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Understanding consumer online shopping behaviour from the perspective of transaction costs


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Gao, Lingling 2015 , 'Understanding consumer online shopping behaviour from the perspective of transaction costs', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Most prior empirical online shopping research studied consumer purchase behaviour
and post-purchase behaviour from the perceived benefit/value perspective. However,
few efforts have attempted to employ the cost concept to analyse consumers’ online
behaviour. Researchers in psychology, marketing, and organizational behaviour have
applied the transaction cost (TC) construct to study how the TCs influence the
managers’ decision-making process at the organizational level. At the individual
consumer level, TC consideration has become increasingly important in affecting the
way consumers choose shopping channel and vendors in their daily lives.
Nevertheless, little research attention has been devoted to understanding how the
individual consumers’ online purchase and post-purchase behaviours are affected by
their perceived TCs. This study therefore represents a point of departure in that it
brings in TCs to explain online behaviour at the individual online shopper level. By
extending TCs from traditional shopping to online shopping, this study develops an
integrative model of consumer TCs associated with shopping at an online store, based
on which hypotheses regarding the salient antecedents and consequences of consumer
TCs were developed.
The research was undertaken in China, in which the economy, particularly the online
shopping industry, has been increasing rapidly. China has also a unique cultural and
institutional setting when compared to other countries although existing research
based on China is limited. This research is therefore expected to shed light on
consumer TCs of online shopping within the Chinese context. Data for the study was
collected using an on-street survey conducted on a face-to-face basis in one
economically developed city and one economically less-developed city randomly
selected from the pool of coastal cities and inland cities of China, respectively.
Hypotheses were tested using structural equation modelling (AMOS 20.0) and
multiple group analysis.
Results of the study indicate that consumer TCs consisting of pre-, contemporaneous-,
and post-TCs are derived from three major aspects, namely consumer-related
characteristics, online store- and product-related characteristics, and online channelrelated
characteristics. The consumer-related characteristics, including Internet access
availability, perceived Internet expertise, and online buying frequency, are found to
negatively affect consumer TCs. The online store- and product- related characteristics,
consisting of e-service quality and reputation of online store, can significantly lower
consumer TCs. In the last category of online channel-related characteristics, the
results confirm that privacy and security concerns increase consumer TCs whereas
perceived convenience largely reduces consumer TCs. As for the consequences of
consumer TCs, online purchase behaviour and customer loyalty are found to be
directly affected by TCs.
Further, the results reveal that though TCs have direct and negative effects on
customer loyalty, part of their effects is conditional on their ability to reduce customer
satisfaction. That is, though lower TCs in online purchasing activities could help gain
customer loyalty, such relationship is subject to the mediating effects of customer
satisfaction in online shopping. Additionally, results of the study imply that as
consumers’ inherent attributes, consumer’s risk-bearing propensity confounds the
effects of TCs on customer loyalty, and perceived enjoyment of online shopping
moderates the effect of TCs on online purchase behaviour. Finally, the results suggest that the different product categories affect TCs itself as well as the effects of the
antecedents on TCs. Product categories further influence the relationships between
TCs and subsequent online behaviour.
This study advances the consumer behaviour literature by taking a new perspective of
TC mechanisms in online consumers’ decision-making. It offers deeper theoretical
and empirical insights into online purchase and post-purchase behaviour by
explicating the role of TCs at the individual consumer level and exploring a
comprehensive set of antecedents of TCs. This study also has important practical
implications. From the consumer’s perspective, this research brings benefits to
individual consumers by informing them about the advantages of online shopping
which can reduce their time and cognitive effort expended on shopping and
consequently lower their TCs of online shopping. In addition, the research findings
provide online vendors with a deeper understanding on the allocation of resources and
capabilities in achieving minimum consumer TCs and inducing favourable
behavioural outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Gao, Lingling
Keywords: online consumer behaviour, transaction cost economics, consumer loyalty, purchasing behaviour, consumer satisfaction
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2015 the author

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