College Students' Perception of Electronic Commerce and Internet Purchasing

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Advances in microprocessor and communication technology during the last few years has made the Internet the most challenging area in the field of management information systems. Today, millions of people have become aware of the usefulness of e-mail and the Internet for accessing information through PC-modem and telephone lines. The Internet is a computer network connecting more than one hundred thousand individual networks all over the world (Laudon & Laudon, 1996; 1997). Using the Internet, people communicate through e-mail, Usenet Newsgroup, chatting, FTP, Telnet, and World Wide Web (WWW). Millions of web sites have been created for commercial and educational purposes (Lee, Osborne, & Chen, 1996).

The Internet has been used in defense and academic research for many years. The commercial use of the Internet, also referred to as electronic commerce or e-commerce, was not permitted until the early 1990s because the government subsidized the Internet (McKeown & Watson; 1997). Forrester Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts expects online sales to increase from $4.8 billion in 1998 to $17 billion in the year 2001 (Furger, 1998). Why is the Internet becoming a powerful tool for marketing and communication? There are many reasons, the main one being that the Internet connects more than 40 million people from 100 countries. Consumers can access information from a remote location through the Internet if they are connected to a telephone line or a network. Another reason that the Internet is becoming a powerful tool for marketing and communication is that it provides a variety of services. For example, e-mail provides communication between consumers and companies, and through electronic data interchange (EDI), buyers and sellers can exchange standard business transaction documents such as invoices or purchase orders. Finally, the ability to combine video clips into the Internet is a significant step in establishing Internet marketing as a powerful communication forum.

The purpose of this research paper is to investigate the perceptions of college students on the uses and successes/failures of Internet purchasing and the concept of electronic commerce. College students represent individuals who are more knowledgeable in technology than individuals in previous generations. This study provides information related to the following research questions:

1. What are the primary functions of college students in using the Internet for purchasing products or services?

2. What are the obstacles to consumer purchasing on the Internet? Is security a primary concern as suggested in the literature? Can different payments be used to avoid the security problems?

3. Which presentation format (hypertext, audio, or video form) in Internet marketing is the most persuasive to consumers?

4. How often do college students use the Internet? How long do college students use the Internet per week (e.g., checking product information)?

5. What products are popular in Internet purchasing and communications?

6. What are the characteristics of the students who use the Internet to purchase products and services?

LITERATURE REVIEW

Numerous studies have been written about the Internet. Many of these studies focus on technical topics, case studies., and the use of the Internet for educational purposes (Carroll, 1994; Kanuk, 1996; Vernon, 1996; Ullman, William & Emal, 1996; Mahmoon & Hirt, 1995). Knowledge about the Internet, however, is still in the early stages simply because the Internet has become popular only in the last few years. While a fair amount of case studies in e-commerce (e.g., Amazon.com) have been discussed, (Hitt, Ireland,& Hoskisson, 1998), few empirical studies have concentrated on the theoretical construction of using the Internet for consumer purchasing. Technical barriers such as speed, security and maintenance are the main concerns in using the Internet in marketing. …