A Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE) is a site that aggregates product information of multiple retailers and presents it to consumers, allowing consumers to discover and compare products as well as compare offers from retailers. Examples of CSEs are Connexity , Shopping.com (eBay Commerce Network) , and NexTag .
CSEs first started appearing on the internet in the late 1990's. Most of the major US CSEs were started by a large internet company, such as Google Shopping , Bing Shopping (product results are integrated in Bing.com search results), and Yahoo! Shopping, or have been acquired by a larger company.
- Shopping.com, originally Dealtime.com (founded in 1998), was acquired by eBay, Inc in 2005.
- Shopzilla, originally Bizrate.com (founded in 1996), was acquired by the E.W. Scripps Company in 2005.
- Pricegrabber (founded in 1999) was acquired by Experian in 2005.
- A 2/3 share of NexTag (founded in 1999) was purchased by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, Inc., in 2007.
- Shopzilla changed name to Connexity in 2014
- Become.com was acquired by Connexity in 2014
- PriceGrabber was acquired by Connexity in 2015
Comparison Shopping Engines (CSEs) receive a lot of traffic, most of which is consumers who are at some point in the buying cycle. It is widely believed that CSEs are more valuable at the end of the buying cycle when consumers have already decided what product to buy and are looking for the best offer, though there is certainly some research done on CSEs as well.
Many merchants advertise on CSEs solely because their competitors do so. Other merchants find it to be an efficient channel and/or a large driver of sales.
How Comparison Shopping Engines Work with Merchants
Below is a description of how CSEs typically work with merchants
- Merchants deliver a product data feed to Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE) on a regular basis, preferably daily.
- A data feed is just a file that contains basic information about the products the merchant sells on their website.
- The CSEs store that information in their product database, match the merchant's offers to the offers to those of other merchants selling the same products when applicable, and display the information to consumers in a way that makes it easy for them to compare the offers of different merchants.
- When the consumer clicks on the merchant's offer, the CSE redirects that consumer to link on the merchant's website that was provided in the product data feed.
- In most cases, the CSE charges the merchant every time a consumer clicks on one of the merchant's product advertisements on the CSE. For more information on this, please read about CSE pricing.
What is Needed to Use CSEs
If you decide that advertising on Comparison Shopping sites is a good fit for you you will need to make sure the following elements are in place before getting started.
- A transactional website, such as your webstore. This is where the traffic acquired via CSEs will be directed to view and hopefully purchase your products.
- The ability to create a product data feed.
- A merchant account with the CSEs on which you wish to advertise your products. See the specific site guides ( Google Shopping , NexTag , Shop.com , Connexity , eBay Commerce Network ) for more information on creating CSE accounts.
- Funding for your CSE accounts. See the specific site guides for more information on funding CSE accounts.
The following items are recommended for all merchants marketing products on CSEs:
- Installation of survey code on your website.
- The ability to FTP data feeds to CSEs. If you are using ChanneAdvisor Complete to generate your feeds, the system will automatically FTP the feeds to the FTP location provided by the CSE.