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Factors Affecting Online Customer Behavior

An Exploration of the Factors Affecting Online Customer Behavior


Many people contributed in different capacities to the successful completion of this research. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to:

  • My heavenly Father, the creator of the Earth and the Heavens, for the strength and grace to carry out this research.
  • My supervisor………………………………………………….
  • The respondents, this research would not have been successful was it not for your interest in this work.  The fact that you willingly decided to share your hearts’ deep thoughts with me and others who may benefit from this research is highly appreciated.
  • (Any family member) for…….
  • (Family member or friend) for………


I am humbled to dedicate this dissertation to God Almighty, the maker of the Earth and the Heavens, who has made it possible for me to enter the path of my personal fulfilment despite inevitable job commitments. The same applies to my invaluable parents and other family members.


Appreciation of the internet as one of today’s most popular marketing avenues has motivated recent studies to investigate consumer motivations that determine or affect their online shopping behavior. In spite of that, it has not been clearly comprehended as to what factors influence the process of online shopping decision.  This study set out to provide an overview of the factors that affect online consumer behavior. Through an employment of a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative approach, an attempt was made to have a glimpse of what really influences online customers to make the decisions they do as regards their purchase activities through internet. Conveniently, it was deemed fit to compare, albeit shallowly, the processes of decision making in both online and offline scenarios. It was hoped that by so doing, the differences that exist in the two scenarios’ marketing communication processes would be understood and as such help gain insight into the factors under investigation. The constant question at the back of the researcher’s mind throughout all the stages of this study was: What factors motivate online customers to make decisions to buy or not to buy? As it were, quantitative evidence describing internet shopping in its actuality was obtained, and an explanation sought as to what influences customers. Largely, the following construction has built on relevant literature while at the same time examining consumer behavior as informed by questionnaires. In order to achieve a greater degree of accuracy in any inferences to be made, quantitative and co-integration research methods were employed. Insight gained from this study led to development of managerial implications which it is believed would help online stores improve their marketing / business environment.

Keywords: online shopping, online shopping decision, online customer behavior, perceived security, privacy concern, product involvement, consumer attitude.



1.1 Introduction

This chapter presents an introduction to this study. As it were, covered in this chapter are aspects that include the theoretical background of the research (study), research rationale, and the cardinal purpose of the research as well as its objectives. Research questions and the importance of the research have also not been left out.

1.2 Theoretical background

For a period spanning over a decade since the invention and gradual evolution of e-commerce, practitioners and researchers in the field of electronic e-commerce have constantly been in pursuit of a deeper understanding of cyberspace consumer behavior (Gatautis, Kazakeviciute, & Tarutis, 2014). Even with further developments in retail e-commerce that have seen it get to a whole new level, researchers continue to seek an explanation of different perspectives of consumer attitudes that affect their decisions concerning what they do online. Indeed, such a comprehension would help managers and owners to take optimal measures that would see them significantly improve business over the internet.

Is it not important that one understands what e-commerce entails? Precisely, it is the selling and buying of services and goods online (Singh, & Singh, 2014). Internet gains relevance as the best available tool and resource for e-commerce. It is noted that the volume of trade that is conducted in this electronic platform has increased with the continuous widespread of technology in general and internet in particular (Lin, & Lekhawipat, 2014). As such, e-commerce now includes the online transfer of funds as well as general marketing that encompasses supply chain management operating over the internet (Yulin et al, 2014).

A completely new pattern has been created in the way people traditionally shop following technological invention in form of internet (Malik, & Guptha, 2013). A major implication is that as opposed to the old way, customers are no longer confined within specific time frames or locations. Opening hours no longer count much in the business world, at least those that have appreciated the online avenue of doing business (Ning, Yan, & Xiao, 2014).  Customers may become virtually active anytime anywhere and buy the products or services they desire. In this and many other respects, the internet stands out as a new medium fro the exchange of information and general communication which is ever present in people’s lives (Sagar, Bora, Gangwal, Gupta, Kumar, & Agarwal, 2013). It is absolutely true that the number of users of the internet is constantly going up, much the same way as the number of people carrying out purchases online (Joines, Scherer, & Sheufele, 2003). Managers of businesses have appreciated this development and moved to tap into the power of e-commerce. An examination of some of the solutions adopted by sinking business across the globe reveals their adoption of e-commerce and broader use of the internet as a redemption tool. Indeed, much progress has been achieved by many firms courtesy of this tool, making e-business as one of the most effective and important sales and marketing tools (Mishra, & Singh, 2014). A customer can basically buy anything that is availed through the internet.

In order that a critical understanding of online consumer behavior be achieved, it is crucial to first explore the factors that affect purchase decisions. Oftentimes, these factors are unequivocal, or ignored all the same (Grant, Clarke, & Kyriazis, 2007). Nevertheless, customer behavior in the electronic business environment is influenced by the very factors that affect their purchase decisions i. e decisions on what to buy, whether to buy or not, or when to buy. For instance, the concerns raised by most online consumers concerning their fear of a lack of opportunity to examine products before any purchase has been specifically regarded as one of the most influential factors at play as far as purchase decisions are concerned.  Thus, a proposal has been made by a numbers of researchers that the purchasing behaviors of online shoppers can be significantly different from those of customers in the traditional business setting (Chieh-Min, & Kimsuwan, 2013). A note is made that more frequent users of the internet are likely to get more confident and have trust in what is being offered through the internet in opposition to those that do not frequently visit the web. Clearly, electronic business dynamics are quite different from those of the conventional business setting (Cheng-Hsun, & Ting-Yun, 2012). They need to be understood so as to have effective and optimal marketing that takes into consideration the needs, worries, and concerns of customers in the online business environment. That way, business opportunities presented by the connectivity and interactivity offered by the web can be maximized. After all, customer is king.

E-business enables various types of enterprises to increase profitability through increased sales while at the same time offering them an excellent opportunity to establish and maintain direct relationships with their customers (Emmari, 2014). It has been central in the process of globalization of many firms. As a result, more global companies can now market their products with ease across the globe, conveniently exploiting the big market created by web users. Topaloğlu, (2012),  made note of the competitive prices of online products owed to the fact that processes like shipping and delivery have to be taken care of. Also, other schools of thought have suggested a review of the entire system due to concerns arising from customer fears that their credit cards can be hacked.

In a word, there is need to understand the psychological state of customers engaging in online shopping since that will help know the reasons behind reluctance of some customers to make purchases online (Rahman, 2014). Major concerns that have emerged include insecurity of debit and credit cards, passwords, and fears that accounts could be hacked and access gained to personal information. Some also do not trust the online transacting system in terms of reliability and assurance of privacy. They think security breaches can bring about associated social risks.

1.3 Rationale of Research

The last two decades have seen rapid development of the internet and the rise of an economy driven by an entrepreneurial technological innovation that virtually connects every corner of the world, one to the other. Along with the mentioned development of internet came a rise in the number of web users, often encouraged by improved connection and browsing speeds. New advanced innovations in the field of information technology have made it easier for firms to enhance and promote better images of their services and products through the web. The online platform becomes attractive to customers since they are able to gain access to detailed product information, something they can not do in the conventional offline business setting. Those who have been accustomed to online shopping have shown a tendency to have a preference of it over offline shopping. As such, consumer behavior has changed from the traditional setting to fit the online mode. Despite the advantages presented by operating business online, it has come to the realization of many companies that a need to understand the purchase behavior of online consumers is inevitable as such success would be greatly informative as concerns optimal business decisions and measures. Without doubt, the firms will continue to operate in a relatively heterogeneous, dynamic and turbulent business environment if enough is not done to sufficiently appreciate the factors that affect the behavior of online consumers. Appreciation of the said factors made the rationale of this research more vivid since a deeper comprehension of the same will undoubtedly make it possible for appropriate measures to be devised for the effective management of the factors. The research focused on specified segments of web users as shall be made clear in the course of this dissertation’s construction.

1.4 Research Question and Objectives

A scientific approach was adopted from the very beginning of this research. To improve the credibility and reliability of this study, and as such the trustworthiness of any inferences to be made from it, it was considered necessary to develop research objectives and questions which it was hoped would be satisfied building on the raw data that would be collected in the course of the study.

1.4.1 Objectives

These were clearly laid out as thus:

Research Objective 1: To undertake a critical review of available contemporary literature of the factors that influence online customer behavior.

Research Objective 2: To carry out an exploration of the extent to which the factors (in research objective 1 above) affect online customers’ purchase decisions.

Research Objective 3: To examine how online shopping differs from the traditional offline shopping environment.

Research Objective 4: : To critically evaluate how various factors affecting online customer behavior can be best managed for business optimization, and as such come up with recommendations for mangers of online enterprises/stores on how to achieve greater success towards that end.

1.4.2 Research questions

The following questions guided the research:

Research Question 1: What factors affect /shape online consumer behaviour and attitudes?

Research Question 2: How do online shopping and the traditional offline shopping compare and/or contrast in terms of what they offer to customers?

Research Question 3: How can managers of businesses or enterprises operating in the online platform best handle/manage the factors that affect online customers’ purchase decisions, in order that they may increase volume of sales transactions for ultimate optimal profitability?

1.5 Significance of the Research

1.5.1 Managers of businesses operating online

This research is of much importance to managers of online enterprises/ stores as it gives clear and better understanding of the factors that influence online customer behaviour. It gives much insight that is often sought, especially by global companies who engage with customers from all corners of the world, as to what influences them when deciding whether to buy or not, or when to buy. More specifically, the research will enlighten managers and others responsible for online business operations and enable them to better address the factors under investigation.

Operations managers and their counterparts in the sales docket grapple with numerous challenges in the present world business that is characterized by advanced technological innovations. Inventions and developments in the internet imply that various dynamics concerning market segments change from one place to another (Hung, Cheng, & Chen, 2012). The fact that they are able to virtually access customers from every region of the world implies that the factors that influence customer behaviour may change from one individual to another considering the general complexity in the demographic composition of the world. By exploring these factors rather exhaustively, this research becomes resourceful as far as shedding light on these factors is concerned. The said managers and supervisors are obliged to design and execute relevant mechanisms and devise innovative competencies as well as take any measures deemed necessary to cope with the factors that are the basis of this construction (Panda & Biranchi, n.d.). Truly, they are a target audience of the findings of this study since it is hoped they will help in that respect.

1.5.2 The Researcher

It has to be admitted that to a great extent, the research is principally an important part of the researcher’s academic accomplishment and fulfilment. All the same, it has provided an excellent avenue for the comprehension of the factors that influence online customer behaviour. The insight that has been gained from the research will remain helpful and relevant in present and future life, especially considering the fact that the researcher harbours entrepreneurial ambitions. It has provided a more vivid understanding on what influences purchase decisions of customers in the online platform.



  • Introduction

Almost every research activity calls for a comprehensive knowledge of the literature of the matter under investigation. As it were, the literature review deeply explains the theoretical rationale of the subject under study including relevant and/or related research already conducted (Chai, Das, & Rao, 2011). Through the review, one is able to have a clear picture of the relation between the matter at hand and findings emanating from the study. The literature review presented in this chapter revolved around the issues arising from the study’s primary objectives. A lion’s share of what was discussed relied greatly on earlier works as put forth in published materials of reference such as books and journals (Hong-Youl, 2004). This offered an overview of past activities that were coupled with findings of this study to draw appropriate inferences.

2.1 Theoretical review of past studies

Recent research has shown that internet/online shopping has become a fully effective business model that has been adopted by a good number of companies (Pingjun, & Jones, 2014). According to Vesterby and Chabert (2007), the internet makes it easier for firms to avail relevant information on available services and products to their customers. The two assert that in order for a customer to remember simple brand details like names, it calls for a company to carry out an extensive online campaign that would lead to trust between the company and the respective customer. To examine online consumer behavior is such a complex undertaking that is now regarded as one of those integral to general human behavior in the present world (Shiau, & Luo, 2012). As it were, to fully comprehend humans is an almost impossible task, something that makes studies complicated and full of ambiguities.  This complexity of consumer behavior poses a challenge to interested parties who would want to carry out research on the matter, including marketers (Jifeng, Sulin, & Han, 2012). Based on the very foundational concept of marketing, there is need to create a satisfying relationship between buyers and sellers in the online platform. Malcolm insists it is important for marketers to understand customer behavior in order to formulate and adopt effective market strategies.

Warner presents that consumer behavior mainly involves the physical and mental activities performed by segments of consumers or individual customers, which result in actions or decisions largely associated with purchase, disposal or use of services and/ or goods. He goes on to lay emphasis that there is a usually a collective undertaking of the behaviors related to consumption. For instance, there may be purchase decisions made by individuals but those consuming the goods or services are family members or groups, which the decision makers represent (Jifeng, Sulin, & Han, 2012). The case is the same considering organizations whose activities are informed by group/collective decisions. This implies that consumer behavior goes beyond purchasing, often extending to subsequent usage or disposal of the goods. A company well-informed on these behaviors is better positioned to make optimal marketing decisions (Malcolm). A model relatively different from online shopping is observed in traditional consumer shopping. As it were, the purchase process starts with problem recognition that prompts a search for information and consequential evaluation of available alternatives. It is after these purchase occurs, followed by post-purchase behavior. This is well elaborated by Rafiq, Fulford, & Lu, (2013). In the process of these serial actions, different consumer behavior perspectives emerge, namely: micro perspectives and macro perspectives. The former mainly entails decision theories whereas the latter have more to do with processes and modes of thought and information inquiry (Malcolm).

The dominant influences on consumer behavior are oftentimes dictated by internal and external factors. Internal factors are those that originate from the mind of the consumer (Rahman, & Hussain, 2014). On the flipside, external factors are defined by prevailing conditions of the surrounding, or simply environmental conditions. Irrespective of the nature of the factors, appreciation is made that they affect consumer behavior, in more ways than one, each in its own way. Warner divides the external influences into five main categories given as: Socio-economic factors, demographics, reference group and public policy, culture and sub-culture, as well as technology and marketing dynamics (Batautis, & Kazakevičiūtė, 2012). On the other hand, the internal influences fall into a broad bracket of psychological processes that encompasses attitudes, perception, learning, self image, motivation and semiotics (Malcolm). Besides these, a suggestion is made by Sheth 2007) that when shopping consumers usually have two types of motives namely: Functional and non-functional motives. More often than not, functional motives are those to do with time, the particular place to shop and general needs of the consumer. Such would entail specific shopping time as may be deemed convenient by the consumer, or the surrounding of the shopping place. For instance, a customer may want a place that has plenty of secure parking spaces. Also, one may be so choosy as regards the price of commodities or the availability of a wide variety of products from where to choose as per need (Racherla, Mandviwalla, & Connolly, 2012). As for the non-functional needs, they have more to do with, or rather are related to matters involving societal, cultural or general social values.

Traditional shopping is basically defined by the fundamental desire by customers to satisfy their needs by making relevant purchases. In most cases, customer behavior in this setting is influenced by the advertising and promotion efforts of the seller. For instance, it is through such efforts that a customer will be influenced to go to a store and purchase products, even new ones; something they would not have done had it been not for the marketing efforts of the seller (Tanrikulu, & Celilbatur, 2013). A deeper examination of the traditional shopping and the internet shopping that is the bedrock of this dissertation reveals that the former offers customers more convenient and interactive services.  Also, traditional shopping has its own array of conveniences such as ample shopping environment complimented by such aspects like parking space. However, it is noted that both aspects of shopping are in continuous bids to improve what they offer customer (customer satisfaction) by constantly learning from each other (Ghan, & Rizvi, 2012). For instance, in order to improve customer convenience, players in the traditional shopping platform have tried to move provide more spacious parking lots at shopping malls and making sure the malls re closer to residential areas so that customers do not have to travel long distances to get what they want. Noticeable improvements have also been made in the structure and design of counters. On the other hand, internet shopping has adopted 3D techniques that enhance virtual reality in the presentation of products. Miller (2000) is of the view that greater influence in the online shopping platform is highly likely to be born out of the type and nature of the services and products being offered. He presents that a number of factors play a central role in internet shopping. They are: technology, convenience, price, and the product itself.

According to Miller, (2010), the fact that online shopping does not limit the customer as to when and where  to buy presents them (customers) with such a convenient  that can not be accorded in the traditional shopping setting. In other words, they can make purchases anytime anywhere they like. This is largely implied by the consideration that they can browse the internet twenty four hours a day, and seven days a week (24/7) either from home or the office. They can purchase online for as long as they are connected to the internet. A significant benefit derived from this type of shopping is that time-starved customers are saved the ‘headache’ of having to physically move from store to store looking for products. Perhaps it simultaneously offers them a way to purchase according to their needs, even as they save money and time. This can be further emphasized since shopping online would mean no transport costs are incurred (Khan, & Rizvi, 2012). In opposition to traditional shopping, one does not have to wait in the line for their turn to be served. The pressure that one may usually experience as they deal with the sales personnel is conveniently eliminated in web shopping. In light of this, one is persuaded to agree that online shopping is indeed better than the traditional offline shopping. Miller puts forth that much of the convenience that is enjoyed in the online shopping platform is owed to technological advancement. Indeed, strides in development of technology have played a key role in the innovation and improvements in web-based shopping (Tong, Ineson, & Green, 2013).  In the last two decades, it has come to the realization of many firms that new technology has to be embraced if much has to be achieved in online marketing. For that reason, many have adopted advanced techniques in virtual reality and 3D graphics so as to enhance product presentation as to be viewed by prospective customers. Indeed, those that have done this have gained competitive advantage that has granted them an edge above their competitors (Lai, & Zhaocheng, 2012). Information technology advancements have made it simpler for marketers to offer customers comprehensive information regarding services and products. This is crucial in the customers’ decision making processes.

 It is true that more than one quarter of web users have had online shopping experience at some point. Various surveys have inferred that the number online shoppers who are willing to make payments online has gone up significantly. However, there is still a large portion that is not willing to pay online due to security concerns (L-Qasa, MD Isa, Norezam S, & Faaeq, 2013). This implies that the online payment security is still a major concern that deserves keen attention by online marketers.  It is one of the issues influencing online customer shopping behavior/purchase decisions. As expected, it has become one o f the areas with the highest budget allocations by retailers in internet service development. The technology required for optimality is so complex that more often than not the retailers have to seek the help of professional security providers to set up their e-business websites to suit customer needs (Mohammed, 2013).  They have to acquire reliable verification certificates to gain the confidence and trust of customers; that indeed it is safe to make payments online. Another aspect that ensures greater success in this regard is the development s of a virtual community. Kim, Hong, & Rho, (2013) argued in a report that online shopping is highly boosted by the inter-personal interactions that occur between service providers and customers. Through various features, customers have the opportunity to explore almost everything they want to know about the services and products being offered. Since parties in the various business interactions do not meet directly, it goes without saying that the online shopping is a convenient interface for customer interaction that not only makes them happy but also offers an intriguing shopping experience.

Prior studies in the marketing management domain shed light on customers’ perception of risks, and as such helps understand the purchasing behavior o f consumers in the online arena. Tao, Yaobin, & Bin, (2009) pointed out two types of risks that stand out. They include: financial risks and product category risks. Product category risks are those that focus on the product or service itself as regards the customer’s belief and expectations concerning their functionality (Dwivedi, 2008). On the other hand, financial risks correspond to whether or not the web is a safe shopping avenue for customers. More specifically, they define the reliability of using the internet to conduct financial transactions. A precise explanation of the relationship between marketing strategy and consumer behavior is given by Donal (2007). He explains that marketing strategy is fundamentally about increasing and improving the frequency and probability of buyer behavior. In order to succeed in this regard, customer wants and needs must be understood to the letter.

Jabr and Zhiqiang, (2014) explains that human motives and needs are inextricably related and as such the relation existing between them is so close that it makes it almost impossible to differentiate between them. For instance, people may purchase heavy coats because they would protect them from harsh weather (Piacentini, & Cui, 2013). An underlying main need in this case would be to keep up to speed with the latest trend in fashion. It has been observed that instances of impulse buying go up when there are promotion of products through discounted sales (Hark, Rim, & Lee, 2013). In the same manner, when the online marketing campaign is aggressive, consumers tend to make more and more purchases. Through this platform, the advertising message is directly delivered to them, and they can act on it via a single click. A purchase can be made instantly as thus.

A framework was created by Ariff, Yan, Zakuan, Bahari, & Jusoh, (2013), which they applied in their study that sought to explore the customers’ own understanding of their attitudes towards shopping in the web platform. Conveniently, beliefs and attitudes are separated from psychological characteristics of the consumer as determined by their prior (learning experience) (Király, Nagygyörgy, Griffiths, & Demetrovics, 2014). Most of the time, the customers are very sensitive to the evolution of product and service prices and would prefer to make purchases when prices are lowest. Along with the attention given to commodity price is the need to get the optimal value for their money. After comprehensively comparing the online shopping stage with the traditional one, Subramanian et al (2014) concluded that online shopping is more convenient than the traditional offline shopping. Their inference was informed by the fact that the internet allows the customer to get a lot of product and service information with the least quantity of effort as well as invested time (Polly, & Institute 2008). This presents the customer with a higher degree of convenience.

 In identifying and examining factors that affect online consumer behavior, Titko, & Lace, (2012) pointed out that marketing strategists must consider issues revolving around social-cultural influence, psychological matters, emotional factors as well as a variety of issues that have a lot to do with privacy. Customers’ experiences before purchase and that which they go through after purchase are also likely to affect future purchase decisions. In the same breath, Smith and Rupp present that customers are affected by a number of psychological factors like personality, motivation, perception, and individual attitudes and emotions (Lee, Noh, & Kim, H 2013). The trio point out that so as to ensure customers feel secure about giving certain personal details over the internet, it is important that it be made clear to them why certain details are important.

2.2 Schematic Conceptual Framework

The developed conceptual framework was based on the appreciation that the behaviors and attitudes of online customers is what will determine their purchase decisions i. e the decisions whether to by or not, or when to buy. Indeed, click through rates (CTRs) have a correlation with purchase decisions as determined by attitudes and general behavior. CTRs refer to the number of people who decide to click through ( an ad) to make a purchase or view product information.

Purchase decisions
Psychological factors Social (cultural factors) Security concerns Trust Privacy factors Convenience  
Online customer behavior




  • Introduction

In this chapter, the procedure and approach employed in the research are explained.  Presented herein are details on research design, research instrumentation, target population, and the technique employed in sampling. The sampling size has also been highlighted here, as well as data processing and analysis. In addition, the researcher deemed it necessary to clarify the research’s quality criteria atop the ethical considerations factored in during the research.

3.1 Research Design

The design employed in any research must go hand in hand with what is being investigated and is therefore dictated by it (the study). This research sought to carry out an exploration of the factors that affect the behavior of customers shopping in the online platform. The research’s pivotal data took both qualitative and quantitative forms. However, it must be noted that most aspects of the study employed a quantitative approach. An epistemological concept was also employed greatly in this study. This was considered appropriate since that would allow for more inclination towards objectivism (Phillips, & Young, 2009). Largely, this objectivism is banked on an ontological school of thought that is of the opinion that individuals face social phenomena as external facts which are beyond their influence and control. The data collection entailed employment of structured interviews. As should be the case, the respondents participating in the study were all granted the same (material) contexts of questioning so as to make sure there was harmony in various perspective of the phenomenon being investigated. This method of data collection is advantageous since it allows for a generation of definite answers. The research also made use of descriptive   statistics. Here, data is usually summarized through a statement of what is observed graphically and numerically from what has been sampled. This kind of approach is primarily concerned with the need to evaluate what ‘might be’ and ‘what is’ as they are applied in deeply investigating research questions.

As already implied, the study adopted a descriptive research design. Özdemir, (2012) gives an explanation that this conveniently refers to all that revolves around the research questions and design of data and its analysis, as they are applied in the exploration of a certain issue. This usually investigates and reports the way certain issues are regarded among the focus group, all along being guided by study objectives. It is noted by Zawiyah, and Mohd, (2012) that descriptive research primarily seeks to determine the attitudes, opinions, perceptions, and preferences of the researcher’s group of interest with the ultimate aim of coming up with a precise description.

 To ensure the research was comprehensive, survey methods of research were also adopted as they would be central in providing a holistic and detailed prescription of the phenomenon under investigation. More focus was laid upon description and interpretation of the collected information (Miles, & Huberman, 2004). It must be noted the research mainly aimed to use the data collected in verifying and answering the research questions and objectives as formulated. This kind of approach has been widely preferred due to the convenience attached to it in terms of finances and feasibility (Sarantakos, 2008). Also, the approach is very flexile in more ways than one. For these reasons, the descriptive and survey methods of research would be integral towards ensuring more comprehensive investigation of emerging issues and satisfaction of any questions that would arise in the course of the research (Cho, Im, Hiltz, & Fjermestad, 2002). As such, it would be possible to get a precise description of the nature of situations in their state of existence under the research since that would help accurately explore particular causes of the phenomenon under investigation. In that respect, the researcher would get a more accurate profile and picture of the situation on the ground. The information obtained when these methods are employed is without doubt first hand, as provided by the respondents themselves (Sridhar, & Srinivasan, 2012). This is the information that is used to come up with relevant and appropriate inferences and implications/ recommendations at the end of the study (Fox, & Long, 2000).

3.2 Target group

The research’s target group was the general public around the neighborhood of Cardiff Metropolitan University. That would include some tutors and students of some of the institutions of learning around the stated neighborhoods. Their participation precisely entailed them having to fill questionnaires whose composite questions centered on online shopping. The survey targeted a total of 120 people.

3.3 Sampling

3.3.1 Sampling Technique and Size

In the survey, participants of various ages were selected from the Cardiff neighborhood. In selecting each research sample, a random sampling technique was employed. It was important to record the age and gender of every respondent and that was done. The sample group comprised of 120 respondents and it was crucial that a random selection method was employed so as to ensure that all age-groups were evenly represented in the target population (Piercy, & Lane, 2009). If there was even and unbiased representation in the sample size, the reliability and credibility of the results would be eventually achieved (Yinyin, 2014).

3.3.2 Sampling Procedure

For this research, stratified random sampling was used in the selection of the people to be involved. Conveniently, an assumption was made that there existed no homogeneity as regards attributes between the different participants concerning the factors that affect online customer behavior. Since stratified random sampling uses a combination of both random and purposive sampling, it was preferred for this research. The process of stratification entailed dividing the target group into there age brackets namely those aged 17-25 years, 26-39 years , and those above 40 years of age.

3.3.3 Sample Size

Considering the time and resources available to the researcher, a sample of 80 people was used in the study survey.

Table1 Sample size distribution

Population CategoryTarget populationSample sizePercentage
17-25 years 26-39 years 40 years & above TOTALS30 60 30 120  20 40 20 8025 50 25 100

3.4 Research Instrumentation

The main research instrument employed was the questionnaire. The design of this research instrument adopted both closed and open-ended questions since it would be more appropriate considering the fact that an interpretation of the respondents’ activities would be required. Preference of the questionnaire was due to its convenience in the study. As it were, it would allow the researcher to gain access to a large sample in a short period of time with no need of extra hands. It was also necessary as it facilitated the avoidance of bias as is the case in interviews. To ensure a greater degree of honesty in answering the questions, it was ensured that anonymity was granted as they filled the questionnaires. In the development of the questionnaire, the questions were framed in such a way that they could easily give insight into the factors affecting customer behavior in the online platform. In other words, the instrument was designed to address the issue that formed the bedrock of the research. For enhancement of the questionnaire’s validity, a pilot study was carried out on a population similar to the study’s target group. This pilot study used a group of ten respondents. The main motivation behind the pilot study was to assess the consistency and clarity of the instrument so that any items discovered to be insufficient would be discarded or modified accordingly for improvement of quality and validity.

3.5 Data collection Method

Collection of data from the respondents was done through a self-administration of the questionnaires. The said instruments of research consisted of closed and open-ended questions posted to specific respondent selected to participate in the research. It must not be forgotten that it was sure the participants from whom data was collected were distributed across the various age brackets already indicated. This was a necessary measure to make sure there was unbiased representation of the overall population within the neighborhood of Cardiff Metropolitan University within the sample size. 

3.6 Data Processing and Analysis

To ensure wholeness and accuracy of the data collected, it was checked accordingly and that marked the first step in the analysis of data. Considering the approaches employed in the study, the data obtained was expected to be both qualitative and quantitative in nature. The analysis largely made use of descriptive statistics. For the descriptive aspect of the analysis, percentages were used as the main tool for analyzing closed questions. The open-ended ones were appropriately listed and their proportions approximated. Tables, charts and graphs were used to define how the various aspects of the collected data related to each other. Indeed, they were quite simple and cheap to compute. Greater accuracy of different values was achieved by employment of the Microsoft excel program in computing. Indeed, qualitative and quantitative aspects the analysis were achieved by generating the data into frequency counts. This was considered significant in ensuring the collected was scientifically assigned meaningful sense. That would make it easy for the researcher to conduct a sensible discussion of the results, and therefore, draw meaningful conclusions.

3.7 Quality Criteria of the Research

For further credibility in this research, quality cognizance has not been ignored. The reader is therefore invited to appreciate this effort and confirm rigor and quality in as much as trustworthiness may be objectively unattainable. In fact, trustworthiness is largely banked on the ability of the researcher to make the audience understand that the research is indeed helpful and meaningful, and that such meaningfulness is dictated by what they give as input.  To establish the degree of trustworthiness, contemplation is made of the regularity, objectivity, the value of truth and facts, and the relevance of various aspects. A scientific model of these dimensions simply interprets them to be dependability, confirmability, credibility, and transferability. Efforts geared towards the attainment of several criteria were made.  A discussion of the criteria follows.

Credibility is largely associated with the confidence of the researcher. Details of what is presented are dictated by the research design employed as well as specific perspective of the research and the respondents whose input is very central. To maintain this quality criterion in the research, a comparison was made between research findings and available literature. The literature review as presented was helpful in making sure any issues not covered by the target group were covered and not overlooked. Indeed it gave a deeper comprehension of the issues that emerged in the study’s findings.

What of dependability? To a great extent, this would seek to give insight into what would be expected if the research was carried out in a comparable context, or if the same respondents were involved. It would also help know if the findings would be the same incase of transferability i. e if it was to involve larger populations. Nevertheless, the researcher was of the opinion that the main objective of this study would not be generalizable per se, and as such what was provided by the participants was largely accommodated and consistency was expected. Therefore, room was given for the findings emanating from the research to be compared with other closely related contexts.

 Last but not least in the research’s quality effort is confirmability. This refers to the extent to which the research findings are the results of the primary investigation, and not the objectivity of the researcher. For assurance in this respect, study findings were presented to the course supervisor who gave necessary guidance and input which proved helpful in subsequent analysis.

3.8 Ethical Considerations

The need to address ethical issues in the course of the research was inevitable since it involved human participants (Vyas, & Raitani, 2014). An appreciation of all relevant issues was made to ensure that the privacy and confidentiality of participants were upheld. A shining example of some of these efforts was the fact that involvement of respondents was through informed consent. Truly, an assurance was made that the information to be obtained from respondents would be kept confidential. This has been clearly spelt out in the letter of introduction as presented in’ appendix I’

To succeed as far as ethical issues were concerned, the researcher invested considerable time and effort in explaining the necessary research procedures to potential respondents. That was dome before admission of the questionnaires. Therefore, before their participation through informed consent, important aspects of the study were explained to them, such as its objectives and aim. This was important in the ultimate completion of the study as they would understand why their participation was crucial. Participants were free to accept to participate in the study willingly, or turn down the request all the same. Moreover, in ensuring the confidentiality of the information given by respondents, an assurance was given that such information would not be revealed to any other party, and that it would be used solely for academic purposes. This must be done in any research of this nature to uphold the privacy that characterizes the practice (Zhou, & Amin, 2014). More precisely, if any names or personal details were to be obtained in the course of the research, they would not be made public, or be mentioned anywhere in this dissertation.



4.0 Introduction

A summary of the data analysis and findings emanating from this study is presented in this chapter.  Much of it was summarized and presented in form of charts and tables. Principally, it is a documentation of the factors that affect the behaviour and attitudes of customers in the online platform.

4.1 Presentation of Findings

The analysis (quantitative) comprised of both scientific and mathematical expressions of the questionnaire questions as employed in the study. Respondents were given a choice to decide upon questions and their answers analysed and presented as shall follow.

4.2 Response Rate

The results presented below are based on the response rate of the respondents randomly selected from Cardiff Metropolitan University neighbourhood. It is indicated that a 75% response rate was achieved as opposed to 25% of the sample size who never responded. Since this result represents a considerable percentage of people from the target population, it can be inferred that it provides a suitable platform for analysis.

Table2 Response Rate

CategorySample SizeRespondentsPercentage(to the sample size)
17-25 years 26-39 years 40 years & above Totals20 40 20 8015 35 10 6019 44 12 75

Figure1 Response Rate

4.3 Gender of Respondents

It was necessary to explore the gender aspect so as to know whether or not there was gender balance in the responses obtained. It can be seen that 60% of the respondents were female whereas 40% were male.

Table3 Gender of respondents

Male Female32 4840 60
 TOTALS                                 80                                                100

Figure Gender of respondents

Have you ever purchased anything online?

It was not a surprise that with the various technological advancements and innovations in the world, 80% of the respondents answered this question in the affirmative as opposed to 20 % who replied in the negative.

Table Online purchase experience

Purchase experience(online)FrequencyPercentage
Yes No64 1680 20

Figure Online purchase experience

Would you recommend online shopping to a family member or friend?

75% of the respondents said they would advise their friends or relatives to shop online as opposed to 25% who said they would not. It is imperative to note that their responses were based on their past purchase experiences or what they had heard people say about online shopping. Major factors influencing answers to this question revolved around product quality, convenience, price, time of delivery, and service response among others.

Table Recommendation for online shopping

Recommend online shopping?FrequencyPercentage
Yes No60 2075 25

Figure Recommendation for online shopping

In your opinion, to what extent do you think does online shopping save time?

Respondents answered this question as thus:

Great extent-60%

Moderate extent-20%

Little extent-15%

No extent-5%

Table Extent of being time saving

Great extent Moderate extent Little extent No extent48 16 12 460 20 15 5

Figure Extent of being time saving

As regards security and trust in the online shopping arena, would you say you feel secure?

56% of the respondents said they felt secure when shopping online in opposition to 30% who said they did not feel secure. A significant 14% took a neutral stand in their response.

Table Security and Trust aspect

 Secure Never secure Neutral45 24 1156 30 14

 Figure Security and Trust aspect

To what extent do social-cultural dimensions affect your online purchase decisions?

Participants responded as follows:

Great extent-70%

Moderate extent-25%

Little extent-3%

No extent-2%

Table Extent of influence of social-cultural dimensions in online shopping

Great extent Moderate extent Little extent No extent56 20 3 170 25 3 2

Figure Extent of influence of social-cultural dimensions in online shopping

What do you think about the prices of goods and services in the online arena as compared to those on the traditional offline shopping arena?

48% of the respondents said they thought prices of commodities and services in the online platform are higher than those in the traditional shopping stage. 24% were of the contrary opinion as they indicated they thought online prices are relatively lower. On the other hand, 28% said they thought there was no significant difference

Table Online shopping prices as compared to those in the offline shopping stage

Higher Lower Similar38 19 2348 24 28

Figure Online shopping prices as compared to those in the offline shopping stage

Are you familiar with website language?

90% responded in the affirmative whereas 10% responded in the negative.

Table Familiarity with web language

Yes No72 890 10

Figure Familiarity with web language

Have you ever had a discounted deal or price cut in the online platform?

Responses to this question were as follows:



Table Discounted deals

Yes No56 2470 30

 Figure Discounted deals

To what extent are deliveries of goods purchased in the online arena timely?

The participants responded to this question as follows:

Great extent-60

Moderate extent-20

Little extent-15

No extent-5

Table Extent of timeliness

Great extent Moderate extent Little extent No extent48 16 12 460 20 15 5  

 Figure Extent of timeliness

If anyone advised you to buy anything online, would you follow their advice?

Responses were as thus:



Table Action on advice

Yes No32 4840 60

Figure Action on advice

Between online shopping and the traditional offline shopping, which one do you prefer over the other?

The way respondents answered this question perhaps acts as a challenge to online marketers and other stakeholders to do more in improving the online shopping platform. 38% said they preferred online shopping in opposition to 62% who preferred shopping offline.

Table Preference for online or offline shopping

Online shopping Offline shopping30 5038 62

Figure Preference for online or offline shopping


5.1 Introduction

This chapter is mainly a presentation of the main findings of the research as based on the primary objectives. In addition, conclusions and recommendation largely informed by the findings of the study have been presented here.

5.2 Summary of Findings

The primary aim of the study was to make an exploration of the factors that affect the behaviour and attitudes of consumers in the online shopping platform. A significant percentage of the issue that were largely expected to give more light in the exploration revolved around the convenience of shopping online as compared to that of carrying out the exercise in the traditional offline stage. As expected, it became quite clear that a majority of consumers would consider the convenience that comes along with saving of time and money. As such, a consumer would opt to purchase a commodity or service online if they think it is cheaper. For example, when considering the general attitudes of customers as regards prices in the online arena, the study revealed that 48% of the respondents thought online prices are lower as compared to those in offline shopping. 24 % differed with this stand whereas 28% thought no difference exists in the prices. If this were to be keenly interpreted in the business sense, an inference would be made that a customer thinks a given price is relatively lower they would without doubt go ahead and make the purchase. In this context, the 48% would prefer online shopping. Also, it would only be sensible to say that those who think the prices are the same would not mind to purchase online, unless price is not the influencing factor.

The results of the study as presented in the previous chapter motivate one to cluster the factors affecting online customer behaviour into different broad categories. It is to be noted that the nature of the question in the main instrument of the research reveals an appreciation of these different dimensions which stand out in the literature review section. The reader is persuaded to appreciate this summary of the factors under exploration as a replica of the summary of the findings emanating from this study. The factors that affect online customer behaviour are:

  • Psychological factors
  • Economic/financial factors
  • Emotional factors
  • Privacy factors (Trust and security)

5.3 Answers to research questions

What factors affect /shape online consumer behaviour and attitudes?

Customers shopping in the online platform make their purchase decisions based on a number of factors which are being explored here as is clear in the title of this dissertation. The factors, which include trust and security concerns, prices of commodities, convenience, and time factor and ease of delivery as well as past shopping experiences in the same stage, have stood out (Ahmadian, Haghtalab, & Danaee, 2014). A customer will make a purchase decision in the affirmative if they feel the information they will give in the course of the transaction will not compromise the security status of their financial accounts. That is as far as security and trust go. Customers will be reluctant to make purchases if they have the slightest suspicion that their debt or credit cards will not be secure.

As regards price(s), financial implications are weighed against the decision whether to buy or not. If a customer is of the view that online shopping will prove to be cheaper in the long run and help them save a few coins, they are more likely to buy as opposed to when they are of the opinion that, for instance, offline shopping is relatively cheaper. Psychological factors also gain relevance especially with respect to past experiences and what customers hear other people say about online shopping experience. If a customer enjoyed the experience of shopping online in the past, they are more likely to buy again in opposition to those whose experiences were not desirable. Also, a prospective customer who is advised to go for online shopping by family members or friends is more likely to opt for this shopping platform. It is appreciated that social and cultural factors also gain relevance.

 How do online shopping and the traditional offline shopping compare and/or contrast in terms of what they offer to customers?

Online shopping, in opposition to traditional shopping, offers customers the convenience of buying or viewing or products any time they want. They can also do this from anywhere, be it from their offices or homes. Also, in the online shopping scenario, they are able to find more detailed information regarding the particular goods or services. There is no possibility of conflict with the sales people when the customers would be trying to enquire about the products or services, or as they would be trying to make bargains on the prices. All their dealings with specific enterprises are in the virtual world. On the other hand, offline shopping offers customers the convenience of having the chance to look at the goods as they are, and not their graphic enhancements which could be deceiving sometimes, or far from reality. Those who would like to pick the good themselves are provided with parking spaces. Also, stores are moving their operations closer to residential places of customers. Another advantage that comes with online shopping is the saving on transport costs since one buys from home, and home deliveries are made.

 How can managers of businesses or enterprises operating in the online platform best handle/manage the factors that affect online customers’ purchase decisions, in order that they may increase volume of sales transactions for ultimate optimal profitability?

Firstly, it would be imperative if they put in place measures that would address the various security concerns and fears harboured by customers. For instance, getting the services of renowned security service and IT firms would go along way in ensuring the information that customers have to input during transactions does not compromise the security status of their debt and credit cards. Also, it would be important if they increased the variety of products they offer considering the social-cultural diversity encountered in the web. By so doing, they would remain relevant to a wider bracket of customers. Indeed, this is something that global companies must do. Another step thy would take is to ensure they deliver products to customers in time as agreed or promised so as to gain the trust of the customers even for future transactions. In addition, they should do more to impress customers and ultimately influence them to buy by providing vivid graphical representation of their products. Customers will get a step closer to buying if they think desired products are appealing.

5.4 Recommendations

Based on the findings of the study as regards the findings of this research, the following recommendation are made for consideration by marketers and other stakeholders who play a role in online marketing:

  • Ensure that graphical representations of products are appealing and catchy
  • Deliver goods on time to win customer trust and confidence
  • Improve the service security as regards debt and credit cards
  • Advertise with acknowledgment of diversity of the online market segment
  • Increase their efforts geared towards making online shopping more preferable to traditional offline shopping.

5.5 Conclusion

From this study, it is inferred that customer online behaviour is influence by a number of factors broadly categorized as

  • Psychological factors
  • Economic/financial factors
  • Emotional factors
  • Privacy factors (Trust and security)

Indeed these factors, which include trust and security concerns, prices of commodities, convenience, and time factor and ease of delivery as well as past shopping experiences in the same stage, have stood out. A customer will make a purchase decision in the affirmative if they feel the information they will give in the course of the transaction will not compromise the security status of their financial accounts. That is as far as security and trust go. Customers will be reluctant to make purchases if they have the slightest suspicion that their debt or credit cards will not be secure, or the information they give about them is made public. As regards price(s), financial implications are weighed against the decision whether to buy or not. If a customer is of the view that online shopping will prove to be cheaper in the long run and help them save a few coins, they are more likely to buy as opposed to when they are of the opinion that, for instance, offline shopping is relatively cheaper. Psychological factors also gain relevance especially with respect to past experiences and what customers hear other people say about online shopping experience. If a customer enjoyed the experience of shopping online in the past, they are more likely to buy again in opposition to those whose experiences were not desirable (Aghdaie, & Mahdavinia, 2014). Also, a prospective customer who is advised to go for online shopping by family members or friends is more likely to opt for this shopping platform. It is appreciated that social and cultural factors also gain relevance as far as online customer behaviour is concerned. If managers of online stores and other firms that have made in-roads into online marketing sufficiently appreciate these factors, they would do a lot that would be geared towards increasing business volume, and therefore, profitability. Some recommendations have been put forth in the suggestive section.


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