I spoke today to Scott Randall, CEO of Yokel. Yokel has been around for a little while but hasn’t formally launched yet. Yokel joins ShopLocal, CNET and Froogle in offering offline inventory/shopping information to online consumers. So far, there’s no e-commerce. Another competitor in the space, Local shopping aggregator Cairo.com, has shut down following its legal settlement with ShopLocal.
I’ve written lots and lots about the very sound ideas behind these sites: Only 2.5% of US retail is e-commerce, but the Internet is a bigger and bigger influence on US (and global) consumer behavior. People fundamentally want to buy locally (for the return policies, to see goods before they buy or because they must in most classifieds categories). Thus all the shopping engines will be compelled over time to integrate local shopping information (as Google has done) into their sites to make them “agnostic.”
The challenge here is getting the data (from other than the big boxes), which can be very difficult to obtain — although it’s getting easier.
Safa Rashtchy in his keynote for the recent Kelsey Group conference predicted that as Local improves it may in fact become a threat to e-commerce because of consumers’ fundamental interest in local buying.