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Facebook Buys TheFind, Sellers Lose Source of Traffic

Sellers are losing yet another source of free traffic thanks to Facebook’s acquisition of TheFind. The ecommerce search engine, which provided a source of free and low-cost traffic to online merchants, will go offline in a matter of weeks. “Disappointing news,” said one small seller who sent his product feeds to TheFind daily. Though he never purchased ads or CPCs from the service, he told EcommerceBytes it generated a fair amount of traffic to his website.

While nowhere near the scale of Google’s search engine, TheFind specialized in online shopping, calling its service “The only way to search the entire shoppable web.” TheFind said over 15 million shoppers used its service that featured half a billion products from a half-million stores.

TheFind will shut down its search engine, and Facebook will integrate TheFind’s technology into its ad engine with the help of TheFind’s core engineering team, who are joining the social networking site. The fact that TheFind will help to “make the ads you see on Facebook every day better and more relevant to you” is of little consolation to sellers, who suffered the loss of Google Shopping as a free traffic-driver in 2012.

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TheFind allowed sellers of all sizes to send it their product feeds and joined with Lexity in 2013 to launch a free app allowing merchants who use any of over 30 different shopping carts to more easily send their feeds.

TheFind also offered a shopping app called Glimpse, launched in 2012, that served up a personalized “catalog” of fashion products from its database that was based on Facebook likes from the user, their Facebook friends, and trending items across Facebook – marketed as a shopping app that was “social by design.”

Visiting the Glimpse on Facebook, you can see products from large retailers such as Sears and Staples, large marketpalces such as Amazon and Rakuten, and small marketplaces, including Etsy, Artfire, Bonanza.

But Bonanza founder and CEO Bill Harding said he doesn’t believe the shuttering of TheFind will make a significant difference in the day-to-day lives of his sellers, or marketplaces in general. “Over the past year, TheFind seems to have been gradually scaling down its customer acquisition efforts,” he said. “At its high point, we saw 5% of our sales come from TheFind, but as of their acquisition, it had become less than half a percent.”

“It would be great if this acquisition meant that it became easier for us to send individual product listings to Facebook – a project we’ve already got on our roadmap,” Harding said. But he think that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

In addition to TheFind search engine and the Facebook timeline app Glimpse, the company offered TheFind Mobile barcode scanning app for smartphones and a tablet app Catalogue by TheFind.

Siva Kumar founded the site in 2005 and will not be joining Facebook once the acquisition is wrapped up.

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Ina Steiner

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. Send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.


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