It used to be that in order to find something, I would go to a marketplace directly, like eBay or Amazon, or a niche site like AbeBooks.com, etc. Or, I would go to a comparison-shopping engine, like Shopping.com, or to Google. Now there are so many buying tools and shopping engines, and I'm honestly not sure how to differentiate them.
There are tools that have roots in the online-auction industry, like Vendio's Dealio toolbar and Mpire's shopping search engine that brings back pricing information in addition to results.
I got started on this train of though when I saw a post on the Get List'd blog about TheFind.com. My immediate question was, what's different about TheFind.com and all the other shopping search tool? On the FAQs, it says, "Our search results are not based on who pays us the most money - instead our technology ranks results based on the best matches for your search. We want to give you an objective look into what is available online, and what your best choices are."
From an online seller's point of view, it gets even more complex - which tools do I need to be on, how do I get my products to appear on them, and how much time and money is it going to cost? Brian Smith's SingleFeed.com is geared to solve this very issue.
It would be great to generate a discussion among vendors to hear what they think makes their service better than the others. Feel free to post whether you are a service provider, merchant (what services are most effective for getting traffic?) or shopper (what's your favorite shopping site?).
And speaking of shoppers, I've got a great two-part report from Julia Wilkinson I'll be publishing next week on The State of Online Buying. Stay tuned!