Submitted by: Michael Brito
While comparison shopping is nothing new, the way shoppers conduct their research is. Years ago, shoppers combed through retail shelves in pursuit of the perfect deal, an effort that took time, effort and gas. Today, the web fills the gap between time and space with an array of comparison shopping sites that offer customer reviews, large selections and access to prices from well-known stores.
According to ComScore, of the 167 million Americans online in February, almost 53 million of them visited at least one of the top comparison-shopping sites. And, while many of those consumers bought online, many others used the information to purchase the desired product in a retail shop as well. Competition is indeed fierce in cyberspace and in the store; but, the good news is it is consumers who are getting the great end of the deal.
Among the list of popular sites that allow visitors to contrast and compare are Yahoo Shopping, Shopzilla, Froogle and NexTag. In addition, there are at least another ten price comparison sites that boast the best tools and technology to help consumers make smarter choices. Each has distinct features, advantages and, unfortunately, disadvantages. Still, the popularity of such sites and technology means that entrepreneurs and dot-coms will continue to devise ways for consumers to research and buy goods, ensuring that competition among online and offline retailers will remain stiff.
In fact, the top price comparison sites are already getting some tough opposition from companies that take advantage of the other guys shortcomings. Frucall, which according to the company spokesperson was inspired by frugal shoppers everywhere, for example, is one of the newest services targeted to value-minded shoppers and boasts a quick and convenient way for bargain-hunters to get the best deal, even without the use of a computer.
Launched in March as the first price-comparison mobile service, Frucall allows shoppers to compare retail store prices with prices for the same products on Amazon.com, directly from their cell phone. It s a simple solution that sidelines many sites that offer price comparison results to be sent via text message to a consumer s cell phone but fail to offer immediate access to price comparisons when the shopper sees a product he or she didn t research ahead of time. Even better, is that consumers can actually buy the product directly from their mobile phone, assuming they have registered and have a valid credit card in their profile.
Touted as the easiest and quickest way to price compare, Frucall enables shoppers in the midst of surveying retail aisles to call a toll-free number (888-FRU-SHOP) and input the product s UPC or ISBN number. Within a few seconds, the caller gets a confirmation of the product name and the price of the item as listed online. Currently, the service compares prices for products from a variety of categories including automotive supplies, books, electronics, jewelry, movies, music, tools and pet supplies. In the future, Frucall says they will generate best price information through Internet-wide e-commerce searches.
Seems the online price comparison wars will rage on.
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