Consumers face considerable frustration when purchasing structurally and/or semantically complex
high-involvement products online. Reliance on computer-mediated communications for their
information needs may result in functional and emotional frustration from information overload
and lack of personal trust. This paper proposes a responsive real-time information system as a proxy for
a perceptive sales representative who assesses customer needs based on information exchanges and
then offers appropriate responses. By tracking and analyzing a consumer’s online activity, vendors can
offer information relevant to the consumer’s real-time needs, facilitating their purchase process. In
essence, this is a real-time value co-creation process based on the consumer offering cues to vendors
through their key strokes and mouse click activity. This allows for differentiated information offerings
for inexperienced and more experienced consumers, creating value by dynamic information serving.
Where appropriate value is created, consumers will experience less frustration and continue online,
rather than possibly moving offline or to alternative vendors. In examining the bases of consumer
information needs in complex purchases, this paper identifies the data required to enable a responsive
dialog between vendors and consumers.