Are Comparison Shopping Engines Hurting Your Online Retail Business?

Online retailers today simply cannot afford to ignore comparison shopping engines (CSEs) like Google Product Search, NexTag and Shopzilla, as they have rapidly grown in popularity and number over the past decade, and they have become widespread and significant tools to get consumers to your website. In many industries, they represent a significant marketing opportunity for online merchants, sometimes even accounting for up to 20% of a retailer's website traffic. Comparison shopping engine sites take product data feeds provided by many merchants, match up the products offered by each store, and allow customers to compare prices across the various stores. 

Why Comparison Shopping Engines Are So Important To Online Retailers

There are many reasons why CSEs are becoming increasingly important to online retailers. The following three are key:

  • CSEs allow you to reach an entirely new customer base, especially since more and more shoppers are flocking to CSEs.
  • People who use CSEs are usually looking to buy rather than just browse making them some of the best visitors to your site.
  • For smaller retailers, CSEs are an equalizer. They can place themselves in the same playing field as the big boys -- retailers such as Office Depot, JCPenney and Target.

Pricing Competitively Is Critical

One thing to note about CSEs is that it’s almost all about the price, so getting your pricing right is critical. If you don't have the right price when the consumer looks for your product in CSEs, it's as if you don't exist. Consumers won't waste their time checking out retailers beyond the top few listed having the best prices. So you already know that if you're not "there," you're not going to be looked at. And, if you are "looked at," you'd better have a price that's very competitive.

Manage Your Pricing Regularly

Comparison Shopping Engines can help or hurt you; and there's a lot of chance of "hurt" if you don't manage your price correctly on a regular basis. Make sure you're found on CSEs -- however many -- and near the top. Make sure your price is competitive at all times or you're guaranteed to lose business. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of regularly price monitoring your competitors’ prices and adjusting accordingly.

Are You Losing Business Without Even Knowing About It?

Many online retailers who are not managing their pricing competitively enough lose a lot of business, because, even though they appear in CSEs, people don’t click on the link to their site. The irony is that these retailers don’t even realize that this is happening because there is no easy way out there to gauge how much business is actually being lost.

Above image: a search for watches in the popular CSE Google Product Search

The Key To Success With CSEs

Bottom line for your bottom line: online consumers more often than not buy based on price or at least are very price sensitive. That's why they're using a CSE to begin with. Draw consumers to your website with intelligent, up-to-the-moment competitive pricing. If you price competitively, CSEs will lead consumers to your website -- and you won't be left in the cosmic dust of eCommerce.

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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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