The Perfect Storm – An Opportunity Squandered by the Shopping Engines

July 25, 2008

What’s wrong with this picture?

This economy sucks.  Consumers are hurting.  While a temporary ease in oil prices and a once in a lifetime housing bill will ease the pain a bit, it’s not a cure for the economic crisis the US and the world is facing. Consumers are looking to save money. They are thinking about price.

Unfortunately, the shopping engines have fought for years to be known as more than just price comparison engines. Reviews! Search! Cash back! Social shopping! Mobile! Safe shopping! Green!  Well, all those things are nice and should be part of a strategy, but right now, this is the perfect opportunity for the shopping engines to step up their marketing efforts (or at least run some bold tests) highlighting the fact that they save consumers money.

Yes, all the shopping engines are going to once again do a good job of PR and talk about how consumers can save money at the pump by shopping at home, but that story is going to get old and once again NexTag is going to sounds a lot like PriceGrabber is going to sound a lot like Pronto is going to sound a lot like Smarter and so on.

So my tip of the week for the shopping engines: think about talking about your company as a price comparison engine, as a money saving tool, as a place for consumers to go for the best deals online. This shouldn’t be your entire strategy, but should at least be part of it. For example, Shopping.com, take PriceTool and get rid of the whole Epinions angle [shit, if I were a young go-getter at that company, I’d put together a crack team to completely revamp PriceTool around price price price!]. Smarter.com, you have lots of big, pretty pictures in rotation on your homepage. Start with the one for Deals! Shopzilla, you’re testing out your new recently bought scroll bar (very cool, David!), but maybe it should be the recently saved $$$ on X, Y, or Z scroll bar. PriceGrabber, you just launched your version of Woot! which is great, but why are you just giving it a tiny button on the homepage?

The pushback I’ll get from all the shopping engines is that they don’t want to be known as price bots. That’s completely understandable. I’m just encouraging everyone to run some tests. The economy sucks. While it’s nice to see a $329 Bulova diamond watch on the homepage, maybe it’s also time to think about a ‘steals’ section or newsletter.

PS. To be fair to Pronto (the image at the top of the post is from Pronto’s homepage), they did just start up an email newsletter highlighting great deals…although sadly they haven’t learned to put a ‘subscribe to your personal savings newsletter’ option at the top/bottom of each page).


A Fresh Start

July 23, 2008

Been a while.  Yes, I’m alive.  I really appreciate the emails and support.

When I first started ComparisonEngines, I was just doing a little consulting on the side to pay the bills.  Now I’m running SingleFeed, a venture backed start up which is taking off.  Over the last 6 months, I’ve had to concentrate on strengthening the foundation of SingleFeed.  That left little time for blogging.

While I make no promises on the frequency of posts going forward, there are too many things happening in the shopping search industry not to step back into a role as Analyst.

I’ll probably play around with the style a bit.  Not sure exactly what that means.  I like Rafat’s comprehensive coverage.  I like Om’s incredible insight.  I like Arrington’s bite sized morsels.  All I know for sure is that my interest has never been in regurgitating press releases and that won’t change.

Welcome to ComparisonEngines 2.0!

-b


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