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Why I (Mostly) Don't Use Shopping Comparison Sites

? Crunch time for the digital entertainment industry |


| Finally! Enterprise software working for me ?

December 04, 2005

Why I (Mostly) Don't Use Shopping Comparison Sites

Rob Hof

In writing a review of Google's Froogle shopping site, I remembered again that I just don't use shopping comparison sites such as Froogle,, and Shopzilla very much. It got me thinking why:

* The big sites such as and eBay have such a wide variety of stuff--and in both cases to varying degrees, provide a wealth of information about prices and features--that I don't generally need to go somewhere else to find comparisons on the products.

* My experience is that while I can sometimes find significantly better prices outside the major sites, the lower level of trust in those sites reduces that advantage substantially. It's not that I necessarily feel I will get ripped off by anyone but the majors, but that I don't know how fast the delivery will be, what the return policies are, and the like. That requires a discount factor.

* Despite writing about tech, I don't actually buy that many gadgets--I just recently replaced my Motorola StarTac cell phone only after it died--and those products are the ones that seem to require the most comparing.

* The comparisons these sites make just aren't granular enough for me when I'm at the point of making a decision. The filters look pretty good in many cases, like, say, for digital cameras, but they're still kind of clumsy in helping me make tradeoffs among various features.

* I just don't have time to do a lot of hunting around. And while the best comparison sites may help cut the hunting time, they themselves require a decent investment of time. They may get better, but for now, they still have the same problem as any search engine: too many results.

Still, I know a lot of people use these sites, or so the traffic numbers suggest. So tell me: Why?

12:00 PM


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Well, not me, I've been known to do a wee bit of comparison shopping, but that is the title of a post from Rob Hof of The Tech Beat at It is a good counterbalance to the industry's mini-buzz... [Read More]

Tracked on December 19, 2005 09:53 PM


I too feel the same. Websites like and provide better features.

Let's see what Froogle,, and Shopzilla has to offer down the line.


Posted by: Ganesh J. Acharya at December 4, 2005 01:00 PM

Another reason is that most of the shopping comparison sites are pretty poorly done, with ridiculously small subsets of the major online shops and confusing interfaces, among other things. Sites like eBay are interesting (esp. the fixed-price sales) but eBay hasn't yet fully addressed the fraud issue and I hear too many stories of people who were ripped off by eBay sellers. I've written about this topic too, Rob, though with a different spin:

offers some ideas on how to search for the lowest price from a reputable store for a specific product (in this case, a Sony PSP), and:

Talks at a more theoretical level about online shopping, price comparison, the pros and cons of the different avenues for shopping for the best price, and some ideas on what I believe is the next Big Thing from Google: Google Shopping.

Hope they're both useful for your readership, Rob!

Posted by: Dave Taylor at December 4, 2005 11:08 PM

most people find comparison shopping sites via google. people don't tend to bookmark and recall these sites. it's a bit of work to search in amazon to find the exact product you like, then visit shopzilla, froogle etc and do the same search. however, I do like one service that makes this process a bit easier. check out squaretrade sidebar ( it works with you as shop your favorite sites. when you find the product you like on amazon, etc, it automatically does a comparison pricing search so you don't have to do a separate search on a separate browser window. it's abit unique in that it gives you results from stores, eBay and craigslist. The link below (on my name)goes to an article in nytimes that i read about it.

Posted by: jeff at December 5, 2005 12:07 AM

If comparison sites only list retailers who pay them 5-10% commission then aren't we paying 5-10% more than we need to?

If you want value, on either the highstreet or the internet, you need to shop around. If you can't be bothered to DIY it then there is a new site called where you can get people to find what you are looking for for less in return for a share of the saving they find you. Worth checking out.

Posted by: Steve at December 10, 2005 06:37 AM

Comparison shopping = starts when GM wrote bad reviews for Ford and Ford wrote bad reviews for GM. If I were a retail sales outlet = I'd write great reviews on all my stock.

Posted by: carl dalka at December 12, 2005 01:36 PM

I see the point that Amazon and ebay has everything on them. But when on ebay, you still believe in what experience other consumers have while shopping from particular seller. Same thing is done by comparison site. They try to provide you with the best possible price on the internet alongwith reviews of stores etc. on which you can decide whether to go back to amazon or choose some good merchant online and save some bucks.

Posted by: nana at December 14, 2005 02:40 PM

I guess that's all the reason to use a site like, which only shows deals from

Posted by: Pete Freitag at December 14, 2005 05:24 PM is incredible, made ?15 yesterday! this is surely the future of e-shopping - this is how to really make a saving (;

Posted by: ian at December 20, 2005 04:23 AM

I've been using something called the SmartShopper, which is a small and light application that sits quietly on your computer and doesn't do anything until it uses its smart product matching and recognition intelligence to bring up comparison offers in the side bar of your browser. It does it for all shopping products and travel too and gives me reviews and ratings and ebay auctions too.

Posted by: John at December 20, 2005 05:52 AM

I am starting a small business. I just learned about eBay's Power Stores service. It looks like a fantastic and easy way to set up shop but I'm a bit incredulous. The Power Store site only has two testimonials from current "Power Store" users. Does anyone have feedback about this new service? Also, are you aware of any similar "we do it all for you" hosting sites? Thank you.

R. Wright

Mill Valley, California

Posted by: Rebecca Wright at December 28, 2005 12:38 PM

With due respect to everyone who has concern with price comparison site, one need to think that each site earns/get revenue from retailers. But if a user but directly from amazon or ebay they are not entitled to such discounts. So when one buy through a price comparison site he/she is indirectly helps in growing the economy, creating wealth. I think the future is price comparison with cash back. This will benefit both the site owner and consumer. At present offers price comparison for book, movies dvd and music cd. but soon we would be having cash back option for our regular user :-)



Posted by: Kumar at January 19, 2006 12:52 PM

Trust seems to be a huge factor. I've had to return items bought via Amazon, and it was easy and painless. That's not always the case with some online vendors.

At we try to show deals from Amazon in an easy-to-navigate and easy-to-read layout.

Price isn't always THE biggest draw. If you're close on price, AND the level of trust with e-tailer is high, then good things generally happen.

Posted by: Dan at March 23, 2006 04:37 PM

i would like to make my own comparison website for flights. anyone knows what software i can use?

Posted by: filip at March 28, 2006 04:05 PM

These are all great concerns and comments. I happen to be a co-owner of a new price comparison company called (

Here are my point of views:

1. Yes, some sites only offer a small subset of retailers, but it really depends on the product. If you are shopping for something popular like an iPod Nano, you will find more than 30 stores to compare with. I think that is plenty.

2. Ebay is not for everyone. Yes, Ebay can save you money too. But I have been ripped off and scammed from eBay countless times. It all depends what product I am buying.

3. Too expensive? Well yes, some price comparison sites like CNET and charged a very expensive marketing fee to the retailer, therefore you will only see higher priced retailer. If the website only have high-end dealers, you are probably not saving much money.

Either way price comparison sites offer a good tool and free service. It only takes a few minutes to check for prices. Why not save some time and money while you can?

Thanks for you attention.


Posted by: Andrew at April 14, 2006 09:37 PM

I live in austria, so i dont have the same market, thus comprisonsites, as you lot.

For me, when i try to compare prices, i always know before hand, which products i want to buy. Its eitehr a range of products, or reviews have already shown, which precise product i want.

I then go to comparison sites, and find the cheapest retailer.

Despite the fact, that he maybe pays the site, if its the cheapest i find, its the cehapest i find.

Posted by: Henning at April 15, 2006 03:45 PM is a scam and an expensive stupid site too.

Posted by: Austin at May 28, 2006 09:46 PM

Try - This is a great wholesale merchandise comparison site, as well as is a great wholesale liquidation auction site for ebay sellers to purchase bulk merchandise for cheap to sell on eBay and other area's!

Posted by: B M at December 25, 2006 12:39 AM

Talking about online auction, is a great liquidation and salvage merchandise auction site too just like eBay with great customer support (I recently bought 5 HD samsung wide-screen TV from them, very happy with it).

Replying to the comment above, posted by Austin: I checked pricecomparison website and I don't think it's a scam.

Posted by: Henry at February 7, 2007 03:05 PM

I think the major shopping engines will need to evolve in order to provide something beyond just price comparison. They need to hit all levels of the buying process from research to purchase. I think with social media and all the new features the web has to offer shopping will be totally different by 2010

Posted by: Online Shopper at March 15, 2007 06:25 PM

Completely agree with Online Shopper. The future is not just price comparison. The future shopping sites will have all information in one place!

Posted by: Bargain Shopping at March 27, 2007 04:11 PM

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