Online shopping: we know what we want

This week’s reading opens a door to think about online shopping from a long-term perspective based on social benefits, which I find is interesting. All the three respondents are my friends who are currently graduate students in US but originally from China. For not wasting items on asking yes or no questions, the subjects I picked up have had online shopping experiences both in US and in China. Furthermore, I completed the “interviews” by MSN in order to collect qualitative data about their perception of online shopping and perhaps their comparison about the “shopping” environments in US and China, followed are my six questions:

  • What products (or which category) do you frequently purchase online?
  • Do you worry about your credit card info security when you decide to buy something online? Why?
  • When you know your friend has got a great deal on certain online shopping site, are you going to purchase something on that website as well?
  • If the official sites (e.g. Macy’s, Walmart, etc.) claim a promotion and you can either buy online or pick up at store, which one do you prefer?
  • What factors do you concern most when purchasing something online?
  • In general, how do you value your online purchasing experience in US versus in China?

The first two respondents are female. I list their responses respectively as follow:

  • Clothes & beauty & electronics
  • No. If something’s wrong, I can always dispute my charge back.
  • Maybe. If I find something that I desire or something fit me.
  • Online of course, if shipping is free or very cheap.
  • Have time and plenty of information to compare and think thoroughly; for clothes, hate waiting for the fitting room.
  • Much better here, feel safer somehow, especially brand products.
  • Beauty products, clothes, electronic products
  • No. Because I trust the seller.
  • It depends on whether I’m interested in that deal.
  • Generally, if they offer free shipping and free return. I’ll buy online.
  • Whether the clothes will fit.
  • Both good. No big differences.

To avoid so-called “biased” sample, finally I choose a male student to offer his viewpoints:

  • Computer related product
  • Not really, because based on the campaign of credit card companies, we are always able to report abuses. My credit card info was stolen once, but the company reimbursed all my loss.
  • It depends on whether I need the same item. But I will check that website in future in case there is some deal I need.
  • I won’t choose to pick up in store until the shipping is obviously more expensive than the money and time I spend on the way to store.
  • The most important issue is whether I can get a good deal
  • The online shopping in US is much more customer-orient and satisfying

Answers from the three subjects are somewhat identical, especially their attitude in regard to credit card security. On the one hand, it’s reasonable to conclude that e-business overall in US does a good job in protecting consumers’ privacy, which is the foundation for trust building; on the other, people are mature enough to face this mode and online shopping is no longer brand new. Also, all of they three prefer online purchase rather than traditional shopping, which indicate the previous “less trust” is changing into “more trust” or “fully trust” (as one said “because I trust the seller”). According to their reaction, “perceived risk in transactions” is not “distant, unfamiliar entities” (p. 444) any more, whether the product matches the consumer or not is the concern or the risk; they care about if they purchase the right thing, which does not result from distrust. It seems like the biggest barrier for online shopping is the shipment charges.

Moreover, good experiences from friends’ successful online transactions probably do not necessarily lead to purchasing decision. Still, it is the buyers’ market when it comes to online shopping. I think my findings are consistent with the theory presented by Mutz, which claims level of generalized social trust is increasing because of e-business. I cannot arbitrarily conclude that older people trust online shopping less but my mom does always say she doesn’t feel safe online whereas “bricks and mortar” businesses are more reliable. At least, for the Internet-generation, they are able to discern good or bad deal somehow, and they basically trust what are presented in cyber shopping malls.


~ by luckymaggie on October 1, 2010.

3 Responses to “Online shopping: we know what we want”

  1. I think we should differentiate purchasing from reputable corporations and individuals. For me, official site promises better quality, reliable and speedy shipping. I recently purchased several t-shirts from A&F. When I got the package, I realized one item is missing. I immediately wrote to A&F, and they responded quickly and promised to sent me the missing item as soon as possible. However, when dealing with individuals who do not possess the same amount of credibility than large corporations do, buyer’s risk-taking capability becomes fundamental. Maybe it needs some investigation. As Mutz pointed out, e-commencing would only be influential to social trust at its early stages, as more and more people start purchasing online, soon the trusting issues won’t be a problem.

  2. Comments for blog 6

  3. I realized while reading your responses that I also really appreciate the convenience of not going to the store. It’s a little bit strange because when we order online, we have to wait several days (sometimes longer). But to me, that seems so much better than going to the store!

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