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One of the benefits of ecommerce is that it’s very easy to present a range of products side-by-side so that shoppers can compare the various features.

This makes greatly helps the decision-making process as customers can select a product based on which has the most relevant features as well as being the best value for money.

Retailers can also present additional details such as special offers and product reviews in order to increase the chances of a conversion.

I’ve noticed that ecommerce sites only tend to offer comparison tools for electronic products, which I presume to be for two reasons:

  • Consumers require more information when purchasing expensive, complicated electronic items.
  • Electronic items have features that are more readily comparable than other products, such as garden furniture or clothes.

Other sites that frequently offer comparison tools are hotels, examples of which are seen below, and businesses that offer a tiered subscription service (e.g. Econsultancy).

I’ve ignored membership services for the purposes of this post and have instead focused on the way in which different ecommerce retailers and hotel chains present product comparisons...

Currys

Currys allows customers to compare up to four different products, displaying them side-by-side with the features listed underneath.

The price, availability, customer reviews and call-to-action are the most prominent features, which makes sense as this is the type of information that is most likely to help convert shoppers.

As you scroll down the screen to read more of the details the product image and price appears in a dropdown graphic at the head of each column. This is a neat touch as it means that the user doesn’t have to keep scrolling to the top to remind themselves of the product names.

There is also another bright green ‘Buy or reserve’ CTA at the bottom of each column to try and nudge the user towards making a purchase.

Marriott International

Marriott allows users to compare the details of up to four hotels, with the results appearing in columns showing the different types of amenities and activities available.

The cost, address and a brief description appear at the top of each column, along with a ‘view rates’ CTA.

It’s a useful tool but the design is a bit drab as the text and images are too small. Similarly the CTA should be revamped as the red colour matches the ‘remove’ button.

MoneySupermarket.com

Bizarrely, price comparison site MoneySupermarket doesn’t appear to have a comparison tool.

For example, if you look at its range of credit cards the details are presented in a long list rather than side-by-side. It ranks the products beginning with the best offer in that particular category (e.g. longest balance transfer offer), however it’s not very easy to compare the top-level details of each credit card.

Instead users have to make a manual note of the details are they scroll down, which isn’t particularly convenient.

Dell

Dell’s comparison tool has space for up to six different items. It has opted for a column layout, with reviews, basic product details, shipping information and finance packages appearing above the first CTA.

There is a five point rating system for the main features of each product, such as the memory and hard drive. At first glance it appears to be a good way of simplifying potentially complicated information, however in actual fact there’s no indication as to what the points system means.

As with Currys, when you scroll down the screen a dropdown appears at the top of each column to remind you of the name and cost of each item, including a CTA and the estimated shipping date.

Overall Dell has created a simple and user-friendly method for comparing potentially complex products.

John Lewis

As far as I can tell department store John Lewis only has a comparison tool for electronic products. It allows users to compare up to four products side-by-side in a column view. 

When comparing MP3 players John Lewis displays an image, the cost, stock information and a big green CTA, followed by more in-depth product details.

The layout is clear and simple, meaning that the information is easy to understand.

Best Buy

Best Buy uses the standard column layout for up to four different products, but I don’t agree with the decision to give its special offers pride of place at the top of the screen.

I could well be proven wrong by user data, however each item has a list of 11 different offers presented as tiny bullet points which I think makes it difficult to take it all in or maintain any interest.

The product ratings appear beneath the offers, whereas I think this feature would be more effective if placed closer to the top of the columns.

On the plus side, the product information is fairly easy to understand and Best Buy also reiterates the basic product information and includes another CTA at the bottom of the screen. 

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn uses ticks to indicate the different amenities that are present at each of its hotels.

It’s a technique often employed by membership services and is a great way of highlighting differences between the products on offer.

On the downside though, there’s no indication of costs and the ‘Select dates’ CTA might benefit from being a different colour, though it is still quite prominent on the page.

David Moth

Published 5 December, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1682 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

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Andre Yong

It's always nice to find a bargain online. This article opened my eyes a little into how the eCommerce system works. Price comparison in the New Business world is not so straight forward though! Nice read - Thanks.

almost 3 years ago

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John McElborough, MD at Inbound360

Some nice examples here. Would be good to see some stats on how many people actually use those features on large ecom sites. I'm never sure if "normal" users actually use functionality like that when shopping.

almost 3 years ago

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