The invention of the Internet has created a paradigm shift of the traditional way people shop. A consumer is no longer bound to opening times or specific locations; he can become active at virtually any time and place and purchase products or services. The Internet is a relatively new medium for communication and information exchange that has become present in our everyday life. The number of Internet users is constantly increasing which also signifies that online purchasing is increasing (Joines, Scherer & Scheufele, 2003). The rapid increase is explained by the growth in the use of broadband technology combined with a change in consumer behaviour (Oppenheim & Ward, 2006). The Internet is considered a mass medium that provides the consumer with purchase characteristics as no other medium. Certain characteristics are making it more convenient for the consumer, compared to the traditional way of shopping, such as the ability to at any time view and purchase products, visualize their needs with products, and discuss products with other consumers (Joines et al. 2003). Oppenheim and Ward (2006) explain that the current primary reason people shop over the Internet is the convenience. They also recognize that the previous primary reason for shopping online was price, which has now changed to convenience. Online shopping is the process consumers go through when they decide to shop on the Internet. The Internet has developed into a “new” distribution channel (Hollensen, 2004) and the evolution of this channel, e-commerce, has been identified by Smith and Rupp (2003) to be the most significant contribution of the information revolution. Using the Internet to shop online has become one of the primary reasons to use the Internet, combined with searching for products and finding information about them (Joines et al. , 2003). Smith and Rupp (2003) also state that the consumers have never had access to so many suppliers and product/service opinions. Therefore, the Internet has developed to a highly competitive market, where the competition over the consumer is fierce. In order to have an impact on and retain consumers, in a competitive market, Constantinides (2004) stated that the first step is to identify certain influencing aspects when purchasing online, these can be regarded as factors.
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