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November 16, 2006

Burning a Hole Lets Users Shop By Price

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Susan got to review Like.com while I was making my way back from Ad:Tech last week, so I think it’s only fair I get to play take a look at Burning a Hole and show the UK some love.

If you’ve haven’t heard, Burning a Hole is a new UK-based shopping engine for indecisive shoppers who don’t exactly know what they want. I could write you a little blurb about what exactly their web mission is, but frankly, they do a pretty good job at explaining that themselves:

"We’re more than a search engine. We’re an ideas-by-price engine. We’re a make-the-internet-work-for-your-wallet engine. We’re a what-do-you-do-with-that-fifty-quid-you’ve been-saving-in-your-sock-drawer engine. We’re your Christmas inspiration engine (and have you seen the range of office gifts we’ve got for under a tenner?) We think this is what the internet was always supposed to be about."

I like these guys already.

Unlike traditional price comparison engines, Burning a Hole lets users search by either by category OR price. This is exactly what I need to get through my holiday shopping. I’ve never been able to do much shopping on sites like Amazon.com because I don’t know what I want until I see it. (It’s bad and I’m even worse when dinner approaches.) With Burning a Hole, I don’t have to know what I’m looking for, I just have to know how much I’m willing to spend. You tell them how much money you have and they’ll search hundreds of retail sites to tell you what you can get. (Kind of like how in the movies a frozen, snot-nosed waif would always walk into a diner and ask what his handful of change got him. Somehow it always equaled pie.)

I gave Burning a Hole a try this afternoon, and even though I had to convert pounds to dollars in my head to understand the dollar amounts (it is a UK engine, after all), I was more than satisfied with the quality and diverseness of products I found. There’s even a Secret Santa section that lets searchers sort for £5 or £10 items. And best of all, most of the stuff listed in the Secret Santa sections is chocolate! If you ask me, there’s no better way to say Happy Holidays than with dark chocolate truffles. Mmm.

If you have a little more money burning a hole in your pocket (oooh!), the products get increasingly more expensive and more elaborate (though nothing is better than chocolate). There’s fine art, theme park passes, shoes (yes, Susan, shoes), various furniture pieces, bicycles, diamonds, stoves, "fridge freezers" (known in the states as a "refrigerator"), and anything else you can imagine. (Note: Be careful shopping with your kids, some of the products listed are not for innocent eyes!)

My only issue with this shopping engine is that you don’t know where the item is until you click on it. For example, pretty necklace, right? But when I click on it I see the listing was pulled from a UK store, not one in the US (to be fair, there’s a healthy mix of both on the site). I’m not a big fan of International shipping so I’m likely to pass on the necklace, but now I’m sad because they teased me with a pretty necklace and I found out I couldn’t have it. [But it’s great for the UK shopper, who would normally have to suffer the opposite. –Susan] – Until they find a pretty necklace only available in the US. There’s nothing worse than getting your hopes up and then getting shot down, so it’d be nice to know where each listing is being pulled from before I get emotionally attached.

Overall though, this a mighty fun engine to play around with. It’s very nice not being stuck in one particular shopping category. Searching with only a base price lets you look at a variety of different options that all somehow fit in your price range. Very handy. Especially with the expensive holiday season quickly approaching.

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