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Factors Influencing Online Shopping Behavior of Consumers

The mysteries of the decisions of the online shopper are speculative at best as delving into the thought processes of each individual consumer is hard to predict.  Online consumer behavior is a complicated socio-technical phenomenon and has been the focus of researchers for the last decade. It is elusively hard trying to judge the psychological state of consumers while they are making purchases.  Due to this hard task of making generalized conclusions there has been a number of studies that have come out hypothesizing different factors.

Previous research showed that purchasing behavior is also affected by demographics, channel knowledge, and shopping orientation. However, there are many factors that are observable which can lend to having higher transaction rates and having a glimpse into shopping behaviors.

Financial Risk

Financial risk is always the number one concern of individuals who are shopping online.  Financial risk is defined as the perception that a certain amount of money could be lost while purchasing or making a product work properly from an online purchase. Certain age groups are more concerned with their security and privacy of their bank account information.  Millennials are more likely to be less concerned than older generations who behave more skeptical in making online purchases. Furthermore, the potential to have your personal financial information disclosed from a transaction online is a very real concern. Shoppers are experiencing perceived risks for the potential loss they may experience while shopping online.

Product Risk

The bonus of shopping in a traditional brick and mortar store is being able to have the product in front of the customer. This gives the opportunity to manage the expectations that a customer has when they are purchasing a product. When an ecommerce business gives accurate descriptions of products and the ability to zoom in on the product pictures to give the client an accurate expectation of the product. Due to the limited information that is sometimes presented to consumers they lose the inability to evaluate the quality of the product.

Convenience Risk

Convenience is the best aspect of online shopping.  This is the major reason why individuals feel that online shopping is a major benefit in their lives because it saves them time throughout the day. Instead of having to go out and take extra time shopping for a product individuals are able to save their time and spend it doing things they actually want to be doing. With such a high variety of different types of stores there is just about every type of product available online.

Non-delivery

Although this isn’t a common occurrence while shopping online not receiving their products after purchasing them online is a common fear shoppers share.  Potential loss of a delivery is where goods are lost or damaged and create a fear in customers that they would not receive their goods on the agreed time frame that the business stated. There are many factors that affect whether or not the customer receives their delivery for example improper shipping and handling during transportation. With the variety of possibilities that can go wrong the consumer may not complete a transaction based on delivery promises. Easing customer’s minds on shipping and non-delivery is by giving accurate updates on when they should expect the product they ordered.

Return Policy

Lastly, the ultimate “get out of the purchase card” is the infamous return policy. The return policy is the most important thing that gives customers the ability to return an unwanted item or purchase that doesn’t measure up to their expectations or needs. Without a proper return policy, a customer’s shopping behavior is severely stunted because they are forced to put too much faith into the ecommerce business, which is hard to achieve due to deception and falsely described products. There is nothing worse for the consumer than receiving a product and feeling like their money was wasted because the product doesn’t measure up to expectations.

Cultural Differences

Cultural differences and biases toward online shopping are prevalent with online stores being present in many countries around the world. Each societies value system is different, but it is the ecommerce company’s responsibility to provide an atmosphere that gives confidence to the buyer. With 43% of buyers coming from non-English speaking countries there are many different cultural differences that need to be accounted for. Understanding the relationship that the consumer has with online shopping and the Internet in particular can affect consumer behavior.

Individual shopping behaviors are hard to predict, but providing the rudimentary needs of a customer and communicating properly all of the products information can minimize the behavior of not purchasing products. By eliminating the obvious risks and concerns that the average consumer has on a social-technical platform it reduces unnecessary hindrances that aren’t personal.

Wiebke Reile

Wiebke Reile

Wiebke Reile has been social media strategist for the last eight years in the Internet Industry. She has also professionally worked in the film and television industry as a documentary film editor in New York City. Currently, she is a researcher for the University of Hawaii and pursuing her doctorate degree; focusing her research towards online political social movements.

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