Google or BizRate? How search engines and comparison sites affect unplanned choices of online retailers
Recent trends in online retailing suggest that "33% of buyers often or sometimes make unplanned purchases" [Annual Retail Consumer Survey Report. Jupiter Research 2003.]. Findings based on online retailing trends also suggest that both search engines and infomediaries are beginning to play a strong role in leading consumers to online retail sites. Additionally, some practitioner studies find that about half of online consumers use comparison shopping sites before choosing a retailer. Retailers therefore need to understand whether search engines or infomediaries play a stronger role in bringing unplanned consumers. This is the issue that we investigate in this research. Our results indicate that, retailer and consumer factors, category characteristics and the consumer's past relationship with the retailer do play a role in the store choice decisions of online consumers. Between search engines and infomediaries, however, search engines play a far stronger role than infomediaries. The effect is, in fact, more than twice that of infomediaries.
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