Posted August 1, 2007 10:58 am by with 6 comments

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In an interesting article at, 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.

  • learing from it.

  • It would make sense that the research has been performed already when the shopper goes to the comparison site. They would no longer be shopping for which item, but who has it the cheapest. The only research at the point would be shipping costs etc..

  • I have to agree that it does take the amount of time for someone to actually purchase something. Myself for example would be apt to look for the lowest possible price possible.

  • Or does it mean that one site is easier to use than another, maybe ScanAlert should be the one learning something from this.

  • It’s even worse in latin america!

  • I work at HealthPricer. I think you have a valid point, but you’re presenting a black and white world. Sure, comparison shopping sites can, and do, attract task-oriented shoppers, but they also have curious visitors or browser-based shoppers visit. We see that in our stats. And the opposite can be true of merchants, where a buyer likes a specific store and knows what s/he wants to buy. So, with that, I’m not sure the studies are quite that far apart.