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What does the future hold for comparison websites?

There are comparison websites for all kinds of digital and offline services today. Whether it’s mortgage products for remortgaging; fixed energy tariffs from the leading energy providers; new smartphone contract offers; or the latest deals for new sign-ups to bookmakers in the form of free wagers, money-back bonuses or enhanced odds, comparison sites thrive in highly competitive markets such as these.

Price and deal comparison portals have been an absolute game-changer for time-poor consumers. Whether it’s working professionals that simply don’t have the time – or the inclination – to invest in finding the best available deals, or consumers who lack the in-depth industry know-how to bag a value product. In the last decade, comparison websites have influenced a shift in consumer behaviour, veering away from the suitability of products to a price-based decision.

One of the main factors behind the rise of comparison websites was the squeeze on disposable income for consumers. The 2008 recession hit households hard, forcing people to seek value and convenience over style and sophistication. Comparison websites have helped mid-range brands reach out to those who used to shop at the higher end of the market, and reassure them that mid-range goods and services can deliver a similar experience for a fair price point.

Why comparison websites are certain to hold firm for a long while yet

One strong reason for comparison websites to continue at the heart of consumer decision-making is the entry of major e-commerce players into this field. It has long been mooted that Amazon is preparing to launch its own price comparison platform, in partnership with a host of market leading insurers throughout Europe. It wasn’t clear which insurance products would be made available to Amazon users, but it’s easy to hazard a guess as to the types of goods and services its insurers will look to protect.

Amazon is now firmly entrenched in the home security market, as well as in smart devices that have accelerated the mainstream adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT). With Amazon products therefore cemented within the heart of the household, insurance would appear to be a logical advance for this global giant.

It’s also important to acknowledge that the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, caused largely by inflationary issues surrounding energy, oil and food, will also encourage consumers to focus firmly on value-based goods and services from comparison portals. With consumers increasingly placing their trust and faith in comparison sites, these portals also have a duty of care to list and recommend products that are reputable and committed to delivering first-class service.

To maintain customer confidence in comparison sites, portals must dedicate time and energy to auditing and verifying all available information on recommended goods and services. Discrepancies can be one of the biggest dangers around tarnishing the reputation of comparison portals, particularly among consumers that go on to purchase goods or services on the premise of what’s marketed to them via a third-party platform.

Comparison websites that commit to listing brands based on the value and quality of their products, rather than the size of commissions received on referrals, will continue to thrive. Comparison portals must also continue to sharpen their user experiences, bringing fully responsive platforms and native mobile apps wherever necessary to allow consumers to research and compare buying options at their convenience.

Whole-of-market comparison portals will be those that continue to prosper, ensuring valued consumers do not miss out on better deals with unlisted brands. The key for comparison websites in the months and years ahead is to ensure that the cheapest doesn’t always necessarily mean the best option for their users. Although search filters will usually make it easiest to sort products from cheapest to most expensive, the onus is on comparison portals to articulate the unique selling points of each product to demonstrate what consumers can get from every available service.

With household and business budgets becoming increasingly strained, the role of comparison portals is more important than ever in delivering the transparency and convenience that these sites have become so renowned for.

 

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