Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, VOL 8, NO.1, 2007
Willingness to Buy
Figure 1: Overview of hypotheses
The above hypotheses are tested using a survey of visitors of a large German multi-channel retail website. The company’s retail site considers itself the first fully integrated multi-channel shop in Europe. The retailer operates an e-shop and a network of more than 6000 stores in over 10 European countries. The company was founded in 1973 and the e-shop launched in 1999. It offers more than 10,000 consumer electronics products both online and offline. The product assortment appeals to a variety of consumer typologies including bargain shoppers and quality-oriented high-end buyers.
About 300,000 visitors per month with an average of ten page impressions per visit access the site. The general conversion rate (proportion of visits that end with a purchase) of the multi-channel site is less than the average of US retailers where conversion is 4.9 % among the top 100 retailers in 2005. Conversion on multi-channel sites tends to be lower because visitors are often researching purchases to be made offline [Yen 2005]. The retail site uses an online privacy statement that can be accessed through a link on each page of the site which adheres to the legal regulations concerning the processing and use of electronic data in the European Union [EU 2002].
A questionnaire was accessible via a rotating banner on the retail site. The banner announcing the survey offered an optional raffle and was kept online for 5 months from 1st of March 2004 to end of July 2004. All participants who left their e-mail address participated in the raffle of three digital cameras. 4.2 Questionnaire
The answers to the online questionnaire were measured using a Likert scale ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating an attribute was "very weak / unlikely" and 5 "very strong / likely" [Likert 1932]. The questionnaire was in German and consisted of the items summarized in Table I as well as questions about demographics and previous visits to the shop and the stores. Demographic information included age, gender, Internet experience, and e-mail address.
Scales were constructed on the basis of past literature as shown in Table I. For each item of the constructs perceived size and perceived reputation, the term "this website" was replaced with "this retailer’s physical store network" to emphasize the offline context. For the remaining items, we used the term "this e-shop" to draw a clear distinction between online and offline presence. The following modifications of the scale suggested by Jarvenpaa [Jarvenpaa 1999, Jarvenpaa, Tractinsky and Vitale 2000] were adapted from Heijden et al. : For the construct willingness to buy, we changed the time horizons "three months" and "the next year" to the broader terms "short term" and "the longer term". For each construct we used only three items to keep the questionnaire as short as possible, which was a requirement from the multi-channel retailer. We also modified two items of the risk scale suggested by Jarvenpaa [Jarvenpaa 1999, Jarvenpaa, Tractinsky and Vitale 2000] to meet German language subtleties. The item "How would you characterize the decision to buy a product through this website?" with answers ranging from "a very negative situation" to "a very positive situation" was changed into "How would you characterize the risk to purchase at this e-shop?" with a scale ranging from "very low risk" to "very high risk". We also introduced a new item to measure consumer perceptions of the store network size: "This retailer’s stores are spread all over the country". Five members of the faculty staff and ten students reviewed a preliminary version of the measurement instrument with respect to precision and clearness. In a pre-test with 30 participants (unequal to those who screened the instrument), the scales showed satisfactory results for Cronbach’s Alpha [Cronbach 1951] (perceived size = .75, perceived reputation = .85, perceived privacy = .95, willingness to buy = .71, trust = .80, risk
perception = .74).
4.3 Pre-processing and Respondent's Demographics