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Comparison Shopping Engines for E-commerce: The Comprehensive Guide

By Priceva
on August 8, 2022
With so many online stores around, customers need a simpler way to navigate through the market and compare goods. This is where comparison shopping engines (CSEs) come in handy: they allow consumers to analyze product images, descriptions, characteristics and pricing.

But what about retailers? What is the point for them to place products side-by-side with competitors? Read this guide to find out what CSEs are, the benefits they provide to sellers, how to use them for your business, and who should not consider this solution.

How Does a Price Comparison Engine Work?

Comparison shopping engines (CSEs) are websites that allow visitors to monitor various retailers’ offerings and search for products. CSEs provide a data feed with product images and characteristics shown side by side, which simplifies the process of shopping. When a user clicks on a product, he goes to the seller’s website, where the purchase can be completed.

For retailers, comparison shopping engines are a way of online advertising. To display products on comparison engines, businesses need to pay a fee and submit photos, description, prices and other information that could be relevant to potential buyers. Customers love comparing goods, this is why shopping engines help businesses to attract potential buyers.

Price comparison engines appeared as long ago as 1995: the BargainFinder website can be considered the first prototype for modern CSEs. Today, the most popular solutions include Google Shopping, Shopzilla, Bing Shopping, PriceSpy, and Yahoo Shopping.

At first glance, it may seem illogical to put your products in line with your competitors by using a price comparison engine, but this tool can provide your audience with product insights and improve sales.

Comparison Shopping Engine vs Marketplace: What Is the Difference?

Essentially, both marketplaces and comparison shopping engines serve to exhibit your products and provide all the basic information about them so as to motivate customers to make a purchase. You can list goods on CSEs and marketplaces in a similar way, and they will appear alongside competitors’ offers.

The major difference boils down to their payment models. The majority of comparison shopping engines use a cost per click (CPC) model, meaning you only pay when a user clicks on the product to visit your website. Some of them use the CPA (cost per acquisition) model: they charge a certain percentage from any sale that results from a click-through. With marketplaces, you pay a percentage of the product cost when a user completes an order.

Also, CSEs send visitors to make a purchase on the merchant’s website, meaning they can offer and sell more of their own products. Marketplaces do not readdress customers — they process transactions and charge sellers a fee for that. Some marketplaces also help with product storage and delivery, which can be a great benefit for retailers that do not run their own brick-and-mortar stores.

Benefits of Comparison Shopping Engines

With competition going through the roof in the e-commerce industry, it is crucial to use as many product distribution channels as possible. CSEs are nothing to sneeze at — they can help retailers keep tabs on the market, analyze competitors, and reach out to the audience more efficiently.

More Extensive Reach

Comparison shopping engines allow you to attract an audience from far beyond your website, which is particularly useful for smaller, less popular stores. For example, if you run a local online shop and want to expand your presence on the market, you can list your product on a shopping engine — your goods will be shown to potential buyers from all over the country.

More Conversions

Potential customers visit your website after seeing your product (image, features, pricing, brand, etc.), meaning they are interested in it. They are more likely to purchase an item because they’ve already compared it with competitors’ offers and preferred yours. As a result, such visitors are more likely to convert into buyers.

Discover Who's Selling What

Once you list your products on a CSE, you will be able to see who your competitors are and get a market overview. You can explore similar products, find out how they differ from yours, check whether competitors have better pricing, service, or some other outstanding features. As a result, you will be able to conclude what your business is lacking.

Stay Up to Date on Price Trends

Online retailers change prices regularly in order to stay competitive, which means you should charge for your products on par with the market. Outdated offers will not attract customers. There is no need to have your marketing strategy revolve around pricing only, but you should be able to keep your prices relevant.

Look at All the Details

Pricing is not the only thing buyers look at: they also consider product features, warranty, included services, delivery cost, and the brand’s reputation. With CSEs, you will be able to compare these details with your competitors (after all, your potential buyers will be searching for the same thing).

Check Ratings and Reviews

Many price comparison engines enable buyers to write informal product reviews and rate brands. By reading reviews posted by consumers, you can see which products are top-rated and why. Also, reviews can give you a better understanding of what issues customers face when making a purchase, what their most common complaints are, and what can be improved to deliver an unbeatable user experience.

Watch Out for Market Trends

Comparison search engines analyze visitor behavior and place popular products or goods from well-known brands at the top of the results page. That allows you to see market trends and sell products that are likely to be in demand, as well as figure out the most relevant prices.

Find Out Competitors' Weaknesses

When analyzing your competitors, you should not only check their prices and product details, but also find out what they lack and what issues their customers face. That will help you understand what you can introduce or improve in order to make your products more lucrative for customers. Emphasize your company’s strengths and let your customers know how and why you are better than your rivals.

Compare your competitors’ USPs (unique selling points) with your own to ensure that you’re offering a better deal. With CSEs, you can find out if there is a gap in the market that can be filled, bringing you additional income and brand awareness.

Increased Clickthrough Rates

Some price comparison engines allow visitors to make a purchase directly on their website: there is no need to proceed to the seller’s website. However, the majority of CSEs redirect users to the brands’ websites, which is the point at which people start changing their mind about purchasing.

What goes wrong? Research your competitors’ websites to find out. Shoppers may refuse to make a purchase because of inconvenient navigation, poorly designed landing pages, or a complicated customer journey. Learn from your competitors’ mistakes and make your website user-friendly — this will ensure a pleasant shopping experience for your audience and improved click-through rates.

To sharpen your competitive edge, you should work on promoting your website and increase brand awareness. A growing number of website visitors will make your website shown more often in search engines, which will drive more traffic in its turn.

Direct Interaction With the Customer

The previous point leads us to another advantage: the possibility to engage your customers and show your brand. Let us observe a small example.

When someone buys Puma sneakers on a website like Amazon, he remains a loyal customer of Amazon, not Puma. The company itself does not interact with the customer, meaning he can buy sneakers from another brand on Amazon because he does not fully understand Puma’s value.

But with a price comparison engine, customers go directly to the seller’s website, which means:
  • the brand can communicate its value, mission and philosophy;
  • buyers can add more items to their carts;
  • new customers can become loyal ones and make their next purchases directly on the seller’s website.
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Potential Issues with Comparison Shopping Engines

Every comparison shopping engine has a few peculiarities, so you should decide in advance which one will fit your business’s requirements. Some of them require setting lower prices, and others can display too little information about products. Here are a few aspects to consider before you decide to use a CSE.

  1. You might be forced to reduce prices. Since product cost is the key factor defining customers’ purchases on comparison shopping websites, you will need to keep your product prices competitive. Therefore, you may end up underpricing your products and restricting your cash flow.
  2. The risk of getting lost. If your products are similar to competitors’ items, you can face challenges standing out from the crowd. Besides, you can end up selling your products for the same prices as competitors.
  3. Lack of customer loyalty. As a rule, people use comparison shopping engines to find the best deal. That means, unless you offer the lowest prices, you have fewer chances to retain customers.

Who Is Not Likely to Benefit From Comparison Shopping Engines?

Comparison shopping engines are a great solution for retailers, but they are not a good fit for everyone. Firstly, a company should have a tech-savvy expert (or department) to get its product listed on a CSE (as a rule, it is done through feeds, and the ability to work with them is required). Secondly, having fewer than 100 products uploaded on a comparison shopping engine makes it difficult for a brand to gain traction on the platform.

Ask yourself these questions to identify whether CSEs will be helpful for your e-commerce business:
  • What is your technical competence? Do you have staff who will be able to create or export data feeds and shopping details?
  • How many products do you have in your assortment? CSEs are recommended for stores with at least 500 products. Also, you should consider your average order value (AOV).
  • Are your prices affordable? Online buyers tend to perform a meticulous comparison of similar products in order to locate the best deal. If you price your products too high, your potential customers can go to competitors.

How to Use It for Your Website

If after reading the above you’ve decided that your e-commerce business can benefit from leveraging a price comparison tool, you need to introduce a minimum of 100 products on such a platform. But keep in mind that the major reason for buyers to hesitate about making a purchase or abandon their carts is a poorly-designed customer journey. Their path from price comparison to purchase should be smooth and easy.

Here is how you can encourage potential buyers to complete the order:

  • Make sure that all essential data about the product is displayed on both the CSE’s interface and your product card. This information is important for visitors to realize that your product, service and brand are unbeatable.
  • After searching for basic information, customers need proof that a product or a service is worth the money and is better than competitors’ offers. When you show explicit advantages (product description, reviews, warranty), make sure that nothing distracts a potential customer, and the information is served in an easy-to-understand manner.
  • When a webstore visitor decides to buy a product, make the purchase process simple. Do not divert customers from completing the order by forcing them to create a detailed account, or offering a single payment option. If a person has to go through a bunch of steps to create a profile and make a purchase, they may just give up halfway.

Finally, once you list your items on a CSE, make sure that you keep your pricing competitive. Comparing prices manually is too challenging and time-consuming, especially when you have hundreds of products listed and thousands of competitors’ options shown side-by-side.

Automate the process — leverage Priceva’s price intelligence software. It crawls marketplaces and comparison search engine pages to get relevant pricing information delivered to you in the form of a comprehensive table. Powered with market insights, you can adapt your pricing strategy and offer attractive deals to your customers every day.

Final Thoughts

To stay ahead of the competition, you need to diversify your distribution channels because e-commerce gives customers too much choice. Price comparison tools can be an excellent way to expand your online presence and not only grow your business, but outperform your rivals.

More than that, shopping comparison websites allow you to get a deeper insight into the market: you will see which products are trending, define relevant prices, and find out what customers praise or complain about in their feedback. Finally, you can research your competitors and polish your own goods and services to deliver an unmatched shopping experience.

FAQ

What are comparison shopping engines?

These are websites that help visitors to search for different products and choose a brand. Third-party stores list goods together with an image, description, price and other characteristics. By clicking on the selected product, a price comparison app user is readdressed to the seller’s webstore to complete a purchase.

Where can I compare prices online?

Since original brand web stores do not display competitors’ offers, products of various brands can be easily compared on CSEs and marketplaces. The major difference between them is that comparison shopping engines send users to the sellers’ websites, while marketplaces process buyers’ transactions without them leaving the website.

Are price comparison engines reliable?

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The majority of modern comparison sites update pricing information automatically, which means they display the current cost. However, it should be noted that some CSEs require sellers to charge a lower price when a product is being listed, which means the price on other platforms can be different.

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