Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Influence of Consumers' Online Decision-Making Style on Comparison Shopping Proneness and Perceived Usefulness of Comparison Shopping Tools

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

Influence of Consumers' Online Decision-Making Style on Comparison Shopping Proneness and Perceived Usefulness of Comparison Shopping Tools

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Applications to support online comparison shopping are expected to become increasingly available to consumers. However, not all consumers equally engage in online comparison shopping and, thus, would not necessarily benefit from such tools. The study proposes that the perceived usefulness of comparison shopping tools depends on consumers' comparison shopping proneness, which in turn is influenced by consumers' online decision-making styles. An online survey using a consumer research panel was conducted to test the hypotheses in the context of travel comparison shopping tools. The results suggest that some consumer decision-making style dimensions influence comparison shopping proneness while others have no influence. Perceived usefulness of comparison shopping tools is influenced by comparison shopping proneness as well as directly by some of the online decision-making style dimensions. Implications for online marketing and directions for future research are provided.

Keywords: Online decision-making style, comparison shopping proneness; online shopping; comparison shopping tools

1. Introduction

The Internet promises to increase the efficiency of online shopping by improving the availability of product information and reducing buyer search costs [Alba et al., 1997; Bakos, 1997; Johnson et al., 2004]. Searching for product information and buying goods online have indeed become popular activities [Farag et al., 2007]. However, with the availability of more Web sites featuring more product options, comparing choice alternatives and selecting the most preferred option can become a daunting task for consumers [Wan, Menon & Ramaprasad, 2007]. Emerging technologies such as comparison shopping tools, which display product alternatives side-by-side, or comparison shopping agents, which gather information about choice alternatives for the consumer, have been identified as important applications which will increasingly support consumers in their e-shopping, specifically their comparison shopping [Moukas et al. 2000]. Marmorstein, Grewal and Fishe [1992] found that the perceived value of time spent shopping and enjoyment of shopping play a big role in explaining why consumers engage in comparison-shopping. In addition, consumers differ considerably in their motivations to shop [Tauber, 1972], in terms of their perceived or actual search costs and their loyalty to brands or stores [Chen, Narasimhan & Zhang, 2001], their familiarity with comparison shopping tools [Kocas, 2002], as well as in terms of how they make decisions when they shop [Sproles & Kendall, 1986]. Thus, it can be assumed that consumers will differ in their propensity to engage in comparison shopping and that not all consumers will readily adopt comparison shopping tools.

Comparison shopping is usually associated with finding the desired product for the best price. Time spent comparison shopping might serve as an important factor influencing a consumer?s perception of decision quality [Kruger et al., 2004]. Whether great emphasis is placed on decision quality or not and whether decisions are mostly driven by price considerations depends on a consumer?s decision-making style. As one of the factors that influence consumer purchasing behavior, decision-making styles have received significant attention from consumer behavior researchers. Decision-making style research suggests that consumers approach shopping with certain decision-making traits that combine to form a consumer?s decision-making style [Walsh, Mitchell & Hennig-Thurau, 2001]. Whereas many studies have tested decision-making styles for traditional offline shopping [Hafstrom, Chae & Chung, 1992; Durvasula, Lysonski & Andrew, 1993; Bakewell & Mitchell, 2003; Mitchell & Walsh, 2004; Tai, 2005], decision-making styles have not been widely researched in the online context [Yang & Wu, 2006; Cowart & Goldsmith, 2007; Park, 2007]. In particular, whether consumers? …

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