• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Chapter 4. Chapter Understanding the Onl... > Understanding the Nature of Online S...

Understanding the Nature of Online Shoppers

It is important for online merchants to understand why people shop on the Internet. To better understand this, we turned to a range of academic-based research that attempts to explain what is so attractive about online shopping.

In one paper titled "Interactive Home Shopping: Consumer, Retailer, and Manufacturer Incentives to Participate in Electronic Marketplaces," the authors (Joseph Alba, John Lynch, Barton Weitz, Chris Janiszewski, Richard Lutz, Alan Sawyer, and Stacy Wood) explain that the biggest factors are:

  • Vast Selection. Consumers like the access to a large number of choices, making it more likely they will find the item they want.

  • Screening. Consumers are drawn to the ability to easily and quickly sort through choices.

  • Reliability. The ability for stores to overcome the users' interest in physically seeing some products in order to make a buying decision is critical to online shopping's success.

  • Product Comparisons. The true strength of online shopping is in the customer's ability to quickly compare similar products for the optimal choice (e.g. best quality, price, shipping terms, etc.).

What the paper argues is that people are most attracted to online shopping because it is much easier to view the entire universe of available choices, whittle them down to the crucial choices, and obtain the information to make a final choice.

Critical to this observation is basic knowledge of how consumers shop in general. Researchers note that shopping is a process of searching, comparing, and gathering information. However, what researchers also know is that when someone shops, he can't consider the entire universe of available choices, due to time constraints.

Instead, consumers tend to examine only a subset of all the possible choices. Researchers say this is because the time consumers save by not searching for and then comparing every available choice is worth more than the risk of overlooking the overall best choice. With this in mind, it becomes obvious that computers and online stores can greatly aid the shopping process. It is much easier for online stores to offer huge inventories. Using search engines and databases to screen those choices is easy. Finally, by offering extensive product information, Web stores can help people make the best choice after they have compiled a list of leading choices. The result is that people should feel better about the choices they make as a result of shopping online.

Another important aspect is that many consumers rely on their own memory when trying to recall alternative product choices—an imperfect process at best. By shopping online, consumers have their alternatives readily available on a computer screen. Again, this results in more efficient shopping and higher satisfaction.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint