Comparing CSEs - Who's on Top?
The prom king – and queen – for that matter of Comparison Shopping Engines is Google. With the announcement and impending launch of Google Shopping, search’s royal court is prepping for an all Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE) shakedown and changing the CSE landscape forever. The Web’s most competitive CSEs will need to follow suit with many of Google Shopping’s inherent upgrades – like providing a better shopping experience for users with more merchant updated info, and, in turn, providing merchants with higher conversion rates.
Here are the CSEs we think are doing a pretty good job, for consumers and merchants, already.
Google Product Search
Google’s huge advantage to both retailers and consumers is that it’s the most popular search engine in the world and has a solid reputation to work off of. This CSE is feature rich for both parties. Consumers have the ability to see seller ratings, product condition, tax and shipping, total price and base price. This info obviously influences buyer’s decisions, as, according to CPC Strategy’s 13th edition of their CSR ranking report, Google has the highest conversion rate of any other CSR. Using Google Maps, shopping results also include nearby stores where the product is available. In the future, Google merchants can be more competitive by placing high bids for top position, add rich product info like images, merchant’s name, and more.
Amazon has one foot in retail, and the rest of its virtual body in CSE. Its comparison features are what savvy buyers expect, which is conveyed in Amazon’s astronomical sales and traffic. Amazon focuses on selection, price and convenience, and buyers are, well, buying it. One-click checkout gives consumers one of the most convenient checkouts available. For merchants, their cost-per-click rate is pretty average for the industry, but it’s the traffic that really gives Amazon its power.
Nextag offers a straightforward approach to comparison shopping. A shopper can see the basic, compare prices list with seller’s name, seller’s ratings, product availability and price. Thirty-plus million people use the service each month and according to a report by CPC Strategy, they come only second to Google in revenue. Features like the ability to track price alerts, save shopping lets, etc., improve the user experience and convert prospects into buyers.
Shopping.com, an eBay company, is a site to bookmark for consumers. It not only returns results for countless of retailers, but also includes eBay listings, which gives shoppers a large variety of options. For merchants, their cost-per-click rate is 10 cents lower, on average, than Nextag’s (according to CPC Strategy Report), but its traffic and revenue is higher than all the other guys, besides the three listed above.
Merchants looking for a low cost per click should check out PriceGrabber. At 26 cents on average (according to CPC Strategy Report), it’s the lowest on the market. Consumers also receive highly competitive prices within their search results. Reviews are very easy to leave, which may not always be a good thing for merchants. The purchasing power of PriceGrabber’s consumers is extremely impressive, though. According to the company, the average sale order of PriceGrabber shoppers is $450-plus, with 67% of the 26 million unique shoppers, being college educated with an average yearly income of $71,000-plus, according to the company’s website.
The ability to sort search results by a number of different options (e.g. prices ascending/descending, store ratings, etc.) and obtain comprehensive product details is convenient, but the number of results don’t rival some of the bigger guys listed above, at least for this gal’s searches. However, Shopzilla reaches more than 40 million shoppers each month and connects them with more than 100 million products, according to the company’s website.
For merchants, Pronto’s cost per click is nearly as high as Nextag’s (at 41 cents on average, according to CPC strategy), but it boasts 70-plus million products for shoppers and the ability to shop by category and filter search results. There’s a few discerning aspects like the lack of updates on its Company Information page (In the News and Press Releases, specifically) and a broken List Your Products link, but the shopping verticals like ProntoStyle.com, ProntomHome.com, etc., provide great tools for consumers and a more targeted buyer for merchants.