When looking for the most relevant products and the best prices, shoppers don’t – surprisingly – have many options available to them. Depending on which research you believe, around 38-44% of product searches begin on Amazon, and another 40% or so start with a search engine. Mostly Google, of course.
Along with other marketplaces, social media, and retailer websites, it can be difficult to work out who has the best deal for that cherished consumer good you crave.
Enter Vetted (formerly Lustre), which announced yesterday the launch of its AI-powered product search engine, alongside a $14 million Series A investment round led by global software investor Insight Partners. The round included participation from existing investors Index Ventures, Bling Capital, and Golden Ventures, as well as angels including Shiva Rajaraman, the former VP of Commerce at Meta.
Vetted claims to enable shoppers to effortlessly discover the brands and products most recommended for their needs, and it does so based on reviews from platforms such as Reddit, YouTube, and other reputable expert sites.
“We spend over $100 billion shopping online, yet getting the best value has become an overwhelming and frankly anti-consumer experience,” Stuart Kearney, co-founder at Vetted, said. “Shoppers shouldn’t have to spend hours sifting through indistinguishable products littered across thousands of ad-infested sites loaded with fake reviews and unreliable information. That’s why we’re building Vetted. Our users get a smart guide aligned with their best interests, transforming e-commerce into the simple and trustworthy experience everyone wants – especially today, when every dollar counts.”
Vetted uses machine learning that the startup says replicates a shopper’s research process. It automatically vets trustworthy product data and analyzes everything from price history, ideal use cases, and reviewer consensus to rank the best products according to their relevance.
Vetted’s search results also show users why a given product was selected, making it easy for consumers to purchase with more knowledge and confidence. Vetted has made its solution available as a browser extension, enabling shoppers to use its research engine in their laptop browser.
“Over 330,000 shoppers already trust Vetted, with users buying our recommendation in a given category 70 percent of the time,” Hanna Jung, VP of marketing at Vetted, said. “They’re also asking for help beyond our initial focus on consumer electronics. With this additional funding, we’re excited to dramatically expand our product and retailer coverage to further empower shoppers across all their shopping needs.”
“We are thrilled to support Stuart and the Vetted team on their mission to provide a shopping experience where consumers find the products best suited to their needs with minimal effort and maximum confidence,” said Thilo Semmelbauer, Managing Director at Insight Partners. “The opportunities for disruption in e-commerce are endless, and Vetted is well positioned to be a dominant player.”
As Lustre, Vetted won a 2021 Webby award for the best shopping app and is available through its website and browser extension. How does it make money? As reported by TechCrunch, affiliate links to storefronts are one way, but other revenue streams are still being clarified.
Kearney is clear, however, that it won’t monetize user data. “The only data we do collect are completely anonymized, aggregated, and related to general search performance to ensure we’re being helpful to our users,” he told TechCrunch.
Stewart Rogers is a Senior Editor at Grit Daily and has over 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, managing, and mentoring in tech. He is a journalist, author, and speaker on AI, AR/VR, blockchain, and other emerging technology industries. A former Analyst-at-large VentureBeat, Rogers keynotes on mental health in the tech industry around the world. Prior to VentureBeat, Rogers ran a number of successful software companies and held global roles in sales and marketing for businesses in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K.
A digital nomad with no fixed abode, Rogers emcees major tech events online and across the globe and is a co-founder at Badass Empire, a startup that helps digital professionals tap into their inner badass, in addition to being Editor-in-Chief at Dataconomy, a publication and community focused on data science, AI, machine learning, and other related topics.