Improving Comparison Shopping Agents' Competence through Selective Price Disclosure

Chen Hajaj, Noam Hazon, David Sarne

The plethora of comparison shopping agents (CSAs) in today's markets enables buyers to query more than a single CSA when shopping, and an inter-CSAs competition naturally arises. We suggest a new approach, termed "selective price disclosure", which improves the attractiveness of a CSA by removing some of the prices in the outputted list. The underlying idea behind this approach is to affect the buyer's beliefs regarding the chance of obtaining more attractive prices. The paper presents two methods, which are suitable for fully-rational buyers, for deciding which prices among those known to the CSA should be disclosed. The effectiveness and efficiency of the methods are evaluated using real data collected from five CSAs. The methods are also evaluated with human subjects, showing that selective price disclosure can be highly effective in this case as well, however, the disclosed subset of prices should be extracted in a different (simplistic) manner.

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