Online retailers are increasingly benefiting from marketing their products on shopping comparison sites as cash-strapped consumers seek bargains online, according to research published today by E-consultancy and DoubleClick.

Some 43% of retailers surveyed by online research publisher E-consultancy say that the proportion of online sales coming through comparison shopping engines (CSEs) has increased in the last 12 months. On average, retailers report that they get 10% of their online sales through this channel, the research found.

The increased importance of this channel to online retailers is consistent with separate research published by E-consultancy which found that consumers are turning to comparison engines and user reviews to make the most informed purchasing decisions and to get the best value.

Linus Gregoriadis, E-consultancy's head of research, said: "The period of austerity we have entered is driving more people to comparison engines so it makes sense for most retailers to make sure they are visible on these sites.

"Retailers are making hundreds of millions of pounds in sales as a result of comparison engine traffic and the proportion of sales attributable to this channel is increasing."

But despite the success that many merchants have with comparison engines, significant numbers of respondents still report problems with managing the process in terms of handling data feeds and understanding the channel's value.

Agency survey respondents reported that the biggest problems for their clients using this channel were difficulty keeping feeds updated (37%) and difficulty tracking and understanding return on investment (35%).

Sophie Chesters of DoubleClick said: “Interestingly, the survey highlights that despite the popularity and evidence of the clear contribution of CSEs to online sales, retailers and their agencies are still wrestling with an array of challenges - one of which is tracking alongside other channels.

"As more consumers turn to comparison engines, reporting and tracking tools such as those offered by DoubleClick can play an integral part in helping retailers understand the true value of their online investments."

More than 400 E-consultancy registered users, including 182 retailers / merchants and 136 agencies, took part in an online survey about Comparison Shopping Engines during a three-week period in August and September 2008.

The research also found that Google Shopping /Google Base is the most commonly used comparison engine, utilised by 63% of retailers. Meanwhile, half of online retailers surveyed said that they used Kelkoo while PriceRunner, Shopping.com, and Shopzilla are each used by 30% of internet retailers.

However, while many retailers are increasing their investment in this channel, just over a quarter (28%) say there has been a decrease in the level of sales they are getting from comparison engines.

Additionally, some 21% of retailers surveyed are not currently using any comparison engines to advertise their products and services on, while a further sixth of retailers (16%) use just one comparison site.

The research also found that the majority of companies (59%) are not using online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay to sell their products.

Social or "next-generation" shopping sites have not yet penetrated the consciousness of the majority of online retailers. Merchants are most likely to be aware of Kaboodle, Jellyfish and Twenga.

Other highlights include:

• Retailers rate Google Shopping / Base and Shopping.com as the best comparison shopping engines for volume, with 38% saying that Google is "good" and 35% saying that Shopping.com is "good". Kelkoo and PriceRunner are both rated as being good for volume by 28% of merchants.

• Google Shopping / Base was also rated by merchants as the best CSE for quality of traffic, and for ease of use.

• Just under a third of companies (29%) surveyed said that they used their own tracking tools to track activity in the CSE channel, compared to around a quarter (24%) who use third-party tools and technology and 11% who use CSE tracking. A third (32%) use a combination of these methods.

• The majority of retailers surveyed manage their CSE feeds in-house, whilst only 13% use specialist feed optimisation companies. The same percentage (13%) use agencies for this purpose.

The full E-consultancy / DoubleClick Comparison Shopping Engines Survey Report 2008 is available for download at:

http://www.e-consultancy.com/publications/comparison-shopping-engines-survey-report-2008

The report is free to E-consultancy subscribers (from £195 per year) or available on a pay-per-view basis (£150).

For further information contact E-consultancy:

Linus Gregoriadis
Head of Research
linus AT e-consultancy.com
020 7681 4051 / 07956 564713

About E-consultancy

E-consultancy is an online publisher of best practice internet marketing reports, research and how-to guides. E-consultancy, named Publisher of the Year at the 2006 AOP Awards, also publishes buyer's guides and has a directory of 100,000+ third party internet marketing white papers. Subscribers pay from £195 per year to access the exclusive and highly practical content.

http://www.e-consultancy.com/about/

About DoubleClick

DoubleClick is a leading provider of digital marketing technology and services.
The world's top marketers, publishers and agencies utilise DoubleClick's expertise in ad serving, rich media, video, search and mobile advertising to help them make the most of the digital medium. From its position at the nerve centre of digital marketing, DoubleClick provides superior insights and insider knowledge to its customers.

Learn more at emea.doubleclick.com

Published on: 12:00AM on 28th October 2008