Yesterday Sortprice put out a press release about being a 'next generation' shopping comparison engine. While I'm not so sure I'd agree with that, the larger players in the industry should pay attention to this little operation.
The press release was partly about a rollover feature allowing consumers to "scan though countless products and view their favorite denim as an enlarged thumbnail without even a click of a button." This is nothing special on its own. And truthfully, I wasn't even going to write a post about it. Become.com launched something similar at the end of May and Smarter.com launched their rollover feature a couple weeks ago.
What's important is that Sortprice and the newer shopping comparison engines are thinking about improving the user experience.
Another example on Sortprice is 'Shop, Drag, and Drop'; the ability to create a non category specific comparison list. For example, a shopper can match a tie, shoes and a jacket. These lists can then be shared with friends. Danny covered this feature in May. Again, nothing revolutionary, but as far as I know, Windows Live Shopping is the only other shopping engine to offer this functionality. Here's another one...at the bottom of each Sortprice shopping search page, there are XML feeds available. And Sortprice didn't just put up an RSS button which most users don't know what to do with, they "chickletized" their site with 'Add to Google', 'Add to My Yahoo!', and 'Add to My MSN' buttons.
Ok, I'll be the first to admit that Sortprice has a long way to go in terms of overall design and user experience, but what's important is that the company is testing things out. Shopping.com, Shopzilla, and NexTag should can learn from Sortprice.
And then there's Sortprice's product listing model. Most of the feed based shopping comparison engines work on a CPC model; every time a shopper clicks on a product listing, a merchant is charged. Sortprice has a completely different model. The company will list a small subset of your products for free and then, as opposed to charging on a click basis, Sortprice has an Enhanced Listing Program in which merchants pay a flat monthly rate. This can be a very attractive alternative to the more established CPC model.