Friday is the day America goes shopping. They call the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday,” because that is supposed to be the day retail stores go “into the black,” finally turning a profit after all their costs for the rest of the year are taken into account. But if you’ve ever been caught up in a Black Friday shopping crowd, you may have thought there was another reason for the name: There may be bargains galore, but if you don’t fancy yourself the type to get into pulling wars with other shoppers grabbing the last of a super-discounted item, or don’t like the idea of having to wait on line at 4 AM to get a decent buy, you’re probably the type to avoid Black Friday, anyway.
Besides, you don’t need the bricks and mortars; there are plenty of bargains on the internet. And Givat Shmuel-based Superfish is there to help you ferret them out, with the Superfish Window Shopper.
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Superfish develops picture recognition technology for web images, with the technology analyzing one image and identifying similar images from around the web. The system break down images into recognizable components and searches the web to find matches, presenting them as alternative choices for the image the user is looking at. The technology is not unlike Google’s, which searches text strings on indexed sites for matches and presents them to users in its search engine. Superfish does the same thing for images.
While the technology has many uses, Superfish decided to try out its with a shopping app. To use it, go to a major shopping site like Amazon, Buy.com, Walmart.com, etc., that sell apparel, footwear, jewelry, handbags and accessories (it actually works on many smaller sites as well). An icon appears next to each image, which, when you click on it, pops up and displays visually similar products from hundreds of stores. Clicking on those links transports you to the competing site, where, hopefully, you’ll be able to get a better deal – or a product more suited to your needs.
The company recently raised $4 million in series C funding, so it’s still in startup mode – but money is already beginning to roll in from the clicks people do to reach products presented by Window Shopper. “All the sites we work with run affiliate programs, so we earn a little money each time a customer clicks on one of our links and makes a purchase,” says Superfish CEO Adi Pinhas. The company is also considering developing a mobile phone version of the app, so shoppers can use it “on the go.” Meanwhile, says Pinhas, it’s perfect for stay-at-home shoppers who prefer to keep their Black Friday experiences virtual. “When people go shopping, especially on the internet, they’re often ‘fishing,’ searching for the right deal,” Pinhas says. “We help them supercharge their fishing expedition.”