How to Start a Price Comparison Website
Price comparison websites have shot into popularity soon after the Ecommerce revolution. The value proposition provided by the price comparison sites helps consumers save considerable amount of money while shopping online. The ability to check the price of a product on numerous Ecommerce portals at one place brings in convenience and saves time. It offers a lucrative business opportunity by drawing significant revenue from affiliate sales and advertising. Starting a price comparison website is not a cakewalk and requires technical expertise and a reliable means of price data acquisition. We’ll walk you through the important steps in creating a price comparison site. Read on.
1. Select a niche
The revenue potential of a price comparison website totally depends on its niche. Selecting the right niche and targeting it is a crucial part of making any successful website. You could also target geographies that have a higher revenue potential to increase the traction further. Price comparison sites work better with consumer focused products. You might want to consider the factors that affect the buying decision of products in a niche before jumping into it.
2. Affiliate partnership
The primary revenue source of price comparison websites is affiliate marketing. Most Ecommerce portals have an affiliate system using which you can get a commission for the sales you make for them. To get started with this, you will first have to sign up as a business partner on popular Ecommerce portals that you will be using for price comparison. Once accepted as the affiliate partner, you will be given a referrer name that can be appended to the product links going out from your price comparison site. Getting accepted as an affiliate partner is a fairly easy process, which shouldn’t be a cause of concern.
3. The technical side : Setup
This would be the most complicated aspect of starting a price comparison website. There are different methods by which you can set up the price comparison engine that would power your comparison portal. Some need advanced technical skills while some others only require you to be reasonably good with technology. Following are the different ways through which you can build a price comparison engine.
Build it from scratch
Hiring a programmer would be the best bet if you are trying to make a price comparison engine by incorporating your unique ideas. This would obviously be a costly option. The advantage is that you don’t have to tinker with existing price comparison engines that might not work with your technologies. Building a custom price comparison engine will also consume reasonable amount of time. Flexibility is a great advantage that comes with building one on your own. If you are looking to get started as quick as possible, you might want to consider other options which we’re about to discuss below.
Price comparison scripts
If you don’t really want to build the price comparison engine from scratch, don’t panic, there are ready-made scripts that can help you build one easily. Most of such scripts are coded in PHP and would allow seamless integration with your web application. The only downside is that it might not necessarily fulfil all your requirements. Pricetapestry is a great script that covers most aspects of a price comparison website. You could also find some other pre-built price comparison scripts here.
You can do anything with WordPress – literally. WordPress is as dynamic and versatile as it is advertised to be. You won’t be out of luck if you want to build your price comparison website on WordPress as there are some great WordPress plugins that have you covered on this. And the best part is, you don’t have to be an expert programmer to install and set up one of these. Here are some great options to get you started on this route- CompariPress, ComparePress and Compare theme which is available on Themeforest. You could also check out the WordPress plugins directory to find more price comparison plugins that are better suited for your requirements.
4. Data acquisition
Now that you’re ready to build your own price comparison site, it’s time to acquire the price data. Data being the primary fuel of any price comparison engine, there should be a solid system in place to aggregate and feed this data into your website. Web crawling technologies are used to extract price data from Ecommerce websites for comparison. As the number of products in question is large, the scale of data extraction would be huge too.
Price data can be acquired by building your own web scraping set up or by depending on a data-as-a-service provider who will provide you with the data according to your requirements. Since managing a price comparison site itself is a challenging task, we recommend going with a web scraping service provider for the price data. It is important to note that the quality of the data has to be of top notch for your price comparison website to run smoothly. Having fresh data sets with minimal latency is a must. We recommend our previous post on choosing between an in-house crawling setup and a web scraping service if you are in doubt.
Affiliate marketing is a lucrative revenue source that is being leveraged by blogs and price comparison sites to build successful businesses. Getting started with a price comparison site is not as complicated as it might look from outside. Once set up, data is the only thing you should focus on to keep the price comparison website alive and grow your business.