Kelkoo formally announced today its entrance into the already crowded US comparison shopping market via Kelkoo.com, a domain previously used to provide navigation to country specific Kelkoo sites within Europe. The new site, which is currently in beta, starts with a simple search box, as opposed to their long-established geography-specific sites which are heavier on content and merchandising. I assume this will change with time as they work to develop an engaging experience for the US market.
Though the US market for comparison shopping is certainly an attractive expansion target, Kelkoo faces some challenges in their attempt to become a significant player. The most significant is that they will be starting from scratch in terms of consumer acquisition, and without the benefit of the brand strength that surely assisted them in earlier movements into new countries within Europe. They also lack direct merchant relationships, illustrated by their current offer content which appears to be sourced via several publisher programs including Shopping.com and PriceGrabber. As they mentioned, their already geographically diverse platform should make it relatively easy for them to on-board new merchants once relationships are established, but content such as merchant ratings and product ratings will take time to reach the critical mass necessary for them to offer a unique experience.
Despite these challenges, with their years of experience in comparison shopping and new market penetration to lean on, I expect them to make some waves in the future. We welcome them to the US market and wish them luck!