Google has launched a shopping comparison site for Australian online shoppers. Google.com.au/shopping allows users to search general product types and specific products to compare prices, write reviews, and click through to the retailer’s website to continue browsing or complete the purchase.

It works much the same as other comparison sites on the market already, retailers submit current catalogues and their prices are listed for related searches, but Google places more of an impetus on the search aspect, opting for a fairly plain search page, with its cash coming from Google ad words.

Marketing magazine spoke with David Whiteman, marketing director for Australia’s current leading price comparison website Getprice, about the new Google service and the growing industry.

What do you think of Google entering the industry?

DW: We see this as a positive for the industry. It highlights the importance of the channel, it validates what we do. Google has been out there educating retailers for a long time about shopping and ecommerce.

How does Getprice compile product pricing? Do you scan thousands of websites?

We don’t do any crawling at all. Those services out there do exist, but they are often inaccurate. At Getprice, we sign agreements with retailers. It ensures we have good data, and a good user experience.

Is Google using the same model as Getprice?

More or less. There’s a couple of differences between what they do and what we do. We’re a dedicated shopping destination, there’s a lot of different components,; learning more about brands and retailers and prices. Whereas Google’s product search is a Google search engine, it’s a search experiences. You’re searching for something specific every time.

Do online search comparison sites create a price war?

I don’t think they really do. The way we realise shoppers make a purchase, price is just one reason why you buy a product. It also comes down to who you are buying from. Are they online only, what’s their return policy, is there a shop nearby? Most big brand retailers understand they provide more than just a price, you don’t have to just compete on price, the lowest price is not always the winner. Smart retailers understand that.

So retailers don’t feel annoyed by these comparison services, which take away from browsing shopping sites individually?

Ultimately, people are coming to our site then going off to retailer sites and making the final decision. The experience that the retailer delivers online is really important. If a customer decides it’s a bad experience, they’re not going to buy it, you’ll go back to the comparison and try something else. Customers can browse reviews, not just price. People also want the full experience, they want too feel comfortable. They’re well­–qualified shoppers, and these sites are just another channel, a part of the purchase cycle.