DealTime.com Spiders Web For Bargains

With a new service from DealTime.com, consumers looking for a good deal on a specific product no longer have to scour the Web themselves — DealTime.com will do it for them. The Internet search service finds online offers for products based on the customer’s preferences for that product, such as manufacturer, price range and other specifications.

How It Works

Visitors to DealTime.com can select the product they want to purchase by choosing from six categories: computers, software, electronics, home and garden equipment, sporting goods and personal data devices. The company plans to add travel and office supply categories. Shoppers indicate the product specifications they are looking for and pricing requirements. DealTime.com searches not only merchant sites but also online classifieds, person-to-person auctions and large auction sites for deals. A search results page then indicates where each offer was found, and provides links to those sites.

Eventually, a new feature under development called DealTeam will offer shoppers the chance to join with others looking for the same product, to increase bargaining power for lower prices based on volume purchases.

Shoppers are instantly shown a list of matches DealTime.com found in its search. If no match is found right away, or if the shopper wants to wait for a better offer, DealTime.com will track deals over a specified time period and notify shoppers when it finds new deals. The Web site also keeps track of a customer’s searches in progress and stores the customer’s notification data, such as e-mail address or pager number.

In addition to e-mail and pager, DealTime.com can notify shoppers via a proprietary software program called Desktop Notifier, which customers can download at the site. The program uses a blinking or beeping icon on the desktop to immediately alert the shopper of a deal. By clicking on the icon, the shopper can get more information on which deal was found.

Unique Features

The Desktop Notifier is one of two factors DealTime.com says make it unique among Internet shopping services. In addition to acting as a beeper on the computer, the Desktop Notifier offers merchants a targeted advertising opportunity. When notifying the customer of a deal, the Desktop Notifier can also display an ad to catch the eye of a customer who is already looking to buy.

The second distinguishing factor, the company claims, is that DealTime.com is not affiliated with any online merchant and does not limit its searches to certain retailers or sites. In the computer category, for example, the DealTime.com Web site says it currently searches about 480 sites. DealTime.com also provides a form for merchants to fill out to join the list of sites to be searched.

DealTime makes its money by selling ad space, offering fee-based enhanced services to merchants and by forming e-commerce joint ventures with other online companies. Based in Stamford, Connecticut, the company was founded in December 1997. It is privately owned and backed by financing from Israel Seed Partners of Jerusalem, Odeon Capital Partners of New York and Nomura International PLC.

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