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  1. #1
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    Matching Products With Multiple Merchants
    Hi All,

    Just wondering if any of you out there have come up with an automated method of matching the same product with multiple merchants?

    We are currently doing this but it is quite an intensive manual process.

    I don't expect anyone to tell me how they do it. I am just curious if there is at least someone who has been able to effectively and accurately accomplish this?

    -Chris

  2. #2
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    I've found that the closest you can really get is "semi-automated". There are just too many exceptions, and different types of products need to be matched in different ways. Some (like books) have very defined fields (like ISBN numbers) that can be used to match up with a high degree of accuracy. Many products have manufacturer product numbers that have a moderate degree of accuracy. Other products have to be matched up by description, which has an even lower degree of accuracy. Sometimes there are different products with identical or similar names. Sometimes merchants have various alternative wordings for product numbers.

    The amount of work you would want to put into it would vary depending on the number of products. I wouldn't mind spending up to a minute on each product if there were hundreds or even thousands of products. But if there were millions of products, it would become prohibitive.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  3. #3
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    Thanks Michael,

    That is pretty much what I had figured. But thank you for your always valued input!

    Our aim is to create a comparison portal similar to the big players like bizrate, shopzilla, pricegrabber etc.. and it is proving to be a lot more difficult then orginally anticipated!

    We have over 10 million live products in our database with a total database size of just over 13 gigs. Just doing one root category of around 10,000 products has taken almost a week of steady tedious labour!

    I wish the merchants would all get together and collaborate on an unifed data feed format! I know I know I am dreaming but it sure would make our life easier and more productive not to mention more profitable!

    I am hoping it is going to be worth it to do as many of the major categories as possible before Christmas starts but I think sadly that would require hiring 15-20 third world labourers which would in the end essentially dilute the relevance anyways.

    Anyhow thanks again for sharing your input Michael!

    Anyone else out there care to comment?

  4. #4
    Member SeanW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chriscrm
    Anyone else out there care to comment?
    I've recently started doing that. Basically I have a web page that displays an unlinked product, and then makes many searches on the database for other items sharing similar details. All I do is click on the product that's the same, and move on to the next one.

    I've realized I can't automate the process, but at least I can use automation to make the operator's job (er, my job) easier.

    Sean

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chriscrm
    I wish the merchants would all get together and collaborate on an unifed data feed format! I know I know I am dreaming but it sure would make our life easier and more productive not to mention more profitable!
    It would make your life easier, but it would make thousands of competitors as well. It's much more profitable to be a pioneer.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    You guys are talking right up my alley here. At the moment my price matching is automated, but I definitely need to do something like SeanW has done. My automation only catches some of the matches. I need to be able to make an automated list of potential matches where I click checkboxes by each pair that is a true match. This will most likely be based on manufacturer, product name and/or description depending on the criteria I use to build the list of potential pairings. A lot of datafeeds have manufacturer information that doesn't necessarily overlap, so I've built a rule system that consolidates this information. For example, maybe I've chosen "Widgetco" as the manufacturer, but one datafeed uses "Widgetco Inc." - My rule will look for "Widgetco Inc." and change it to "Widgetco" upon importing the datafeed. This helps my product matching script quite a bit. I've also got model number rules that work exactly the same way.

    It's definitely a tough challenge to do a proper price comparison, so I suggest starting with a niche that lends itself to price comparison. Books are definitely more doable than something like clothing. I'm finding there are more and more price comparison sites popping up online so the basic comparison feature in-and-of-itself isn't enough. At least it's not as competitive as coupon sites. I'm doing my best to add value in other ways besides the price comparison and have been having some luck there. It's definitely an exciting angle to work with in affiliate marketing. It opens up many more potential sales as well as opportunities. You can market your site as a "price comparison" site which gives you access to many related keywords through PPC and SEO. Customers have come to expect this functionality, so I feel a datafeed site that doesn't do comparison simply won't be bookmarked or used. Unless of course each item is entirely unique to a single merchant.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  7. #7
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snib
    I'm doing my best to add value in other ways besides the price comparison and have been having some luck there.
    That's the key with any site. The more value you can add, the better you'll do.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  8. #8
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    This thread motivates me.

    To put EXCLUSIVES on GoodBulbs, that is!!
    My bulbs, or no bulbs, that's the ideal "comparison..."

    BTW as for a tech solution to comparing, I don't know, but there's got to be a better way than whatever makes some of Froogle's results...
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  9. #9
    Action Jackson - King of the World
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    Leader:

    You're not saying you don't allow other merchants on the same page are you? Eventually I will prolly take a look at your prgram if I can have multiple merchants on a page

  10. #10
    Not that fat. ReallyBigGuy's Avatar
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    Are you trying to create a bizrate/shopping.com/pricegrabber type thing.
    Someone should create a code engine and sell it. Could probably make a bundle

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReallyBigGuy
    Are you trying to create a bizrate/shopping.com/pricegrabber type thing.
    Someone should create a code engine and sell it. Could probably make a bundle
    I've been bouncing this around in my head for some time now. Part of me wants to sell it, but another part of me wants to keep it for myself. Something this valuable is hard to let go of. Then there's also the fear that others will be using your program to compete with you. I'm willing to break off parts, but I just can't make myself sell the entire thing at this time.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  12. #12
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReallyBigGuy
    Are you trying to create a bizrate/shopping.com/pricegrabber type thing.
    Someone should create a code engine and sell it. Could probably make a bundle
    Actually, the model I've been toying with is selling a price comparison datafeed. Basically, I'd do all the magic merging and you'd get a feed with unified datafeed with multiple offers per product. Now GC has me thinking that I should bounce all the clicks through my site and take one nth of the clicks as mine instead of a flat fee.

    What would people think of being able to grab a freshly updated comparison datafeed each night in return for a % of the clicks? (Yeah, I know LinkShare has problems with this. LinkShare has problems with everything.)

    -John.
    There's a reason army's wear uniforms even though it makes them easier to spot. Sometimes that's what you want. Uniforms suggest organization, power, and numbers. These, in turn, inspire fear. And, as any good operative knows, there is no more effective weapon than fear.

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  13. #13
    Member SeanW's Avatar
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    Out of the whole system, I think it's the data that's worth the money (as opposed to the display engine). If someone could come up with a general program to merge datafeeds (reliably) that would be worth something, too. But the display engine on its own isn't much without the data.

    Sean

  14. #14
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeanW
    Out of the whole system, I think it's the data that's worth the money (as opposed to the display engine).
    That's why I was thinking about providing the data. Heck, you folks know how to make things look right for your sites, so why not let you do what you do best?

    -John.
    There's a reason army's wear uniforms even though it makes them easier to spot. Sometimes that's what you want. Uniforms suggest organization, power, and numbers. These, in turn, inspire fear. And, as any good operative knows, there is no more effective weapon than fear.

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  15. #15
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    Mission: Kill Thread.
    Status: Complete.
    There's a reason army's wear uniforms even though it makes them easier to spot. Sometimes that's what you want. Uniforms suggest organization, power, and numbers. These, in turn, inspire fear. And, as any good operative knows, there is no more effective weapon than fear.

    Hosting Comparison - HostScope - jrrl.com

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrrl
    That's why I was thinking about providing the data. Heck, you folks know how to make things look right for your sites, so why not let you do what you do best?

    -John.
    That's exactly what GoldenCan has done, but GC doesn't handle direct price comparisons. I know Pricegrabber and Shopping.com have branded solutions for their price comparison engines. I'm not sure how much they pay, but they're definitely strong competitors.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  17. #17
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrrl
    Actually, the model I've been toying with is selling a price comparison datafeed. Basically, I'd do all the magic merging and you'd get a feed with unified datafeed with multiple offers per product. Now GC has me thinking that I should bounce all the clicks through my site and take one nth of the clicks as mine instead of a flat fee.

    What would people think of being able to grab a freshly updated comparison datafeed each night in return for a % of the clicks? (Yeah, I know LinkShare has problems with this. LinkShare has problems with everything.)

    -John.
    If your real good at it take your project knowledge and join Asif at GoldenCan as a feature builder, DB expert and coder.
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    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  18. #18
    Action Jackson - King of the World
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    The problem with GoldenCan is the products aren't spiderable. That's the only reason I haven't tried it yet. The same thing happenss with the dynamic PSC's

  19. #19
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackson992
    The problem with GoldenCan is the products aren't spiderable. That's the only reason I haven't tried it yet. The same thing happenss with the dynamic PSC's
    Bingo. Hence the appeal of just getting a unified feed. I'll have to see how much would be involved in doing this. Once upon a time, I was head of product development for a search engine (pre-google, pre-inktomi, pre-altavista, think Internet stone age ), so the memories of how to do stuff like this should be in my head somewhere.

    -John.
    There's a reason army's wear uniforms even though it makes them easier to spot. Sometimes that's what you want. Uniforms suggest organization, power, and numbers. These, in turn, inspire fear. And, as any good operative knows, there is no more effective weapon than fear.

    Hosting Comparison - HostScope - jrrl.com

  20. #20
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrrl
    Bingo. Hence the appeal of just getting a unified feed. I'll have to see how much would be involved in doing this. Once upon a time, I was head of product development for a search engine (pre-google, pre-inktomi, pre-altavista, think Internet stone age ), so the memories of how to do stuff like this should be in my head somewhere.

    -John.
    I think the problem with offering this as a feed solution is people can modify the links in the feed. I guess you could include your own redirect links and have people enter their tracking codes through an admin section. Might just be onto something there. Another problem is you'll just be encouraging more duplicate content online.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  21. #21
    Fear and Arrogance jrrl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snib
    I think the problem with offering this as a feed solution is people can modify the links in the feed. I guess you could include your own redirect links and have people enter their tracking codes through an admin section. Might just be onto something there. Another problem is you'll just be encouraging more duplicate content online.

    - Scott
    Yeah, I assumed I'd have to do an admin interface with redirection, just like GoldenCAN does. Of course, since I am serving fewer bytes, I'll be happy with a smaller % of the clicks.

    As far as creating more duplicate content, that is true, although the successful people will be those that use the feed as a starting point (like any datafeed). On the other hand, all the GoldenCAN pages out there consist of virtually NO content as far as SEs are concerned. Not sure which is worse.

    I guess my thought is this: someone will provide this service at some point. They may or may not do it in a way I feel is the "right" technical solution. I'd rather it be done "right" (i.e. a feed) and, if there is money to be made, I'd rather I make it!

    -John.
    There's a reason army's wear uniforms even though it makes them easier to spot. Sometimes that's what you want. Uniforms suggest organization, power, and numbers. These, in turn, inspire fear. And, as any good operative knows, there is no more effective weapon than fear.

    Hosting Comparison - HostScope - jrrl.com

  22. #22
    Action Jackson - King of the World
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    Depends on what you define as duplicate content. If you have a page of products from different stores that isn't duplicate content.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackson992
    Depends on what you define as duplicate content. If you have a page of products from different stores that isn't duplicate content.
    Yup, and if your product pages do price comparisons between multiple merchants. But if everybody has the same product pages with the same price comparisons, it's still duplicate content. From the point of view of the buyer this information is already available elsewhere. For example Shopzilla and Bizrate are basically copies of one another. I don't see any added value for creating Shopzilla. They're just trying to get more search engine exposure.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  24. #24
    Action Jackson - King of the World
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    One thing I have noticed is a lot of the smaller merchants don't seem to be promoted at all. For instance take automotive related, I see tons of JCW and Autobarn but no Drivewerks.

  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackson992
    One thing I have noticed is a lot of the smaller merchants don't seem to be promoted at all. For instance take automotive related, I see tons of JCW and Autobarn but no Drivewerks.
    So maybe the key is to combine JCW, Autobarn and Drivewerks in a price comparison engine. If the prices speak, they'll be heard much more clearly with this sort of structure.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

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