Social Comparison, Social Presence, and Enjoyment in the Acceptance of Social Shopping Websites

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

With businesses seeking to seize the momentum of social media and social networking, technology-enabled social commerce has emerged to combine the power of online social networking with shopping. This study examines an emerging area in E-commerce, i.e., social commerce. Extending the online consumer behavior typology, this study categorizes online consumer behaviors into three types: transactional, informational, and social. While traditional E-commerce supports the transactional and informational aspects of online shopping, social commerce fulfils the social aspects of shopping, and potentially enhances the informational aspect as well. This research examines the online shopper as a prospective user of an emerging social commerce platform, the social shopping website, which are sites designed specifically to support social interactions while online consumers shop. The study augments the Technology Acceptance Model with constructs that enhance the specificity of the model to the social shopping application of social commerce. The model was empirically tested and supported. The results provide empirical evidence to support the importance of distinguishing the social aspect of shopping from the information and transactional aspects, as well as the potential advantage to using technology to promote social interactions on E-commerce sites. Implications and future research are discussed.

Keywords: Social commerce, social shopping, social comparison, social presence, enjoyment

1. Introduction

Social networking technologies continue to gain popularity under the media spotlight. Seeking to tap into the potentials of such technologies for e-commerce to retain existing customers and attract new ones, businesses are actively exploring new methods to combine the power of social networking with online and offline sales. Social commerce has emerged as the latest innovation in e-commerce by combining online social networking with shopping. The distinctive feature of social commerce is its focus on supporting the social aspect of an online shopping experience. In contrast, traditional e-commerce technologies tend to focus exclusively on improving the efficiency of online shopping, providing features such as product search, product categorization, and personalized recommendations based on previous purchases.

Curty and Zhang conducted a longitudinal study of fifteen social commerce sites, and found social features on these sites as early as the late 1990s, long before social networking technologies become popular [Curty and Zhang, 2011]. Companies such as Proctor & Gamble began enhancing their websites to allow consumers to share their experiences of products with other consumers online, and to create online shopping communities [Vranica, 2008]. The social shopping website emerged as a new e-commerce model, designed specifically as an online social networking community devoted exclusively to online shopping. Social shopping sites such as Kaboodle and ThisNext were developed to enable consumers to share shopping advice and recommendations with likeminded individuals. Another application example included Facebook's 2007 introduction of a feature that allowed a user's purchases on a participating website, such as Overstock.com, to automatically appear as an RSS feed on the user's friends' Facebook pages. This feature was later modified due to privacy concerns [Vara, 2007]. Facebook has since moved to a revised model in which users can choose to opt-in to engage in social commerce activities such as sharing RSS feeds or purchasing recommendations with their friends on Facebook.

This paper investigates the social aspect of social commerce, and proposes a new framework to understand the adoption of social shopping websites. In particular, social factors such as social comparison, social presence, as well as enjoyment are examined to augment the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) for the specificity of social commerce applications. …