A Preliminary Assessment of the Efficacy of a Price Comparison Software Agent in B2C E-commerce

S. Olofsson, B. Anckar, and N. Eriksson (Finland)

Keywords

Software agents, ecommerce, consumers, constructive research

Abstract

This paper reports on the outcome of an information system development effort where a multi-channel software agent application was created in a constructive research process with the objective of facilitating the consumer’s pre-purchase information search process in ecommerce. In line with the fact that constructive research consists of two basic activities: building the artifact and evaluating its utility, this research features two objectives: (i) it presents the architecture of a constructed price comparison software agent, the iTracer, and (ii) it reports on the outcome of a small-scale empirical study conducted to assess, initially, the efficacy of the application with reference to some proposed benefit dimensions. The results of the study clearly indicate that the constructed agent offers several important benefits to online shoppers while reducing many potential impediments to consumer adoption of electronic commerce.

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