The Pros and Cons of Comparison Shopping Engines
Whilst you may not know the term ‘comparison shopper’, if you’ve ever shopped online, it’s likely you’ve used a comparison shopping engine to compare product prices. Comparison shopping engines such as Google Shopping, NexTag and PriceGrabber compile and compare products from a variety of websites allowing customers to find the best value for money.
CSEs give business owners the opportunity to engage with new audiences and go up against competitors. Users can gain access to a curated selection of products and their prices, shipping options and additional services.
How can it increase sales?
Did you know: as many as 72% of millennials research their options online before going to a store. If you’re an e-commerce merchant, CSEs are an amazing opportunity to engage with potential customers. Most CSE users have already made the decision to buy - all that’s left is to decide on the best deal. Because of the nature of these buyers (who have a strong intention to purchase), comparison shoppers are every business owners’ dream audience, and the perfect place to promote your products.
Whilst comparison shopping engines are super handy, they don't come without their shortfalls.
What are the disadvantages of Comparison Shopping Engines?
Comparison search engines are running their own business, making money by charging e-commerce stores for their exposure. Either they’ll charge a set fee for every pay per click-through, or a percentage of the completed transaction will go to the CSE. It’s unlikely that all price modelling will suit your business, so make sure to compare and calculate which CSE can provide the best ROI (return on investment) and is the best option for your business.
Chasing rock bottom
Customers using CSEs are on the hunt for a bargain: they’re generally one-off buyers and might not be an asset to your organisation in the long term. As easily as they found your site, they’ll abandon it for another if it is believed to offer a better deal. Being a ‘low price leader’ in your field can be a dangerous tactic: you’ll be up against some huge corporations who can offer rock bottom prices.
You’ll become fixated on price
Of course, price is the first the first consideration when it comes to CSEs, but consumers are also looking out for excellent customer service, UX (user experience), stock, convenient shipping policies, and generous returns policies. (If you’re struggling with return rates, there’s a useful article you can read here). It depends on the consumer’s needs, but if you’re not the cheapest, make sure that you are communicating the reasons why your product offers the best value. One way to do this is by offering a warranty.
The ‘abandon cart’ calamity
Most merchants will still face cart abandonment with or without the employment of a Customer Search Engine. Most customers abandon their cart when presented with an unexpected cost (like shipping), others are ‘just browsing’, or maybe they’ve come across a better offer altogether. In any of these instances, you should consider retargeting cart abandoners with retention emails. These emails remind potential customers of your existing value, or offer exclusive discounts to increase conversion rates.
How to get your products listed on a CSE
Each CSE requires the retailer to submit a product feed with a unique set of specifications. Ensure you are aligning your product information with the CSE’s requirements and update this frequently. Generally, this is submitted in the form of an excel spread sheet (which you export as a CSV file). You’ll include the product name, price, description, image, manufacturer etc. Next, the CSE uses scripts to ingest your data and display your products on their results pages when relevant.
Shopify merchants have access to a variety of apps to help submit your products, some of which are automatic! The most effective businesses take time to optimise their descriptions and prices to stand out from competitors.
Price isn’t the only deciding factor for consumers, in fact a shared focus on convenience for buyers is key when maximising conversion rates for e-commerce players. SEO plays a significant role in CSEs too. Strengthening organic and paid SEO with a focus on comparison keywords will increase your chances. Don’t forget to include all product information that will contribute to the value of your product, such as shipping costs, warranties etc.
Initially, we’d recommend beginning your CSE venture with one or two products. This will allow you to test the efficacy of the number of products your offer, the popularity of your chosen products, and your product prices. As well as testing your products on a CSE, you should also test the traffic of the CSE itself. Each CSE has a different audience - some sites will suit your industry better than others. On the other hand, if a CSE has no competition, you might not get the reach that you’re after.
Best Comparison Search Engines
You’re probably familiar with Google Shopping, which is the largest and best known CSE. When a retailer submits their products to Google Shopping, they will also appear on regular Google search results when relevant. The competition is fierce, so business owners should balance the exposure of their products with the amount spent on PPC advertising and ad words.
eBay owns Shopping.com, a great platform for business owners who want to put their products in front of prospective buyers who are more likely to commit to purchase. Some of their products include links to live eBay auctions for those who enjoy bidding on this platform.
Become appeals to thrifty customers looking to compare prices for the same product. Customers are able to sort their search by style, brand, size, colour etc. Customers also have access to product reviews and discussion forums, which are convincing features when sealing the deal for potential buyers. They also have an app, meaning customers can compare prices on-the-go.
BizRate is another popular platform, which has integrated features such as price alerts which customers can set themselves for specific products.
Want to jump on the CSE bandwagon?
If you’re a Shopify merchant looking to implement CSE as part of your strategy, get in touch! We’ve got all the latest news on expanding your e-commerce audience and increasing sales.