Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Banking with a Personalized Touch: Examining the Impact of Website Customization on Commitment

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Banking with a Personalized Touch: Examining the Impact of Website Customization on Commitment

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

It is widely accepted as a truth in the business industry that customization is an indispensable element for viable e-commerce websites. However, some critical questions have been overlooked: does the inclusion of website customization induce users' commitment to the website more than does its absence? Do certain types of website customization enhance relational bonds while others are detrimental? The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of types of customization on commitment toward the website. Building on the conceptual framework of levels of processing [Craik & Lockhart 1973], this paper identified three types of customization: remembering, comprehension and association. An experiment with pretest-post test control group (N = 100) was designed to assess the impact of these three types of customization on commitment to the website. The results indicated that comprehension- and association-type of customization significantly induce higher commitment to, and a higher tendency to stay with, the website than that without any customization. Remembering-type of customization was found insignificant on all dependent measures as compared with non-customization. Implications of the findings are discussed.

Keywords: customization types, commitment, levels-of-processing

1. Introduction

Website customizations have drawn considerable attention from the fields of business and web design. Business scholars and practitioners consider customization to be one of the essential determinants of a viable online business bringing customers a sense of the old village market, where a shopkeeper knows every patron, interacts with each of them differently, and adjusts his or her services to each patron's individual needs, allowing the patron to feel a close relational bond with the shopkeeper [Lounsbury 2000; Schoder & Madeja 2004]. The ultimate goal of customization is to induce a user's commitment to a relationship with the website [Tiwana 2001; Wells & Wolfers 2000]. Research shows that profits could be exponentially increased from every committed customer [Berger & Nasr 1998].

Because of the Internet's great potential and promise, e-commerce practitioners have plunged headlong into website customization. For example, websites now greet users by name when they revisit a website, make personal recommendations when a user is looking for a book, or send an e-mail to alert a user about the latest special offers based on completed online questionnaires. Enormous industry faith has been put in customization as a panacea, no matter what sorts of customization are offered, because the individual needs of each consumer can be satisfied [Fineberg 1999; Kalyanaraman & Sundar 2006]. However, some customization strategies make the use of the website more complicated, distracting users and, as a consequence, leading users away from the websites. The consequences of the relationships between these customized websites and customers are even worse than that of websites without any customizations because of those undesirable customization strategies [Fournier et al. 1998; PWC 2001]. E-business vendors merely rush to cash in on potential rewards and assume that customization is a desirable element regardless of the types of customization. This gives rise to some critical questions: Does website customization induce users' commitment to the website more than its absence? Do certain types of website customizations produce a beneficial effect in enhancing relational bonds with the users while others are detrimental?

Communication scholars have made attempts to resolve these questions. Research on customization has branched into two main bodies of work, one focusing on the nature and dimensions of customization [Kalyanaraman & Sunder 2006], the other borrowing concepts from interpersonal interaction to study the influence of customization [Fogg et al 1997; Moon 2000; Moon & Nass 1996b; Reeves & Nass 1996;]. …

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