This is the age of consumer choice one might ask, are comparison sites good? Whatever you might need to buy this weekend, from a pot of yogurt to a new car to a life insurance policy, you will have a wide range to choose from. What’s more, every one of the sellers will have a compelling reason why their product or service is better than the rest.
Thank goodness we have all those comparison sites to help us choose. You only need to Google a phrase that starts “Choose…” or “What is the best….” And you will be presented with some unbiased help to guide you through the pros and cons of each option, and to point you in the direction of a best buy.
Every one of us uses a comparison site from time to time, so the benefit of these to the consumer is manifest. But how does it work from the other end of the telescope? Comparison sites can be both a help and a hindrance to sellers.
What are popular comparison sites in Canada?
Before we dive into the pros and cons, let’s look at a handful of the most popular comparison sites in Canada and see how they operate. Pricefinder is probably one of the best-known. It covers both online and traditional retail, and you can compare prices on a wide range of household goods, clothes, home electronics and more. Type in a keyword, for example “shoes” and Pricefinder will direct you to all the matching deals it can find, along with a brief product description and user reviews.
Comparison sites are not just about prices and tangible goods, though. Instead of looking at prices, Casinoblox compares no deposit bonuses at online casino sites, and provides other information on the different gaming platforms to help players in Canada get the best deal on their gaming experience.
Then there are those that serve the global market. Google Shopping is the obvious example here, and when it was revamped last year, the focus was very much on personalization and presenting a seamless sales funnel such that Google would not only guide you toward the product you need, it would also facilitate the buying process – all without you even visiting the seller’s website.
Risks to sellers – and buyers
We can immediately see that comparison sites bring potential benefits for sellers, but there are also pitfalls. It is over simplistic to simply say “provide a great product or service at a good price, and you’ll have nothing to fear from the comparison sites.” For one thing, not all of them are as impartial and even-handed as the examples we examined above. There are some less ethical sites that will endorse whichever supplier makes it worth their while.
Other sites might be impartial but charge a listing fee to sellers who want to be included. This means that anyone who doesn’t want to pay the fee will be left out of the comparisons – so the sellers are put at a disadvantage and the buyers are not getting the full story.
Beyond that, though, the Google Shopping facility illustrates a dangerous precedent. Every business knows the importance of its sales force building a relationship with its customers. Yet those who buy through Google’s platform have no direct contact with the seller at all. If everyone bought that way, the only visitors to the seller’s website would be the Google bots. It doesn’t seem like a healthy way to run a market, neither for buyers nor sellers.
But there are benefits
It is right to be aware of the risks, but price comparison sites are here to stay, and it is fair to say their benefits outweigh the negatives from the consumer perspective. On balance, the same can be said for the sellers and comparison sites can offer a world of opportunities that more than make up for the risks.
This is particularly so for smaller players or new entrants to the market. Comparison sites provide an insight into what’s happening in the market, and smaller businesses are likely to be more agile and able to respond to changing demands. The result? They can steal a march on their big-name competitors by quickly adjusting their pricing or product offering. The comparison sites will shout it from the rooftops, effectively levelling the playing field and allowing minnows to go toe to toe with competitors whose marketing budgets are in the stratosphere.
The other point to keep in mind is that when someone visits a price comparison site, they are already at an advanced stage in the sales funnel. They have already decided they need a pair of shoes or a pot of yogurt or an online casino site. Now they just need to decide where to get it. This makes the comparison site a far richer source of sales than all those cold or warm leads who might not even be interested in buying what you have to sell.