June 12, 2008, 12:00 AM

WinBuyer puts comparison shopping and competition on retailers` own pages

A new service lets e-retailers display competing price information to their own advantage—and pays them a referral fee on click through to a competitor.

When online shoppers click through to a retail site from a pay per click ad, they can make a purchase there, or exit to buy somewhere else. In the latter case, that means a click with no immediate payoff for the retailer. That is, unless it can recoup some of that cost by referring that shopper to competing retailers and capturing a fee on those click-throughs itself, as possible through a new service announced by e-commerce application vendor WinBuyer at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago this week.

When a shopper is considering a product on a product detail page on a retailer’s site, WinBuyer’s Commerce Information Extraction technology also displays pricing information from competitors selling the same product on that same product detail page. The retailer can choose the configuration of how the information about competing sellers is presented; for instance, listing its own store first in the comparison listing when it has the lowest price, and including store ratings information for itself and its competitors.

Essentially, it brings the price comparison ability consumers would find by going to a comparison shopping site to the retailer’s site, allowing them to have some control over how competitors’ pricing information is presented, and allowing them to collect lead-based revenue averaging about 50 cents per click if the shopper decides to click through to a competitor, according to Dan Clarke, WinBuyer chairman. Larger e-retailers such as Amazon and Buy.com already provide such competitive pricing information on their sites. Clarke says his company’s technology makes it available to smaller e-commerce operations.

“With our technology, it is now easy for any merchant, regardless of size, to deploy precise competitive pricing information on their site, positioning core products as the low cost leader, turning browsers into buyers, and generating click-through revenue,” Clarke says. Because WinBuyer’s technology also powers the incoming data feed operations of three major shopping comparison engines-Clarke did not disclose which ones-and the new service for retailers draws from the same feeds, the pricing data it presents on retailers’ sites is updated in real time and it associates products within the correct category with greater than 99% accuracy, he says.

The new service is integrated onto retailers’ sites by cutting and pasting the WinBuyer JavaScript, which eliminates the need to create unique feeds into a retailer`s site, according to the company. Clark says the click-through fee received by referring retailers is individually determined by retailer and by product, with the average across several product categories about 50 cents. Most of that is returned to the referring retailer; the rest is kept by WinBuyer, he adds.

In the six to eight weeks that the service has been in use on individual retail sites, some retailers have reported increases in profits of up to 15% that they attribute to a combination of capturing purchases by winning out in the on-site displays of competitive pricing information, and collecting referral fees on click-throughs from their site to competing sites, according to Clarke. Amazon is No. 1 in the No. XX in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites; Buy.com is No. 33.

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