In 2020, very few of us purchase goods or services without first performing some perfunctory research. The reason behind this is simple: we want to make sure we’re getting the most for our money.
Thanks to the internet, this is now easier than ever before. No longer are we reliant on recommendations from friends or phoning around for individual quotes. Instead, we can use Google to find retailers, reviews, and price comparison sites that help us assess the various offers out there.
The latter, in particular, can be an invaluable resource, ensuring we never spend more than is necessary, and that we have access to quality and economy combined. But where did the idea behind these sites come from, and how widespread is their usage today?
Few people today have heard of a business called BargainFinder, and if they did once know of its existence, most have now forgotten it. However, BargainFinder was an important enterprise. That’s because it’s considered to be the original price comparison company.
Only ever intended as an experiment, according to founder and researcher Bruce Krulwich, BargainFinder was published online in 1995. Controversially, it gave no advance warning to the sites it compared, which did lead to some consternation.
Once the idea was out there, it quickly garnered attention. Consumers showed a marked interest, and a number of markets outside of eCommerce soon caught on. These included, for example, energy providers, with UK-based Uswitch being an early example.
The idea soon spread beyond the western world, and by 2010, price comparison sites were also a feature of emerging markets. While the idea primarily gained a foothold in South-East Asia, a number of African nations embraced it too.
These included Nigeria, which by 2015 had a number of price comparison websites for consumers to choose from, including Bestprices.ng, Expedite, Price Hunter, Price Padi, and Zowasel.
Expanding into other markets
In the beginning, price comparison sites were useful, but could only advise consumers within certain markets, such as eCommerce and energy. However, their soaring popularity soon changed this, with lots of other industries coming to recognize their potential.
Soon, there was a price comparison site for every market out there, from car insurance to mobile phone contracts. Even those looking for investment brokers could compare their options, assessing these on the basis of everything from their overall rating through to their minimum deposit, leverage, and currency pairs.
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No longer did consumers need to know where to shop to find the best offers; these sites performed the legwork on their behalf, collating facts and figures while also including helpful reviews and insights too.
The advent of technology
While price comparison sites have been in existence since 1995, they’ve still improved significantly in recent years. That’s down to technology, which has made them more comprehensive, capable, and helpful than ever before.
Using a mixture of information extraction, fuzzy logic, and human labour, price comparison sites can now collect data directly from merchants and to update this on a regular basis. This means the figures they show are accurate, no matter how often they rise and fall.
Not only has technology helped to improve such services, but it’s made them more accessible too. That’s because more people in Nigeria now have access to smartphones, laptops, and tablets than at any point previously, making it easier to use the internet as a tool for research.
While this may soon be impacted by the current PC supply chain crisis, it has nonetheless contributed to a society in which most people have access to the world wide web and the ability to take advantage of price comparison software.
As a result, we’re now a nation of increasingly savvy shoppers, with Nigeria’s biggest businesses forced to become ever more competitive as a result.