Price comparison engines are the fastest and most effective way to get new clients and increase your online store’s turnover at a very good cost to turnover ratio.
Comparing prices can help customers in making the final purchase decision and, at the same time, aid online stores in increasing turnover. Do you know how comparison shopping engines work?
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How Does Comparison Shopping Engines Work?
Sites such as Google Shopping or Heureka.sk in the CEE region are visited by customers who have already chosen their goods in advance and are searching for the best possible price from vendors.
For instance, Heureka clearly displays a price comparison of products from specific vendors, as well as the cost of shipping and any reviews. This significantly simplifies the customer’s insight into the product, the final price and the vendor.
Price comparison engines are becoming increasingly popular in CEE
A comparison shopping website is basically a search engine that online store visitors use to filter and compare products according to their price, features, ratings and other criteria.
In Slovakia, the largest comparison sites are Heureka.sk, Pricemania.sk and Najnakup.sk. The Czech Republic is dominated by Heureka.cz, Zbozi.cz and Srovname.cz, while in Hungary, it’s Arukereso.hu, Argep.hu and Olcsobbat.hu. In Romania, Compari.ro, Shopmania.ro and Price.ro are the most popular.
In Austria and Germany, price comparison sites are less dominant. Here, marketing via Ebay and Amazon has proved to be more worthwhile.
What kind of user are comparison engines aimed at?
Price comparison engines are mainly used by customers who know exactly what product they want. They have completed the initial research phase and are now deciding which online store to buy from.
If you sell products in your online store that are made only by you, such as custom t-shirts, standard comparison sites won’t be your primary form of marketing. You’re the sole vendor, and as such, the customer has no one to compare you to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful there (for example, by using ProductAds).
In recent years, there has also been an emergence of comparison sites for areas where customers do not know exactly what they want and are looking for inspiration, such as Favi.sk and Biano.sk for homeware and garden products or Glami.sk for fashion.
These sites put a great deal of emphasis on the design of the web pages themselves, in particular on attractive and high quality photos of the products, and less so on the standard parameters.
Inspiration portals work only with full-text results and do not pair the online store’s product with its competitors in a single product card, as is the case with Heureka. The price of the product therefore does not play the biggest role here, as the customer cannot compare it in a meaningful way.
Price is not the sole determining factor
The success of comparison sites in our country and in several neighbouring countries across Central and Eastern Europe is based on our buying mentality and the current economic situation, whereby we are mainly searching for low prices. However, it is not entirely true that selling via comparison sites requires low prices.
Comparison sites naturally favour reputable online stores that will pay them for doing so. That’s why comparison sites are coming up with new ad formats and promotions that highlight other aspects of products and online stores. These are mainly ratings and stock availability, which are particularly important during the high season (e.g. Christmas).
Heureka is the largest price comparison engine in Slovakia
Equally important are the benefits of the online store, its reputation and brand
Comparison engines make money in a similar way to other forms of PPC advertising. Online stores pay for clicks on links published on comparison sites. From an online store’s point of view, it is important to have an attractive placement within a comparison site in order to get potential customers to click on the link to your online store.
Attractive placements are usually more expensive and therefore the situation is similar to other PPC advertising, where you are seeking to strike a compromise between cost and potential profit.
How To Market Effectively Via Comparison Shopping Engines
In this section, you will learn the basic principles needed to get started and market effectively through price comparison sites. Some details, however, are more technical and to implement them, you will need the help of a programmer who will develop your online store.
The below principles are generally applicable across all comparison engines. Examples taken from Heureka, the largest Slovak and Czech comparison engine, can be used for other comparison engines as well.
XML file /XML feed
The initial registration of your online store on comparison sites is simple. The key element is an XML file with a simple format which contains information about your products and their prices.
This XML file (XML feed) is stored in your online store at a specific URL address. When you want to register your store, you need to determine the URL of the XML file and enter it when adding your store.
Product detail on the price comparison site Heureka
An XML file is usually an automatically created file, but someone must code it. If you have not created it yet, it will be prepared for your online store by a programmer or an e-commerce CMS vendor. You can easily find the XML specification for the programmer on the comparison site.
Each comparison engine has its own XML file specification. XML files for standard comparison engines are usually included in standard or boxed e-commerce CMS. After registration, the comparison sites will automatically upload the product information from the XML file and will perform regular updates of prices, product availability and other information.
XML file quality audit
A well-crafted XML file is the cornerstone of success on any comparison site.
The most common mistakes when running PPC ads on comparison sites:
- Product categorisation is different between the online store and the comparison site. This means that the product categories of the online store do not match the categories of the comparison site. If this happens, the products from your online store are not placed in the same category as your competitors, but are only displayed in full text – unpaired. Alternatively, the system places them in another, unrelated category.
- The online store’s product names do not follow all the rules of the comparison engine (e.g. the manufacturer, product code, volume, shade and other mandatory parameters are missing in the names), which means that the products are not displayed in the main comparison index, which receives the highest traffic.
How To Work With An XML File
You can check the XML file manually, but there are also tools available for automatic auditing. A popular tool for auditing and other work with XML files is Mergado, which can handle feeds for almost all countries.
Mergado supports a variety of XML file formats and you can obtain a free comprehensive overview of the most critical errors in your XML file. For individual comparison engines, some parameters may be critical and changes to these parameters will not be reflected automatically after editing the XML file. Instead they will need to be checked by a comparison engineer.
Problems can occur particularly in peak times of the year, when a product may be in a pending state for several weeks, with the online store losing sales in prime season.
For example, for clothing and footwear categories, the standard matching period is 2 to 6 months. You will see a different processing time for the same products in the Czech version of Heureka, because it has more registered online stores than the Slovak version, and thus the waiting time in the category is longer.
When using Heureka, make doubly sure that the URL, title, category and product ID are correct. It is better not to change these parameters during the peak season. The XML file should also contain all the products of the online store that you plan to advertise.
An example of an XML file/feed with board games for a comparison engine
Set up regular updates
If you would like the comparison site to always have up-to-date information, the XML file should be generated at least 4 to 5 times a day. Heureka downloads XML files roughly every 2 hours.
If the comparison engine allows it, supplement the XML file with an Availability XML file which contains information about the availability of the products. Heureka downloads this every 1 to 2 hours. When your online store XML file is top-notch, you’re ready to further improve the visibility of your products and your online store on comparison sites.
Would you like to benefit from the efficiency of price comparison engines? Contact us for a consultation, we will be happy to advise you and determine your growth potential.
Check out some excellent advice and insights on price comparison engines, as well as performance-based online marketing for online stores in the book E-shop from Idea to Success.
It approaches complex technologies in a simple and straightforward way that makes them easy for everyone to understand. The book covers all the topics that are important for e-commerce in today’s competitive world, from online marketing, e-commerce CMS, UX, logistics, finance, automation, through to security.
Go beyond with us
Are you after a professional attitude and a team that will do its best for your success? Entrust price comparison engines to us. Not only are we specialists in the local market, but we can also help you expand your business abroad.
Thanks to the Dexfinity Editorial Staff for Creating This Article
Written by: Martin Krupa
Feedback: Evelin Kissová
Published by: Róbert Hošták
Translated by: Nikola Davis
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