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 Is there a way to do comparison shopping?
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Starting Member

15 Posts

Posted - April 18 2005 :  05:57:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello, I have used vpasp to create several sites but I just can't figure out if there is a better way to design the site that I currently am working on.

Here's the site's main idea--it is a wedding site that offers best price shopping for approximately 20 online wedding stores. The site itself doesn't actually sell anything, it just lists wedding products and then the stores where they can be found and for what price (similiar to a shopping.com type of thing). The profit from this site is made through affiliate links and selling ad space.

Okay, I could set it up with categories, subcategories, and products. For example, the main category could be "wedding cameras", the subcategory would be "white wedding cameras" and then on that page I could set up the merchants selling "white wedding cameras" as the products (and use a template to arrange them neatly). I know that's a little odd but it would allow me to arrange the merchants by "white wedding camera" selling price so that the best price would be on the top of the list.

The problem with doing it that way is that if the site eventually lists 500 products with comparison prices from 20 merchants--that's 10,000 merchant listings in the database and a big hassle to change any information.

My only other thought is to hard code the pricing information for every product which would be time consuming as well but it may be a better way to go.

Any thoughts or ideas or very, extremely appreciated!

VP-ASP 5.0

VP-ASP Super User

304 Posts

Posted - April 18 2005 :  07:05:00  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

..."white wedding cameras" as the products (and use a template to arrange them neatly).

A template doesn't affect the arrangement of products relative to each other. (That is handled using a sort based on product name, price, etc). The templates affect the display of each individual product from each merchant. A template gets copied over and over down the page and each copy is filled in with the product information.

If I were doing this, I think I would put the prices into the database. (I think this is also what you meant by "hard code the priceing") I would then write or hire someone to write a program to automatically visit all 20 online wedding stores to collect current pricing information and automatically update the prices in the database each day.

I certainly agree that you wouldn't want to be doing this by hand all the time. It would be too time consuming and would almost guarantee that at least some of your prices would be incorrect.

The downside to this program I'm suggesting is that it would be pretty involved to write and it would likey be customized to match each merchant's page design to correctly extract the price. If the merchant changes their page design or changes URLs for their products then it will take quite an advanced program to track it, or will require manual updates to the program to keep it running correctly.

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VP-ASP New User

137 Posts

Posted - April 18 2005 :  14:11:04  Show Profile  Visit bmw000's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The way that shopping.com or pricegrabber or even froogle works is the same.

They do NOT check each vendors website. Each vendor submits a feed file that has the cost and item descriptions and so forth. Then shopping.com or pricegrabber or froogle takes that feed file and imports it into thier database.

This is the way you would probably go.

You would probably need some special programming to make the actual comparisons on your website and the special affiliate links to take them to the site to make the purchase.

I highly recommend a company calld Bigyellowzone. Here is the link to their webpage. http://www.bigyellowzone.com/

Brian Weber
BMW Solutions, LLC
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Senior Member

United Kingdom
1898 Posts

Posted - April 18 2005 :  16:27:58  Show Profile  Visit devshb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
cool; thanks for the recommendation Brian; if you lived locally I'd buy you a beer!

If I were in your (Bettylou's) shoes, I'd take the approach that Brian suggested; accept feed files from merchants if possible, and then have an import/translation process so you can load/update the files as/when you get them at the push of a button.

Mind you, that assumes that the stores you're getting the data from are willing/able to provide you with such files.

Regardless of where you get the data from, you'd definitely need to standardise the structure so that you can use the same basic input/import procedure for all products/merchants.

As per Greatphoto's comments, you could also build a program which processes something like a search-results html page from a merchant and translates it into usable data for your site. But, as greatphoto says, that assumes that their format doesn't change.

I think the point to start from is for you to analyse which kind of sites you want to get the data from, whether they'll be willing to provide you with data files (of your chosen format) on a regular basis, or if you'd have to do the data-finding yourself.

To make file-creation easier for merchants, you could ask them to provide files in the same format as froogle or yahoo etc, because a lot of merchants might already have such a process in place.

It's quite an involved process from your side though, and it might well be more of a business question/analysis than a technical one.

Simon Barnaby
[email protected]
Web Design, Online Marketing and VPASP addons

Edited by - devshb on April 18 2005 16:31:07
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