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Many online retailers are failing to get the best possible returns from shopping comparison sites because of a failure to optimise this channel effectively, particularly in terms of the data feeds they are providing.

Help could be at hand however…

The reality for many overstretched businesses, both small and large, is that there is simply not enough time in the day for effective comparison shopping optimisation when there are other online channels, such as paid search, which have a bigger impact on the business.

It was clear from a recent E-consultancy Shopping Comparison Roundtable that management and submission of data feeds is a massive headache for retailers who are often struggling to manage their product visibility across numerous comparison sites with limited resources.

It doesn't help that a different approach to maximising visibility is needed depending on the comparison engine.

But despite these difficulties, retailers are soldiering on because they recognise that comparison sites can often deliver incremental sales and valuable customers.

So how long will it be before the largest retailers routinely employ third party companies to manage their data and feed submission as a matter of course, in the same way that companies employ agencies to take care of their PPC requirements?

It is already commonplace in the US where more retailers are more savvy about demanding transparency around ROI for:

1) The shopping comparison channel compared to other online channels.

2) The relative benefits of different comparison engines.

3) The relative success and profitability of different products.

Channel Intelligence , a US-based company specialising in shopping comparison optimisation services, is slowly beefing up its presence in Europe with its SellCast solutions targeted at larger retailers.

Brian Smith, author of the ComparisonEngines blog, announced yesterday that he is setting up a simple data feed creation, management, and submission service aimed at SMEs who might not be able to afford to outsource to a channel management company.

Brian is looking for merchants to help him test the service before launch.

It will be interesting to see exactly how this service works but initiatives such as these will be welcomed by hundreds of etailers who are wrestling with their data feeds and comparison engine visibility generally. 

Brian, a retailer himself, is on a mission to help businesses get on top of this channel and recently helped us with our Shopping Comparison Engines Buyer’s Guide which contains plenty of tips for retailers who want to optimise this channel.

Linus Gregoriadis

Published 30 June, 2006 by Linus Gregoriadis

Linus Gregoriadis is Research Director at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn or Google+.

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