Everything You Should Know About Comparison Shopping Sites (CSS)
In the vast expanse of online marketplaces, e-commerce merchants should know that comparison shopping sites are an excellent resource for driving sales, improving ROI, and outdoing their competitors.
With all the recent talk of the Google Comparison Shopping Partner Programme, which has now allowed other CSSs to join the Google Shopping Ads auction, we felt it necessary to highlight what makes comparison shopping sites so valuable to e-commerce retailers.
What are Comparison Shopping Sites?
A comparison shopping site (or CSS) is an aggregator of e-commerce products that filters items based on product category, price, ratings, and other features. Customers use these sites to find the best deals on items from all different sources, as well as to find the broadest display of items available to them on the internet.
But a comparison shopping site is not like Amazon. In most cases, a sale is not completed within the CSS platform itself. Rather, the CSS platform sends the customer to the third-party retailer to complete a purchase. This means a majority of the revenue from a sale goes to the third-party e-commerce merchant. CSS platforms, for their part, make revenue from advertisements and a cost-per-click or cost-per-action for each merchant.
What are some popular comparison shopping sites?
Popular comparison shopping sites include:
You can browse a more thorough list of comparison shopping sites on Wikipedia, or this helpful ranking list from Shopify. The Wikipedia chart does an excellent job laying out the different features of each site. For example, if a customer wants to track the price history, then they would use Nextag.com. Understanding which features are most important to your e-commerce business should inform which platforms you display products on.
What is the best comparison shopping site to get started on?
The best CSS for retailers to optimise first is Google Shopping. The e-commerce arm of Google has gone through some nice improvements over the past couple of years and has solidified itself as probably the most popular CCS around today. Merchants that operate exclusively on Shopify or Amazon are missing out on this massive ecosystem!
The nice thing about Google Shopping, from a merchants perspective, is that your product catalog and ad budget is integrated into Google Ads already.
That being said, the other platforms listed above are equally valuable resources. Managing a separate cost-per-click budget on Nextgen might seem like a nuisance but if it helps you get customers then it’s worth the extra bookkeeping.
What do comparison shopping sites actually compare?
The effectiveness of these platforms is rooted in their multi-functional capabilities. That is to say, these product aggregators do far more than just rank products alphabetically. Although features will vary from one site to the next, you can expect comparison shopping sites to rank based on:
- Customer reviews
- Customer purchase history
Displaying customer reviews and writing detailed product description are essential in e-commerce today because they help build trust in your brand for new, and returning, visitors.
What are some benefits to listing my products on a CSS?
If you are an e-commerce merchant, you can reap the rewards of listing products on comparison shopping sites. Here are three reasons why you should do so:
- It brings great ROI. The cost of listing your products is minimal compared to the revenue potential.
- Easy to manage. Google Shopping, the most popular CSS around, is integrated into Google Ads, making it easy to manage product listings and track your results.
- Offers excellent exposure. You are putting yourself in front of millions of high-value customers. These are people who have already decided what it is they want to purchase and are scrolling through to make a final call.
In order to see a solid return on investment, you want to list your products in areas where the highest volume of late-stage customers are hanging out. In e-commerce, this means listing on comparison shopping sites like Google Shopping, one of the most lucrative arms of the Google Ads network. I hope this run-through provides insight into what comparison shopping sites are, and why you should make them a priority for your e-commerce business.