June 14, 2013
It is series time! One topic that we haven’t really talked much about in our blog are comparison-shopping engine sites. I have worked with multiple online retailers that have seen great success with this type of online advertising. So I want to take this series as an opportunity to dive deeper into the mystery of comparison-shopping.
In my first blog post of this series I tried to give an overview of what comparison-shopping engines are, why it can be important for online retailers and how to get started. Today I want to look at the top 10 shopping platforms and how your business could benefit from them. This related article shows an overview of CSE rankings for the first quarter of 2013.
Google PLAs (CPC)
Once a free service, Google Product Search is now transitioning to Google Shopping. We have already put together some material on how to sign up for Google PLAs as well as how to optimize. In terms of traffic volume, revenue numbers and conversion rates, Google PLAs continue to dominate the market. They are also in the top spot when it comes to cost of sale statistics. Google PLAs are integrated with Google’s pay-per-click platform AdWords and can therefore also be shown on standard Google search results. You need to sign up for Merchant Center and upload your product feed either manually or by using a FTP to upload in bulk. Here is an example of what a data feed needs to contain as well as what the data feed specifications for Google PLAs are.
This comparison-shopping engine lists products, event tickets, real estate, travel bookings and more on the site. It first launched in 1999 and has since grown to around 30 million visitors each month. Nextag is based on a CPC pricing model which lets merchants optimize the placement of their products on comparison sites. Similar to Google, it allows bulk uploads as well. Moreover, this comparison-shopping site is a top performer in regards to traffic and conversions. To get an account, sign up here. A sample data feed looks like this and more detailed data feed specifications can be found here.
Pricegrabber promotes coupons and weekly specials on its comparison-shopping pages. An advantage for shoppers is that they can review product prices, reviews as well as merchant ratings before they make a purchase decision. Moreover, consumers can search in English and Spanish, with product searches corresponding to retailers in Brazil and Mexico. Retailers can also use Pricegrabber’s market research tool, called Market Report, to trace trends of user purchases and product pricing. Another advantage is that when listing products on Pricegrabber, product listings will also be sent to Yahoo Shopping. Bulk uploads of data feeds via FTP are also allowed. To sign up, follow this link. A sample data feed looks like this and more data feed specifications can be found here.
Shopping.com is owned by eBay and also partners with The Find, which is another comparison-shopping engine. Product listings are accumulated in regards to price and merchant attributes. With being a part of eBay’s family, it supports consumer purchasing decisions by displaying product reviews and ratings. Bulk uploads via FTP are also allowed. Sign up here. A sample data feed and more data feed specifications can be found here.
Amazon Product Ads (CPC)
Amazon Product Ads are an alternative for merchants that to the Amazon Marketplace and can also be used as an additional option for retailers as product ads let merchants link consumers to external websites. Once you have a registered account, product data feeds can be either uploaded manually or via FTP. Based on your submitted product feed specifications, Amazon will develop ads which go live once you have set your budget. A sample data feed can be viewed here, while it requires account login to view more detailed data feed specifications.
The beginning of this comparison-shopping engine dates back to 1996 and has currently about 40 million visitors each month. Shopzilla has over 100 million products listed, including its partner sites such as Bizrate. This CSE is recommended for merchants that are looking to make some extra sales. Consumers will be linked to unique retailers, sales and can also base their buying decisions on customer feedback. As most other CSEs, data feeds can also be uploaded in bulk via FTP. To use Shopzilla, sign up here. A sample data feed can be found here, while merchants need to log into their account to view further data feed specifications.
In the latest CSE rankings for the first quarter of 2013, Pronto comes in last compared to 9 other comparison-shopping engines. Nevertheless, retailers still need to consider this CSE as it currently lists around 70 million products of various retail verticals and millions of visitors are reviewing the site on a monthly basis. Shoppers tend to use Pronto to look for low pricing of products as well as search the top performing merchants of different verticals. Whole feed processing can be done via FTP. Sign up for Pronto here. A sample feed can be downloaded here. For further data feed specifications use this link.
Shoppers use Become to shop for the best shopping deals they can find online. Price comparisons, reading and writing product reviews as well as reviewing articles are offered to consumers on this comparison-shopping platform. Bulk feeds can be transferred via FTP and there is no initial fee for signing up. A sample feed looks like this and further data feed specifications can be found here.
Bing Shopping (CPC)
Just as Google does, Bing Shopping offers a comparison-shopping platform with product listings appearing on Bing search results pages. As with the other CSEs, Bing compares product information, prices and reviews of consumers as shoppers are searching for specific products. In order to be able to use Bing Shopping, merchants need to sign up for a Microsoft Advertising adCenter account (here). While Bing Shopping received great feedback on providing customers with friendly results, it is important to know for merchants, that product feeds won’t be accepted during high-traffic shopping seasons. Here is a link for a sample data feed as well as further data feed specifications.
As opposed to the other comparison-shopping engines in this post, setup and display of product listings on TheFind is free of charge. There is no feed submission, but merchants can allow TheFind bot to crawl product pages for their products to be showcased on TheFind. This CSE exhibits product details, coupons as well as local searches for merchant listings. Additionally, shoppers benefit from personalized results which can provide new product discoveries to them.
All in all, there is a great variety of comparison-shopping engines on the internet and it is only a matter of fact of establishing the goals merchants want to achieve with this online marketing channel. In one of my next articles, I want to focus on three comparison-shopping engines and how merchants can use them for their own benefits. Please feel free to leave me a comment with which CSE you want to hear more about. Otherwise, I will have to choose!