Comparison shopping website

A comparison shopping website, sometimes called a price comparison website, Price Analysis tool, comparison shopping agent, shopbot or comparison shopping engine, is a vertical search engine that shoppers use to filter and compare products based on price, features, reviews and other criteria. Most comparison shopping sites aggregate product listings from many different retailers but do not directly sell products themselves. In the United Kingdom, these services made between £780m and £950m in revenue in 2005[1]. Hence, E-commerce accounted for an 18.2 percent share of total business turnover in the United Kingdom in 2012. Online sales already account for 13% of the total UK economy, and its expected to increase to 15% by 2017. There is a huge contribution of comparison shopping websites in the expansion of current E-commerce industry.[2]


The first widely recognized comparison-shopping agent was BargainFinder, developed by Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). The team, led by researcher Bruce Krulwich, created BargainFinder in 1995 as an experiment and published it on-line without advance warning to the e-commerce sites being compared. The first commercial shopping agent, called Jango, was produced by Netbot, a Seattle startup company founded by University of Washington professors Oren Etzioni and Daniel S. Weld; Netbot was acquired by the Excite portal in late 1997. Junglee, a Bay-area startup, also pioneered comparison shopping technology and was soon acquired by Other early comparison shopping agents included and Most of them were price comparison for computer related products and hence did not attract much public attention.

Around 2010, the price comparison websites found their way to emerging markets. Especially South-East Asia has been a place for many new comparison websites. It started in 2010 with CompareXpress in Singapore, and in the following years companies like Baoxian (China) and AskHanuman (Thailand) followed.[3]

As of 2013, the market for more data-driven price comparison sites was growing, as several venture capital firms made large investments in price comparison sites with big-data oriented platforms, including FindTheBest, Askhanuman, Priceza, Malaysia-based iprice, and the Singaporean price comparison startup Save 22.[4][5][6][7]

Comparison shopping agent

In the early development stage from 1995 to 2000, comparison shopping agents included not only price comparison but also rating and review services for online vendors and products. For example, services like provided ratings for online vendors. Today, websites like provide review and rating services for products. Altogether, there were three broad categories of comparison shopping services.[8]

Later, through mergers and acquisitions, many services were consolidated.


Through 1998 and 1999, various firms developed technology that searched retailers websites for prices and stored them in a central database. Users could then search for a product, and see a list of retailers and prices for that product. Advertisers did not pay to be listed but paid for every click on a price. Streetprices, founded in 1997, has been a very early company in this space; it invented price graphs and email alerts in 1998.[9]


Price comparison sites can collect data directly from merchants. Retailers who want to list their products on the website then supply their own lists of products and prices, and these are matched against the original database. This is done by a mixture of information extraction, fuzzy logic and human labour.

Comparison sites can also collect data through a data feed file. Merchants provide information electronically in a set format. This data is then imported by the comparison website. Some third party businesses are providing consolidation of data feeds so that comparison sites do not have to import from many different merchants. Affiliate networks such as LinkShare, Commission Junction or TradeDoubler aggregate data feeds from many merchants and provide them to the price comparison sites. This enables price comparison sites to monetize the products contained in the feeds by earning commissions on click through traffic. Other price comparison sites like PriceGrabber have deals with merchants and aggregate feeds using their own technology.

In recent years, many off the shelf software solutions[10] have been developed that allow website owners to take price comparison websites' inventory data to place retailer prices (context adverts) on their blog or content the only website. In return, the content website owners receive a small share of the revenue earned by the price comparison website. This is often referred to as the revenue share[11] business model.

Another approach is to crawl the web for prices. This means the comparison service scans retail web pages to retrieve the prices, instead of relying on the retailers to supply them. This method is also sometimes called 'scraping' information. Some, mostly smaller, independent sites solely use this method, to get prices directly from the websites that it is using for the comparison.

Yet another approach is to collect data is through crowdsourcing. This lets the price comparison engine collect data from almost any source without the complexities of building a crawler or the logistics of setting up data feeds at the expense of lower coverage comprehensiveness. Sites that use this method rely on visitors contributing pricing data. Unlike discussion forums, which also collect visitor input, price comparison sites that use this method combine data with related inputs and add it to the main database though collaborative filtering, artificial intelligence, or human labor. Data contributors may be rewarded for the effort through prizes, cash, or other social incentives. Wishabi, a Canadian-based price comparison site, is one example that employs this technique in addition to the others mentioned.

However, some combination of these two approaches is most frequently used. Some search engines are starting to blend information from standard feeds with information from sites where product stock-keeping units (SKUs) are unavailable.

Empirical projects that assessed the functionality and performance of page-wise SSC engines (AKA bots) exist. These studies demonstrate that no best or parsimonious shopping bot exists with respect to price advantage.[12][13]

Comparison of sites

Common comparison features
Site Website Browser Extension Mobile App Multiple Stores Comparison Between Stores Watchlist Forums Blog Specification Comparison API Offline Stores Price Per Unit Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No No No No No Yes
Google Shopping Yes No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No
Fiiha Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No
MySmartPrice Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes No
Gludo Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes No No No No
Nextag Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No
PriceGrabber Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No No Yes No No
Priceza Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No No No No No No
Shopzilla Yes No No Yes No No No No No No No No
PriceOye Yes No No Yes Yes No No Yes No No No No
Yaoota Yes No No Yes Yes No No Yes No No Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No Yes No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No
Zebo Yes No No Yes Yes No No No No No No No

Business models

Price comparison sites typically do not charge users anything to use the site. Instead, they are monetized through payments from retailers who are listed on the site. Depending on the particular business model of the comparison shopping site, retailers either pay a flat fee to be included on the site, pay a fee each time a user clicks through to the retailer web site, or pay every time a user completes a specified action—for example, when they buy something or register with their e-mail address. Comparison shopping sites obtain large product data feeds covering many different retailers from affiliate networks such as LinkShare and Commission Junction. There are also companies that specialize in data feed consolidation for the purpose of price comparison and that charge users for accessing this data. When products from these feeds are displayed on their sites they earn money each time a visitor clicks through to the merchant's site and buys something. Search results may be sorted by the amount of payment received from the merchants listed on the website.[14] large price comparison sites.[15]

Google Panda and price comparison

Like most websites, price comparison websites partly rely on search engines for visitors. The general nature of Shopping focused price comparison websites is that, since their content is provided by retail stores, content on price comparison websites is unlikely to be absolutely unique. The table style layout of a comparison website could be considered by Google as "Autogenerated Content and Roundup/Comparison Type of Pages".[16] As of the Google Panda, Google seems to have started considering these Roundup/Comparison type of pages low quality.[17]

Niche players

Due to large affiliate network providers providing easily accessible information on large amounts of similar products from multiple vendors, in recent years small price comparison sites have been able to use technology that was previously only available to large price comparison sites.[15]

In addition to comparing tangible goods, service price comparison sites expanded. This include insurance, credit card, phone bill, and money transfer comparison sites. Examples are, and

See also


  1. "Shopping Comparison Engines market worth £120m-£140m in 2005, says E-consultancy". 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  2. "Price Comparison Shopping In UK". 2016-08-17. Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  3. "The rise of price comparison sites in South East Asia".
  4. Quigley, J.T. TECH IN ASIA Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. Rao, Leena. "Data-Driven Comparison Shopping Platform FindTheBest Raises $11M From New World, Kleiner Perkins And Others". TechCrunch. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  6. "AskHanuman secures 6-digit funding, ex-Lazada Thailand CEO at the helm".
  7. HO, VICTORIA. "Asian Price Comparison Site Save 22 Gets Angel Round Of "Mid Six Figures"". Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  8. Wan, Y.; Menon, S.; Ramaprasad, A. (2003). "A Classification of Product Comparison Agents". CiteSeerX accessible.
  9. "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". 8 May 1999.
  10. Shopping Price Comparison Scripts. Retrieved May 7th, 2010.
  11. 50/50 Revenue Share. Retrieved September 3rd, 2010.
  12. Serenko, A., and Hayes, J. (2009). Investigating the functionality and performance of online shopping bots for electronic commerce: A follow-up study. International Journal of Electronic Business 8(1): 1-15.
  13. Sadeddin K., Serenko, A. and Hayes, J. (2007). Online shopping bots for electronic commerce: The comparison of functionality and performance. International Journal of Electronic Business 5(6): 576-589.
  14. Mulrean, Jennifer. How shopping bots really work
  15. 1 2 "Online Shoppers Are Rooting for the Little Guy". The New York Times. 16 January 2012.
  16. "Get Rid of Autogenerated Content and Roundup/Comparison Type of Pages (Point 4)". Retrieved 2013-10-17.
  17. "Shopping Search Engines Have Lost in the UK Google Panda/Quality Update". 2011-04-28. Retrieved 2013-10-17.
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