Why Aren’t Price Comparison Sites More Popular?



Kakaku.com's Macbook listings

I recently picked up a new laptop, after delaying replacing my old 2007 13" Macbook for about as long as I could bear. I’m not an impulsive buyer, and I usually agonize far more than should ever be required about major electronic purchases. Here in Japan I like to make use of price comparison engine Kakaku.com to research prices, and for this most recent laptop purchase, it resulted in significant discount [1].

But what I find most interesting these days, is why anyone would buy without first consulting a price comparison site to see which retailers offer the best price for whatever it is you want to buy. As big as e-commerce has become, price comparison engines provide great value to the customer. And I’m puzzled as to why these price comparison sites aren’t more popular. We’re beginning to see more and more companies offer them, especially here in Asia [2].

We’ve previously written about Alibaba’s eTao in China, into which the company plans to invest a cool one billion RMB ($158 million) in order to better market it to consumers. Similarly, China also has B5M.com which collates products from across the Chinese e-commerce space. For Indonesia, we’ve previously mentioned PriceArea that will cater to careful shoppers in that nation. In India, there’s MySmartPrice.com, Amazon’s new Junglee, and more. And in Japan, 15 percent of the afore-mentioned Kakaku was actually picked up by ad giant Dentsu, as announced earlier today.

I think there’s certainly some great opportunity for price comparison startups in the region’s growing e-commerce markets.

But I’m curious to hear how many of our readers bother with price comparison engines or such similar services. And if so, what are you favorite sites? What was the best deal you ever found? Do let us know in the comments.

  1. For those who are wondering, I went with a 2011 Macbook Air (128GB drive) for 85,000 yen (or about $1,068). And yes, I know there’s a refresh coming, but the price was significantly below the currently listed price of 110,800 yen (nearly $1400) on Apple’s website. I should note that I was very, very, very close to getting a Lenovo Thinkpad instead, and putting Ubuntu Linux on it. Those are quality machines as well. And plus, Ubuntu would have gone very well with my new neckbeard.  ↩

  2. Of course, price comparison has been perhaps best executed in the travel industry by services like Expedia, or new up-and-comers like Hipmunk or even the startup Flocations here in Asia.  ↩

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