This week our challenge is to see how easy it is to compare retail prices on the web. An explosion of online retailers over the past two years has also meant an exponential growth in the number of sites that one should visit before committing to a purchase.
And the humble surfing shopper is still left with a feeling that if they had searched a little bit harder they might have found a real bargain.
But sure enough, it didn’t take too long for people to realise there was a huge market for price comparison websites, essentially a search engine that in theory can crawl over all the shopping sites and find the best prices.
That’s the theory at least.
There are a number of well-known sites that aim to help the cyber shopper and there are certainly deals there to be had.
Shopsmart (www.shopsmart.co.uk) is one of the leading price comparison services, and it is easy to see why. It claims to be able to search over 2,000 online retail sites and can very quickly come up with the information you require.
As well as providing simple price comparisons, it tries to provide unbiased product reviews, and offers a thorough guide to shopping online.
But despite a very well-designed website, one was left feeling that in certain categories, particularly in the electronics area, the product and supplier range was too limited.
Dealtime (www.dealtime.co.uk) provides a very similar service, but it seems to have more suppliers.
It has virtually the same range of products as Shopsmart among which you can search, set within another well-designed site.
Like its competitor, it offers a number of ‘deals of the week’ and has some good tips for shopping on the internet.
Dealtime is also the power behind other retail sites such as 2020shops.com and shopping unlimited.co.uk, the Guardian newspaper’s online shopping facility, so it must have something good going for it.
www.pricechecker.co.uk is also worth having a look at. It won’t win any awards for design, but in some ways that is a benefit as it doesn’t try to be too clever.
It is able to search a wide number of retailers, and then gives you a straightforward list of comparisons.
The website doesn’t have so much ‘review’ information on the listed products, but that is no disaster as there is every chance you will know what it is you want in any case.
www.onlinepriceguide.co.uk only has information on books, CDs and DVDs and benefits from having such a clear focus.
Most web shoppers now know there are only a handful of sites to go to for such products, but it is very helpful to have comparisons all in one place. A well-laid out site, it helps by splitting out p&p costs so it is easy to see the premium for next day delivery.
For a bit of fun, go to www.dooyoo.co.uk. Real consumers help you decide what to buy.
More web reviews can be found at: www.accountancyage.com
OUR TOP FIVE SITES
One of the leaders in price comparison, a thorough site that covers a wide range of products. Good starting point.
Very similar to shopsmart, this is the power behind a number of shopping portals, with some good shopping tips.
Deceptively basic site that covers a wide range of products, but does not have detailed reviews of individual products.
A very good site to compare prices of CDs, books and DVDs. Benefits from having a clear focus and purpose.
Good website for readers’ reviews, helping the consumer make an informed decision before buying online.
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