Price, Product Complexity, and Durability in Comparison Shopping

Price, Product Complexity, and Durability in Comparison Shopping

Makoto Nakayama (DePaul University, USA) and Norma Sutcliffe (DePaul University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-978-6.ch005
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Abstract

This chapter examines how product price, product complexity and product durability influence consumers’ comparison shopping process. Frequently comparison shopping is equated only to price comparisons. However, comparison shopping is becoming far broader than finding the cheapest price over the Internet. Nowadays a vast variety of products are sold over the Internet. Some are relatively simple products such as books and movie DVDs. Others are more complex such as computer related products, travel reservations and real-estate properties. As the number of key product attributes increases, consumers apply different kinds of decision making rather than just looking for the cheapest price. Consumers also use different decision making tactics between durable and non-durable products. This chapter looks into the implications of such differences for consumers and product sellers. It concludes with managerial implications and future research agendas.
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Introduction

For many, “comparison shopping” often means the search for the cheapest price on a product. Price is a universal quantitative measure that we can tell which “deal” is the best one, given the similar product quality. Not surprisingly many comparison shopping websites offer product prices as a key shopping criterion. Among many other, websites such as www.google.com; the results include the links to numerous shopping websites and product shopping guides. This type should probably be called involuntary comparison shopping in a sense that comparison shopping is enticed even when the consumer has no comparison shopping in mind.

In short, online comparison shopping is not really a simple venue through which consumers just compare product availability and price. Rather, it is becoming a venue through which consumers voluntarily or non-voluntarily obtain “expert” assistance in the process of purchase decision making on simple to complex products. Such “expert” assistance includes not only product availability and price but also key product attributes, product reliability, post-purchase product service assessment, and expert as well as user overall product evaluations.

This chapter focuses on the complexity, durability and price range of products as key variables in the process of comparison shopping. We present a model that summarizes issues consumers face and tactics firms use in the process of online comparison shopping. A key message this chapter imparts is that comparison shopping goes far beyond price comparisons and that its main goal is the total fulfillment of satisfactory product purchase experience.

At the outset, the products that this chapter considers are consumer products often seen in comparison shopping websites. This chapter does not review academic concepts and theories. Rather, this chapter explores salient issues in the consumer comparison shopping process for consumers, sellers and researchers from a broader perspective based on first-hand observations.

In the following sections, we first discuss the process and different levels/types of comparison shopping. We then examine the concept of product attributes and their impact on comparison shopping. The next section presents a model of comparison shopping with propositions. Implications for consumers and sellers are discussed. The last part of this chapter considers future research directions followed by conclusions.

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