Online shopping is supposed to be empowering, but surfing through all the various retailers to make a purchase can often be exhausting and frustrating. That’s why online shopping guides like BizRate.com, which are designed to help customers comparison shop and make informed purchases, are in favor.
Today, BizRate announced that it has secured $20 million (US$) in second-round funding. Venture capital firm Attractor is leading the round of financing, which also includes an investment from Hambrecht & Quist. Mission Ventures and Media Technology Ventures, which were first-round investors, will continue to fund BizRate.com.
“BizRate.com sits at a critical point in the online buying process and is trusted by both online buyers and merchants,” Hambrecht & Quist’s Danny Rimer said.
BizRate.com will use the money to fund its national advertising campaign as well as enhance its Web site.
“This additional funding will allow BizRate.com to build on its position as the nationally recognized ‘trustmark’ for safe, efficient e-commerce, inspiring confidence in consumers and helping bring e-commerce to the mainstream,” said Farhad Mohit, president and CEO of BizRate.com.
BizRate.com, based in Los Angeles, collects direct customer feedback and transactional information on every purchase made from hundreds of online merchants who have agreed to be rated.
The company says it solicits information from millions of online buyers each month, and that these buyers represent more than 20 percent of all online retail commerce.
BizRate.com features online retailer ratings for 18 product and service categories, including apparel, auctions, books, electronics, entertainment, games and toys, gifts, home and garden, and travel.
Online retailers that have agreed to be rated by customers via BizRate.com include Preview Travel, CDNow, Macys.com, eToys, shop.theglobe.com, FogDog Sports, NetGrocer.com, uBid, eCost.com, Egghead, Cyberian Outpost, CompUSA and Office Depot.
Retailers are rated for ease of ordering, product selection, product information, price, delivery time, customer support and other features. Each feature that is rated receives one to five stars. In addition, BizRate.com also provides reports on online retailers who have not agreed to allow BizRate.com to collect customer feedback. In those cases, BizRate.com’s staff shop on the sites and file their own reports.
The company is quick to point out that it is not paid by merchants to rate their companies and that the surveys completed by consumers are not released to anyone else, protecting the consumer’s e-mail address and other privacy concerns.
BizRate has signed deals with America Online and the MSN network to provide its users with merchant ratings on their sites.
Founded in 1996, the company also produces syndicated category and industry reports and customized research and consulting services. It was originally called Binary Compass, but changed its name in 1997.
Attractor was founded in November and his invested in a variety of technology companies that have gone public, including VeriSign, USWeb, AdForce, Marimba, Intraware, Critical Path and Vignette. The venture capital firm has also made private investments include Garden.com, Remarq Communities, tickets.com and Sandpiper Networks. Attractor manages more than $300 million in investment money.