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Deal or No Deal?

|Feb 16|magazine9 min read

This story originally appeared here in the February issue of Business Review Australia magazine.

Story by Allie Schratz

When shopping for a new mobile, we know it’s best to seek more than one opinion in order to determine the best deal. Should you stick with the Apple iPhone, or switch over to the increasingly more popular Android platform on the Samsung? And which carrier offers the best plan for your usage habits?

A quick browse on the North Sydney-based website WhistleOut.com.au presents hundreds of phone, operating system and plan combinations suitable for a wide range of users, complete with short descriptions, 1-100 scalable ratings, and any money-saving offers available to help you narrow down the supreme deal to fit your needs.

And that’s only one search category.

Launched in 2008, WhistleOut was founded as a solution for those who have struggled to compare service products – everything from mobile phones and plans to broadband and TV plans, home loans and credit cards – just as the company founders did.

“We’re approaching this from a consumer’s point of view… just really trying to solve our own problem,” WhistleOut Director and co-founder Cameron Craig said.

The site utilises rigorous search technology in order to evaluate the features of each service and the individual cost of each component, then rolls all the information together in order to present the customer with the best possible combination.

“A lot of people still walk into [a] shop and only seek one opinion: [that] of the salesperson on the shop floor,” said Craig. “Instead, we want people to think, ‘I shouldn’t just walk into the shop; I should have a look around first.’”

The aim of WhistleOut is to become part of the consumer’s research period, and then help close the transaction with an online deal. To do this, the company uses Craig’s background in publishing.

Working with Fairfax Digital, for example, WhistleOut runs the comparison component on the Sydney Morning Herald’s ‘Digital Life’ section as a white label. Powered by WhistleOut’s search technology, a reader may peruse a web article about a new smartphone that has just become available, and then have an opportunity to compare prices of the new model and appropriate service plans from the same webpage. If they find something they want, they can then purchase it straight from the site.

Consumers are “used to you showing them an ad in the paper and [thinking] everyone will just turn up at your shop. But that’s changing,” said Craig. “The publishers we work with are looking to stay with a user for longer and [then] turn them into a customer. There’s so much inventory available online, to stay relevant, the publisher has to deliver qualified buyers.

“Where publishers around the world are looking to extend their reach, [doing so] by shining an ad is no longer good enough.”

The WhistleOut team has built comparative sites with CBS Interactive, Yahoo!7 and a number of other digital media companies.

The company has plans to increase the number of search categories available in the coming months. Their comparison data is widely available in Australia, with limited versions available to US and UK consumers.