Building a comparison website is not for the faint-hearted, but here at SOZO we have extensive experience in comparison website development. A lot of people are unsure of how to build a comparison website. So we’ll talk you through some of the main areas we consider when we build quote engines for price comparison sites like GoCompare, Usay Compare, Compare the Market and many more.
Whilst markets such as insurance, loans, credit cards, travel and accommodation are pretty much saturated and dominated by some big players, there are still plenty of markets that remain untapped. If you’ve got an idea for a comparison website, then here are some tips to help get you started.
Find your niche
Comparison websites make it easy for savvy online shoppers to compare products/services and their prices before making a purchase. There are already a lot of very good, established comparison sites, but if you can find a niche market or offer something a bit different, then it’s an idea that’s worth exploring. If monetised correctly, comparison sites can generate very healthy revenues. Our advice would be, if GoCompare has it covered, then step away, otherwise, tell us about your idea and let’s see if we can help you.
What’s your model?
Once you’ve picked your market you need to decide what your website is going to offer to online shoppers. Will you compare like-for-like prices or features, or will shopping choices be based on ratings and reviews. Obviously your model will depend entirely upon your chosen market, but our advice would be to conduct plenty of research to see what other sites are offering, what works well and what could be improved.
Are you potentially in a traditional, old fashioned sector? If so, think about how can you disrupt the market with a new way of comparing prices? Often markets in the construction sector, for example, are ripe for change as the current model provides no transparency overpricing or discounts. Find an opportunity and then think about how you can disrupt the market.
Establish your data sources
Obtaining the data to feed into your comparison website is likely to be your biggest challenge. First, you need to source which suppliers you are going to compare before deciding which fields you are going to populate. For example, if you are comparing women’s shoes, then you might choose fields such as style, heel height, colour, size and price bracket.
There are two primary ways to feed the data into your website. The first is to get your data directly from each supplier. In this instance, we may need to talk directly to each supplier’s IT department on your behalf. Quite often suppliers are reluctant to provide data feeds, in which case you will need to use a web scraping service. This is where sophisticated web-crawling software extracts the relevant data from each website. Again, this is something we can arrange for you.
Research revenue streams
Most comparison sites provide users with information free of charge and draw their revenue from affiliate sales, advertising opportunities or commission from suppliers. You need to carefully examine your monetising options. It’s worth investigating whether your target suppliers offer an affiliate partner program where you can receive a commission from each sale. Alternatively, you will need to strike deals with each supplier for them to pay you commission per sale or lead.
Consider free trial periods
Offering a free trial period can be an effective way of encouraging reluctant suppliers to ‘give it go’ initially. Remember, without them, you don’t have a website, so our advice is to not be too greedy in the early stages. Monetisation is easy when you have a popular website which is proven to work. The hardest part is getting the website off the ground.
Build your brand
Critical to the success of your website will be your brand and how the site is marketed. When it comes to choosing a name, then you can either go for something that simply describes what the site does (think GoCompare and Sky Scanner), or you can select something random, like Zoopla and Trivago did. It’s worth bearing in mind that a random name will require a bigger marketing budget to help promote it at the start.
What’s important is that your brand has a personality and is memorable. We have years of experience in building successful brands and can help you develop a powerful brand identity to take to potential investors.
Which leads nicely onto our final point…
Build your budget
In our experience, people usually seriously underestimate the budget required for developing and marketing a comparison site. Simple information based comparison sites are slightly less costly, but to develop a full-blown, price comparison site, then you will be looking to invest anywhere between £25k – £75k+ to get it up and running and a similar amount again to market and launch the business. We always advise to start with a MVP (minimum viable product) and grow it from there.
At SOZO we have an initial Exploratory and Design Service which will explore your idea in more detail and create both a marketing plan and web design prototype which you can use to take to investors or to simply understand how viable your idea is. Please contact us to find out more about this service.
Creating and building a successful comparison website is a big commitment, but it can deliver huge rewards. SOZO has over 12 years of experience in comparison website development, including building some of the original quote engines on comparison sites such as GoCompare, Usay Compare and Compare the Market.
Combine our extensive experience with our digital and marketing services, and you can begin to understand why we are the perfect partner to turn your idea into a reality. Get in touch today and tell us about your idea.