Comparison Shopping Engines
Comparison Shopping Engines, or CSEs, have grown in popularity and number over the past decade. They represent a large marketing opportunity for online merchants. These sites take submitted product data feeds from many merchants, match up the products offered by each store, and allow customers to compare prices across the various stores. In addition to comparing base prices, often customers can also enter their shipping address and then compare the total price including shipping and sales tax.
In exchange for sending targeted traffic to a merchant’s website, the merchant pays certain fees to the CSE. There may be a flat cost-per-click depending on the category of items you sell. Other CSEs having a bidding tool that lets merchants choose how much they are willing to pay for each click, and they rank merchants based on their bids, highest to lowest.
For many shoppers, Comparison Shopping Engines are the first place they visit to check prices. Given our current economic situation, bargain hunting is becoming more and more prevalent, especially online – where people can compare prices without spending any money in gas. For this reason alone, CSEs now drive 15% of online sales (source Practical Ecommerce).
CSEs also provide retailers with additional value-added services. The most common example is customer reviews submitted by people who complete an order at a given store. These reviews including a rating (usually 1 star for the lowest rating, and 5 stars for the highest) and a textual review where customers describe their shopping experience with the store. In addition to comparing prices, shoppers can also compare the overall store ratings that previous customers have provided. Individual reviews allow shoppers to see what other customers liked or hated about a particular store, for instance, the customer service was great but the shipping rates were too high.
Getting Start with CSEs
If you’re looking to get started with comparison shopping engines, take a look at the biggest ones on the market:
- Google Shopping
Beginners may also want to focus on free CSEs, including Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, and TheFind.com.