ADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — Increasing traffic to an online store can be done in any number of ways. One of the best – and strangely overlooked — methods is utilizing comparison shopping engines. Joining a merchant program of one of the big price comparison engines is one of the least resource-consuming ways to deliver products, services and relevant ads to Internet consumers.
Recent surveys show that the price comparison engines share of shopping traffic is approximately 20%, which naturally strengthens during the holidays and especially grows at the much ballyhooed end-of-year shopping season. This share grows, as more and more Web consumers become online shoppers and online shoppers become online buyers. More than 85% of Internet users worldwide have purchased something online, according to Nielsen’s “Global Online Survey on Internet Shopping Habits,” conducted in October and November of last year.
The price comparison engines marketing programs are designed specifically for online retailers –and their shopping search engines are highly effective. The typical business model is CPC (Cost Per Click) or CPA (Cost Per Action) based, which makes it simple to measure, evaluate and optimize. Boasting tens of millions unique visitors per month, being part of these merchant programs can flood an online store with high quality traffic. Simply put, shoppers coming from a price comparison engine are “ready to buy,” which makes them, arguably, much more valuable than those coming from a click on an ad, e-mail marketing or even a PPC result at a leading search engine.
Technically, the comparison engines use Web crawlers that “learn” how an online store’s product pages look and feel. Every 24 hours this crawler “scrapes” the entire Web site and updates products and prices. The scraped data is then analyzed both automatically and manually to match with the huge product databases of the comparison shopping engines. A well-designed Web site, with product pages that look alike HTML-wise, has a better chance for zeroing down crawler errors and maximizing conversions.
So, where do you get started? A first stop is eBay’s Shopping.com. In addition to easy-to-use search tools, Shopping.com also features millions of reviews from Epinions, making it the largest player in the space, right now. Explore ways to increase sales here.
Shopzilla is another strong opportunity. Shopzilla makes it easy to list your online store’s products and its BizRate division, a recognized leader in Web retailing, customer satisfaction, ratings and research, is a bonus. Learn more here.
Comparing prices online is not new. Comparing prices in one unique location, whether it’s a Web site, like those mentioned previously or even a downloadable client, isn’t either. However, what is new is that the popularity of comparison shopping tools is growing and rapidly. And the advantages are those key metrics desired: increased audience, sales, and ROI and conversion to sale.
There are disadvantages to comparison shopping engines, including competition with other stores and risk of bad user reviews, which can influence other users’ buying choices. However, these are every day risks of the Internet and I believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.