Recently, a lot of online merchants with tight marketing budgets have been abandoning comparison shopping engines (CSEs) and instead diverting their marketing budgets to the ‘big three’ (Google, Amazon and eBay).
At the same time, savvy retailers are capitalizing on this opportunity and seeing some stellar results — proving that there’s still life in traditional CSEs yet. Need more convincing? Below are five of the top reasons it’s worth staying with CSEs.
1. You Don’t Want All Your Eggs in One Basket
Though it’s true that most online sales are made through one of the big three channels, many consumers are CSE loyalists. These are niche groups of savvy shoppers searching for online deals. They know what they want, and they’re ready to buy. While they might be smaller in number, the conversion rate for this group is significantly better.
2. Never Underestimate the Power of the Assist
It can be tempting to focus purely on direct sales, but my advice is to consider CSEs as more than just a direct sales channel. Instead, think of them as sales channels and effective tools for increasing brand awareness.
This is a crucial point. At ChannelAdvisor, we’ve seen many examples of clients terminating a CSE because of what they felt to be a lack of sales performance. However, in nearly all of these cases, a a negative effect was then felt on other channels that were considered to be running well which, somewhat ironically, harmed performance rather than improved it.
Think of it like this: Though you may have the greatest goal scorer in the world, if you don’t have someone to feed him the ball, his performance is going to suffer. Just as you wouldn’t get rid of your players who help your star performer, you shouldn’t get rid of CSEs.
Why? CSEs play a major role in indirect sales and have strong value at the top of the sales funnel. My advice: Always consider the value of running a CSE holistically and not just for the direct sales achieved.
3. CSEs Now Offer More Than Comparison Listing
CSEs understand that e-commerce is evolving and that they must evolve with it.
While some might argue that CSEs have been slow to adapt, most now offer initiatives to expand the reach of your products beyond a simple comparison listing. For example, many offer a publishing network, generating information-based content such as newsletters to drive interest in your products.
Contact each engine directly to find out what value they can offer you for listing your products on their platform — it’s likely to be more than just a listing itself.
4. People Are Still Searching for Bargains
As on the high street, e-commerce channels see the most activity during Christmas and New Year, and CSEs are no exception.
Even if CSEs aren’t a typical focus for your business, the ‘holiday period’ provides a huge opportunity to boost your overall sales. If nothing else, we’d recommend incorporating CSEs into your marketing plan for summer sales, Christmas and New Year.
5. Google and Amazon Are Investing in CSEs
With both Google and Amazon placing a huge focus on expanding their reach by integrating the traditional comparison shopping into thier network, it’s clear that comparison shopping channels still have a lot left to give. Amazon and Google’s interest in the channel encourages the more traditional platforms, such as PriceGrabber, Nextag and eBay Commerce Network, to innovate, adapt and meet the renewed interest of the channel.
So, should you abandon comparison shopping? No.
The industry is changing and the channel will adapt to the changes with more focus on consumer needs.
Blog post by Hafis Raji, campaign manager, ChannelAdvisor