Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Impulsive Buying Behavior in Online Fashion Apparel Shopping: An Investigation of the Influence of the Internal and External Factors among Indian Shoppers

Academic journal article South Asian Journal of Management

Impulsive Buying Behavior in Online Fashion Apparel Shopping: An Investigation of the Influence of the Internal and External Factors among Indian Shoppers

Article excerpt

Consumer impulsive buying is a widespread phenomenon and has received considerable attention in the study of consumer behavior in traditional retail environment. Studies have shown that up to 40% of all purchases made in the retail stores can be classified as impulsive purchases (Hausman, 2000). Online shopping is a newer phenomenon, especially in India, where online stores are still trying to find their roots in this new dynamic marketplace. Studies showing that the frequency of Internet usage for shopping online went up from 81% in 2014 to 86% in 2015. The amount of money spent online on fashion apparel (clothing and accessories) increased dramatically from 48.6% in 2014 to 60.2% in 2015. Further statistics show that 60% of the people who visited specific category websites, in this case retailers for clothing and accessories, did so for the purpose of making a purchase. (LiveMint, 2016)

Environmental and atmospheric cues play an important role as triggers and influencers of impulsive buying in traditional as well as online retail, but the nature of the triggers differ. In online retail, the lack of physical proximity or experiential touch of the product creates a considerable need for browsing and information seeking as part of the consumer buying behavior leading up to a spontaneous purchase (Kim, 2008; Park and Kim, 2008).

The Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-O-R) framework (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974) hypothesizes the effect of environmental cues (stimuli) on an individual's emotional state (organism), leading to a behavioral outcome (response). This research considers the impact of environmental cues of an online store which consider aspects of website aesthetics, functionality, information availability and promotional value that contribute to the individuals emotional state. In this research, browsing activity is the emotional state (organism) being studied which is indicative of prolonged interest, experienced based on the stimuli.

Browsing is an activity that plays a key role in an online shopping environment but can often be an activity that is not followed through with a purchase. Thus, apparel retailers need to constantly find ways to engage the audience as well as present stimuli during the process that could lead to purchase of the product. Retailers must create a mix of utilitarian and hedonic aspects of the atmospheric cues to attract browsers and first-time visitors (Park, Kim, Funches and Foxx, 2012).

The behavioral outcome (response) under test in the current study is the individual's urge to buy, which is indicative of their likelihood to make an impulsive purchase. In traditional retail, apparel is considered a high impulse product category (Bellenger, Robertson and Hirschman, 1978; Park and Kim, 2008) and researchers have been studying this phenomenon to see how this product-specific attribute applies in the online context for retailers of fashion apparel.

Apart from the environmental cues, the individual consumer characteristics such as impulse buying tendency or impulsiveness, are also an important consideration when studying impulsive buying behavior. Independent of the environmental cues, this research also tests the relationship between individual character traits with the urge to buy.

A research gap exists in this area of study specific to the context of Indian online shoppers. Online shopping is still an upcoming phenomenon in India and thus there is a scope for studying the impact of various factors on Indian consumers. This study focuses on online fashion apparel stores, as there is a need for impulsive buying behavior to be studied in a product specific context. This will better enable us to understand consumer behavior and the impulse buying phenomenon online. Furthermore, there is scope for better understanding the stimuli in the online context that affect a consumer's decisions and impulsive buying behavior.

Thus, the research questions posed in this study utilize the S-O-R framework for measuring the impact of environmental cues from online apparel stores on browsing activity, and its subsequent impact on the consumers urge to buy. …

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