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Coding a Small Price-Product Comparison Engine Using Affiliate Feeds

Appreciate some insight into the level of difficulty and cost

     
7:01 pm on Mar 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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My daughter is building a small website about a product for which I hold the generic descriptive domain. The market isn't vast, but it's a popular breakfast item. There's a product "food mix" and a cooking device.

There are a limited number of vendors for the cooking device. It's a commodity. No one owns the market and it's not a "brand item", so there are about a dozen manufacturers who offer a version of the cooking device.

More than a few online stores sell the product, usually supplied by different manufacturers in different levels of quality/design . . ergo, I'm thinking about offering a product-price comparison utility on my website.

So, let's assume there are 10 leading manufacturers and each manufacturer has 2-5 versions of "the product" and that there are at least 10 merchants with affiliate programs that sell the various versions of the product. So, 10 X 3 X 10 = 300 "comparisons"++.

In the circumstances I have described, is the idea of a price-comparision utility/engine overkill or counter-productive?

Let's accept that it's an okay idea. Is the cost of getting this coded >/</~$1,000.00 on most any day? Is "the solution" likely a) scalable; b) transferable to new products; and, c) not a major headache to keep updated?

This is fun. After years of "studying affiliate marketing" I'm finally getting around to playing . . that is, playing with something more than parking domains:P

Playing also has opened my eyes to the fact that it's not easy to succeed, so kudos to all of you who are successful. Some measure of success may be do-able even for me, but, clearly I've got dues to pay. ;)

Thanks for any help.
6:44 pm on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I know. I'm in the "How long is a piece of string" realm, but is there some basic level - Comparison "Engine" 101 - that is possible without spending $$,$$$?

Feel free to abuse me if nothing else. ;)
3:49 am on Mar 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I think the comparison engine concept in this instance gives the user a feeling of choice and making an informed decision and that might be enough to draw your site intro their thought process.

I'm also working in something very similar although in a very different niche and what I am finding is you can almost build the majority of a comparison engine using static pages. Links are choices. For a very simple example...

Will your vehicle have 2 3 or 4 wheels

Click the link and get a page with more questions. I have tried this "wizard" like approach and a pure code based system, and both work. Narrow the users choice down as much as possible then compare prices for items that meet their needs.

Mack.
12:00 pm on Mar 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Do the affiliate schemes permit it?
Do the manufacturers provide suitable feeds or APIs?

If you can answer yes to both those questions then it sounds reasonable. Your big problem will then to get the site to rank in the SERPS.
12:45 am on Mar 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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>> Is the cost of getting this coded

As piatkow said - what APIs are available? If you have consistent xml feeds with all the data you need, then presto chango, Comparison Site!

If you have to scrape irregularly formatted data and inconsistently formatted data from many different sources and in many different formats, that complicates things if you want it fully automated.

I wrote some scripts for someone who was selling auto parts from several vendors who all had their data only in excel spreadsheets with errors all over (i.e. "manufacturer" in the "model" column and things like that) as well as inconsistencies (2003, 2003-, 2003-2010, 2003-10, 03-10, 2003-10 all existed in the same data feed and all meant 2003-2010 model year) and other challenges (commonly only the first entry from a given manufacturer had the manufacturer name, only the first entry from a given model had the model name, and so on).

So before you put it out to bid, see what you have for data and how easy it is to crunch.
 

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