Price comparison is one of the essentials things that Internet users should do before buying a product on the Internet or locally
It does not matter if they do compare prices manually by visiting several Internet shops that carry the product or use a price comparison service instead which simplifies the process.
The main reason for comparing prices is that they can differ a lot between shopping sites which means that you may save a lot of money when you buy a product at the right store.
The Invisible Hand add-on for Firefox is an unobtrusive add-on that notifies users if it detected an Internet store in its database that sells a product for less than the current shop.
It displays a row beneath the tabs in Firefox whenever it finds a shop with a lower price. The system only works if you are visiting one of the 50+ supported Internet shops in the United Kingdom or United States.
The bar with the better price won't appear if there is no better price or if the shop is currently not supported by the Firefox add-on.
There are currently a few problems associated with the add-on that I would like to outline below:
- Supports only 50+ shops in the UK or US. That's ok for popular items but not close to what price comparison services offers.This also means that users from other countries have no use for the add-on unless they do shop in the US or UK.
- A click on the better price button (or the other retailers button) will open that website in the same tab. There is no way of opening the site in a new tab or window.
- The service does not add (potential) shipping costs to the price comparison. It can be that the price at the lower price shop can turn out to be higher if shipping costs are added to the price.
- The service sometimes fails to find the right product. A Guitar Heroes 5 bundle with hardware for the Nintendo Wii for example was said to be about 30 Pounds cheaper at another retailer. It turned out to be that this was the version of the game without the hardware.
- The price comparison is restricted to the same country. It is for example not possible to see if the price is cheaper n another country than the price in the current country. This is probably linked to the shipping costs problem. It would make a lot of sense once more countries on one continent (e.g. Europe) are added so that users from one country could check if the product is a lot cheaper in another country (which often is the case if you look at the German and UK Amazon shop for example).
The service is currently in beta and the developers have already mentioned that they are working on several of the problems listed in this article.
Invisible Hand is nevertheless an interesting alternative for Firefox users from the UK and US who do a lot of online shopping. Interested users can take a look at the developer website to see the list of supported retailers or download the add-on from the Mozilla Firefox website.
Update: It seems that Germany has been added recently to the add-on. The total number of supported retailers has crossed the 580 mark.