Friday, March 16, 2007

Comparison Shopping Engines: How They Work and Why You Need to Use More Than One

Comparison Shopping Engines - An Introduction

In the past few years, comparison shopping engines have become increasingly popular among online shoppers. All the major internet companies, including Google, Yahoo, MSN, CNET and AOL offer comparison shopping. Services like Shopping.com, Shopzilla, Bizrate, and MySimon have become well known. There is also an ever increasing number of small startup companies that are trying to build better shopping engines in order to carve themselves a niche in this expanding market.

One of the reasons that there are so many different comparison shopping systems available is that it is harder to build a shopping engine than a general web search engine. So far, no single company has been able to create a technology to dominate comparison shopping in the way that Google has come to rule the web search market.

Usually, when a consumer uses a comparison shopping engine, what he or she really wants is one of two things:

  1. To find the lowest possible price on a specific product (from a reputable merchant).
  2. To find information and reviews about a certain range of products in order to make a selection.


Currently, most shopping engines are focused on finding pricing, although some also try to include information and reviews. However, there are also a few newer engines, primarily from small startup companies, that are focusing specifically on searching for product information and helping consumers choose the right product.

Different Comparison Shopping Engines Give Different Results

You might think that a strict price comparison would be a fairly exact science. After all, it should simply be a matter of comparing prices among vendors and listing the results. However, if you try searching for the same item on several price comparison engines, you'll find that the results can vary widely.

In fact, it quickly becomes clear that in order to have any confidence that you are finding the best value, you have to try more than one shopping engine. So it becomes a matter of comparing the comparison results. To understand why this is the case, it helps to take a look at how the shopping engines work.

Why the Results are Different and How the Engines Work

If you set out to build a comparison shopping engine, there are basically two ways you can approach the problem. The first way is to "crawl" merchant (online store) websites in much the same way that a search engine like Google examines and indexes the information in web pages. This means that you build a software program to visit the merchant websites, analyze the HTML pages and find the information and prices for the products they offer.

While crawling works great for general web search engines, it much harder to build a comparison shopping engine this way. That's because the information on and the format of merchant sites varies widely. The product description and even the product title can vary among merchant websites, so that it can be difficult for the shopping engine to even be sure that it is comparing identical products. Also, any time that a merchant changes the format of its website, the crawler may stop working properly. Of course, a crawler needs to continuously visit the merchant websites in order to insure that information is up to date.

Some comparison shopping engines use crawling for at least some of their results, but the difficulties with this method have led most of the established shopping engines to use the second method: "data feeds" from the merchant stores. Data feeds are basically special data files that the merchant prepares and makes available to the shopping engines.

The advantage of using data feeds is that all the information is provided in a nice format which is easy for the shopping engine to understand and analyze. It's much easier, faster and more reliable for the shopping engine to get its information from a data feed than by trying to crawl a merchant website.

While data feeds have important advantages, they also have some big shortcomings. Since they are prepared by the merchant (and that can take a lot of work), they are only as up-to-date as the merchant makes them. In some cases, the information in the data feed may not be the same as on the merchant website. Also, in many cases, the merchant won't bother to include ALL the products it offers in the data feed, instead focusing on the most popular or profitable products.

Another issue is that there is currently no standard format for the data feeds; every search engine has its own data feed format. This makes a lot of work for the merchants, and also means that there needs to be a relationship between the shopping engine and the merchant in order for the proper data feed is made available. If a shopping engine is new or does not yet have a significant level of usage, some merchants may not be willing to expend the effort to make a data feed available.

So you can see that both crawling and using data feeds creates problems that can lead to widely differing results. Crawling because of technical problems with getting the information, and data feeds because the information may not be up-to-date, or complete, or even provided at all to some shopping engines.

A final factor that can cause results to vary is the sophistication of the shopping engine in dealing with issues like shipping charges and sales tax. Engines that do a good job of this, will of course, give more accurate total cost results. Given all this, it's not surprising that the different shopping engines may come up with completely different results for exactly the same search.


What About the Order of the Results Displayed by Shopping Engines?

Once the shopping engine finds the information you are looking for, the next issue is how it will be presented to you. Again, you might think that the shopping engine will always list the lowest price first--after all, that's the point isn't it?

However, again you'll find that this is more than often not the case. The reason for this has a lot to do with the way that shopping engines make money. In the vast majority of cases, the shopping engine charges the merchant every time you click a link that takes you to the merchant website. And different merchants may be willing to pay different amounts to get that click. In these cases, you will very often (and very naturally) find that results from the merchants that are willing to pay the most are listed FIRST--regardless of the price.

Depending on the shopping engine, you may need to re-sort the results, or click a link to bring up more results before you really get to see the lowest price. And of course, if the merchant which truly offers the lowest price does not have a business relationship with the search engine, it may not appear in the results at all.

While this type of per-click payment is most often the rule, especially among the larger engines, some shopping engines are now using other models such as commissions on actual sales or revenue from advertising. Once again, the important lesson is that you really cannot rely on a single comparison shopping engine to give quality, unbiased results, You need to shop with multiple engines.

Local Shopping Search

One of the hottest areas currently being pursued in the comparison shopping field is local search. Both formal studies and general common sense show that in many cases, consumers look online for information and prices, but then actually purchase at a local retail store. If the total cost difference is small, why wait for a product to be shipped if you can get it right now? And of course, buying online is great for a new digital camera, but maybe not so good for a big screen TV or a new desk.

While both established engines and startups are working hard in this area, the problems are significant. The issues with getting at the data are much more difficult than with online stores, and since the purchases occur offline, it's not clear how the shopping engine can make money at the game. Once again, especially since all the offerings in this area are really experimental, it pays to try more than one shopping engine.

Working with Multiple Comparison Shopping Engines...and a plug for RoboShopper

Finally we arrive at the real point of all this: You really need to use more than one comparison shopping engine if you are serious about finding the right product and the best price. And that is the point of our service, RoboShopper.com!

You can do the work manually, finding and visiting a variety of product review sites and price comparison engines, and then typing in your search term at each site. That's a lot of manual effort.

With RoboShopper, you simply enter your search keyword(s) once and then click the Shop button. You can then use RoboShopper's navigation bar to automatically search multiple comparison engines without surfing around or re-entering your keywords.

RoboShopper will take you to sites which specialize in product information and reviews, as well as online price comparison services, and the new local shopping engines.

RoboShopper is unbiased in the sense that it simply acts as a navigation tool to help you work with comparison shopping engines. RoboShopper does not derive any revenue from links that you click or advertising on the search result pages (any revenue from clicks or ads goes to the specific shopping engine you are using).

We hope you will find RoboShopper to be a useful tool that will make online comparison shopping more rewarding and efficient.

Try RoboShopper!

More about RoboShopper

59 comments:

best said...

We provide you web researchers who do a web research for you and find best best price products & services available over web. These sources provide you best products &

services at comparative less rates.Lot's of discount,deals and packages are also available for our members.We know many products and services over web are quite difficult

to find and it's next to impossible to find it over web.If you are looking for any product or services and not able to find it,in that case you are at right place mail us what you

are looking for and our researchers send you all the details on your mail account.
Check it once and see the difference.
http://www.bestpriceproduct.com

allrounder said...

is what you are doing legal? Is this not screen scraping? just curious

bush12 said...

They provide web researchers who research for them best and quality, and provide best services. If you are going to purchase something and looking for any product or services and disable to find it, in this case you should go for right place mail us what you.
__________________
bush
Epson T060

鑽石 said...

給你一個鼓勵 ..................................................

炫風 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。..................................................

雪糕 said...

原來這世上能跟你共同領略一個笑話的人竟如此難得........................................

judy said...

初次造訪,安安^^.........................

v辰原 said...

與其爭取不可能得到的東西,不如善自珍惜運用自己所擁有的........................................

明宏明宏 said...

上床圖片av圖片免費色情圖台灣性網陰蒂淫妹貼圖色情激突成人論壇成人色情網激情成人聊天室情色影音鹹濕女生自慰影片淫慾自慰色情a片成人色情圖片網情人視訊網成人話題成人色情台灣成人淫蕩a圖片情色留言板女生奶頭情色成人全裸美女圖片情色寫真裸體照大奶子台灣色情成人網站一夜正妹美女裸體寫真g罩杯美女sex520情趣娃娃視訊打槍視訊辣妹uthome淫亂走光照av情色網女生高潮成人自拍火辣眉眉太太陰毛美女視訊聊天全裸入鏡火辣av三點全露

ToryB_He231147 said...

看看blog調整心情,又要來繼續工作,大家加油........................................

LupeCristoba021774 said...

友情像一棵樹木,要慢慢的栽培,才能成長真的友誼,要經過困難考驗,才可友誼永固........................................

珮均 said...

美麗的事物是永恆的快樂,它的可愛日有增加,不會消逝而去..............................

香廷 said...

謝謝分享好文章 ........................................

韋于倫成 said...

行動養成習慣,習慣培養人格,人格影響命運..............................

Jason Dower said...

As This Post Is 2 Years Old
There As Been A Shopping Comparison Engine Called My Shopping Genie,
This Is The the best and Free as it rides on the back of google and all top search engines saving searches $100's every month well worth the try

I Have A Link At My Blog, As Not To Put A Url In My Comment

裕以 said...

檳榔西施摸奶影片,免費A片 okav免費影片 視訊歌唱秀 視訊美女happyhome 免費情人視訊網 d760 go2av亞洲東洋影片 avno1 嘟嘟成年人網 高雄情人援交視訊 免費a片卡通,travian tw4 情人輔助品 成人視訊 免費視訊 ggyy線上漫畫,成人圖片區 色咪咪情色網,視訊熱舞秀 watchshow TV,維納斯成人用品 情色貼圖 免費卡通影片線上觀看 性愛,a漫,線上a片 美女寫真,免費線上Aa片試看 hilive tv免費電影 無碼影片分享 s38想看一下激激 視訊聊天室080 啦咧影音聊天室 正妹視訊ggo 免費視訊,情趣 用品 店 色妹妹視訊高雄援交 免費色情小說一夜情正妹 台辣妹有約sex888movie影城 080苗栗人聊天室 0509 免費視訊聊天秀 台南視訊援交聊天 線上直播解碼片 gogobox論壇免費視訊聊天室 dvd,情人視訊網 show-live視訊聊天 淫蕩人妻,日本美女短片免費觀看 sex520-卡通影片 ut男同志聊天室 s383情色大網咖-免費性愛影片 sex888入口免費性影片觀賞 臺灣情色網 性愛貼圖 辣妹聊天室 90691比基尼辣妹影片 高雄情人視訊交友34c 18成人交友 一葉晴貼圖,黑澀會美眉琳恩 免費a長片,性影片下載 影音聊天室hibb

韋于倫成 said...

感謝分享 功德無量........................................

士銘士銘 said...

人生是故事的創造與遺忘。 ..................................................

孟NathanaelD軒 said...

哈>v<"" 感謝分享...................................................

王周宏儒 said...

As a man sows, so he shall reap...................................................

RoseH_Huls21365 said...

目標是什麼不重要,目標能產生什麼樣的效果才重要......................................................................

志易 said...

blog不錯唷~我會常常來看的~加油~!!

文群文群 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。......................................................................

宛真宛真 said...

Quality is better than quantity.................................................................

張怡 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

sf信dg豪d王d佳d玲gdw謝 said...

安一估~你也安一估哦~............................................................

懿綺懿綺 said...

很榮幸能到你的BLOG留言o^~^o..................................................................

吳婷婷 said...

困難的不在於新概念,而在於逃避舊有的概念。............................................................

王伯亞王伯亞 said...

卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!..................................................................

陳韋夏陳韋夏益東富益東富 said...

永遠不要躊躇伸出你的手。也永遠不要躊躇接受別人伸出的手。.................................................................

曾法幸 said...

欣賞你的作品是我最近生活的動力~Go..................................................................

Rinkesh said...

Its Pleasure to read your blog.The above articles is very impressive, and I really enjoyed reading your blog and points that you expressed. I love to come back on a regular basis,post more on the subject.
Thanks for sharing...keep writing!!!
Rank A Website

陳韋夏陳韋夏益東富益東富 said...

哈哈,忍不住一篇一篇翻出來看耶!!!............................................................

琬安琬安 said...

One swallow does not make a summer.............................................................

夏瓊陳詩蓁富 said...

很喜歡你的blog哦...加油唷 ............................................................

雲陳為 said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。............................................................

家唐銘 said...

一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼....................................................

群育航學 said...

Man is not made for defeat. A mean can be destroyed but not defeated...................................................................

敬周喜 said...

要保持更新呦,加油!!!期待你的新文章!!!............................................................

文瓊王王慧山 said...

如此動感的blog!!!............................................................

秀李李迪秀李李迪 said...

在你一無所有的時候 是誰在陪伴你 他便是你最重要的人......................................................................

阮艳 said...

時間就是塑造生命的材料。

玉韓韓韓婷韓韓韓韓 said...

人生匆匆-把握當下,支持鼓勵~事事如意~..................................................

群育航學 said...

心平氣和~祝你也快樂~~..................................................

华瑗泽 said...

我來湊熱鬧的~~^^ 要平安快樂哦..................................................

Cinthya said...

Men in pain
hogtied
ts seduction
device bondage
bound gods
ultimate surrender
cumbots
perfect slave
smothered slave
societysm
strict restraint
cheap cigarette
cheap discount cigarettes
discount cigarettes online
cheap cigarettes online
cigarettes on line
cigarettes purchase
cigarettes for sale
cigarettes order
mail order cigarettes
cigarettes pack
cigarette online

SeMo said...

Hello
We are a group of Egyptian guys who established some blogs where we added Google Adsense codes so we make some money on monthly basis, as a way of coming over our financial problems!!
if you would like to help us through allowing us adding the Adsense code to your blog and share the profits with you, pls contact us niletrader@gmail.com
Yours
Ash

alex o said...

According the recent surveys, there is an increasing number of people who use popular price comparison websites to save time and money from online shopping.

Tom Willer said...

Quality is better than quantity.

________________________________
Fender Flare | Bushwacker | Best tops

aisha said...

Really a great post.I liked it and i will share it with others too.
Chevy Turbo

sheena said...

Chevy W7500 Turbo

This is a better-quality article as they all are. I make fun of been wonder wide this an eye to some beat now. Its great to receive this info. You are fair and balanced.

haquegiftshop said...

I wonder when i read your post..It's really great.Thanks and keep sharing..

gift cards

celine sanderson said...

Theres so much to learn about comparison shopping feeds! I'm just getting into the strategy and what to look for. Where can I learn more?

john derimas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john derimas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john derimas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john derimas said...

For a quick comparison shopping with better results than Google, go to https://www.slycut.com

Jhon lee said...

Price Comparison Data Service is a great way to comparison products price. Price Comparison Data Service provides price comparison service of different products at different stores and website. There are many price comparison website which provides price comparison service.

Shani Singh said...

Data Mining is a professional IT service we offer to our clients in Retail, Real Estate, Automobiles, and other business for their online data collection needs.