Comparison-Site Sales Increase as Consumers Hunt for Deals

November 5, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Agency Business | Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Europe & Middle East | Paid Search | Retail & E-Commerce | Technology

Online retailers are increasingly benefiting from marketing their products on shopping-comparison sites as cash-strapped consumers seek bargains online, according to research published by E-consultancy and DoubleClick, reports Retailer Daily.

Some 43% of retailers surveyed say the proportion of online sales coming through comparison shopping engines (CSEs) has increased in the last 12 months. On average, retailers report that they get 10% of their online sales through this channel.

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The increased importance of CSEs to online retailers is consistent with separate research published by E-consultancy, which indicated consumers are turning to comparison engines and user reviews to make informed purchasing decisions and derive value.

“The period of austerity we have entered is driving more people to comparison engines, so it makes sense for most retailers to make sure they are visible on these sites,” said Linus Gregoriadis, E-consultancy’s head of research.

Nevertheless, significant numbers of respondents still report problems with managing the process of handling data feeds and understanding the channel’s value.

Respondents who were from agencies reported that the biggest problems for their clients using this channel were difficulty keeping feeds updated (37%) and difficulty tracking and understanding return on investment (35%).

Among other key findings of the “Comparison Shopping Engines Survey Report 2008:”

  • Google Shopping /Google Base is the most commonly used comparison engine, used by 63% of retailers. Half of online retailers surveyed say they use Kelkoo; PriceRunner, Shopping.com, and Shopzilla are each used by 30% of internet retailers.
  • Most retailers (56%) prefer to pay CSEs through a CPA (cost per acquisition/action) model. Just 17% say they prefer to pay by the method most widely offered by CSEs: on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis.

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  • Though many retailers are increasing their investment in this channel, just over a quarter (28%) say there has been a decrease in the level of sales they are getting from comparison engines.
  • Some 21% of retailers surveyed are not using any comparison engines to advertise their products and services, while a additional one-sixth of retailers (16%) use just one comparison site.

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  • Most companies (59%) are not using online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay to sell products.
  • Social or “next-generation” shopping sites have not yet penetrated the consciousness of the majority of online retailers. Merchants are most likely to be aware of Kaboodle, Jellyfish and Twenga.

Other highlights:

  • Retailers rate Google Shopping/Base and Shopping.com as the best comparison shopping engines for volume, with 38% saying that Google is “good” and 35% saying that Shopping.com is “good.” Kelkoo and PriceRunner are both rated as being good for volume by 28% of merchants.
  • Google Shopping/Base was also rated by merchants as the best CSE for quality of traffic and for ease of use.
  • Just under three in 10 companies (29%) surveyed said they used their own tracking tools to track activity in the CSE channel, compared with about a quarter (24%) that use third-party tools and technology and 11% that use CSE tracking. One-third (32%) use a combination of these methods.
  • The majority of retailers surveyed manage their CSE feeds in-house; only 13% use specialist feed-optimization companies. The same percentage (13%) use agencies for this purpose.

About the study: More than 400 E-consultancy registered users, including 182 retailers/merchants and 136 agencies, took part in an online survey about CSEs during a three-week period in August and September 2008. Almost three-quarters of retailers surveyed (72%) said the primary market for their products or services was the UK; 8% of respondents focus on other European countries; 12% of respondents primarily sell in North America. The geographical spread of agencies/suppliers is similar, with 69% based in the UK.

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