Internet use has grown tremendously over the last few years -- about 95 million Americans have online access -- and current trends indicate a steady increase in consumers' willingness to make online purchases, Janda said.
Janda, an expert in online buying behavior and customer satisfaction, recently explored the relationship between product and consumer characteristics and their affect on the online shopping experience and customer satisfaction.
"This research is important because online marketing has been growing fast," Janda said. "E-commerce spending in the U.S. was estimated at $165 billion in 2005. More people have online access at home and more people are making online purchases. It's not just airline tickets anymore; it's clothes and shoes and other personal items. Consumers increasingly desire specific and convenient product-related information when shopping online."
Janda found that a Web site's ability to enhance Web shoppers' satisfaction is affected by several product and consumer characteristics. A superior Web experience will enhance customer satisfaction when the customer has no previous experience with the purchased brand; he/she is purchasing high-priced products; and if his/her attitudes toward online shopping are positive, Janda found. In addition, female consumers cared more for a superior Web experience compared to males, he said.
"I found, on average, that female shoppers are more satisfied with online purchases if they feel the Web site is convenient and organized," Janda said. "These aspects have a much bigger effect on the satisfaction of female consumers compared to that of male consumers. This is because research shows that there are differences in the way males and females process information."
Janda said males are generally more task oriented; they know what they want and then find it. Females know what they want, but when they find it, they compare it with other options because they are more interested in the shopping experience, he said.
His research also concluded that a superior online experience is dependent on Web site characteristics such as allowing consumers to view multiple product pictures, rotate product images and allow other ways for the customer to feel the ambience of a physical store environment.
Janda said his research provides insights to Web marketers interested in formulating effective online marketing strategies. His study suggests that Web marketers might need to consider various types of Web site interfaces, depending on the type of customers frequenting the site and the price level of featured products.
For his study, Janda surveyed 177 sample respondents for data collection. A wide variety of people were represented in terms of common demographic characteristics, he said. The average age of respondents was 32, but ages ranged between 19 and 66. Fifty-nine percent of respondents were male and 41 percent were female. On average, sample respondents had been using the Internet for about six years and reported making six online purchases during the most recent six months.
Janda presented the first version of this study in 2003 at the American Marketing Association conference in Chicago, Ill. The major findings of this research were recently published in the Journal of Internet Commerce.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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