Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

A Social Commerce Intention Model for Traditional E-Commerce Sites

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

A Social Commerce Intention Model for Traditional E-Commerce Sites

Article excerpt


Social media has changed how relationships are established in society [52], [59]. Social media are a group of Internet-based applications which facilitate the creation and exchange of user-generated content [32]. Users share information and opinions about products and brands, amongst other functionalities [36]. As such, consumers no longer depend on the information provided by companies through traditional channels or on their websites [7], [48].

Making a purchase is a largely social act [39], meaning that social media relationships have a significant effect on consumer behaviour [25], [36]. With this in mind, e-commerce businesses have incorporated social tools (e.g. forums, chat rooms, recommendation systems, communities, social networks) to help users to contact other consumers and facilitate the purchase decision [39]. This interaction between consumers during the buying process has given rise to the term social commerce (SC) [36]. Although there is no standard definition of the term, "social commerce generally refers to the delivery of e-commerce activities and transactions via the social media environment, mostly in social networks and by using Web 2.0 software" [35] p. 6. Therefore, SC is a form of e-commerce in which customers use social tools to generate, search for and share information and opinions about products, in addition to making a purchase [44], [54], [57], [59]. Traditional e-commerce and SC are different in that the first only incorporates tools to facilitate commercial transactions, whereas the second also has social tools which take commercial advantage of the interactions between the users themselves and between users and the organization [7], [13].

There are two main SC site configurations: social networking sites with integrated commercial features that allow for advertising and transactions (e.g. Facebook); and traditional e-commerce sites with integrated social tools (e.g. Amazon) [35]. Each configuration is designed to meet different objectives and establishes different types of relationships between their users. Whilst traditional e-commerce sites mainly seek usability, web quality, system quality, information quality and playfulness, social networking sites are designed to generate conversations and communities which lead to greater user participation, without jeopardizing system quality [31]. These two types of platform provide different tools: social networking sites centre more on the use of 'like' and 'share' buttons; traditional e-commerce sites make greater use of rating and review systems.

User participation is crucial to SC - without this, the content which is valuable to other consumers would not be generated [35], [36], [44], [57]. It is therefore useful to understand the user motivations which affect their SC intention [27], [59], [60]. Customer participation in SC includes direct and indirect business transactions. 1) Direct transactions encompass purchase behaviour during the purchase phase of a client decision. 2) Indirect transactions include requesting and sharing information (e.g. referral and eWOM) when setting goals, searching for information, product selection and post-purchase, using social tools [59]. User participation enables supply to be better tailored to demand owing to greater information exchange, which increases customer satisfaction and boosts profitability [13], [41].

All of this has led to an increased interest in SC research, although empirical research is still limited [7], [37], [62]. Previous studies have analysed the evolution of SC and how it differs from traditional e-commerce [13], [57], the influence of product recommendation and review systems on consumer behaviour [20], [58], and SC intention for social networks [7], [36], [44], [59], [60]. For the latter, previous studies have analysed such aspects as motivating factors which induce participation (e.g. relationship quality, system quality), links with other users which lead to a greater level of participation, cultural aspects which play a role and user behaviour. …

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