B2C Factors Affecting E-commerce Acceptance
The decade of the nineties witnessed a remarkable speed of growth for the Internet overall and with that the slow emergence of the concept of online commerce (Burke, 2002). Thus one of the main things that has engaged the attention of the business and marketing academia since then is the identification of factors that actually contribute to positive online purchasing behavior (Burke, 2002). It is interesting to note that the decade following the nineties also brought about the dot.com bubble as the explosive increase of Internet users was estimated to bring in dramatic shifts in the way business would be conducted in the future. (Christy. et al, 2009) However the reason the dot.com bubble burst as quickly as it was stated to have started was a miscalculation in the way the consumer base would perceive “cyber” transactions (Dawson, 2000). This was because of the nuances of reaching an international market where the consumer base was not in any way homogeneous in terms of culture, or taste (Burke, 2002). Furthermore the organizational and marketing strategy including advertising in the target part of a certain market was, and still is, highly dependant upon the incorporation of the cultural and sociological characteristics of that target consumer base. An example would be the way sexual content or suggestions in an advertisement would be negatively perceived in Saudi Arabia and hence possibly banned by the local ISP’s under the law which is heavily influenced by religion (Bethon et al, 2006). Since the legal rules in a jurisdiction are also a product of its customs and religion it is possible to see that they will influence the freedom with which a product can be marketed in a target cyberspace of a jurisdiction.
As the main ambit and purpose of this literature review has, until now, been to construct a basic theoretical framework for the understanding of the impact of the current internet based globalisation, it is possible now to discern the way it has contributed to the notions of an “online” marketplace which is independent of the nuances of the bricks and mortar aspect of offline commerce. Hence in a world unhindered by the physical aspects of trading and transacting, the obvious advantage of a limitless consumer based, which can be addressed and accessed, emerges (Bellman et al, 1999). This however does not mean that this consumer base is uniform indeed across the world. Apart from the socio-cultural and lingual boundaries involved there also seems to be the more complicated dimension of introducing the concept of web shopping to consumers (Bellman, 1999). The most important theme in online shopping is often how effective a website interface actually is in attracting a diverse consumer base. With that in mind it should be noted that a website needs to be set up with many factors in mind particularly what or who is the target audience (Dawson, 2000). These things will ultimately impact the marketing strategy, the legal policy as well as the banking aspects of the website in terms of setting up payment options for the consumer base.
Furthermore the emergence of the cyber world as a market for e-commerce has changed the concept and notion of consumer value and satisfaction (Jarvenpaa and Tractinsky, 1999). These factors are again dependant upon how effectively the website interface and online “web-vertising” strategies work in order to attract a certain consumer base (ibid). When we look specifically at the business to consumer factors affecting the success or failure of an online enterprise it is imperative to note that the mere existence of promotional schemes, appealing advertisement and commercial attractions alone, cannot guarantee the commercial popularity of a website. All of these actions have to be taken after a well-calculated assessment of the cultural, sociological as well as legal and technological limitations, which may apply to the cyber space of any geographical area at any given time (Karahanna and Straub, 1999). Basically the consumer value, appeal and satisfaction, which are the target of such marketing, is ultimately going to be a product of the successful interaction of the same with in the marketing strategy (Wen-Hsiung Wu, 1999). The consumer has to be assured of confidentiality, his legal remedies and the fact that what is being represented upon in the website is in fact what will be dispensed to him or her with in reasonable time for a reasonable price.
Description of elements:
Many writers have explored the impact of the Internet upon international commercial boundaries, particularly the factors that need to be looked out for by the consumer base in terms of approaching a diverse range of consumers based on sex, race, language, gender and culture. It is important then to review the main factors, which have actually been seen as vital in bringing about a cultural acceptance of ecommerce(Cude and Morganosky,2000). The section below then takes into account the need for understanding the effect of social influence IS (information system) and marketing based organisational strategy and lingual convenience in contributing to the success of an online enterprise (Berth on et al, 1996). It is noteworthy indeed as mentioned above that an e-commerce merchants tool are solely based on the image of his enterprise he can conjure up in cyberspace through technological tools like the websites and web marketing tactics (Christy et al, 2006) This brings in a rather tripod like alignment of the business to consumer factors which actually bring us to the conclusion that all these factors are highly interdependent upon each other. This aspect will be further explored in the paragraphs below.
- Social influence
When targeting an international market the factor of social influence is of first and foremost importance. This holds true for most of the business interactions in the online and offline world however. The culture, traditions and religion of the country will not only affect buying attitudes but also their preferences and the laws regulating such transactions (Bellman et al, 1999). For example a retail outlet of Victoria’ secret might discover that marketing skimpy bikinis in Saudi Arabia through sexually graphic website messages might result in prosecution or even ban of the particular website in that jurisdiction despite the fact that there may be an interested consumer base in that area. Thus social taboos are only one issue.
Another issue is the political flavour of the consumer base (Christy et al, 2006). For example the Chinese government might not take too kindly the web advertisement of a magazine promoting democratic liberal ideas despite the fact that there may be a small faction in the country interested in such online magazines. It is also true that due to the same political constraints imposed upon by China face book and you tube were banned in that jurisdiction in 2009.Therefore now any e-merchant attempting to market a product through facebook or youtube will have to utilise other cyber means in China to get across to the consumer base.
Social influences are also a product of culture. In developing countries where the concept of single career minded people and nuclear families is almost unknown, there is less usage of Internet. In many South Asian jurisdictions, “internet” is actually perceived as evil and a threat to moral and religious values in a society. These factors will mean that consumers are less likely to go shopping online. Furthermore the availability of services like PayPal and Visa Credit card payments in a country are pivotal to the positive response of the consumer base. The payment culture is also an important factor hence in the success or failure of a certain ecommerce enterprise (Cude and Morganosky, 2000). To circumvent the same many websites offer direct bank, western union and cheque payments.
- Organisational and Marketing Strategy for increased cyber sales
It would not be incorrect to say that the technological dimension of e-commerce has been well supplemented by an entirely new branch of e-marketing strategies, which seek to bring in a sound consumer base (Burke, 2002). This is also known as IT/IS alignment in an organisation. This is because the tools of selling and advertising in the cyber world operate through a whole different methodology. There are different sets of regulatory rules, which apply here, and the legal issues have to be dealt through the rules of private international law. Thereby it has to be determined in advance by an e-merchant that the rules of which country will prevail in the event of a transactional dispute, intellectual property claim or even fraud (Burke, 2002). All in all how effectively and quickly an organisation can tie in its organisational strategy with its internet strategy will for the larger part determine how well a website functions as a commercial concern. Many websites use strategic hyperlinking, while others actually pay large search engines like Google, Yahoo and AOL to display their advertisements on a higher rank in response to certain key words (Dawson, 2000).
If we revisit the cultural dimension now it is possible to see that such marketing strategies are also deeply tied in with how the product is placed with in the market. This would mean that all these tools should not only be effective but also compliant with the local customs and traditions of a consumer base (Jarvenpaa and Tractinsky, 1999). Thus how successfully a website is positioned as a commercial portal will be dependant upon how interactive it is, in itself for a variety of consumer bases. Here variety will mean sex, religion, and cultural, lingual and political characteristics of the target consumer base. For the same reason it is possible to see that cosmetic and online luxury stores aim to target each jurisdiction with varying advertisement messages. More so many websites today display options for pages specially targeted at a certain jurisdiction. For example MSN and Yahoo have now got different pages for Arabia, UK and US. This is an effective remedy for regulatory compliance as well as targeting a specific consumer based on cultural products (Karahanna and Straub,1999). While interactivity has many different meanings for the academia, at its most basic it means how easily a website can be accessed by a consumer. Basically this will include the design of the drop down menus and effectiveness of a website’s search engine (Wen-Hsing Wu, 1999). The marketing strategy may also include a discount strategy to involve the consumer base. Tesco also provides its online consumers with Club-card points even when they shop online. Interactivity will also involve online help strategies for the consumer for example the ease with which the website administrator can be contacted for orders queries (Ibid).
While language was quite a barrier to e-commerce a while ago, thanks to facilities provided by Google, translated pages of websites are easy to access now. E-merchants aiming to reach out to a larger audience often create multiple web pages of their business concerns, which contain culturally, appropriate and translated versions of their product advertisements (Dawson, 2000). This overcomes the lingual barrier in conjunction with the socio-cultural hindrances, which vary with each geographical location. Important issues arise here in terms of appropriate translation of the representations on the website and the dangers of using a uniform marketing strategy across the various cultural audiences and consumer bases (Burke, 2002). Words themselves, even when accurately translated can have surprisingly variant lingual, metaphoric and cultural contexts in another language and culture (Bethon et al, 1999). This is certainly a large issue in the business to consumer advertisements carried out online.
Finally based upon all three of the factors discussed above it should be realised that these are interconnected in many contexts. Technology alone will not bring in a good consumer base but effective and aligned marketing strategies will certainly make a large difference (Bellman et al, 1999). While these will involve looking at the correct time and place for the launching of the product, offering discounts and trials as well as promotions, there will also be a need to position all these issues with in a relevant cultural context where as the online presence of the same can appeal to not just one section of the consumer base. Thus keeping the idea of making a profit in mind, the E-Merchant has to keep in mind the importance of these B2C factors in making a profit out of an e-commerce based enterprise. The merchant should be targeting real buyers instead of random Internet browsers (Cude and Morganosky, 2000). Certainly the number of hits on a website has got nothing to do with the commercial success of the product being marketed. While the notions of risk, payment convenience and reliability have a lot to do with how many people will choose to risk putting their credit card details in the mostly anonymous unregulated cyber jungle, the basic aim of actually attracting a willing consumer base has a lot to do with the cultural and lingual characteristics being utilised with in an organisational strategy.
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