The new way of buying begins with inquiry, as everything we purchase is subjected to research.
We start with an online search. And, after years of using the Internet, we have become much more targeted with our search terms. And search engines accommodate with highly targeted results.
We have gone from searching for an “RCA television” to entering “buy television, 56-inch flat screen HD LED 1080p.” The specific brand name is no longer added to most searches.
Second, price and features are compared side by side. Websites that compare products are called comparison shopping engines, and they provide information on a broad range of products.
CSEs started in the 1990s and continue to grow. Some of the largest ones include shopzilla.com, pricegrabber.com and shopping.com (which is a part of the auction site eBay).
Each product has its own profile, which includes price, reviews and descriptions, with detailed specs, ratings, price alerts, wish lists and locations to buy. It is up to retailers to participate with the CSEs.
Third, we search and read not only the reviews and testimonials from other consumers about products or services, but also research the company that manufactures or distributes that product or service.
Last, to finalize the decision, we take everything we have learned about the product and ask our network of trusted friends and family for their opinion or experience. For example, these are common questions used to research most purchases:
“We need a new TV; what kind do you have?”
“Who do you use?”