Harried holiday shoppers don’t have the luxury of comparing prices — but that’s not a luxury on the Web, which lets you compare features and prices quickly. Here’s our comparison of four of the top product-comparison services — plus one new comparison-shopping technology.
|Site||What It Compares||What It Shows||Best Bet||Needs Work||Beyond Compare When…|
|Excite Product Finder www.jango.excite.com||275 merchants, 8 auction sites, and 9 classified sites in 35 product categories||Price and key features (if applicable) — plus “Buy,” “Bid,” or “See Ad” buttons that help you complete a transaction||Detailed pull-down menus help clarify what you’re looking for. Plus, you can search for prices or reviews.||There are no book or music categories, because Amazon.com and Music Boulevard have exclusive retailer deals.||…you have a rough idea of what product you want, but you’re not exactly sure about it.|
|bottomdollar.com www.bottomdollar.com||10 to 15 leading merchants in 11 product categories||Price, along with a “Details” link that takes you to specific product pages on a merchant’s site||It’s incredibly easy to use: Choose a category, type in a key word, and hit “Search.”||Money isn’t everything. A search for a cordless phone rated nine products by price. But what about features and quality?||…you know what you want and are looking for the cheapest price.|
|mySimon.com www.mysimon.com||More than 1,000 merchants in 45 product categories, with 200 new merchants being added each week||Price and availability||Specific product categories. There’s even one called “Holiday & Seasonal,” with prices on Christmas decorations.||The product categories are almost too specific. It takes a lot of clicks to find the one you’re looking for.||…you know what you want and are looking for the best buy.|
|CompareNet www.compare.net||60,000 models of more than 100 products in seven categories||Manufacturers’ suggested retail prices, along with detailed product information||The service’s extensive editorial content lets you compare products and features side by side.||If you’re looking for the best price, this isn’t the site for you.||…you’re not sure what you want. (Once you’ve decided on a brand and model, use another comparison-shopping service.)|
|Inktomi Shopping Engine www.inktomi.com [Shopping Engine is an enabling technology, not a comparison site.]||Products in 12 categories — from computers to office supplies — offered by more than 200 merchants||A database of prices collected daily from merchants, auctions, and classified sites||The technology searches Yellow Pages and lists merchants, with address, phone number — even a link to a map.||The technology won’t be available until 1999. (The site offers only a description of Shopping Engine.)||…you know exactly what you want, and you just need to know where you can get it online cheaply — or offline conveniently.|