The ubiquity of both mobile devices and PC's has enabled the modern-day consumer to engage in cross-platform online searches as a new norm. The accumulated knowledge on cross-device search behavior to date, however, emanates largely from industry reports and at an aggregate level. To better understand the individual consumer's purchase decision process, we set out to investigate contingencies of what (subject of search), how (device of choice), and when (stage in the buying decision). To this end, we utilize a panel data consisting of clickstream from mobile and PC searches, coupled with entropy-based metric to chart the breadth and depth of browsing as well as topic modeling to glean insight into the nature and the themes of the search at different points en route to purchase. We find consumers generally preferring mobile device (PC) for breadth (depth) in search for the earlier (later) stages—lending support to the notion of two-stage decision-making even with cross-device usage. Other highlights include consumers exhibiting a pattern of extensively searching the purchased brand in the initial stages on mobile but not on PC. Moreover, a comparison of consumers with online conversion taking place exclusively via PC vs. across devices reveals a distinct preference for devices contingent upon the topics searched.
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