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Wine-Searcher, a Price Comparison Shopping Site Review

This post is one of a series on wine shopping sites (or “comparison shopping engines” or “price comparison sites” there isn’t really a standard term). This one is all about wine-searcher.com.

Wine-Searcher is a large search engine of wine stores, winery, and wine auction, price lists and catalogues. According to wine-searcher it has almost 4 million products listed from about 18,000 wine shops.

But it’s claim to fame is really the ability to compare wine prices

Martin Brown created wine-searcher in 1999 after building one of the big wine sites in the UK www.bbr.com.

It provides two services to wine drinkers. The first one is free, consumers can search for wines but only see limited results. The paid or “Pro” version costs the wine drinker US$29.95 and the drinker can see all the results.

In the free version consumers only see sponsoring retailers – if they stock the wine. If they don’t then other non sponsoring retailers are shown. According to wine-searcher 97% of the searches are free searches so becoming a sponsoring retailer may be a good idea.

As well as always being listed on the free results page, merchants also have display ads. It costs US$2000 to $3500 per annum or you could test a month for $210 (as at July ’10, see rates for the latest).

Here’s a quick review of what a consumer sees (you may want to watch this Wine-Searcher Review at YouTube in a bigger format) :

### Sidenote – Disclaimer ###
This software was created by a New Zealander called Martin Brown (the disclaimer being that I’m a NZer). However despite NZ being the size of Oregon I don’t actually know Martin (more’s the pity as he seems like a smart fella). However my readers are mainly American so my perspective is from a US retailer’s point of view not as a “Kiwi”. We Kiwis are everywhere I tell ya, from Google (Craig Nevill-Manning, invented Froogle now Google Product Search) to the California ABC (Matthew Botting, the general legal counsel)!
######################

Wine-searcher takes a different approach from snooth

While snooth gets a commission for featured listings, wine-searcher gets a periodic fee from sponsoring merchants and “Pro” version consumer buyers.

Snooth is more oriented around wine consumers and the wine industry contributing ratings and reviews, whereas wine-searcher is more about straight out price comparison. Both have significant free offerings for the drinker and the retailer.

Google Trends provides an estimate of the relative sizes of websites. This shows that wine-searcher maybe the biggest – but only just – it seems like they are all about the same size (see pic below, ignore the number of daily visitors as this is generally regarded as a good relative comparison only).

Wine Comparison Shopping Engines on Google Trends

Wine-searcher vs snooth etc on Google Trends

How to start

You simply fill out this form and they’ll start the process from there.

From experience wine-searcher will often seed their database with your wines to help you get started (probably by a process called web scraping).

But if they don’t, the standard ways of uploading products apply as per below.

Ways to list your wines

By File

The file can be from many formats including: Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and Text (CSV, Tab separated, etc.) files. You just need to be clear about your fields e.g. name, price.

Wine searcher seems much more relaxed about how you describe your wines – they require the name and the price but that’s it. Though they do encourage you to put in a lot more information.

By Feed

The data feed can also be either a XML file or a delimited text file. So they’re more relaxed about this as well compared to snooth and google.

I’m guessing they have a manual process the first time in the background, that maps the way the merchant defines a field to the way wine-searcher does.

A feed or text file that had the following fields would probably work well:

  • name including varietal (up to 160 characters)
  • price exc sales tax
  • vintage
  • bottle size
  • case or single bottle quoted price
  • a product page URL

Ways to stand out

Wine-searcher, like google and snooth, suggests you add more information to your listing as these tend to get more referrals than less informative listings.

So I’d also include as many of the following in their own fields as you can:

  • Region
  • Varietal
  • Color
  • Release Status
  • UPC
  • Organic
  • Kosher
  • Non-Alcoholic
  • Biodynamic
  • All-Natural
  • Vegan
  • Certified Sustainable
  • Closure Type
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • pH
  • Acidity
  • Winery Notes
  • Vineyard Notes
  • Vintage Notes
  • Tasting Notes
  • Serving Suggestions
  • Aging Details
  • Review 1
  • Review 2
  • Review 3

Remind me why I’m doing this again?

Conversion rate. For every referral from a shopping comparison site you can usually expect 7-8% to turn into sales. That is much higher than most other traffic sources and given the amount of traffic it is certainly worthwhile.

Have you had any experiences with Wine-Searcher?

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Comments

  1. Hi Bruce, I'll declare that I am the President of Wine-Searcher. I want to thank you for your independent review of Wine-Searcher as a price comparison search engine. It is true that we are the world's biggest and most used search engine for wines. The point I want to stress is, we are independent. We do not charge merchants and wineries for listing on our site. We do not charge commission on sales either. Access to users is also FREE. So our users can save a lot of money by using our price comparison engine.

    With respect to demographic, Wine-Searcher users are closely aligned with Cellartracker users than any other sites. You will see why by looking at our top searches at http://www.wine-searcher.com/top-searches/top-s

    I agree that most of our users come to search for their favorite wines and we simply take them to the merchant or winery of their choice. But what many user many not know is the fact that we have so much wine content for them to access e.g. wine regions, appellations, grape varieties, en primeur, wine glossary etc. Just have a look at our sitemap at http://www.wine-searcher.com/site-map.lml and users will be surprised at the content we have to offer for FREE.

    We have also entered the world of Social Media and have the world's biggest Facebook Page for Wine at http://www.facebook.com/winesearcher We also have our Tasting Club FB application on this page for users to enter their own tasting notes online and look at their peers tasting notes.

    We have more to giveaway. We now provide our FREE API, Free Search Widget, Free Search Box etc for any website, blog, mobile applications to integrate Wine-Searcher pricing data on their sites. See http://www.wine-searcher.com/wine-searcher-inte… All for FREE.

    Wine-Searcher caters for all users but the basic premise is: “You know what wine you want and we will find it for you anywhere in the world”. And that wine can be anything from $3.99 to $250,000 per bottle! We have 3.9 million wines to choose from. We have wines dating back to 1800 on our site.

    We have been called the “NZ wine website most popular on the planet” – See the TV3 Business Video clip at http://www.3news.co.nz/NZ-wine-website-most-pop

    See you all at Wine-Searcher.com, Facebook or at a Wine Shop near you.

    Cheers

    Adon

  2. It was great talking to you on the phone as well Adon. There is a lot more to this site than meets the eye including the facebook community. Nice job!

  3. I am not sure how a searching engine that charges consumers to use it will be at all successful. How many users have they gotten over the last few years?

    BSD
    http://www.shopsort.com

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