I always get into an argument with a friend who works at a first generation Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE). My opinion that CSEs need to do much more than just provide price comparisons does not fare well with him. His mantra – “Get shoppers in and out as quickly as possible and run with your cut”. Until recently, no one seemed interested in engaging shoppers, or providing better experiences. But, what my friend doesn’t realize is that the CSE world is changing. What was once considered taboo is soon going to become a hygiene factor. And, new breed of Comparison Shopping Engines are leading the charge to see about this change.
Comparison shopping or ability to compare prices was (and to a large extent continues to be) one of the greatest innovations since the advent of internet shopping. Why? Because it put shoppers in control of the single most important shopping insight – ability to find the best price. So, understandably, comparison shopping engines (CSEs) were once a rage. But, they are constantly losing their clout with advent of new technologies and pressure from players like Google and Amazon. Here are some of the factors that are taking away CSE traffic:
Search engines are investing on their own shopping platforms
Google and Bing continue to evolve their own product search platforms. In addition to standard product information, they are enriching product pages with content like product reviews, videos and related products. There is a clear conflict of interest when it comes to product related search results. And, guess who wins? It is definitely not CSEs.
It is not a good idea. Extra click/login can turn away shoppers unless they are so hooked on and are convinced that there is a substantial incentive to login. This happens rarely (mostly with bigger players).
I assume browse-driven means direct traffic and question is around sites that actually make sales (and not other eCommerce sites such as Shopping Comparion engines, Coupon sites, and such)
It is Amazon and eBay. eBay was the front runner for a long time until Amazon (unique visitors) took over. After these pure play retailers, there are many brick & mortar chains such as Walmart, Target, Sears and Best Buy.
Flash sales sites (Gilt, Rue La La, et. al) and group buying sites such as Groupon are catching up.