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Determinants of shopper behaviour in e-tailing: an empirical analysis.
Abstract:
Consumers' decision-making process has been changed with the introduction of the Internet as an alternative channel for shopping. E-tailing is an emergent area of nascent organized retailing in India. The purpose of this paper is to explore the determinants of shopper behaviour such as convenience, customer service, trust, web store environment, and web shopping enjoyment and to examine the influence of these factors towards willingness to buy and patronage of online retail stores. The study is purely based on primary data collected from a sample of 135 respondents by using simple random sampling technique from five leading software companies in Hyderabad. Necessary secondary data were used to reinforce the model. A structured non-disguised questionnaire was administered and responses were measured on the seven-point Likert scale. Statistical tools like mean, standard deviation, multiple correlations, multiple regressions, student t-test, and ANOVA were used to find out the strength of relationship and degree of association among the variables entered into the model. The results reveal that convenience, web store environment, online shopping enjoyment, and customer service have significant impact on the willingness to buy from online retail stores rather than perceived trust. Except trust and customer service, all other variables are significant with patronage of online retail stores. As not much work in India has been done in this context, the paper seeks to provide fruitful insights into the factors determining the prospects of e-tailing that can benefit academicians as well as marketers.

Key words : Convenience, Customer service, Trust, Web store environment, Web shopping enjoyment, Consumer behaviour, E-tailing.

Article Type:
Report
Subject:
Computer software industry (Customer relations)
Customer service
Decision-making
Retail industry
Electronic commerce
Authors:
Prasad, Ch. J.S.
Aryasri, A.R.
Pub Date:
01/01/2009
Publication:
Name: Paradigm Publisher: Institute of Management Technology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, general Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Institute of Management Technology ISSN: 0971-8907
Issue:
Date: Jan-June, 2009 Source Volume: 13 Source Issue: 1
Topic:
Event Code: 240 Marketing procedures Computer Subject: Customer service; Support services; Electronic commerce
Product:
Product Code: 5200000 Retail Trade SIC Code: 7372 Prepackaged software
Accession Number:
200779938
Full Text:
Introduction

Consumers' decision-making process has been changed with the introduction of the Internet as an alternative channel for shopping. E-tailing or Internet retailing is the process of buying and selling products, services, and information over computer networks (Turban, Lee, King and Chung 2000). The new wave of consumerism coupled with increasing urbanization and burgeoning middle class with paradigm shifts in their demographic and psychographic dynamics have driven consumers frequently to use retail websites to search for product information and/or make a purchase of products. Presently, Internet retailing in India is growing by 29 per cent CAGR and expected to be 48 per cent and the same is valued as INR 27 billion by 2010 (Euro Monitor Retail Report, 2007) from INR 4 billion in 2005-6 (Sinha and Kar 2007). Web shopping is envisioned as an alternative retail channel for various conspicuous reasons such as speed of transaction, selection and price, convenience, time and space neutrality, choice, fun and enjoyment, easy and comfortably obtained information about products and services (Rowley 1996; Donthu and Garcia 1999). But the Indian scenario is quite different from that of the West. It has become difficult to discern the ever-demanding and discriminating enigmatic consumer behaviour in the globalized era. The internet customer is very hard to predict and is different from the normal customer. The consumer behaviour in Internet retailing is influenced by a variety of factors comprising consumers' trust in Internet shop based on perceived size and reputation of its physical store network, perceived privacy and quantum of risk, perceptions of convenience as manifested by the opportunity to shop at home for twenty-four hours in seven days a week (Hofacker 2001). The web store environment and shopping enjoyment mostly influence shoppers' behavioural intentions (Dailey and Heath 1999). Empirical studies show that good customer service positively influences the overall evaluation of products (Babin et al. 1995) and contributes to satisfaction with the purchase experience and future purchase intentions (Taylor and Baker 1994). Empirical studies in the recent past indicate that many online firms still do not completely understand the needs and behaviour of the online consumer (Lee 2002) while many of them '... continue to struggle with how effectively to market and sell products online' (Joines et al. 2003: 93). Since Internet retailing has become an alternative channel for shoppers as well as retailers in the changing trends of Indian retail environment, understanding Internet consumer behaviour has assumed significance and emerged as a focal research area for academicians and marketers. The objective of the present study is to explore the determinants of web shopper behaviour, and the study empirically examines the influence of determinants such as convenience, web store environment, shopping enjoyment, customer service, and trust on willingness to buy and patronage of online retail stores. The structure of the study is as follows: first, the introduction followed by review of relevant literature, research methodology, statistical results and discussions, marketing implications, limitations and future research, summary and suggestions, and lastly references.

Review of Literature

The interactive nature of the Internet and web offers opportunities galore to increase the efficiency of Internet shopping behaviour by improving the availability of product information, enabling direct multi-attribute comparisons, and reducing buyer search costs (Alba et al. 1997). Review of existing empirical studies has revealed that consumers have multiple concerns that influence their behaviour. Fears and concerns, real or perceived, inhibit online consumers' purchasing decisions and are relevant in their decision process (Rao 2006). Moreover, a survey by Donthu and Garcia (1999) indicate that online shoppers are more impulsive than others. In these circumstances, as these have the ability to explain and predict consumers' online purchase behaviour, the literature survey has been done to identify and understand them that will provide insights into consumers' online purchase behaviour. The present review of literature lays focus on several determinants (such as convenience, web store environment, web shopping enjoyment, customer service, and trust) of consumer behaviour towards willingness to buy and patronage of e-tail stores.

Convenience in E-tailing

Convenience is one of the key factors influencing consumer behaviour in e-tailing. According to Hofacker (2001), consumers' perceptions of convenience as manifested by the opportunity to shop at home twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week is expected to influence the adoption of online retail stores. In this time-crunched environment of today with multiple-earner households, a 'person living in Florida can shop at Harod's in London (through the web) in less time than it takes to visit the local Burdines department store' (Alba et al. 1997: 41). Since consumers rarely visit multiple physical retail stores prior to purchase (Childers et al. 2001), interactive shopping can lower the costs of acquiring pre-purchase product information while at the same time increase search benefits by providing a broader array of product alternatives at a small incremental cost (Bakos 1991). These benefits in the reduction of search costs accrue particularly when the consumer is under time pressure (Beatty and Smith 1987) making the accessibility advantage of interactive shopping especially advantageous to consumers. This convenience in interactive shopping increases search efficiency through the ability to shop at home, by eliminating such frustrations as fighting traffic and looking for a parking space, and avoiding long checkout lines, while also offering single-stop shopping that eliminates travel to and from a variety of stores (Childers et al. 2001). Consumers who perceive the online environment as offering greater convenience by reducing shopping's psychological costs are more likely to consider online retail stores for purchase of products and services and intend to patronize online retail stores. Hence, the following hypotheses are proposed:

H1a Consumer perceptions of convenience positively affect consumer behaviour on willingness to buy from online retail stores.

H1b Consumer perceptions of convenience positively impact consumer behaviour on patronage of online retail stores.

Web Store Environment

Retail store environment plays a dominant role in influencing consumer behaviour. During the last few years, retail stores over the Internet have considerably evolved to satisfy the increasing consumer needs while serving varying customer behaviours. It is observed from previous research studies that positive and pleasing store environment enhances a shopper's engagement in the shopping activity (Kim et al. 2007). A positive link between store environment and consumers' affective states of pleasure and arousal has been empirically supported (Sherman et al. 1997). Similarly, Yoo et al. (1998) found that consumer's emotional responses were induced by the store environment. In terms of e-tailing, web store atmospherics significantly influence shoppers' behavioural intentions through altering consumer affect (Dailey and Heath 1999). Moreover, web store layout producing easy navigation leads to a higher level of online entertainment (Vrechopoulos et al. 2004). Bitner (1992) conceptualized a positive association between 'servicescapes' and approach behaviour (e.g., desire to stay). Previous research reveals that web atmospherics influence the shopper's attitude, satisfaction, and approach/avoidance behaviours towards the online retailer, mediated by emotions (Eroglu et al. 2003). Another web atmospherics study showed a positive linkage between website quality and shoppers' behavioural intentions (i.e., return to the store) (Lynch et al. 2002). Richard (2005) also found that navigational characteristics of the website are positively related to visitor's exploratory behaviours on the site. Novak et al (2000) found a positive influence of website characteristics on the cognitive and emotional states of the consumer while shopping online. Thus, consumers may have more desire to stay when the online retailer has more pleasing atmospherics. Hence, the following hypotheses are proposed:

H2a Web store environment positively affects consumer behaviour on willingness to buy from online retail stores.

H2b Online store environment positively impacts consumer behaviour on patronage of online retail stores.

Web Shopping Enjoyment

Besides the greater convenience and pleasing web environment, web shopping enjoyment also highly influences consumer behaviour towards e-tailing. In-store retail formats provide more benefits to consumers than simply having merchandise readily available and helping them to buy it. It is indeed a place for entertainment and social interaction and can be a stimulating experience for some people. As against this, Internet retail formats are limited in the degree to which they can satisfy these entertainment and social needs (Levy and Weitz 2001). However, with increasing advances in technology and communication, Internet retailers are creating the most attractive and inventive web pages and video clips which are as exciting as the displays and activities in a Disney or Nike town store (Levy and Weitz 2001:84). Some of the auction sites like eBay.com are making shopping a real game of chance and treasure hunt and making shopping a fun and entertainment (Berman and Evans 2002). Dailey and Heath (1999) find that website atmospherics significantly influence shoppers' behavioural intentions through altering consumer affect, especially pleasure. More recent online atmospherics research demonstrate that there is a positive relationship between the design of website and pleasure experienced by online shoppers of apparel products (Mummalaneni 2005). The quality of the shopping experience has been found to have a significant effect on shopping intentions (Swinyard 1993). Recent studies provide evidence that pleasure experienced from online shopping has a direct effect on approach responses towards online shopping (Eroglu et al. 2003; Fiore et al. 2005). Menon and Kahn (2002) found that consumers who experienced higher levels of pleasure from the Internet site exhibited higher levels of approach responses towards the online retail site, including store patronage intentions. In addition, Koufaris et al. (2001-2) concluded that enjoyment from product search functions influenced new web customers to return to the site. Hence, the following hypotheses are proposed:

H3a There is a significant impact of web shopping enjoyment on consumer behaviour towards willingness to buy from online retail stores.

H3b There is a positive relationship between shopping enjoyment and patronage intention towards an online retail store.

Customer Service in E-tailing

Customer service generally refers to organization's ability to meet customers' needs and wants (Howardell 2003), but meaning of customer service varies to a great extent depending on customers and situations. Interactive service is an important aspect of online stores (Jarvenpaa and Todd 1997). Previous research supports the critical role of a sales person on customers' satisfaction (Babin et al. 1995). Extensive personal contact between a sales person and a customer is the essential requirement and nature of retailing and this interpersonal interaction is significant, because it may affect customer perception of quality of service, satisfaction with a purchase experience, and future purchase intentions (Ibid.). However, a sales person who serves customers at traditional retail stores is generally not present at virtual stores, even though online shoppers may expect and need customer services and assistance similar to what they can receive in store shopping. Online shopping can be a difficult and frustrating experience without a salesperson's assistance (Levy 2000). Some customer service issues (such as facilitating information flow, facilitating the planning process, dealing with automated process, and providing shopping support) are particularly important in internet retailing (Berman and Evans 2002). According to Hermes (2000), 72 per cent of the online shoppers responded that customer service is a critical factor in shopping satisfaction. Additionally, Datamonitor reported that 7.8 per cent of online transactions initiated by consumers are abandoned because of poor customer service (Ibid.: 7). Customer service should be considered a high priority as it impacts the long-term relationship between the customer and Internet retailer (Harris and Goode 2004). In this study, it is proposed that attitude towards online customer service is a function of one's salient beliefs about online customer service. A consumer's salient beliefs about customer service may be largely influenced by their previous service experiences in traditional retail stores and other retail formats both in the presence and absence of a sales person (Minjeong and Leslie 2005). Hence, attitude towards online customer service may reflect the relative importance of various online customer services desired or expected by online shoppers. The more an individual believes that specific online customers will lead to positive outcomes such as a satisfactory shopping experience, the more favourable his or her attitude will be towards online customer service. In Internet retailing, the more favourable the attitudes towards online customer service, the more likely one is willing to purchase and patronize the particular retail store (Taylor and Baker 1994). Therefore, the following hypotheses are proposed:

H4a Customer service positively impacts consumer behaviour towards willingness to buy from online retail stores.

H4b Customer service positively influences consumer behaviour towards patronage of online retail stores.

Trust in E-tailing

Online trust is one of the issues researchers, as well as practitioners, frequently associate with the success or failure of online ventures. While many researchers do not see any fundamental differences between the traditional and online buying behaviour, it is often argued that a new step has been added to the online buying process--the step of building trust or confidence (Liebermann and Stashevsky 2002; McKnight et al. 2002). According to Harris Interactive Inc. (2001) around 70 per cent of the US web users are seriously concerned about the safety of their personal information, transaction security, and misuse of private consumer data because of hacking, fraud, spam, and online scams frequently raising security concerns as well as scepticism and mistrust. The physical distance, lack of personal contact, and the anonymity of the Internet are also factors further increasing the consumers' anxiety and risk perceptions. The multidimensional character of online trust makes it a complicated issue and despite considerable research attention several online trust issues are still very little explored. A study by Grabner-Krauter and Kaluscha (2003) underlines the complexity of this subject. Based on an extensive review of research work done in this field these researchers identified trust constructs reflecting '... both institutional phenomena (system trust) and personal and interpersonal forms of trust (dispositional trust, trusting beliefs, trusting intentions and trust-related behaviors ...' (Grabner-Krauter and Kaluscha 2003: 783). Trust and perceived risk (Jarvenpaa et al. 2000; Ruyter et al. 2001) have been widely investigated in the study of consumer online purchase intention. Consumers' perceived or real lack of trust and online privacy in giving personal information and security for payment through credit card transactions influences shoppers' behaviour towards willingness to buy and patronize online retail store (Whysall 2000). Transaction security and customer data safety are principle concerns of online customer purchasing products or services (Constantinides 2004). But these security risks have not arisen in actual usage because almost all Internet retailers use sophisticated technologies to encrypt communications (Caragata 1999: 34). The perception of risk is diminishing as credit card companies promote the use of their cards on the Internet and inform customers that the latter will not be responsible for security lapses (Idbi.: 35). Hence, the following hypotheses are developed:

H5a Trust positively affects the consumer behaviour towards willingness to buy from online retail stores.

H5b Trust positively affects the consumer behaviour towards patronage of online retail stores.

Research Methodology

The present study is an empirical enquiry into the influence of consumer behaviour towards willingness to buy and patronage of electronic retail stores. The construction of research framework is shown in Figure 1. The study is purely based on primary data as well as necessary secondary data to reinforce the model. The population of the study was online retail customers in the city of greater Hyderabad (India). For data collection purposes, the researcher approached online customers who were all employees from five major software companies in Hyderabad. The purpose of selecting software employees is based on the assumptions that they are cash-rich and time-poor and also the fact of their association of interactivity with Internet and websites. Besides, it is also more convenient for busy double income group (both wife and husband are employees). A total of 200 customers were surveyed through simple random technique for testing the hypotheses. All participants met the requirement of having previous experience of purchasing products through the Internet. A total of 150 respondents completed and returned the questionnaire. This is a 75 per cent response rate. Out of this, only 135 were usable as the remaining fifteen were rendered unusable because of incomplete data.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

A structured non-disguised questionnaire containing customer's demographic profile and measures estimated by using dichotomous questions, multiple-choice questions, seven-point Likert-type scales (1: 'strongly disagree' to 7: 'strongly agree'), and open-ended questions was administered to the respondents. It was framed in a prearranged order with variables adopted from different sources for the purpose of primary data. To measure the online store perception variable, five items were adopted from Wakefield and Baker (1998) and modified to suit the Indian online retailing. To measure the convenience of shopping variable, the scale consisted of three items. Online store environment consists of four items adopted from Mummalaneni (2005) and Eroglu et al. (2003). To measure online shopping enjoyment variable, six items were adopted from Zaichkowsky (1985). Trust variable consisted of five items adopted from (Cheung and Lee 2001). Customer service variable consisted of seven items adopted from E-Retail intelligence program (Retail Forward Inc. 2001). And lastly, to assess the willingness to buy and patronage intention towards an online retail store, six items were adopted from Wakefield and Baker (1998), Fiore and Jin (2003), and Kim and Stoel (2005). The secondary data were collected from various national and international journals, reports, textbooks, and websites. Various statistical tools and techniques like mean, standard deviation, correlations, regression analysis, t-tests, and analysis of variance were applied through SPSS 14.0 version to predict relationships among the constructs.

Statistical Results and Discussions

A review of the online customers' demographic profile reveals that 58.5 per cent of the respondents were male and rest 41.5 percent were female. Sixty-eight per cent of the respondents were between twenty-five and thirty-five years of age, 24 per cent were between thirty-five and forty-five and 8 per cent were over forty-six years old. Seventy per cent of the respondents were graduates and the rest 30 per cent were postgraduates. The average number of years of computer experience was 5.8 and the median was 4.5. The average number of years of Internet experience was nine and median was seven. Participants reported spending an average of 3.2 hours per week on all types of shopping activities. Seventy-four per cent of the respondents had purchased products from an online store. Twenty-six per cent visited online stores but not purchased any product. Forty-eight per cent of the respondents had purchased more than once from online stores. Most of the participants (63 per cent) reported that they had purchased consumer durables like computers--both desktops and laptops, cell phones, and CD players. Thirty-seven per cent of respondents purchased consumer durables, apparels and books. All the respondents had income above Rs 25,000 per month. Participants, thus, were familiar with using computers and particularly interactive shopping on the web. These results also proved that respondents had a significant level of willingness to buy and patronage of online retail stores. The statistical tool 'correlation' was used to examine the strength and direction of relationship among all five predictor variables (Convenience-CON, Web Store Environment-WENV, Web Shopping Enjoyment-WENJ, Customer Service-CS, and Trust-TRS) and two outcome variables like Willingness to Buy-WTB and Patronage of Online Retail Store-PAT. The statistical significance of correlation was indicated with double asterisk marks for significance less than 0.05 and single asterisk marks for significance less than 0.1. The mean, standard deviation, and correlation among the variables are shown in Table 1. The internal consistency of the instrument was tested through reliability analysis. Reliability estimates (Cronbach's Alpha) for the construct's variables are: Convenience (0.86), Store environment (0.78), Shopping enjoyment (0.72), Customer service (0.70), Trust (0.68), Willingness to buy (0.78), and Patronage of online retail store (0.72), revealing a high degree of reliability. All reliability estimates were well above 0.60, the lower limit of acceptability (Hair et al. 1998).

Regression Analysis of Convenience, Store Environment, Shopping Enjoyment, Customer Service and Trust and Willingness to Buy from Online Stores

The hypotheses of association between variable influencing consumer behaviour and willingness to buy from online retail stores were tested by hierarchical multiple regression analysis. The results are analysed to show that convenience, store environment, shopping enjoyment, customer service, and trust contribute significantly and predict 49 per cent ([R.sup.2]= 0.49) of variation in willingness to buy towards online store as reflected in Table 2. The corresponding ANOVA values for the regression model shown in Table 2 indicate significant predictors of willingness to buy from online retail stores: F (5,129) = 24.832, p<0.001. The coefficient summaries as shown in Table 3 reveal Beta values of Convenience (CON) = 0.281, p< 0.01, Web Shopping Enjoyment (WENJ) = 0.268, p<0.05, Web Store Environment (WENV) = 0.183, p< 0.01, Customer Service (CS) = 0.167, p<0.05 and Trust (TRS) = 0.105, p>0.05 which have conspicuous impact on willingness to buy from online stores. Here, convenience (CON) has emerged as a major influencing variable followed by shopping enjoyment, store environment, customer service, and trust. All predictor variables except trust have significant impact on willingness to buy from online retail stores. The positive sign of the estimates show that the greater the extent of these variables, the more is the willingness to buy from online retail stores. Thus, there is validity for hypotheses H1a, H2a, H3a and H4a. But in the case of the fifth variable, trust is insignificant though Beta coefficient is positive. Hence, the hypothesis H5a is rendered invalid as its p-value is more than 0.05.

The convenience factor created by time and space neutrality has direct and positive effect on consumer behaviour towards willingness to buy products from Internet retail stores. Empirical research supports that interactive shopping increases search efficiency through ability to shop at home, by eliminating such problems as travel time to go for shopping, facing the irritating sales people, long checkout lines, and parking space problems. The findings also support the perceptions of online store environment and shopping enjoyment having direct and positive influence on consumer behaviour towards willingness to buy from online retail stores. These results confirm the consistency with previous research (Donovan et al. 1994; Eroglu et al. 2003). Consumers' attitude towards online customer service is positively related to willingness to buy from online retail stores. In spite of absence of human factor in customer service, web shoppers are content with online services. But in the case of trust, the consumers' attitude and behaviour are indifferent towards willingness to buy from online stores because of lack of adequate trust in privacy of their personal information and security in online payment transactions.

Regression Analysis of Convenience, Store Environment, Shopping Enjoyment, Customer Service, and Trust and Patronage of Online Stores

The results of the regression analysis shown in Table 4 prove that convenience, online shopping enjoyment, store environment, customer service, and trust contribute and predict 41.9 per cent ([R.sup.2]= 0.419) of the variation in the patronage of online retail stores. The corresponding ANOVA values for the regression model shown in Table 4 indicate significant predictors of patronage towards online retail stores: F (5,129) = 18.630, p<0.001. The coefficient summaries as shown in Table 5 reveal Beta values of Convenience (CON) = 0.249, p< 0.05, Web Shopping Enjoyment (WENJ) = 0.231, p<0.05, Web Store Environment (WENV) = 0.180, p< 0.05, Customer Service (CS) = 0.122, p>0.05 and Trust (TRS) = 0.102, p>0.05, which have conspicuous impact on consumer behaviour towards patronage of online retail stores. Here also, convenience (CON) has emerged as a major influencing variable followed by shopping enjoyment, store environment, customer service, and trust. All predictor variables except customer service and trust has significantly correlated and influenced consumer behaviour towards patronage of online retail stores. The positive sign of the estimates show that the greater the extent of these variables, the more inclination towards patronage of online retail stores. Thus, there is validity for hypotheses H1b, H2b, and H3b. But in the case of the fourth variable (customer service) and the fifth variable (trust), both these are insignificant though their Beta coefficients are positive. Hence, hypotheses H4b and H5b are rendered invalid as their p-values are more than 0.05.

Consumers' behaviour towards patronage of online retail stores is highly influenced by convenience, web shopping enjoyment, and web store environment. These three variables had a direct and positive impact on creating shopping involvement and intention of patronage towards online retail stores. These results confirmed the previous empirical findings for patronage of online retail stores (Menon and Kahn 2002; Wakefield and Baker 1998). Consumers' behaviour towards customer service provided by Internet retailers is indifferent and insignificant towards patronage of online retail stores. Moreover, consumers become pessimistic towards patronage of online stores because of lack of ease in searching and comparison shopping, lack of availability of personalized shopping and product updates, and lack of availability of in-stock status information. Consumers' perceived trust levels towards online retail stores are very low. Lack of consumers' trust in privacy and safety regarding passing on personal information and security in online payment transactions hold back consumers towards patronage of online retail stores forever.

Marketing Implications

The empirical analysis and findings of the present study have yielded important insights and implications for online retailers and marketers. Convenience factor has emerged as the prime determinant in both willingness to buy and patronage of online stores. Since Internet retailing is a nascent state and still in the stage of evolution in India, online retailers need to adopt advanced web technology in order to increase the ease and convenience for navigation of products and services. The findings also prove that web store environment and web shopping enjoyment are crucial for increasing customer satisfaction. Online apparel retailers may adopt a higher level of 3D virtual technology model to enhance product examination and improve consumer perceptions of the web store environment. Since word-of-mouth communication spreads very fast through Internet, online retailers may exercise caution in implanting customer service aspects which are pivotal for influencing consumer attitudinal and behavioural changes towards willingness to buy and patronage of online retail stores. Consumers' trust levels are very low towards online retailers. It is a great challenge for online retailers to convince and persuade online customers about the issues related to the privacy and security of personal information and mode of payment. Online retailers need to adopt integrated mechanism in order to enhance consumers trust in safeguarding their personal information and avoidance of misuse of credit card mode of payments.

Limitations and Future Research

Although the objectives of the present study were fully met, a few limitations were identified in the course of this study. The limitations of empirical research provide the foundation for continued research to improve the understanding of the factors leading to consumer behaviour and use of interactive retail shopping.

* Firstly, the present study focused on a narrow demographic representation of software employees in leading software companies in Hyderabad. This could limit the generalization of findings and inferences to the entire online consumers. This creates an ideal opportunity to consider more diverse demographic groups of online retail consumers for the purpose of the study.

* Since customer satisfaction and customer service are cardinal for understanding the attitudinal and behavioural changes towards patronage of online retail stores, customer satisfaction variable is to be included in future research for appropriate measurement of patronage loyalty.

* Limited variables were used in the present study. This has created an opportunity for future research in this area by using other variables such as responsiveness, reliability, assurance, tangibility, navigation, incentives and rewards, web atmospherics, web store design, and online store perceptions.

* Other statistical tools like factor analysis could be used in future research for clear analysis of factors influencing consumer behaviour. And Chi-square could be used in analysing the test of independence and goodness of fit for the demographic factors influencing consumer behaviour towards Internet retail outlets.

* Though the sample size is acceptable, it is indeed required to be increased to the maximum so as to get the exact attitudinal and behavioural perceptions towards Internet retailing and further generalization and inference of the findings to the whole population under study.

* Future research is required to clearly assess consumer behaviour by collecting representative multi-city and/or cross-country data.

Summary and Suggestions

E-tailing is an emergent area as an attractive alternative to the organized brick-and-mortar stores. Continuous innovation and adoption of novel technologies will drive the growth of Internet retailing as today's web shoppers are more discriminating and demanding. This empirical study investigated the impact of consumer behaviour towards willingness to buy and patronage of online retail stores. Some important mind-boggling revelations have been made by using the responses provided by 135 online retail customers in Hyderabad. The study finds that convenience, online store environment, shopping enjoyment, customer service, and trust are vital in influencing consumer behaviour towards willingness to buy and patronage of online retail stores. It is observed that customer service and trust levels are low and there is an urgent need to address the concerns of online retailers in this regard. Some of the suggestions, that this research study has observed for the fledgling e-tailing in India are:

1. E-tailing in India can be a success if the e-tailers change their business models and understand their consumers' behaviour. E-tailers should create economic value for the customer rather than a curiosity value.

2. Lack of trust and privacy concerns prevent a lot of consumers from making online purchases. It is the need of the hour for e-tailers to adopt security measures and inculcate a sense of trust among online shoppers that data provided during online transactions will not be misused.

3. Adequate attention needs to be paid towards customer service, distribution, and logistics and these should be integrated seamlessly not only with the company's existing website, but the company's entire operations, online and offline.

4. Other service features such as free return shipping, alerting customers of their order status through email and recommending other products that they may genuinely be interested in (cross-selling and up-selling) are the means to customers' delight and loyalty.

5. Online retail stores do not have standardized designs in comparison to the physical retail stores and product catalogues. Therefore, different user behaviours (navigation schemes) need to be learned for each e-tail store in order to avoid navigation hiccups.

6. Since shopping is still a 'touch-feel-hear experience', e-tailers need to create such environment as it is in physical store by creating novel web designs and portals, sophisticated web atmospherics, e-mail updates, and live interaction over the Internet.

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Ch. J. S. Prasad * A.R. Aryasri **

* Research Scholar, School of Management Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad (India). Email: jayasankaraprasad@gmail.com

** Professor and Director, School of Management Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad (India). E-mail: aryasri@yahoo.com
Table 1: Descriptive statistics and correlations of convenience,
web shopping enjoyment, web store environment, customer service,
trust, and willingness to buy and patronage of online stores

Sl. No.   Variable    Mean        SD

  1       CON         4.03        .61
  2       WENJ        3.97        .62
  3       WENV        3.88        .65
  4       CS          3.73        .69
  5       TRS         3.54        .72
  6       WTB         4.05        .61
  7       PAT         3.98        .64

Sl. No.   1           2           3

  1      1.000
  2       .736 **    1.000
  3       .652 **     .568 **    1.000
  4       .389 **     .335 **     .316 **
  5       .219 **     .268 **     .212 **
  6       .634 **     .519 **     .345 **
  7       .536 **     .508 **     .337 **

Sl. No.   4           5           6           7

  1
  2
  3
  4      1.000
  5       .198 *     1.000
  6       .265 **     .185 *     1.000
  7       .198 *      .164 *      .725 **    1.000

* Correlation is significant at the 0.1 level (2-tailed).

** Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

Table 2: Regression model and ANOVA summary for willingness to
buy as dependent variable reliability assessment

                                             Std Error
                                 Adjusted     of the
Model       R        R Square    R Square    Estimate

1        .700 (a)      .490        .471        .458

                     Change Statistics

Model    R Square       F                                Sig. F
          Change      Change       df1         df2       Change

1         .490       24.832        5          129        .000

(a.) Predictors: (Constant), CON, WENJ, WENV, CS, and TRS

(b.) Dependent Variable: WTB

Table 3: Coefficient summaries for willingness to buy as
dependent variable

                     Unstandardized
                      Coefficients
Model                       B           Std Error

1      (Constant)         0.676           0.034
       CON                0.269           0.099
       WENJ               0.268           0.104
       WENV               0.153           0.056
       CS                 0.157           0.067
       TRS                0.105           0.045

                      Standardized
                      Coefficients       t-value        Sig.
Model                     Beta

1      (Constant)                         1.987        0.049
       CON                0.281           2.717        0.007
       WENJ               0.268           2.579        0.011
       WENV               0.183           2.737        0.007
       CS                 0.167           2.354        0.020
       TRS                0.105           1.548        0.127

(a.) Dependent Variable: WTB

Table 4: Regression model and ANOVA summary for patronage for
online store as dependent variable reliability assessment

                                           Std Error
                        R      Adjusted     of the
Model        R       Square    R Square    Estimate

1        .648 (a)      .419      .397       .50552

                     Change Statistics

         R Square       F      df1         df2            Sig. F
Model    Change      Change                               Change

1        .419        18.630    5           129            .000

(a.) Predictors: (Constant), CON, SENJ, SENV, CS, and TRS

(b.) Dependent Variable: PATR

Table 5: Coefficient summaries for patronage for online store
as dependent variable

Model                Unstandardized
                      Coefficients      Std Error
                            B

1      (Constant)         0.777           0.376
       CONV               0.247           0.109
       WENJ               0.239           0.115
       WENV               0.158           0.062
       CS                 0.163           0.059
       TRS                0.095           0.051

Model                 Standardized
                      Coefficients       t-value        Sig.
                          Beta

1      (Constant)                         2.668        0.041
       CONV               0.249           2.258        0.026
       WENJ               0.231           2.081        0.039
       WENV               0.180           2.554        0.012
       CS                 0.122           1.789        0.905
       TRS                0.102           1.653        0.101

(a.) Dependent Variable: PATR
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