Web-Based Shopping: Consumers' Attitudes towards Online Shopping in New Zealand

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The growing use of Internet in New Zealand provides a developing prospect for E-marketers. If E-marketers know the factors affecting online New Zealand buyers' behaviour, and the relationships between these factors and the type of online buyers, then they can further develop their marketing strategies to convert potential customers into active ones, while retaining existent online customers. This paper is part of larger study, and focuses on factors which online New Zealand buyers keep in mind while shopping online. It also investigates how different types of online buyers perceive websites differently. This research found that website design, website reliability/fulfilment, website customer service and website security/privacy are the four dominant factors which influence consumer perceptions of online purchasing. The four types of online New Zealand buyers; i. e., trial, occasional, frequent and regular online buyers; perceived the four website factors differently. These buyers have different evaluations of website design and website reliability/fulfilment but similar evaluations of website security/privacy issues, which implies that security/privacy issues are important to most online buyers. The significant discrepancy in how online purchasers perceived website design and website reliability accounts for the difference in online purchase frequencies.

Key words: Internet, website, online New Zealand buyers, shopping behaviour.

1. Introduction

It has been more than a decade since business-to-consumer E-commerce first evolved. Scholars and practitioners of electronic commerce constantly strive to gain an improved insight into consumer behaviour in cyberspace. Along with the development of E-retailing, researchers continue to explain E-consumers' behaviour from different perspectives. Many of their studies have posited new emergent factors or assumptions which are based on the traditional models of consumer behaviour, and then examine their validity in the Internet context. Butler and Peppard [1998], however, explained the failure of IBM's sponsored web shopping malls by the naive assumption of the true nature of online consumer behaviour. A critical understanding of consumer behaviour in the virtual environment, as in the physical world, cannot be accomplished if the factors affecting the purchase decision are ignored or misunderstood. For instance, online consumers' concerns about lack of opportunity to examine products prior to purchase are regarded as the specific factor affecting the online buying decision. Therefore, several researchers proposed that consumers' shopping behaviour in online shops may be fundamentally different from that in the traditional environment [Alba et al., 1997; Winer et al., 1997]. More frequent online buyers are expected to use online shopping more frequently as it enhances their trust in the respective website than for less frequent online buyers. Clearly, electronic markets have some unique economic characteristics. If E-marketers intend to ignore the fundamental truths about consumer behaviour due to this point, most of the promises of E-marketing in the businessto- consumer context will not be fulfilled [Nunes, 2001].

Internet is changing the way consumers shop and buy goods and services, and has rapidly evolved into a global phenomenon. Many companies have started using the Internet with the aim of cutting marketing costs, thereby reducing the price of their products and services in order to stay ahead in highly competitive markets. Companies also use the Internet to convey, communicate and disseminate information, to sell the product, to take feed back and also to conduct satisfaction surveys with customers. Customers use the Internet not only to buy the product online, but also to compare prices, product features and after sale service facilities they will receive if they purchase the product from a particular store. Many experts are optimistic about the prospect of online business. …