Characteristics of Consumer Search On-Line: How Much Do We Search?

Bo-chiuan Su
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 13, Number 1, Fall 2008, pp. 109.

Abstract: Information search is a critical stage in the Internet purchase process. But does decreased search cost on the Internet really lead to increased search? According to the search cost literature, consumers face three types of search costs: the cost of locating an appropriate seller, the cost of obtaining price information, and the cost of obtaining product information. This study examines the effect on consumer search intention of ease of on-line search for price, nonprice product information, and store. The results show the significant main effect of both cross-site search and in-site search on both price search and nonprice product information search for books (search goods) and MP3 players (experience goods). Price search and nonprice product information search increase when cross-site search and in-site search are made easy. However, cross-site search and in-site search have no significant impact on store search; respondents going directly to their preferred sellers’ Web sites seems to be the dominant method used by buyers to search for online sellers. Results also indicate that consumers like the Internet shopping process more when search transparency of the interface is high. Implications for practitioners and academics are provided.

Key Words and Phrases: Electronic commerce, experimental design, information search, in-store search, search cost.