Creating a Price Comparison Website
The price comparison website has shot into popularity, courtesy of the eCommerce revolution. The ability to check the price of a product on numerous e-commerce portals in one place brings convenience and saves time. It offers a lucrative business opportunity by drawing significant revenue from affiliate sales and advertising. Starting an online price comparison site 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 building a price comparison website. Read on.
1. Select a Niche for Your Price Comparison Website
The revenue potential of a price comparison site 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. Once accepted as the affiliate partner, you will give a referrer name that can appeal to the product links going out from your price comparison site. Getting accepted into an affiliate partner is an easy process, which shouldn’t be a cause of concern.
3. The Technical 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. The following are the different ways through which you can build a price comparison engine.
a. 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 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 comparing engine will also consume a 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 quickly as possible, you might want to consider other options that we’re about to discuss below.
b. Price Comparison Scripts
If you don’t 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 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.
c. WordPress Plugins
You can do anything with WordPress, literally. WordPress is as dynamic and versatile as advertised to be. You won’t be out of luck if you want to build your price comparison website on WordPress as some great WordPress plugins have you covered on this. And the best part is, you don’t have to be an expert programmer. 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 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 is acquired by building your 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 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.
It is not that Complicated
Affiliate marketing is a lucrative revenue source that is being leveraged by blogs and price comparison sites to build successful businesses. Getting started and building a price comparison site is not as complicated as it might look from the outside. Once set up, data is the only thing you should focus on.