Building trust, collaborative functionality and giving greater control to users may be key to the future growth of price comparison websites, according to a new report.
The Future Comparisons Report from user experience consultancy, Webcredible predicts that despite currently being squeezed during the recession, the long-term future of the price comparison market is good, so long as websites continue to focus more on the needs of their users to help improve brand loyalty, trust and the user experience.
The price comparison industry is ten years old, but in the first four months of 2009, visitor numbers to some of the largest price comparison websites fell by 30 per cent.
Now with some insurers publicly distancing themselves from price comparison sites and other third party sites such as the Daily Mail offering these services, the report predicts that the price comparison industry will need to develop its approach if it is to continue to grow.
The Future Comparisons Report looks at the key deliverables of five of the market leading price comparison sites, focusing on the results page, site functionality, overall trust and brand recognition.
It urges price comparison sites to really focus on the requirements of their users to ensure that they can capitalise on the current 'price conscious' environment.
The results page is arguably the most important page for a price comparison website, and users need clear information and the ability to control and adjust the results as they wish.
Powerful sorting and filtering functions are identified by the report as something that a lot of sites need to improve on to ensure users can find the right product as easily as possible.
In addition to this, the report suggests that sites must allow users to save their results and come back to them at a later date and offer the function of sharing results with other users, as many purchases could be collaborative decisions.
The report reveals that a lack of trust and brand loyalty is an issue for price comparison sites and bad experiences simply compound this.
It cites that a good way to help win trust would be to explain how the price comparison site works. With this greater understanding web users will likely be more forgiving when the user experience falls over due to an external problem (such as a difference between the quote prices on the results and when on the insurance site itself).
“The recession is a time when price comparison sites should be best placed to take advantage of the price-conscious approach of many consumers, but they seem to be suffering,” said Director at Webcredible, Trenton Moss.
“To get back on track in terms of growth, these sites must improve upon key usability features particularly when it comes to the results pages. They should also attempt to design in more functionality that supports the collaborative approach many users' take when choosing financial products."
He continued, "Price comparison sites should also work on building greater brand loyalty and trust from users through transparent practices and support once users go off-site."
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