Comparison Shopping Engines – Fresh Tactics for E-Tailers

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    More than ever, today’s web-savvy consumers use comparison shopping engines (CSEs) to research products before they make buying decisions. Since CSEs place the offerings of many merchants side by side, shoppers can compare prices and features at a glance. Are your products well represented in these search engines? This article reviews the major CSEs and provides some tactics to help web merchants get listed.

      The Leading CSEs

        The list of leading shopping engines in the United States includes Shopping.com, Yahoo Shopping, BizRate, DealTime, Shopzilla, NexTag, MSN Shopping, PriceGrabber, Froogle, AOL Shopping, and mySimon. Shopping.com is the most popular CSE, followed by Yahoo Shopping and Froogle.

          Kelkoo is the leading comparison shopping search engine for the United Kingdom and Europe. According to the company, 16 out of the top 20 e-commerce sites in the UK currently advertise through the engine.

            Brief descriptions of the major CSEs and other engines are available from SearchEngineWatch.com

              Choosing the Right CSEs for Your Business

                While it is recommended that you list your products in as many CSEs as possible, web merchants should weigh the options carefully to determine which CSEs are the most appropriate and most effective for your online business.

                  You can start by researching all of the popular engines to determine which are the most popular with your customer base. All CSEs are not created equal; and some engines are more popular for some products than others. You should also determine where your competition is listed and ensure that your most competitive products are listed in that engine as well. If you are represented well by a search engine that is frequently visited by customers looking for your products, your chances of making a sale will be better!

                    For many merchants, a key differentiator is user-friendliness. Your products and their specifications have to be uploaded into the CSE. How easy is it for you to update data about your products? Is the process automatic or does it require that you log in to the site each time you want to make updates? The ease with which you can update your data will be in an important factor in determining how often you will upload products to the CSE. The level of complexity of the CSE will be sure to have an impact the effectiveness of your campaigns.

                      Tactics for Success

                        • Set a budget – Some of the CSEs offer basic listings for free. For example, Yahoo Shopping, Froogle, and PriceGrabber all offer free basic membership. However, in order to really leverage the benefits of these engines (and more advanced selling tools and privileges), you’ll want to participate in the paid listing programs. Note that some of the comparison engines require you to pay a commission when a sale is made. Others charge the merchant every time a user clicks through to one of your products. It is advisable that you find out which search engine offers the most ideal arrangement for you and then set a budget accordingly.
                        • Leverage product feeds – Most of the CSEs allow you to submit information about the products you want to sell via a “feed.” The feed is typically provided to the shopping site in a text or CSV file and includes product specifications such as name, description, price, image location, and shipping charges. The feeds make it easier for you to keep your product listings current on the CSEs. (Note: GoECart has automated product data feeds for Yahoo® Shopping, Froogle™, Shopping.com™, Shopzilla, and Shop.com.).
                        • Carefully monitor and manage campaigns – All of the CSEs provide a web interface that lets you manage your listings and typically the cost-per-click (CPC) bidding process. It is recommended that merchants monitor their campaigns on a weekly or even daily basis and make adjustments as needed. The goal is to ensure products receive competitive listings on an ongoing basis.
                        • Differentiate – Since you’ll be going head-to-head with the competition on CSE sites, you need to do everything you can to make your products stand out. Advertising free shipping or a free gift with purchase could be the deciding factor that makes a shopper click through to your site instead of another merchant’s. Another way to differentiate is to use the ratings features on these sites to achieve high ratings. These rating systems can go a long way toward building trust with potential buyers.
                        • Stay current – The ever-widening world of CSEs changes often-and fast. You can stay current on the latest CSE news and strategies by reviewing sites like http://comparisonengines.com/ and http://searchenginewatch.com/

                        Get going now!

                          It today’s highly competitive world of web marketing and ecommerce, comparison shopping engines are a must if you want to compete effectively. If you are not already listed with these engines, it’s time to get going! This way, you can reap the benefits of increased traffic and sales these hugely popular sites can bring your online business.

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