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Consumer Behaviar in Online Shopping

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Online shopping is the act of purchasing products, services and information through the Internet web sites. It became popular over the years; it made shopping much more easily than before. People find online shopping convenient at the comfort of their home or office. Consumer behavior is “The study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society” (Lars Perner, 2010). Consumer behavior towards the online shopping is changing every day. They started to trust it more than when it first came out. Any online shopping websites must have a strong privacy in order for consumer to feel comfortable and satisfied. Objective

To provide a comprehensive image of how consumers react and perceive in online shopping environment. As Yi Cai and Brenda Cude (2008), mentioned that the rapid diffusion of computer and information technologies throughout the business and consumer communities has resulted in dramatic changes. Online purchasing behavior noted that there is a huge change in the way buyers and sellers interact. It became one of the most important online activities. It also made a great contribution to the economy. As Hawkins, Mothersbaugh and Best (2007), mentioned that many consumers find the use of information about their purchase histories and personal characteristics to be intrusive. The use of personal information by businesses is an issue of local and national concern. National polls indicate that most consumers are concerned about, and opposed to, the unexpected or unintended use of personal information. However, the majority of consumers fail to exercise their rights under federal law, to opt out of having some of their information bought and sold.

The information registered with the online websites should be confidential and it shouldn’t be sold or shared with any other online organization other than where the consumer purchased the product or services. As Jeffrey I. Cole (2001), stated that online shopping has become the third most popular Internet activity comes after that web browsing and using instant messaging. They mentioned that it is even more popular than seeking out for entertainment information or news. University of California, Los Anglos illustrated that consumers of online shopping were 48.9 % of the total of all online users, which shows that consumers started to trust the online shopping more than previous years. As Liang and Lai (2000), mentioned that online shopping behavior refers to the process of purchasing products or services on the internet, this process consists of 5 steps similar to purchasing in an actual store. When potential consumers recognize the need of a certain product, they go on the internet and search for related information about the product.

However, consumers find it easier to look for a product online rather than searching actively in actual stores. Liang and Lai assumed that online shopping attitudes refer to consumer psychological state in terms of making the purchase online. Consumers might get attracted by the information provided on the product and images online, instead of going to the actual stores and spending much more time to look for the product. A consumer can evaluate the product or service online by reading the reviews about it and checking the products features through images and videos. Childers, (1986) stated that the higher the positive perceived behavioral control the consumer has for online shopping, the higher the behavior intention for online shopping.

Consumers’ previous shopping experience affects future shopping decisions, because when consumers have more purchase experience with a given product, they acquire sophisticated product knowledge more easily than the previous purchase experience had similar affects on Internet users for the same reason. When consumers do after purchase evaluations, they generate relevant psychological feedback. Those experiences will continue to affect consequent shopping decisions (Schiffman & Kanuk, 1997). Therefore, the shopping decision is a circular feedback activity. Additional studies pointed out that the online shopping experiences affect purchase intention (Steven, Gerald, & Eric, 1999; Gerald et al., 2000).

As Shun & Yunjie (2006), stated in the research about online shopping behaviors that there are high sales on certain product such as software, books, electronics and music. Reason for this is that when purchasing these types of products, one does not require personal inspection and most, if not all features, can be outlined in the product description and images. Products in the mobile phone family belong to this category.

According to Cotte, Chowdhury, Ratenshwar & Ricci (2006), the recent research on consumer behavior on the Internet users, there are four distinct consumer groups with different intentions and motivations: Exploration, Entertainment, Shopping and Information. These areas are particularly important in a market where consumers have the power to choose the right product from a number of competing suppliers. Product and information cannot be found easily online is as much of a problem as is having easily accessible information that does not meet the consumer’s expectations.

Jarvenpaa, Tractinsky, and Vitale (2000), investigate that the store size and reputation influence how consumers perceive and trust the store. Consumer’s risk perception, attitudes, and willingness to buy at the specific store depend on the atmosphere of the store. They discovered that there is a great relationship between consumer trust of Internet stores and the actual stores. Consumer’s trust associated with Internet shopping reduces perceived risks and generates great attitudes towards purchasing from a particular store, which in turn increases willingness to purchase from that store. According to Haubl and Trifts (2000), potential consumers use certain stages in reaching purchase decisions. Consumers basically screen a class of products in order to identify a subclass of promising alternatives that meet their needs or wants. They then evaluate the subclass in greater depth, comparing with other products based on some desirable attributes and make a purchase decision. The collaborative tool designs in the websites help the consumer to assist in the initial viewing of available products or services facilitate effects on both the quality and the efficiency of purchase decisions.

Comparing among selected products/services in an online shopping environment helps the consumer to select the right product. Lohse and Spiller (1998) suggested that customers who purchase from Internet stores more frequently are more convenience and less experience oriented. These consumers regard convenience during shopping because they can save more time this way. The most important factor to them in purchasing decisions is the time constrained. This category of consumers does not mind buying products without touching or feeling them, just for the fact of saving time. Usually potential consumers do not like the idea of buying from online shops by their concern for security. The theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) suggests that behavioral intentions can be reasonable predictors of behavior. Intention to revisit a site is a particularly important outcome for online marketers since cyberspace is far less signposted than main streets and shopping malls, and the chances that online shoppers will return to a web site impulsively are fewer than the chances that street shoppers will return to a shop on a high street or in a mall which they visit regularly.

Consequently, in the absence of an intention to revisit, impulse revisits are likely to be limited, thus eliminating the possibility for the marketer of obtaining more purchases from a particular shopper. Because shopping value, whether hedonic or utilitarian, is a positive outcome and increases shopper satisfaction, it is likely to produce approach behaviors. Turley and Milliman, (2000), discussed that online environments are too different in nature -virtual vs. real), (size small, flat vs. large, 360°- and sensory representation (two instead of four senses) from offline environments to assume that offline concepts and theories are all relevant and sufficient. They assume that consumers get influenced by actual stores more than the online store, according to what they can see and feel. Alba and Scansaroli (1997) discovered that to some consumers with no experience in shopping, who did not like to make purchases out on the open or in stores, the online shopping allows them to enjoy shopping anonymously without any negative influence by the external environment.

They pointed out that the Internet allows consumers to purchase products privately that may embarrass them to purchase in public, or to purchase products which they do not want others to know. The Internet also offers more goods and services, and it is easier to purchase new, unique or special products not available in typical retail stores. It also helps consumers research products needed in the future, and satisfy particular interests and habits. According to Goldsmiths (2001) research, he claims that much research concerning online consumer behavior is rather descriptive in nature and not based on consumer theory. The first area of research relevant to online purchasing was about the convenience of time and transportation.

For example, James and Cunningham (1987) believed that online shopping consumers paid more attention to the convenience of shopping more than anything else. Consumers can make purchases 24 hours a day on the Internet, without the limitations of location and national boundaries. It is also convenient to purchase foreign goods, without having to endure the transportation hassles of traditional shipping methods (Scansaroli, 1997). A consumer can buy the product at any time of the day and from anywhere in the world, because the product needed might not be available where the consumer reside.

According to the empirical results of this study, as mentioned, online shopping is growing wider every year. Nowadays lots of people feel comfortable purchasing products behind the screen. The consumer’s behavior in online shopping differ from a person to another, some people think it is very risky to shop online, because of sharing their personal information and personal bank cards behind screens, they’d rather buy from public store instead. While others think that it is very convenient and reliable, because it saves them a lot of time instead of actively go to a store and purchase the product. Other online consumers mentioned that it is about their privacy, they do not want people to see what they are purchasing. This study was not intended to prove causation, but rather to examine the possible correlation of consumer’s attitude, perception of the online shopping. The study of consumer’s behavior helped firms and organizations improve their marketing strategies by understanding issues such as how consumers think, feel, and select between different alternative. It also examined how the consumer is influenced by the environment.

References Books:

Cai, Y., and Cude, B., (2008), Handbook of Consumer Finance Research, New York: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
Hawkins, D. I., Mothersbaugh, D. L., Best, R. J., (2007), Consumer Behaviour: Building marketing strategy, New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin
Schiffman, L.G., & Kanuk, L.L. (1997). Consumer Behavior, 6th ed., USA: Prentice Hall.
Ajzen, I. (1991), “The theory of planned behavior”, Organ, Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Vol. 50 No. 2, pp. 179-211.
Alba, J., Lynch, J., Weitz, B. Janiszewski, C, Lutz, R., Sawyer, A. & Wood, S. (1997). Interactive home shopping Journal of Marketing, 61, 38-53.
Childers, T. L. (1986). Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. XXIII, 184-188. Cotte, J., Chowdhury, T. G., Ratneshwar, S. & Ricci, M. L., (2006), Pleasure or Utility, Time Planning Style and Web Usage Behaviors, Journal of Interactive Marketing, Vol20, pp. 45-57.

Goldsmith, R.E. (2001). The influence of e-commerce attitudes on innovative online buying. Quarterly Journal of Electronic Commerce, 1, 4.
James, E.L., & Cunningham, C.M. (1987). A profile of direct marketing television shopper, Journal of Direct Marketing, 1, 12-23. Jarvenpaa, S. L., Tractinsky, N., and Vitale M., (2000), Consumer trust in an Internet store, Information Technology and Management, Vol1, pp. 45.71 Haubl, G., and Trifts, V., (2000), Consumer decision making in online shopping environments: the effects of interactive decision aids, Marketing Science, Vol19, pp. 4-21

Liang, T., and Lai, H., (2000), Electronic store design and consumer choice, Vol12, pp. 5-9

Lohse, G. L., and Spiller P., (1998), Electronic shopping, Communications of ACM, Vol41, pp. 81-87
Scansaroli, J.A., & Eng, V (1997). Interactive retailing: Consumers on line, Chain Store Age, Vol73, pp. 5-8.
Steven, B., Gerald, L., & Eric, J. (1999). Predictors of online buying behavior, Vol42, pp. 32-38.
Shun, C., Yunjie, X. (2006). Effects of outcome, process and shopping enjoyment on online consumer behavior. Vol, pp. 272–281.
Turley, L.W. and Milliman, R.E. (2000), “Atmospheric effects on shopping behavior: a review of the experimental evidence”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 49 No. 2, pp. 193-211.
Jeffrey I. Cole, (2001), [online]. URL: http://www.digitalcenter.org/pd/InternetReportYearTwo. [Date visited: May 30th 2012]
Lars Perner, (2010), [online]. URL: http://www.consumerpsychologist.com/ [Date visited: May 30th 2012].

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