IMshopping is a service that is trying to take advantage of Twitters power as a search engine. Launching in beta today, it connects users to human assistants both on the web and through the messaging service. By simply messaging @imshopping with a question about shopping, users will receive detailed answers and recommendations.
The main IMshopping website combines recommendation and human assistance. Users of the on-line service can store responses to their queries, or search a database of answers archived on the site. The guides who answer the questions respond via the site and Twitter – so that a consumer can use this service entirely over their mobile device if they wish.
The company also announced a $4.7 million Series A round of funding today, from SK Telecom.
From the release:
“We believe human assistance will create a deeper level of e-commerce satisfaction that doesn’t exist on the Internet today,” says IMshopping CEO and Founder, Prashant Nedungadi. “There is a lot of information out there, but very little help when online shoppers need specific answers that will make or break their purchasing decision. At brick and mortar stores, human experts fill such a void, but on the web, it doesn’t exist. We developed IMshopping to bring the same level of personalized assistance to online shoppers. Twitter is the ideal medium for having a conversation; Online shoppers have the option to communicate privately with the expert on Twitter, or publically so others can benefit from the right choices.”
From the release:
Ho ho ho! The game’s afoot – we’ve travelled very quickly from discussions about “whether or not Twitter is a search engine” to this service, which is completely dependent on the fact that Twitter is a search engine. I keep Twitscoop open at all times – it’s one of the fastest news services I use! I’m not sure these guys know what they’ve let themselves in for, though. If this service does take off on Twitter, IMshopping could very quickly become inundated with so many requests it can’t possibly handle them all. After all, that’s what people on Twitter do – talk constantly and quickly.