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“Everything is known in comparison” – once a forefront philosophical thought, now the backbone of online shopping. Over 82% of customers practice competitive pricing analysis on price comparison websites, making such websites a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity.
Online shopping behavior hinges on a whole lot of different factors – location, interests, age, gender, budget, etc. – but what all customers do is use comparison shopping websites to get the biggest bang for their buck. Why toil over outdated price comparison sheets and tables when you can find the best product in just a few clicks?
Review and price comparison websites have revolutionized product search to the point where you can find the absolute best offer instantly and verify it’s truly the best among available ones. As a businessperson, you are one price comparison website away from capitalizing on a natural desire to compare similar offers before making a purchase.
A well-thought-out product comparison website can earn you money in so many ways, from classic ads to affiliate commissions to featured listings and more. Without any further ado, let’s dig into how to build a successful price comparison website that will stand apart in the ever-competitive online shopping landscape.
Breaking: Phonexa and G2 put their heads together for a striking webinar on demand generation through comparison and review sites. Watch this webinar here.
What Is the Purpose of Comparison Shopping in the First Place, Though?
While comparison shopping definition is quite intuitive – comparing the prices and features of products to get the best one – every party involved (retailers, customers, and price comparison website owners) has their own stake in it:
- For customers, price comparison websites weigh the pros and cons of similar products against one another so they can choose the best one.
- For retailers, price comparison websites grant increased exposure, targeted marketing, and a credibility boost.
- For price comparison website owners, they can earn money from listing fees, affiliate commissions, lead generation, and other content monetization forms.
Luckily, the online shopping market is gigantic, with enough room for the simplest comparison shopping engines – those only listing the product price and a link to the merchant – and fully-fledged service and product comparison websites that provide detailed competitive pricing analysis.
The Competitive Pricing Analysis Websites To Look Up To
Before you start building your own price comparison website, it’s worth examining the behemoths of the field. As of the end of 2023, the e-commerce price comparison market in the United States has an undisputed leader – Google Shopping – followed by Yahoo Shopping and Shopzilla.
Here’s the full comparison shopping engine ranking by Statista:
The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to compete with these giants. As being said, the market is so large that even smaller price comparison sites have a fighting chance. Around 60% of shoppers in the United States regularly visit a few review and price comparison websites before making a purchase, 14% use Google Shopping price comparison, 8% use one price comparison site, and only 18% use price comparison websites rarely or ignore them whatsoever.
How To Build a Price Comparison Website: Step-by-Step Instructions
1. Choose Your Niche
Since you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already shaped an idea of the type of website you need.
But here are some basic considerations nonetheless:
- Market competition: The three leading online product sources are online marketplaces, in-store browsing, and search engines & brand websites, with different niches bearing different levels of competition. Among the least complex markets are electronics, fashion, home appliances, beauty products, and some more – mostly due to incredible demand. More challenging niches include B2B products, healthcare, finance, and travel.
- Unique value proposition: It’s only natural that you must surpass the competition in at least one dimension to succeed. Otherwise, why would they choose your website over myriads of other websites?
The best way to create a killing value proposition is by accurately addressing customers’ needs and wants. Speaking of which, 55% of customers want direct delivery, whereas 94% are more likely to purchase again if they’ve had positive customer service experiences.
- Target buyer: Even though review and price comparison websites have diverse audiences, you should know who you target: their demographics, psychographics, location, etc. Knowing your buyers will help create a striking value proposition and improve on-site marketing.
Choosing a niche for your price comparison website is much simpler if you have shopping behavior analysis tools like HitMetrix up your sleeve. Through web analytics and data visualization, HitMetrix unlocks the buyer persona in real-time across touchpoints and interactions.
2. Choose Your Revenue Model
The right revenue model – a combination of several monetization models – will help you draw revenues sustainably from your price comparison website while giving partner retailers the freedom of choice in how they want to pay for exposure.
Price Comparison Website Monetization Models
|Featured listings||Regular product listings are free with most price comparison websites, but you can employ paid listings to display partner products on your homepage, at the top of the search, and in other prominent places.|
|Affiliate commissions||Affiliate marketing is a traffic monetization model that brings price comparison websites most of their revenues. Besides clicks and purchases, you can monetize impressions, downloads, registrations, and literally any other agreed-upon customer action.|
|Advertising||Traditional advertising works like clockwork for price comparison websites. From banners to video to text to native advertising, you can effectively monetize your traffic in traditional ways as long as your core offering – your product listings and search – is valuable.|
|Subscription fees||Collecting subscription fees from customers may be viable if you provide personalized recommendations, exclusive deals, or other unique features that your competitors don’t have. In reality, though, developing such features is extremely challenging, if possible at all.|
3. Empower Your Price Comparison Website With Advanced Product Search Features
To set your website apart from the competition, you need features that will enable accurate and effortless product search and comparison: search filters, product descriptions, price alerts, price history, reviews, ratings, wish lists, and more.
Below are 7 ideas to maximize the performance of your price comparison website.
Idea 1 – Present Your General Idea on the Homepage
You have only around 8 seconds to grab users’ attention before they leave you for good. With this in mind, visualizing your offering on the homepage might be the best idea to instant-glue your customer to the screen: the human brand processes images 60,000 times faster than text.
Below is a homepage example from an e-commerce oriented Shopzilla. The third most popular price comparison website doesn’t overcomplicate things but makes you understand they have it all for you, from sunglasses to lawnmowers.
Idea 2 – Go the Extra Mile with Search Filters
As far as competitive pricing analysis is concerned, the more search filters, the better. Different people use different filters, so you should include all of them and make it possible to apply them simultaneously for well-targeted searches.
It’s important to note that almost all competitor shopping engines and the lion’s share of price comparison websites lack advanced product search features. Most settle for just a few basic filters like price, brand, and availability while ignoring the vast opportunities advanced filtering can provide.
Take a look at how it’s done at NerdWallet, one of the few product review websites that employ advanced search filters:
- Product category
- Product features
- Price range
- Current availability
- Size and color
- Ratings & reviews
- Special offers: sales, discounts, coupons, etc.
Long story short, you must reorganize the data you aggregate into as many filters as users need for quality search.
Idea 3 – Capitalize on Social Proof
Social proof is arguably the most marketable psychological phenomenon, when users are likely to choose products that other customers trust.
Here are some statistics:
- 87% of customers won’t buy from a business with a rating lower than 3 stars
- 92% of customers feel hesitant to buy from a business without customer reviews
- The average shopper expects to see 112 reviews for the researched product
Social proof can be leveraged by integrating reviews, ratings, certifications, and real-time data like trending or popular products. For example, PriceRunner features popular products and searches to highlight the most wanted items.
Idea 4 – Add Expert Reviews if You Can
With only 3% of customers trusting salespeople and only 62% trusting companies in general, it’s crucial to provide an unbiased, trustworthy opinion on your products. A brilliant idea would be to employ a team of experts who test popular products while making it clear that your reviews and the choice of products are not paid.
Idea 5 – Leverage Coupons
For around 20% of customers, a well-timed coupon inspires future purchases, with over 19 million social media users following accounts of coupon and rebate sites in the United States alone.
Coupons can increase your website traffic, enhance user engagement, spread the word about your price comparison site, improve conversion rates, and grow your bottom line. That said, you should ensure coupons don’t render your profit margins unreasonable, cause fraud, or make people think you only aggregate cheap products.
Idea 6 – Incorporate Direct Sales
Very few price comparison websites allow on-the-spot purchases, a feature that can give you a decisive competitive edge. However, incorporating direct sales will require negotiating with every merchant represented on your site and integrating payment gateways.
Idea 7 – Match Customers with Service Providers
Online shopping isn’t limited to products. There are tons and tons of services you can aggregate, connecting customers with matching service providers.
A great example of a service aggregator website is Thumbtack. The company offers five popular home services to choose from, matching you with the best local service providers.
Low how they do it:
4. Take Care of the Technical Side of It
Creating a price comparison website is as much art as it is science, so you have to take care of data collection – how you are going to pull data from online stores and represent it on your website when comparing offers from different shops. The most popular price comparison software includes price comparison API, price comparison scripts, data feeds, and on-demand quoting.
Third-Party Data Collection For a Price Comparison Site
|API Integration|| ||Not all online shops provide API integration|
|Web Scraping||Automatic data collection from any online shop without permission||Might be illegal if done without permission|
|On-Demand Quoting||Product data from target online shops based on the customer’s quote||Requires a communication channel and takes time|
|Data Feeds||Structured, importable data||The data might not be fresh|
5. Analyze Your Performance
Launching a price comparison website is only the first step to success – the rest is much about tracking your performance and adjusting accordingly.
Now, with dozens of performance metrics, you need a robust tracking and analytics system that screens the customer journey and interprets shopping behavior insights into a profitable business plan.
Phonexa does it on a very high level. Comprising eight performance and affiliate marketing solutions, Phonexa dissects the buyer journey through and through to help you close marketing loops so you can draw and convert more customers.
Get your comprehensive software suite starting from only $100 a month, or schedule a free consultation to learn more about Phonexa.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of comparison shopping?
Comparison shopping is the practice of comparing two or more similar products by their price, features, availability, and other factors that allow customers to choose the best product. Such comparison is possible due to competitive pricing analysis software that pulls product information from multiple online shops in real-time.
What is a price comparison calculator?
A price comparison calculator is a tool that performs competitor price comparison: evaluating the price, quality, and other features of similar products against each other. Price comparison calculators are the basis of price comparison websites, serving their main goal of providing customers with quality competitive pricing analysis.
What is a comparison shopping engine versus a price comparison website?
Most of the time, comparison shopping engines and price comparison websites are used interchangeably as platforms that pull product info from online shops in real-time so customers can compare their prices and features.
However, there’s still a subtle difference between comparison shopping engines and price comparison websites. Comparison shopping engines only focus on showing the price of the product in question, whereas price comparison websites also contain detailed product features and descriptions and sometimes even direct shopping functionality.
What is the best price comparison website?
From the customer’s side, there’s no such thing as the best price comparison website because it all depends on the needs of a particular customer.
Those preferring to research products on the brand’s website rather than the comparison aggregator might need simple comparison shopping engines that only show the product’s price and link to the company’s website. In contrast, users willing to buy here and now might benefit more from a fully-fledged price comparison website with detailed product descriptions and shopping functionality.
From the business perspective, the best price comparison website is the one that allows you to convert more users via a user-friendly interface, a broad range of products, real-time product updates, price alerts, reviews & ratings, and other features.
Why should you consider factors other than just price when comparison shopping?
It’s only natural that you should look beyond the price of a product. Factors like quality, features, availability, operation & maintenance costs, and ratings & reviews are also very important to find a product that lives up to your expectations.