Comparison shopping engines (CSE's) give ecommerce merchants the opportunity to attract new customers, increase sales, and go head-to-head against the competition.
In this brief guide, we’ll explain what comparison shopping engines are, tell you about some of the best platforms available, and show you how to get your products listed.
What are comparison shopping engines?
Comparison shopping engines are channels for collecting product information, including pricing, from participating retailers and then display that collective information on a single results page in response to a shopper's search query. In this way, shoppers can compare prices, shipping options, and service from multiple retailers on a single page and choose the merchant that offers the best overall value.
For example, let's say I want to buy a Rubik's Cube and want to see what my options are, or maybe find the best price. I can go to Google Shopping (one of the most popular CSE's around) and initiate a search. Here's what comes up:
For ecommerce merchants, comparison shopping engines are an opportunity to put your products in front of very interested buyers. These are not people glancing at a virtual storefront like a window shopper at the mall. Rather, CSE users typically have already made the decision to buy and are simply looking for the best deal. With their high-intent to purchase, comparison shoppers are often an ideal audience for promoting your products.
10 top price comparison websites
- Google Shopping
- Bing Shopping Campaigns
- Amazon Product Ads
1. Google Shopping
Google Shopping is probably the largest and best known comparison shopping engine. Products submitted to Google Shopping will also be displayed on standard Google search results and are integrated with Google's pay-per-click platform, Adwords.
Nextag has been in operation since 1999 and has millions of visitors each month. Nextag was consistently a top performer for traffic and conversions in CPC Strategy's formerly published reviews of leading CSE's. You can list products, event tickets, real estate, and even travel bookings.
In addition to presenting products on its site, PriceGrabber has a market research tool, Market Report, that allows retailers to track consumer purchase and product pricing trends. When you list your products on PriceGrabber, you'll also be listed on Yahoo Shopping which is a nice added bonus.
Shopping.com is part of eBay's family of companies and is another great channel for merchants to put their products in front of prospective buyers. Shopping.com also partners with The Find, another CSE on this list.
With millions of monthly visitors and a pedigree dating back to 1996, Shopzilla is one of the best choices for ecommerce merchants looking for some extra sales. This comparison shopping engine also has tens of millions of products listed, so the selection is wide but competition might be tough.
7. Bing Shopping Campaigns
Bing Shopping was eventually sunsetted in 2013 to be replaced by Bing Product Search, which happens right in the Bing search engine. Microsoft does offer the Shopping Campaigns feature within its advertising suite, which may be the closest alternative for now. Purna Virji, who works at Microsoft, has a helpful webinar on how to make the most of your Bing Shopping Campaigns.
With tens of millions of product listings sorted into various retail verticals and millions of visitors monthly, Pronto certainly merits consideration for any retailer's CSE campaigns.
In addition to showing product and price comparisons, BizRate allows customers to set price alerts for products they’re interested in.
10. Amazon Product Ads
Amazon isn't technically a comparison shopping engine, but they work in a similar fashion. When you register for Product Ads you can upload your products manually or via FTP. Amazon will then create ads for your products using the information provided in your product file. When you set your budget, your ads will go live and you'll pay-per-click.
Learn More: How to Sell Your Products on Amazon
The cost of comparison shopping engines
Most CSE’s are going to charge you per click-through or per action. With pay-per-click, sellers pay a set fee or bid each time that a potential customer clicks on that merchant's link.
In a pay-per-action model, retailers will pay a percentage of the value of a sale made as a result of being listed on the CSE. No one pricing model is a fit for all businesses, so choose which works best for you.
Getting products listed on price comparison websites
Most CSE's require retailers to submit a formatted product feed. This feed must meet a CSE-defined specification and should be updated frequently. The CSE uses scripts to parse and ingest the data from the feed, displaying the included information on results pages as appropriate.
Shopify merchants have several apps available that make submitting product feeds to CSE's easier and in some cases, automatic. Regardless of how a feed is created, smart merchants will work to optimize descriptions and prices to get the most sales possible.