Shopping Comparison Site Priceflo Joins the Throng

A new price comparison site for PC and electronics shoppers launched today, joining a crowded space of players rushing to wring revenues out of online holiday shopping.

Competitors to the newly-launched Priceflo include Shopping.com, BizRate, Google’s Froogle shopping engine, and product searches such as those offered by Ask Jeeves and Yahoo .

The new site is similar in most respects to the crowd of established price comparison resources, with one notable exception. It charges a flat fee for listings, rather than charging on a cost-per-click basis. Whereas most other shopping comparison sites bill based on performance, Priceflo merchants pay a flat fee of $1,000 to seed the sites’ database with all their products.

The company said this would result in a better user experience, because the consumer would have more products from which to choose. With cost-per-click billing, Priceflo execs contend, merchants tend to list only their highest-return products.

You have to have a lot of money to list a large number of products [on a CPC basis],” said CEO Jeff Dobson. “Since we offer flat-rate billing, vendors can list all their products at once.”

Priceflo launches with approximately 10 merchants, including Wal-Mart , Amazon.com , Target , Buy.com, Office Depot , Dell , Overstock.com, Tech Depot, and J&R Music & Computer World. Some are paying customers and others are not, but the company didn’t specify which were paying to be listed and which were getting a free ride to round out its listings.

Nielsen//Net Ratings reported that during August, more than 21 million online users visited one or more comparison shopping sites. But despite this heavy use, or perhaps because of it, Priceflo may have trouble gaining favor among consumers who already have numerous options.

The shopping comparison landscape heated up considerably this fall as existing Web players have tried to capitalize on the apparent merger of search and e-commerce. Yahoo has integrated its shopping area with product search, and DealTime.com changed its name to Shopping.com and unveiled a new interface, after having purchased Epinions.com earlier this year.

Yahoo’s product search kicked off in September with 17,000 merchants, and Shopping.com boasts approximately 3,000.

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