Continued from The State of eCommerce in Malaysia...
There are so many webstores, so many blogshops in Malaysia nowadays, if you notice. You might have got the feeling that most of them are like some sort of isolated islands. They have problem reaching out to the customers, and vice versa.
I have already mentioned that Google (or other search engine) is not a product aggregator, whereas Google Product Search is only available in US market.
How about online shopping directory, like Shoppy, emmagem etc? Technically speaking, these are only aggregating links not products, sort of an online version of yellow pages.
So, what product aggregator? Enter price comparison service.
This is nothing new actually, having evolved (and mushrooming) since some ten years ago, most notably in US. Shopping.com is probably the most famous among the lot, especially after being acquired by eBay in 2005.
For those who have yet to know, the concept is really simple. User enters a product name (for example, Nokia E71) at the search box, and the system will return a list of prices from various online stores. User can then compare the price among them and make buying decision. It is a win-win situation. Merchants getting quality traffic which has higher potential ending up with a purchase, and there are various possible revenue sources for the service owner.
At the background, price comparison service generally obtain and maintain the data (product information and price) via two methods. One is to consume updated data feed from merchants in pre-defined protocol and format. Another one is to crawl merchant sites directly (like search engines do) and scrap the data algorithmically.
Imagine this, you get all the best deals in town with just one search, rather than site-hopping (or shop-hopping in brick and mortar's) hunting for the bargain. The problem is, the price comparison services out there are not meant for our local market. Talking about foreign currency and international delivery here.
That makes me drooling for a similar service aggregating local online stores, which I can compare and buy in Ringgits (and pay only local delivery charges if necessary).
Until recently, I thought my prayers are being answered with the launch of ShopParadiso, who claims to be the first price comparison service for Malaysia and Singapore. However, it turns out to be a disappointment, well at least to me. The service does not appear to be matured, or in other words, amateur in the sense of web usability and more importantly the understanding of local market. Perhaps, due to the fact that it is an initiative from a Chennai (yes, India) setup apparently.
I will reserve a review post on ShopParadiso, if only it improves, otherwise it will be pretty pointless. You can just head over there and try searching for an item in your wish list.
Till then, I am still waiting to experience the first real price comparison service in Malaysia.