The Internet today is a maze of shopping offers and prices which dwarf anything ever seen before to the human race. Literally billions of listings are available via auction sites, huge corporate retailers, independent retailers selling online, advertising based sites, direct sales from actual manufacturers, and now the new share markets which actually use alternative currencies (the buyer buys with something other than money, eg tokens or promises to work).
When the Internet gained traction in the 1990s, the commercial war between search engines was evident with huge investments going into various start ups, many of them starting from US universities.
The search engines had many limitations. The most basic was that they listed webpages and websites and not information. A huge debate ensued about the role of information and data which led to the proposal to develop semantic search engines and the so-called Web 3.
These proposals did not really amount to much and no-one solved the complex problems of actually understanding information. Hence a web search could lead to a link to a webpage which could have dozens of facts and figures but not to the actual answer the searcher wanted (eg finding details about a good holiday).
When buying goods this deficiency is vital because the shopper wants the best price for the best product. The response in the market was the development of price comparison and review websites.
Review sites always had the trust issue as the most limiting factor. It was long suspected that reviews were fake and also many reviews were not done for good companies.
Price comparison sites accompanied by price matching promises (now offered by many supermarkets in the UK) started across the web to compare and provide pricing for travel, product sales, utilities (gas and electric), loans, taxi fares, and just about everything imaginable.
But price comparison sites had one basic limitation – they did not look at all the prices. In some cases the sites only loaded data from their own customers and in other cases the sites had a preference to certain suppliers based on their own commission rates.
The original drive behind the web search companies a sense of independence although the EU has now cited that many search engine companies actually list their own products as a preference in search engine listings. EU authorities have pursued various enforcement actions against companies in this regard.
The underlying issue is therefore a website or app which provides a truly independent view of pricing and examines all the available pricing.
No such service exists today which impacts the price a consumer will pay. With prices varying vastly online, this deficiency is a serious one.
With 12 years online selling experience, the author of this article has started such a service which independently spiders prices and then lists the best deals. It is called Soogr.