The Three-Way Battle For Online Shopping Supremacy! Google Vs Yahoo Vs Bing

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2013 04 07 22.51.11   The Three Way Battle For Online Shopping Supremacy! Google Vs Yahoo Vs BingI pitted Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing shopping search engines against one another to determine which of the three provided the best savings on five frequently purchased tech items – an Asus Nexus tablet, a TechNet subscription, a Microsoft Surface Pro, an iPhone 5 and a Galaxy Nexus S3.  Here are the results.

The History

The first of the three major search engines to adopt a price comparison engine was Google when it started Froogle in late 2002. The service has since been rebranded as Google Shopping. Yahoo followed Google’s lead by purchasing the price comparison service Kelkoo in 2004 (it sold Kelkoo in 2008). Microsoft showed up last, initiating Bing Shopping after purchasing Jellyfish.com in 2007 – at the time, their service included a rebate, remitting a percentage of each purchase back to the buyer. Unfortunately, they no longer offer that service.

However, for those of you seeking to find great deals on all sorts of gadgets, check out Tim’s run-down of the best online shopping sites around. Alternatively, try reading Tina’s excellent guide to Internet shopping.

Methodology

In reviewing the three online shopping sites, I used three main criteria:

  1. Did it produce the lowest price, relative to the original MSRP?
  2. Did the search results produce errors?
  3. Does it factor in shipping or sales tax?

Additionally, I used five different tech-related products to benchmark each service. I threw in the Surface Pro for the heck of it, as it did not sell very well at all and in theory there should be some excellent deals on it relative to the MSRP.

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  • Asus Nexus 7 16GB (MSRP: $199)
  • Microsoft TechNet Subscription Standard Edition 2010 Renewal (MSRP: $150)
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 128GB (MSRP: $999)
  • Apple Unlocked iPhone 5 GSM 16GB (MSRP: $649)
  • Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S3 GSM 16GB (MSRP: $549)

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Bing Shopping

Bing Shopping uses a fairly straightforward, aesthetically clean interface. Aside from a single ad, displayed on the right-side of the screen, nothing really distracts from the primary objective – shopping. After navigating to the front page of the site, you’ll see three core features – filters, where you filter searches by price and discounts; price comparisons, where you can compare across retailers; and graphs showing the price of a product over time.

  • Asus Nexus 7 16GB (MSRP: $199): The lowest price came out to $230, but with shipping hit $243. The pre-shipping total actual exceeded the MSRP by over $30. Bing failed to include the prices offered at Google’s Play Store, which is $199.
  • Microsoft TechNet Subscription Standard Edition 2010 (MSRP: $199): The lowest price for a TechNet renewal came in at $199.99 Canadian dollars, which translated into $196.67 in US currency, with free shipping. Ironically, Microsoft’s own search engine came up with prices $50 greater than the price you would pay directly from Microsoft’s online store!

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  • Microsoft Surface Pro 128GB (MSRP: $999): The most humiliating thing about Bing Shopping is that it couldn’t even find its own product – the Surface Pro did not show up in any search.
  • Apple Unlocked iPhone 5 GSM 16GB (MSRP: $649): The cheapest price that Bing Shopping found came in at $699.95 – nearly $50 greater than what you would pay directly from the Apple Store.
  • Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S3 GSM 16GB (MSRP: $549): Bing’s engine found a deal on the S3 for $539.99, with free shipping – a full $10 less than the MSRP. The site only had Canadian prices, so at current exchange rates, it’s actually $529.87 – more than $20 below MSRP.

For whatever crazy reason, Bing’s prices came mostly from Canadian retailers. It didn’t seem to index any products from large companies, such as BestBuy, Amazon or eBay. This strongly indicates that Bing Shopping is in some kind of Canada-only beta phase and their service isn’t yet ready for prime-time.

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Yahoo Shopping

Yahoo Shopping favors a more compact display than either Google or Bing. Its strongest features include real-time search suggestions – for example, whenever you type in a searchable term, such as “iPhone 5″, Yahoo autocompletes the rest – price comparisons & price-filtering, where you can search by specific criteria.

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  • Asus Nexus 7 16GB (MSRP: $199): Yahoo found a Nexus 7 for the same as the MSRP, however, with free shipping – this is technically cheaper than the price at the Google Play store.
  • Microsoft TechNet Subscription Standard Edition 2010 (MSRP: $199): Yahoo found a TechNet license for $169.99 – $29.01 less than the price you would pay directly from Microsoft. It’s from Amazon Prime, meaning free shipping if you have the Prime service.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 128GB (MSRP: $999): The cheapest price for the Pro, with free shipping, came in at the same as any brick-and-mortar at $999.
  • Apple Unlocked iPhone 5 GSM 16GB (MSRP: $649): The cheapest price for an unlocked iPhone 5 came in at $749. With shipping, it was $775 – a great deal more than what you would pay at Apple.
  • Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S3 GSM 16GB (MSRP: $549): The Galaxy S3 failed to show up in Yahoo’s search – however, the S3 showed up in the paid for ads. While it technically failed in this area, the price from the lowest sponsored ad came in at $529.99, with free shipping – about $20 less than the MSRP.

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Google Shopping

Google Shopping has been around the longest out of all the price comparison websites, so in theory its prices should be lower than all the others. However, as of 2011, Google began charging retailers in exchange for listing their products. Assumedly, this would reflect negatively in their prices.

Overall, Google Shopping centers around their core function – search.

  • Asus Nexus 7 16GB (MSRP: $199): Unlike Microsoft, Google managed to find its own store. However, including shipping, it came in at $212.99.

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  • Microsoft TechNet Subscription Standard Edition 2010 (MSRP: $199): Google Shopping had problems differentiating between the various versions of the TechNet subscription. However, after some digging, the lowest price produced reached $171.99 including all other prices – this being $28 less than retail.
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 128GB (MSRP: $999): The lowest price equaled the MSRP, with free shipping.
  • Apple Unlocked iPhone 5 GSM 16GB (MSRP: $649): Google had problems distinguishing between the iPhone 4 and the latest model. The first results that show up are actually for the iPhone 4. Also, no results from the Apple store show up, apparently because they don’t pay Google to list their products. The price came in at 649.50 with free shipping – about equal to the MSRP.
  • Unlocked Samsung Galaxy S3 GSM 16GB (MSRP: $549): Google’s price for the S3 came in at $429.99, however, with tax and shipping, the price reached $441.58. Quite a bit lower than its competitors.

Google Shopping differs substantially from the services offered by its competitors in that it incorporates its own search technology and text ads. Even after charging vendors for listings, it still comes out significantly ahead.

Conclusion

Clearly, Google Shopping dominates over both Bing and Yahoo. The folks from Mountainview dug up prices much lower in all categories, included shipping, with few errors. While both Yahoo and Bing possess useful features which Google should take note of, the overall experience offered by Google Shopping renders the competition impotent in comparison.

For the hardest to please of deal-hunters, I strongly suggest using my tips on how-to get better deals on everything. Not only does my method get lower prices than even Google, it’s also easier to use. Seriously.

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10 Comments - Write a Comment

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Scott M

I use your tips on how to get the best price.It hasn’t been dramatic in obtaining huge discounts but its been steady and consistent in getting access to the best deal.I have always used Google as well as their engine usually picks up the most popular and most searched for item and I’m usually able to see the top five deals.

Kannon Yamada

Thanks for the mention on my last article! I’m glad to see at least one person is saving money. :-)

Lately, I’ve been scanning RSS feeds for better deals. The larger my collection of RSS feeds, the better the results. I’m trying to publish a larger body of work on the subject, as well as the huge list of feeds that I use. It should be out in the next few months if it gets the go ahead.

Reply

Chris Marcoe

Interesting. I didn’t know the search engines did this. I’ve always jsut gone from site to site looking for the better price. That, or going with Amazon…

Reply

Doc

Pricewatch, Pricegrabber, Dealtime, eBay, Rakuten (formerly Buy.com), Nextag, CNet’s Shopper.com … why only three?

Kannon Yamada

Good point. It was my goal to compare the three offerings from the big search engines. I did try PriceGrabber and it didn’t do as well as Google Shopping (but I chose not to include it in the article). I’m not sure why, because PriceGrabber indexes a lot of deal-hunting sites.

The big three shopping sites are supposed to also index eBay and Rakuten (and a few others), but only Google’s engine reliably pulled numbers from these sites. I’m not sure why, either. It would seem that both Yahoo and Bing have essentially conceded shopping to Google, which explains why Google now charges for the service.

In the future, I plan on comparing the meta-comparison sites – PriceGrabber, Shopper, and the half-dozen others that are actually useful.

Reply

Cliff

You seem to have mistaken Bing Shopping Canada for Bing Shopping US, which invalidates feedback about the actual result. Please try changing your region to United States before doing your study on Bing…

null

While I was writing the article, I noticed that it was giving me Canadian prices – I double-checked my settings:

http://i.imgur.com/tGxqdSl.png

It showed the correct region. Perhaps this is a bug? Or perhaps I’m doing it wrong? I’m not sure why it continued giving mostly Canadian results.

Cliff

That unfortunately only sets location but not the Country/Region, which is what ultimately controls which edition of Bing you see :(

Click on the “change country/region”, change it to USA, and compare your shopping experience with the Canada one and you should notice substantial differences…

Kannon Yamada

Thank you Cliff for commenting!

I’ll write an update soon enough, but I can’t help but feel Microsoft made some very serious errors in not designing Bing Shopping to default to a region based on the user’s IP address. It’s also an unfortunate design choice to have two places to input default location, with one of them apparently not having an impact on the actual search outcomes.

The actual results were, in my early evaluation, pretty good. It managed to find good prices and provided good analysis. I hope they can resolve the other issues, because as it stands, it’s unusable for the average user.

Cliff

My understanding: Country/Region = the edition of Bing that you see.

Location, on the other hand, sets the context for your searches. e.g. for searches of “Weather”, or “Coffee”. However, the engine that delivers the results depends on whether it is the Canada or US edition.

Just my own interpretation which might not be 100% on the mark, but it makes sense in this way to me.

As for why you’re getting the Canadian experience, one possibility that comes to mind to me is that you might be using a computer where your region is set to Canada. Alternatively, you might have clicked on a link to Bing that has ?setmkt=en-ca which then changed your region to Canada previously…

FWIW I have always gotten the US Bing experience with new/public computers, without having to fiddle with Bing region settings.

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