Using Shopping Comparison Sites to Boost your Sales

The popularity of shopping comparison web sites has grown tremendously in the last 12 months.

This surge can be attributed to the many benefits that online comparison shopping offers to both consumers and online retailers.

Shopping comparison sites are a type of internet directory that allow consumers to search for products. The comparison sites provide product listings from a wide range of retailers, together with product prices, product descriptions and consumer reviews. This allows the consumer to see the same or similar products from different retailers side by side.

Benefits to Consumers and Retailers

The consumer then clicks on a product listing to be transferred to the product page on the retailer’s web site where the consumer can then purchase the item.

A key consumer benefit of these sites is the convenience factor whereby consumers can easily assess different product options from different retailers all at once through a single web site.

Retailers also stand to benefit as they gain a cost effective marketing medium.

The comparison sites offer the retailer instant exposure to a large number of consumers. They also allow retailers to put their products in front of the consumer when the consumer wants to buy. Such timing can increase the retailer’s sales opportunities tremendously.

Importantly, retailers can control the freshness and accuracy of their product information displayed on the comparison sites. Most sites allow the retailer to provide an XML feed to keep the comparison sites updated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis with new products, price changes, special offers and discontinued products.

Advertising fees

The use of comparison sites is free to the consumer though most sites charge the retailer an advertising fee.

The most common revenue model adopted by the comparison sites is the pay per click advertising model. That model is also generally favoured by retailers as the retailers only pay for quality leads when the consumer actually visits the retailer’s site.

Examples
The U.S. sites Shopping.com, Bizrate.com and Froogle.com are setting the benchmark for online comparison shopping.

Almost any retailer with an e-commerce web site can have their products added to the comparison shopping sites, though to be listed in the American sites you will need to be able to display product prices in U.S dollars.

Shopping.com after commencing operations in April 2003 now claims to be the 4th largest shopping network in the United sates with 1.5 million shoppers using their network per day.

Bizrate.com also has an impressive resume. After being founded in 1996 it now features over 30 million products from 40,000 retailers.

The Shopping.com and Bizrate.com sites are similar in that they both allow consumers to search for products by search keyword or product category. The search results display product pictures, descriptions and prices. The sequence in which results appear in these two sites is based on the retailer’s pay per click bidding price, the product price and consumer ratings.

The pay per click revenue model used by Shopping.com and Bizrate.com sees the retailer charged a minimum of 5 U.S cents per click.

Froogle was developed by the popular search engine Google. Froogle is already widely used even though it is currently in a beta testing phase.

Unlike most comparison sites, it is free for retailers to list products on Froogle. The Froogle results include a product picture, product price and product description. The general layout of Froogle is somewhat similar to Google which adds its ease of use.

Measuring results

Irrespective of which shopping comparison site you choose to list your products with, it is essential that you measure the return on your advertising investment.

I currently use all three shopping comparison sites for the Gillett’s Jewellers web site and track the sales generated from those sites through our JAZreturns marketing conversion tracker. We have found that all three sites have produced sales in the last two months with Shopping.com producing the highest number of sales followed by Bizrate.com and then Froogle.com. The return on investment that Gillett’s Jewellers have enjoyed from these comparison shopping sites has been very high.

It is hopefully only a matter of time before Australia follows the US trend and offers similar high quality comparison shopping sites for Australian consumers and retailers.

 

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Sharon Wild writes ecommerce articles for Qld Business Review, she is also Strategy & Marketing Director of e-JAZ.com.au

Sharon Wild
Strategy & Marketing Director of e-JAZ, Sharon has been involved in the e-commerce community for several years. She successfully manages Australia's largest online jewellery store, Gillett's Jewellers.

Sharon can be contacted via email on sharon@e-jaz.com.au