The concept of e-commerce relates to the practice of buying and selling products over the internet (Lee, 2008) and it has a significant impact on consumer consumer behaviour. Pozzi (2009) divides online retailers in two following categories:
First, retailers that sell online, as well as, maintaining traditional physical offline stores. Retailers belonging to this category have commenced their businesses in traditional offline stores and they adopted online sales channel as well during the last decade in order not to miss convenient opportunity of increasing their revenues. Major retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Next, Debenhams and many others belong to this category.
Retailers employing both, online and offline sales channels have wide range of marketing tools available for them to be used in affecting consumer behaviour (Callen, 2009). Online customers of these businesses usually represent individuals and organisations that have formed their brand loyalty prior to the adoption of online sales channel by the retailer.
Second, retailers that rely only on online sales channel and do not have any offline stores. Global retailers such as Amazon, EBuyer, very.co.uk do not trade through offline physical stores and they rely only on online sales channel in order to conduct their business operations.
While adopting such a strategy may offer substantial benefits in terms of cost savings, because no stores need to be maintained and accordingly, fewer numbers of employees are sufficient to be employed, nevertheless this strategy limits the opportunities for retailers in terms of impacting consumer behaviour.
Specifically, online-only retailers are in a disadvantaged position compared to their offline competitors in terms of affecting consumer behaviour through enhancing the quality of store atmosphere and effective positioning of products within the stores.
Moreover, unlike offline retailers, online-only retailers lack the opportunities of impacting consumer behaviour through providing ‘warm’ customer service experiences offered by a human. Besides, a certain level of security concerns associated with online shopping compromise the effectiveness of customer attraction and retention strategies initiated by online-only retailers.
Nevertheless, online-only retailers can have a positive impact on the level of consumer behaviour through enhancing technical capabilities of the website, providing comprehensive information about the products, increasing delivery time of product and in a range of other ways.
Furthermore, e-commerce has impacted consumer behaviour through widening choices for consumers in several levels. Specifically, nowadays consumers have an opportunity of comparing various aspects of products online prior to making a commitment of purchasing from a specific brand.
- Callen, B. (2009) “Managers Guide to Marketing, Advertising and Publicity”, McGraw-Hill Professional, USA
- Lee, I. (2008) “E-business models, services, and communications” IGI
- Pozzi, A. (2009) “Essays in E-Commerce” Stanford University