1.1 Rationale and Context

Fast Internet connectivity and Smart devices are revolutionising the lives of Europeans (Van Woensel et al, 2015 -good to have latest info in the field). New terms like Smart Home technologies and Wearable technologies are becoming common in everyday publications. Due to increased use of internet, online marketplace has become an important channel for communication and distribution, and a place where businesses and consumers interaction can takes place. Due to the internet facilitated e-commerce, there is increased share of online sales in overall sales revenues (Van der Meer, Dutta and Datta, 2012). The number of people that are involved in online trading interactions has been increased (Chiu et al., 2012). In 2011, 43% Europe individuals and 71% of US consumers reported that they have done online shopping (Seybert, 2011) what is situation/trend today?. In-spite of economic downfall of present days the number of online consumers is increasing rapidly (Hu et al., 2010). The online shopping volume in 2009 grew up to $348.6 and it is an anticipation to reach $1 trillion by 2020.
Attitude or behaviour of consumer with respect to online shopping refers to their psychological state of them while purchasing goods on internet. The online buying behavioural process comprised of five steps and said to be similar with that of traditional behaviour. For example, consumers find themselves in need of something to buy, they consult internet to buy online and start their search to get information and to know about all alternatives and then finally purchase the thing which best fulfill their need. Consumers are influenced by several factors before making final decision about purchase. (Liang and Lai, 2000) too old ref. In this research these influencing factors will also be studied. This research work will shed light on they way the Europeans compare, purchase products and services and interact and exchange information.
With the increase in online competition it has become of prime importance to attract the consumers and to also provide full satisfaction to get success in their business. Now, with the provision of more available choices than ever before, power has been transferred from supplier’s hand to consumer. (Pitt, Berthon,Watson & Zikhan, 2002).  It gives them opportunity to easily switch from one supplier to another if their need has not been fulfilled or they are not satisfied by that online shopping experience. From a research it has been found Another research shows that almost half of consumers who left the online dealings did so due to the poor performance of website (Madu & Madu, 2002). Negative experience not only results in sales losses but also leave a bad effect on the ongoing brand perception of (Constantinides, 2004). It will also be focused in this research that this study will also focus on …how trust and confidence of consumer can be gained and which factors are responsible for imparting negative effect on trust building.
According to Eurostat Household Survey (2009), 35% of Internet users do not buy online because they have doubts concerning security of payment. Do Europeans consumers trust that they will receive their order easily, at a reasonable cost, without excessive delay and in satisfactory condition?
Internet of Things and high speed wireless internet networks like 4G have enabled not only many people to be connected online, but also, many devices like Smart TV, Smart Phone, Smart Lights in Smart Homes, Tablets, Smart Watch and many more. When people adopt emerging wearable devices that are connected to the internet, opportunities are created that can surpass the impact of even the most significant technologies of the Industrial Revolution and its aftermath (Kietzmann et al, 2016).
This research thus aims to critically assess the change in consumer’s behaviour towards making online purchase using their device connected to the internet, be it behind traditional Desktop workstations to mobile devices and personal embedded computing devices.
Such assessment will be important for eMarketers to review their marketing strategies and adapt to the changing online behaviour with new trends and habits being formed. People have no time to go and look for goods, they can easily choose/compare online.
 
Your personal experience with online shopping??? Then link to this study

1.2 Aims (Single line statement)

Objectives of the study: this study intends to …
Objective 1 – To Evaluate the existing literature in the field of Online Consumer behavior
To study the behaviour
Objective 2 – Critically Assess use of Internet connected devices to make online purchases; critically evaluate shopping strategies of people in Europe
Objective 3 – provide recommendations for Digital Marketers for acquisition of new customers and maintaining loyalty/retention after an analysis of online purchase behaviour

1.3 Research Questions

The research questions can be described as follows:

  • What are the current trends of online purchase in Europe?
  • What are the factors influencing Online Shopping behavior?

 

  • What are the implications for Digital Marketers in their e-Marketing strategy

 
Justification of the study? Who will benefit from the outcomes of this study?
Species.

1.4 Proposed Research Methods

Objective 1 via Literature Review
In order to achieve objective 1, i.e to evaluate the existing literature in the field of Online Consumer behavior, a Literature review will be performed. Journals that regularly publish articles on “online consumer behavior”, “eMarketing” will be considered. Survey articles with prominent authors who have done previous research on this particular topic will be considered.
The literature review will provide the foundation for the research work in the field of Online purchase behavior. However, it is to be found whether European countries only have been considered or not.
A wide range of literature resources will be considered, for example books, journal articles, conference papers and catalogues, which are all worthy to be considered for academic research. Peer reviewed Journals and Search engines aimed at academics will be considered. Care will be taken about internet sources by making sure that publications are authoritative and it show what the article was published/updated.
As a researcher, I will be critically evaluating text that I will read from the literature sources and I will assess its relevance to my own research. The critical literature review aims to gather and present evidence that the research topic is worthwhile and the research work is not a mere duplication of existing work done, and that some new knowledge will be created that was not known before (Oates B., 2006) no need of initials. The readings done in the literature review will help to frame the research.
On the other hand, a literature review might not be ideal if the research topic concerns recent years and there are too few sources relevant to the research topic to consider. Furthermore, there may be the problem of looking at too many sources but the sources are not from leading authorities or not totally relevant and helpful to consider (Knopf J, 2006).
Objective 2 via Survey, Interviews in order to gather user opinion
Survey relates to the collection of data from a group of people in a standardized and systematic way (Oates B, 2006). Data generation methods like interviews, questionnaire are used. Then patterns are looked for in the data and the results are analysed in order to draw conclusions.
For the purpose of this research, data collection will be performed with the main objectives of:
Understanding the demographics of the Online Shopping population – Age, Gender, Marital Status, Education, Occupation, Household income.
Understanding the usage of internet by the population – search internet for product information, clicks on banner advertisement, no. of online transactions in the last 6 months, no of email messages per day, use of internet for what purpose (work, news, entertainment, finance, travel, downloads etc.)
How do consumers behave when they see the possibility of:

  • Personalising a product
  • Free Shipping
  • Product Shipped within 48 hours

How do Internet visitors behave when

  • There is a secure website checkout, a privacy policy
  • Returns and refunds policy
  • Live customer support, Help desk system.
  • Purchasing with a coupon/discount code
  • They are asked to subscribe to email newsletter

 
The cons of this survey method is that if the response rate is below 15%, then we will need to persuade more people to participate in the survey or try other strategies like gentle reminders and follow-ups. For a target population of 100,000 online consumers in Europe, a sample size of 890 will be considered. Internet surveys will be carried out to email subscribers. However, many respondents can simply ignore the email or the email be filtered out as SPAM. Also researches cannot judge the accuracy or honesty of people’s responses. However, survey can help produce lots of data in a short time and at a reasonably low cost. In the next phase, focus group discussion will be considered

1.5 Potential Value of Research

The community of Digital Marketers will have a current trend of online shopping behaviour in European countries.
The recommendations could be in a form of “must haves” for web designers/web developers/e marketers to consider for their online shop so that they reach their Conversion goal for the specific industry.
New knowledge will be contributed in the field of e-marketing with the new generation of consumers who are constantly connected to fast networks using connected devices.
Factors influencing online shopping will provide a guidance to online retail shop on what to do in order to achieve their online goals as a successful business.

1.6 Research Plan

 

Tasks for Dissertation July Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. March April
1 Research Proposal                
Literature plan and review                
1 Plan review                
2 Identify & locate lit                
3 Evaluate lit                
4 Write draft lit review                
Research Methodology                
1 Final                
Analysis                
1 Final                
Discussion & Conclusion                
1 Final                
Recommendations                
2 Final                
Formatting, Review and Submission                
1 Final                

 
 

2.1 Initial Literature Review

Online shopping is a process of buying services and products through Internet and online market is excelling day-by-day. Online shopping behavior of consumer refers to their psychological state with respect to shopping on the Internet (Li and Zhang, 2002).
To study the behavior of online consumer has become an important area of research Most of the research articles show that researchers give theories on the basis of classical consumer behavior research including behavioral learning (Skinner, 1938), attitude models (Fishbein 1976), information processing (Bettman 1979) and personality research (Folkes 1988). Grabner-Kraeuter S. (2002) analysed the role of consumer trust as a base foundation for the usage of eCommerce as according to her, many consumers are skeptical or suspicious about the functional mechanisms of electronic commerce, its non transparent processes and effects, and the quality of many products offered online.
Luarn and Lin (2003) reported that a large number of potential consumers are provided to the E-market due to the explosive growth of the Internet usage. Conversion of these potential consumers into real ones and their retention largely depends on the services they provide and also on the feeling of satisfaction of the consumer.
Davis (1986 & 1989) reported that perceived usefulness and ease of use of a particular product or service play an important role in providing the satisfaction to the consumer. McKnight et al. (2002) found the agreement of most of the researchers that trust building has an influence on the intention to buy. Do not just report what studies have shown but analyse them and link them to your study
Tonita et al. (2004) reported that in the case of online shopping consumer evaluates their experience of online shopping in various terms including, a form of payment, involved risk, delivery time, offered service, privacy, and security. All these terms and conditions can be responsible for the certain behavior of the consumer.
In order to investigate the relationship between various characteristics of online shopping and consumer purchase behaviour, Park et al. (2003) carried out an online survey with 602 Korean customers of online bookstores and concluded that information quality, user interface quality and security perceptions are significantly related to each consumer’s site commitment and actual purchase behavior.
One of the most important and fundamental issue of eMarketing remains: How to attract and win over the consumer in the highly competitive Internet marketplace. Constantinides E (2004) outlined noticeable similarities and differences between the traditional and virtual consumers in his paper “influencing the online consumer’s behavior: the Web experience”.
Lohse et al (2009) carried out survey research and their findings from panel data indicate that over a 12-month period, online consumers double the number of items purchased online and those who “dropped out” of online shopping seem to have had some bad experiences with online retailers. Such dropouts are also due to such people getting more spam emails. The people who have never bought are increasing the amount of time they are spending online and may in time make at least one online purchase.
It is not a secret that main goal of business is to sale to the consumer. Therefore, it is important to analyze consumer’s behavior for commercial activities (Deaton and Muellbauer, 1980, Solomon, 2006) as in online business there is no face to face interaction of consumer and supplier therefore, it becomes more important to understand the behavior of consumer. Nazir (Nazir, et al., 2012) indicated that of the relationship between the behavior of consumer and marketing strategy marketing strategy is very important. He also focused on strategy to increase the frequency and probability of buying after knowing and understanding the buyer’s behavior and needs. Furthermore, due to increased competitive environment because of Internet business it has become of prime importance to understand consumer’s behavior repetition in several places, clump all similar  ideas together. Moreover, there is also need to be analyzed by online sellers that why some people still not prefer online shopping (Turan, 2011).
Chang, et al. (2005) studied the categorization of variables which play important role in driving activity of online shopping. According to the study they conducted, they divided these features into three main categories. First category is the supposed characteristics of the web sale channel it includes trust, online shopping experience, quality of service, risk and advantage; second category is related to product characteristics and web site which include measures to reduce risk, features and characteristics of website and product; and the last categorization done by authors is related to characteristics of consumer. Consumer characteristics include various types of features such as demographic variables, knowledge of computer and Internet and its usage, innovativeness of consumer and also some psychological variables.
A study on consumer’s characteristics and behavior was also conducted by Kotler and Armstrong (2010). They explained the way how buyers perceive, also explained that how they receive and interpret the stimuli from advertisements. According to their study the behavior of consumer and decisions that they make are influenced by several characteristics and these characteristics have association with consumer’s needs.
According to a study consumer’s behaviors can be explained in four dimensions which are personal, psychological, social and cultural characteristics (Wu, 2003, Kotler and Armstrong, 2010). Identification of these characteristics is crucial in deciding marketing strategies and also in targeting of correct consumer groups.
Personal characteristic of consumer is one of the important factors which affect the process of purchase decision. Gender, education, age, status, occupation, income and life style come under the category of personal factors.
Most of the online shopping research studies are conducted on young adults because these researches would be helpful in predicting the behavior of future consumer with ease. More options are available for young adult generation than any other generation and these are also more conscious about making decisions on the basis of knowledge about new technology and also in choosing what they want. (Vasquez and Xu, 2009)
Hasan (2010) conducted research on the basis of gender and found that both gender groups are familiar with Internet usage however it was found that men are more aware of online shopping and buy online things. Men were found to be more interested and familiar with technology as compared to women. This gap is expected to be decreased in future with the spread of awareness.
From a research it was found that individuals with lower income find online shopping a risky medium and tend to buy things more cautiously because of their lower tolerance level for financial loses as compared to consumers with higher income. However, once the users have an experience online shopping successfully and have built the trust then their shopping attitude is not affected by their income (Hernandez, et al, 2011).
Smith and Rupp (2003) argued about the psychological factors of consumer’s behavior in the context of online shopping. Online consumers frequently ask themselves many questions while psychologically dealing with themselves. One of the important factors is perception and it forces the consumer to examine the quality of product and also the security of the web site. In this case the organization selling their goods should successfully provide confidence to consumers.
Social characteristics of consumer also play important role as a factor in online shopping. Reference groups are involved in imparting social influence. Reference groups can be identified as virtual communities for online buyers; these consist of discussion groups on a web site. Opinions and experiences of other people have been shown there which affect the behavior of consumer. According to Kotler and Armstrong (2012) the Reference Groups effect the behavior of consumer is on the basis of a belief that the behavior of a person is influenced by many small reference groups. One of these reference groups is family. These reference groups can influence an individual’s attitude in various different ways, either in the form of change in life style or in the form of pressure to change their attitude
Cultural characteristics are also play role in controlling the behavior of the consumer. A research was conducted by Smith and Rupp (2003) and they found from this study that different social classes show different type of behaviors. Consumers belong to lower social classes would have different properties as compared to consumers belong to higher social classes. Hofstede (2001) defined culture as a type of collective mental programming that can distinguish the members that belong from one group to those belong from another category.
A research was conducted by Mauldin and Arunachalam (2002) in which they identified that some attributes like long time to deliver goods, internet speed, more time to search a specific product and absence of negotiation are important in defining the intention and behavior of the online consumer. Through a research Hoffman and Novak (1996) studied and revealed that some attributes such as less variety of items or less number of available items and shopping without any time limitation also play an important role or have an impact on online purchase decisions.
Much of the research work on online consumer behavior has been conducted and huge amount of knowledge has been collected about it because consumer behavior understanding is a key now a-days to excel in online business.
There may also be resistance to change aspect and the influence of advertising on adoption of online shopping
Give a small concluding remark.

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Arrange in alphabetical order