• L81;
  • D83
  • e-commerce;
  • price comparison;
  • decision theory;
  • heuristics;
  • seller reputation

Abstract. We conduct an empirical study on the search and purchasing behavior of buyers on an Austrian price comparison site. On such a market a consumer typically searches for the cheapest price of a given product. Reliability and service of the supplier, however, are other important characteristics of an offer. We find robust evidence of consumer behavior that can be described as a two-stage procedure: shoppers first select a group of candidate offers based on the price only; then, in the actual buying decision consumers tradeoff a lower price with higher reliability of the retailer.