Internet usage has been on the rise in recent years, and consequently is the increase in the number of online consumers. This research explores the attitudes, behaviors, and motivations of this new type of consumer in the market. The online consumer behavior has been considered for over 2 decades and will undoubtedly make a contribution to many future researches as internet consumerism expands. This paper will be guided by the following research question: (1) how previously researched factors influence the purchasing adaptive skills of online consumers and (2) what are the important consumer behaviors that affect internet consumerism while considering both the positive and negative side? People are known to shop online for experimental reasons, goal-oriented and instrumental reasons. Research methodology will include administering questionnaires randomly to respondents both face-to-face and through emails, interviews and gathering information from selected internet sites that provide different goods and services. Data collected will be qualitative and quantitative. Identification of these factors and variables, new strategies can be formulated. Both the consumer and supplier can gain knowledge and understanding existing behaviors. The significance of the study is to put together different researched information and form conclusions to how consumer ideas, motivational behavior and attitudes influence online consumption, hence construct a wide framework of analysis to investigate.
Research on online consumerism
Online consumerism refers to the act of ordering goods or services over the internet. The Internet has been publicly accessible for over two decades. With its introduction, it has been popular among people of different categories. The emergence of online shopping into our everyday life has conveniently linked people to the capitalistic culture that exists allowing people to make purchases when and where they want and giving them the opportunity to imagine themselves doing online shopping. Ever since the introduction of the internet, people have developed an interest in the value of conducting the business. Though criticized in the beginning, online consumerism has been on the rise and so are the consequences of positive and negative behavior. In 2006 the E-commerce sales totaled to about 6% of product sales in the U.S. The first online book store was set up in 1992 by Charles Stuck known as Books Stack Unlimited. Online purchases include a variety of items including online stock trading, clothing, groceries, cars, homes, jewelry, toys and even ammunition.
This research tries to understand how online consumerism is affected by individual behavior. Consumer behavior refers to the investigation of an individual, group or organization and the strategies they use to select, buy, utilize and order of experiences, services, products or ideas to satisfy their needs and wants and the impacts that these strategies have on the society at large and the individual consumer (Phillips, 2001). Identification of behaviors that sustain online consumerism and those which do not, businesses will have an added advantage to increase profits and competition in the industry. This is so because E- commerce will in the near future out do the traditional buying method.
To have clear cut factors that affect the behavior of online consumers, we have to consider a number of variables. The three main things that affect consumer behavior include motivations such as price and convenience, attitude towards E- commerce and information obtained when products are searched online (Vasquez & Xu, 2009). When a person has a positive attitude towards online shopping, this experience will influence of the results of purchasing goods using the internet. Special offers, prices and easily accessible information on the internet will enable consumers feel more in control of their transaction activities. The consumers feel motivated and stand in a distinct position to make rational decisions about different products.
Other variables to consider in online consumer behavior include the internet access place, experience of shopping online and gender preference. The results reflected that most people prefer to access the internet in their homes or employment places rather than cyber cafes. Consumers with internet browsing experience were comfortable to navigate it and finally based on gender, the research showed that the number of heterosexuals who shopped online was lower compared to bisexuals. This may be as a result of subjective ideas against this section of the population in the current society. Supporting data of this survey research was conducted by Georgia Institute of Technology. In conclusion, "This research clearly identified that both the key place to access the Internet and sexual preference had very important positive effects on online shopping" (Phillips, 2001).
Online shopping has varied positive advantages with the most outstanding trait being the ability to have bidirectional communication. Online shoppers are able to effectively exchange information with those they are buying from through e-mails and bulletins. This process creates an idea of personalized assistance. On the contrary, shopping in a store on site is disadvantaged because of the fact that we are losing our ability to maintain good customer service. This is because those employed to perform that function seem to be just filling the spot rather than disseminate information about what they are selling (Ammeter & Kim, 2008).
Online consumerism is however not without disadvantages. Four consumer online concerns, identified include privacy, security, credibility, and virtual experience (Swinder, 2008). Each of these factors considered and have all shown to have negative influence on consumer purchasing. It is an easy process to access information about a consumer when he/she logs onto any given internet site. Information collected include name of the customer, address where he/she can be found, phone number and credit card data obtained through direct questioning or tracking devices. Some customers feel nervous about the disclosure of their personal information and would rather not be involved in taking the risk. Another issue arises when the credibility of the business or person being dealt with is put into question. Questions such as description of merchandise, shipment, returns, follow-up and trust come up, and this raises concerns that are valid. The overall result is that consumers begin to have a negative attitude towards online consumerism.
Kukar-Kinney (2009) add that, "Another negative behavioral pattern well-known is that of compulsive buying tendencies that have detrimental effects on the consumer, notably affecting monies, feelings, and relationships" (p. 56). This type of behavior is motivated by the same key ingredients of online consumerism. These motivations include; items may be purchased at any time as they are accessible, shopping can be done frequently, a broader variety exists hence a wide variety to choose from. "The purchases may be bought in private hence control of sociality, search costs, product assortment and price, brand equity, transaction costs, customer orientation, perceived quality, and social interaction" (Christy et al., 2008).
Goal directed buying is marked by the idea of freedom and control motivates the buyers to feel less pressure to buy online. They often shop in whatever moments they are free to look for information across multiple online sessions. The shoppers find the online shopping trips useful, interesting, informative and involving. Some customers describe online shopping as sociable, fun and enjoyable and will therefore engage in experiential browsing for bargain hunting that lead to great deals, ongoing hobby type-search in sites of interest and to participate in auction activities that lead to positive surprises. Goal oriented shopping is efficient, deliberate and rational. Browsing is done with a planned purchase in mind leading to reduced costs, receiving of more attractive sales promotion offers and saving of time (Christy & Kim, 2008, p. 32).
A key part of esthetics is how information is arranged and displayed on the web page. The information should not be too much to overwhelm the consumer or too little to decrease the consumers' confidence. Online information presentation has failed in different ways. Simplicity is the key to achieve success in the business as consumers would want to navigate with the site without any hustle. "This research identified a mental model of consumers, which concluded that people wanted information presented in concise and understanding ways. The ability of online businesses to do this is vital because it leads to a more intuitive and compelling online experience" (Stibel, 2005). Because of their knowledge and their numbers of the computer literate generation, it is safe to say that business as usual is in for change. The progression of online consumerism has to aim high because as the older portion of the population dies out and new generations come up, this way of doing business will be well-known.
This study is to explore the buying behavior of online consumers. The respondents involved were chosen from the population with the condition of having browsing experience or purchasing items online as this is a sound form of measurement of the consumers' internet experience in shopping online. The participants were of different age, gender, education and ethnic categories brought together to fulfill the purpose of giving findings for the research.
Research was conducted through a self-given online questionnaire given through e-mails and others that were self administered. Data collected concerned the scales of attitude, motivation and searches…