclub impressionist who tells an audience member, “I can impersonate anyone in the world. Anybody! (pause) Just as long as their name is on this index card.”

SortPrice’s service is limited to vendors and products that are on their Web site. In many respects, it’s a twist on one of the very first e-commerce ventures: the electronic shopping mall.

With large sites such as Amazon.com already showcasing third-party distributors and products of almost every single kind, the SortPrice approach is not that exciting.

Still, they are offering retailers free space on their site and several large ones—including Target.com, Buy.com, Office Depot and HSN—have joined. But the concept of a standards-compliant desktop app that could make an interactive price- and feature-comparing shopping cart of products taken from any Web site is still exciting. I’m sure someone out there has built it. Somewhere.

Another semi-new twist of Web commerce harkens back to the currently rarely used full name of the WWW. E-commerce players have discovered that the theory of globalization on the Web isn’t any more real than it is on land.

The language and cultural differences still force companies to create local sites for every market. But a company called NetCert Inc. has figured out a way to make globalized money from the Web.

NetCert’s prospects are retailers who are looking to sell products to Chinese consumers but who are hesitant to invest the huge amount of money needed to set up shop in China.

So NetCert is taking its China Web site and opening it to American retailers. It provides mid-sized retailers a relatively cost-efficient means to enter the China market, with minimal costs, NetCert officials argue.

Next Page: Can we survive the wait while E-Commerce grows up?

This article was originally published on 05-08-2005
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