Sometimes shoppers prefer to shop at brick-and-mortar stores, rather than online, because vast product lists are hard to navigate. To make it easier for small businesses to connect customers with the products they want, New York-based Guidester recently launched an updated version of its free customizable decision making tool, which allows shoppers to narrow their search criteria based on product attributes such as price, brand, or features. 

Retailers provide Guidester with a data feed that includes product inventory and prices, then Guidester fills in the attribute data for each product.

For example, when shoppers visit an online electronics store to purchase a digital camera, they first see a list of all digital cameras the retailer has in stock. As they indicate their preferences -- say, a camera that has video capabilities, is for an intermediate photographer, and costs less than $300 -- Guidester automatically updates the list of products stocked by the retailer, so it only shows products meeting the shopper's criteria. Shoppers can keep adding criteria, until the list of suitable products is a manageable size.

While advertisers can pay for prominent placement in the resulting lists, only products that meet a shopper's criteria are displayed. Shoppers can also sort the resulting list by price, brand, or model.

Guidester tools are available for several product categories including computers, consumer electronics, cell phones, baby products, and apparel.

A Helping Hand from Google -- for Free

Through the end of the year, Google Checkout, a retail transaction service along the lines of PayPal (NASDAQ:EBAY), is not charging retailers for transaction fees.

Google Checkout protects retailers from chargebacks and invalid orders, while providing shoppers with a single login they can use to make purchases and track orders from all websites which use the service. To encourage customers to use this service, retailers can add Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)  Checkout badges to their AdWords ads.

Google Checkout's usual transaction fees are 2 percent plus $0.20 per transaction, and AdWords advertisers earn free transaction processing for $10 of sales for every $1 they spend on AdWords.

A Helping Hand from Amazon

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) this week released a trio of services to help Amazon Associates jazz-up their websites.

Associates, who run affiliated sites that feature select Amazon products, can use Amazon's aStore tool to build an online storefront that includes Amazon products and shopping features such as Customer Reviews and Wish Lists.

Associates can also personalize their site and display products based on a customer's purchase history using Amazon's Omkase Links tool. A product-preview tool allows customers to view product information from without leaving the affiliate's website

Through Dec. 31, associates using these tools will receive referral fees up to 8.5 percent when visitors to their sites click through to complete a purchase on Amazon's site.