In an interesting article at SearchEngineWatch.com, Eric Enge discusses how price comparison sites might impact the amount of time that customers take to purchase products. He compared data between HealthPricer, a health product price comparison site, and ScanAlert.
A quick analysis shows that customers using HealthPricer tended to purchase much quicker when arriving at the retail site than the customers that ScanAlert studied. In fact, while HealthPricer shows that 87% of the customers it monitored placed orders within an hour, ScanAlert reports that metric at just 43%.
So what does this really tell us about comparison shopping search engines such as HealthPricer? I am afraid that the answer is not much. While it might be tempting to try to draw correlations between the data, customers using price comparison shopping engines are usually much further into the buying process–they have already decided what to buy (through previous use or education) and are just looking for the place that sells it at the cheapest price.
It is obviously easier to sell a known commodity such as a well-branded product than to educate someone in order to sell them something. However, this is the key difference between the customer behavior that ScanAlert and HealthPricer studied and explains the huge inconsistency between the findings.