The product comparison tool isn’t that common in e-commerce. In fact, a majority of sites don’t even have it. Even when sites have it, shoppers don’t use it as much as they should. The first reason has to do with shopping habits. 

We buy cheap stuff all the time and only buy expensive stuff once in a while. When you’re buying a pair of socks, bread, or a toothbrush for example, you never do a deep dive into the product. You find a familiar brand, check if the price is right, and just buy it.

Big purchases are different. A customer (say Jonah) isn’t just going to drop a thousand dollars on a refrigerator or a computer without thoroughly exploring his options. That’s where the product comparison comes in. Making the process as easy as possible goes a long way in helping Jonah make a purchase. There are a few ways you can go about this:


Make the comparison feature easy to find

To avoid clutter, many sites don’t have a visible “Compare” button. This makes locating it quite a chore. For better accessibility, display the comparison action on hover.


Integrate comparison into other site elements

Due to the comparison feature being rare and rather hard to find even on the sites that have them, shoppers don’t often think of it when they want to compare products. Many use the cart, wishlist, or open multiple product pages in different tabs.

If Jonah adds four laptops to his cart, it’s safe to assume that he doesn’t plan to buy them all. As such, you can include the product comparison option in the cart, wishlist, and on the recently viewed items page. 


Highlight product differences

Sticking with Jonah’s examples of four laptops, they’ll have multiple specs that are similar and others that would be different. Since comparison is the entire point of the exercise, differing  specifications should be highlighted to speed it up.


Harmonize your units

There are few things more frustrating than comparing across dissimilar units. Don’t show the weight of one item in kilograms and the other one in pounds.


Have a tooltip to explain what product specifications mean

Some products like 5,000-dollar DSLR cameras and crypto mining rigs attract very knowledgeable buyers while others like TVs and refrigerators attract a much wider audience. 

Explaining what the specs mean is important because the average person buying a refrigerator may assume that a 1700-watt refrigerator is better than a comparable 900-watt refrigerator because 1700 is a bigger number. In truth, the 900-watt refrigerator would be the better choice all other things being equal because it’s more energy efficient.