The Predictive Effects of Communication and SearchQuality on Behavioral Intentions for a GlobalCommercial Website:The Cont...
Agenda2  Backgroundo  E-commerce activityo  Literature Review  Conceptual Framework  Research Gapso  Research Questions...
3Background: E-Commerce ActivityThe importance of e-commerce and the reliance on company websites forinfluencing and facil...
4Furthermore, the regionaldistribution of e-commerceactivity is changing:  This year, eMarketer estimatesthat sales will ...
Electronic commerce can be defined loosely as “doing businesselectronically” (European Commission 1997).  Electronic comm...
6This growth underscoresthe importance ofwebsites as sources ofcontent and facilitators inthe sales process.  A November ...
7Background: Managerial ProblemsThis performance record clearly suggests that understanding how digitalcommunications chan...
Research investigating theinfluence of websites onconsumer behaviors within e-commerce environments can beclassified into ...
  The separation of content andinformation from design,structure and usability isspecified in the classificationsystems f...
10CommunicationsQualityInformationand ContentOrganizationNavigationPerceptionsandAttitudesContextFindingProductsFamiliarit...
11While the reviewed research provides a useful framework for guiding research,four gaps in better understanding the natur...
12Several research questions and associated hypotheses arise from theseobservations.RQ1: Do the three facets of the users’...
13Research ModelCommunicationsQualityVerbalContentVisualContentNavigationEaseBehavioralIntentionsContextBrowseCapabilityKn...
14Data Collection:  Information was collected via an on-line survey administered by Foresee ( acommercial market research...
15Findings: Respondent Profile68.5%	  4.7%	  6.0%	  7.0%	  13.8%	  How Frequently Do You Visit This Site?First Time (68.5%...
1610.1%	  24.9%	  24.2%	  14.2%	  9.5%	  6.9%	  10.2%	  When did you last purchase a companyproduct?Never (10.1%)Within la...
17Findings: Descriptive Statistics of Modeled VariablesAll “communication” and “search” quality, and “intention” indicator...
189.0%	  0.8%	  0.4%	  46.5%	  7.9%	  4.2%	  13.5%	  0.3%	  2.9%	  4.6%	  9.9%	  Which of the following responses best des...
19CommunicationsQualityVerbalContentVisualContentNavigationEaseBehavioralIntentionsContextBrowseCapabilityKnowledgeSources...
20CommunicationsQualityVerbalContentVisualContentContextKnowledgeSourcesTask/GoalCulturalFindings: Model Evaluation0.160**...
21Key Conclusions: The results of the analysis support the hypothesized relationships specified in theresearch model.o Th...
22Implications, Limitations, Future ResearchImplications:  This study demonstrates that visitor composition effects can b...
23BibliographyAyanso, A. and R. Yoogalingam (2009), “Profiling Retail Web Site Functionalities and Conversion Rates: A Clu...
24Thank You…Any Questions?
25Appendix: Model Evaluation—Hypothesis TestsThe estimated parameters for each hypothesized path in the model, andbootstra...
26Appendix: Model QualityThe model results meet the criteria for acceptable model quality recommended byFornell and Larcke...
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The Predictive Effects of Communication and Search Quality on Behavioral Intentions for a Global Commercial Website: The Contextual Influences of Culture, Brand Knowledge and Task

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A Presentation delivered to the Fifth Tricontinental Conference on Global Advances in Business Communications (GABC), Antwerp, Belgium May 29th-31st 2013. Details the results of a theory building study that examines how contextual elements impact the perceptions of information and search quality of a corporate e-commerce website.

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The Predictive Effects of Communication and Search Quality on Behavioral Intentions for a Global Commercial Website: The Contextual Influences of Culture, Brand Knowledge and Task

  1. 1. The Predictive Effects of Communication and SearchQuality on Behavioral Intentions for a GlobalCommercial Website:The Contextual Influences of Culture, BrandKnowledge and TaskG. Russell Merz, Ph.D.,Professor of Integrated Marketing CommunicationsEastern Michigan UniversityA Presentation to the Fifth Tricontinental Conference on GlobalAdvances in Business Communications (GABC), Antwerp,Belgium May 29th-31st 2013
  2. 2. Agenda2  Backgroundo  E-commerce activityo  Literature Review  Conceptual Framework  Research Gapso  Research Questions and Hypotheseso  Research Model  Methods  Findings and Discussion  Implications, Limitations and Future Research
  3. 3. 3Background: E-Commerce ActivityThe importance of e-commerce and the reliance on company websites forinfluencing and facilitating on-line sales transactions is undeniable.  E-commerce sales are growing at an estimated 19% annually, and  Total global sales have reportedly hit $1.0 trillion in size.
  4. 4. 4Furthermore, the regionaldistribution of e-commerceactivity is changing:  This year, eMarketer estimatesthat sales will grow 18.3% to$1.298 trillion worldwide,  The Asia-Pacific region isexpected to surpass NorthAmerica in 2013 to becomethe worlds No. 1 market forB2C e-commerce sales.  Shares of other regions areanticipated to remain steadywith sales growth equaling theglobal rate.Background: E-Commerce Activity
  5. 5. Electronic commerce can be defined loosely as “doing businesselectronically” (European Commission 1997).  Electronic commerce includes electronic trading of physical goods and of intangiblessuch as information.  This encompasses all the trading steps such as online marketing, ordering, payment,and support for delivery.  Electronic commerce includes the electronic provision of services, such as after-sales support or online legal advice.  Finally it also includes electronic support for collaboration between companies, suchas collaborative design.Websites (or e-shops/storefronts) represent one of many business model formsthat are used for conducting e-commerce transactions.  Others include e-auctions, e-mail, e-procurement , e-malls, and e-communities(social media).  Websites are the dominant form for electronic business to consumer (B2C)transactions.5Background: E-Commerce ActivitySource: Timmers, P. (1998), “Business Models for Electronic Markets”, Journal ofElectronic Markets, 8(2), 3-8.
  6. 6. 6This growth underscoresthe importance ofwebsites as sources ofcontent and facilitators inthe sales process.  A November 2012 study bynRelate found that 48% ofonline shoppers said theytrusted content from brandwebsites.  No other content typeapproached thetrustworthiness ofcorporate sites, accordingto this survey—not evenmainstream news sites.  In addition, visitors to CPGbrand websites spent 37%more than non-visitors onthose brands in retailstores.Background: E-Commerce Activity
  7. 7. 7Background: Managerial ProblemsThis performance record clearly suggests that understanding how digitalcommunications channels function as information sources and facilitators in thee-commerce sales process is critical to success.Several managerial problems are associated with the role that brandedwebsites play in the e-commerce sales phenomena:  What information qualities should be emphasized in the content placed onthe brand’s website?  How should websites be designed to effectively impact behaviors and/orconversions?  How should customer characteristics (e.g., culture, knowledge and tasks) befactored into decisions about website content and design?
  8. 8. Research investigating theinfluence of websites onconsumer behaviors within e-commerce environments can beclassified into four categories ofinquiry:  Issues related to the content, andpresentation of information (Blancoet al. 2010, Huizingh 2000,Cyr2008);  The usability, design andfunctionality of websites (Changand Chen 2008, Cyr 2008,Huizingh 2000, Korgaonkar et al.2009);  The effects of these factors onresponses such as trust,satisfaction and behavioralintentions (Chang 2008, Krishen2008, Kuan et al. 2008, Karimov etal. 2012); and,  The contexts within which theserelationships may operate (Blancoet al. 2010, Chang and Chen 2008,Cyr 2008, Stanaland and Tan2010).8Background: Literature Review
  9. 9.   The separation of content andinformation from design,structure and usability isspecified in the classificationsystems found in the work ofHuizingh (2000) and morerecently Karimov et al (2011).  Furthermore, many researchersposited a hypothetical directionbetween the four constructcategories such that:9Background: Literature ReviewSource: Huizingh, E.K.R.E.(2000), “The Content andDesign of Web Sites: AnEmpirical Study,”Information & Management,37, 123-134.Source: Karimov, F.P., M.Brengman, and L. Van Hove (2011),“The Effects of Website DesignDimensions on Initial Trust: ASynthesis of the EmpiricalLiterature,” Journal of ElectronicCommerce Research, 12(4),272-301.ContextContentDesignResponse
  10. 10. 10CommunicationsQualityInformationand ContentOrganizationNavigationPerceptionsandAttitudesContextFindingProductsFamiliarityUsage GoalsCulturalSearchQualityResponseTypesConceptual Framework•  Blanco et al. (2010)•  Cyr (2008)•  Huizingh (2000)•  Kamoun and Halaweh(2012)•  Karimov et al. (2011)•  Korgoankar et al. (2009)•  Krishen and Kamra (2008)•  Kuan et al. (2008)•  Richard et al. (2010)•  Stanaland and Tan (2010)•  Blanco et al. (2010)•  Chang and Chen (2008)•  Richard et al. (2010)•  Krishen and Kamra (2008)•  Stanaland and Tan (2010)•  Cyr (2008)•  Chang and Chen (2008)•  Cyr (2008)•  Huizingh (2000)•  Kamoun and Halaweh(2012)•  Karimov et al. (2011)•  Kuan et al. (2008)•  Richard et al. (2010)•  Stanaland and Tan (2010)•  Chang and Chen (2008)•  Korgoankar et al. (2009)•  Kuan et al. (2008)•  Stanaland and Tan (2010)BehavioralIntentions•  Blanco et al. (2010)•  Chang and Chen (2008)•  Cyr (2008)•  Korgoankar et al. (2009)•  Krishen and Kamra (2008)•  Richard (2010)•  Stanaland and Tan (2010)•  Chang and Chen (2008)•  Cyr (2008)•  Kuan et al. (2008)•  Stanaland and Tan (2010)Implied Cause and Effect Relationships
  11. 11. 11While the reviewed research provides a useful framework for guiding research,four gaps in better understanding the nature of the constructs and therelationships between them persists.1.  Context effects are not well understood, no research has examined the jointeffects of culture, task and brand knowledge or familiarity.2.  Communications quality is often confounded with structural and designissues which are more formally conceived as dimensions of Search quality.This reflects a conflict between two separate schools of thought, theaesthetic and the functional, underlying the design of websites (O’Connor2004).3.  There is inconsistent treatment of two dimensions of communications quality;the perceived verbal and visual information qualities of the website(O’Connor 2004).4.  Finally, the implied theoretical causal pathway between context,communications content, search and behavior, has not been tested in asingle study. The evidence for its existence is piecemeal and derived fromthe reviewed research.Research Gaps
  12. 12. 12Several research questions and associated hypotheses arise from theseobservations.RQ1: Do the three facets of the users’ contextual environment (cultural, task and knowledge) affectthe perceptions of website visual and verbal communications quality?  H1a,b: The knowledge mix of users directly affects the perceptions of (a) visual and (b)verbalquality.  H2a,b: The task mix of users directly affects the perceptions of (a) visual and (b) verbal quality.  H3a,b: The cultural mix of users directly affects the perceptions of (a) visual and (b) verbal qualityRQ2: Do the users’ perceptions of visual and verbal communication quality affect perceptions ofsearch quality?  H4a,b: The perception of visual quality directly affects perceptions of (a) navigation ease and (b)product browse capability.  H5a,b: The perception of verbal quality directly affects perceptions of (a) navigation ease and (b)product browse capability.RQ3: Do users’ perceptions of search quality affect behavioral intentions?  H6: The perception of navigation ease directly affects behavioral intentions.  H7: The perception of product browse capability directly affects behavioral intentions.Research Questions and Hypotheses
  13. 13. 13Research ModelCommunicationsQualityVerbalContentVisualContentNavigationEaseBehavioralIntentionsContextBrowseCapabilityKnowledgeSourcesTask/GoalCulturalSearchQualityResponseTypeH1aH1bH2aH3aH2bH3bH4aH6H4bH5aH5bH7
  14. 14. 14Data Collection:  Information was collected via an on-line survey administered by Foresee ( acommercial market research firm) at the completion of the visit by a sample of9364 randomly selected consumers visiting the ecommerce website of a majorproduct manufacturer between November 1st 2012 and January 15th 2013.  The website is visited by both B2C and B2B customers seeking information for avariety of reasons (task context) and from five major regions of the globe (culturalcontext), with varying levels of brand familiarity (knowledge context), all of whichare measured on the questionnaire.  This study uses the B2C respondents in the analysis (n=4864)Measurement and Analysis:  Ten point scaled items are used to measure the perceptions of visual and verbalcommunications quality, two aspects of search quality, navigation ease andproduct browse capability, and various behavioral intentions.  Multiple response questions and questionnaire language are used to captureinformation about context (culture, task and knowledge sources)  Structural equations modeling was used to estimate the models and comparisonsof modeling results were made to assess differences across contextual testgroups. Standard descriptive statistics are used for profiling.Methods
  15. 15. 15Findings: Respondent Profile68.5%  4.7%  6.0%  7.0%  13.8%  How Frequently Do You Visit This Site?First Time (68.5%)Once a Week or More (4.7%)2 to 3 Times per Month (6.0%)Once a Month (7.0%Less than Once a Month (13.8%)71.9%  28.1%  Did you find what you were lookingfor today?Yes (71.9%)No (28.1%)
  16. 16. 1610.1%  24.9%  24.2%  14.2%  9.5%  6.9%  10.2%  When did you last purchase a companyproduct?Never (10.1%)Within last week (24.9%)Within last month (24.2%)Within last 3 months (14.2%)Within last 6 months (9.5%)Within last year (6.9%)Over a year ago (10.2%)3.0%  46.3%  15.1%  25.3%  4.0%  6.3%  How would you prefer to purchase from company?Dont plan to buy (3.0%)From distributor/retailer offline (46.3%)From distributor/retailer online (15.1%)Directly from company online (25.3%)Directly from company offline (4.0%)Other (6.3%)Findings: Respondent Profile
  17. 17. 17Findings: Descriptive Statistics of Modeled VariablesAll “communication” and “search” quality, and “intention” indicators are scaledon a 1 = poor or very unlikely to 10 = excellent/very likely scale.
  18. 18. 189.0%  0.8%  0.4%  46.5%  7.9%  4.2%  13.5%  0.3%  2.9%  4.6%  9.9%  Which of the following responses best describesyour primary reason for visiting website?General Info (9.0%)Career Info (0.8%)Investor Info (0.4%)Product Info (46.5%)Find Distributor/Retailer (7.9%)Order Samples (4.2%)Purchase (13.5%)Tracking Order (0.3%)Educational Material (2.9%)Price Info (4.6%)Other (9.9%)Findings: Descriptive Statistics of Modeled Variables21.2%  8.2%  33.1%  32.3%  5.3%  RegionsAsia Pacific (21.2%)Central/East Europe (8.2%)Latin America (33.1%)United States (32.3%)West Europe (5.3%)2.4%2.0%2.8%2.2%1.6%0.2%1.3%27.8%5.4%17.9%7.4%5.4%7.3%0.7%15.5%0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% 30.0%FrMessSNVideoBlogSNAdsCoMessSNSMSMobFrIMKnowBndCoEmailSearchWOMMediaAdWebAdPinBdOtherInformation SourcesContext was modeled usingthree categorical variables.Formative indices for“culture”, “task” and“knowledge” were quantifiedusing the proportions ofresponses in each category.
  19. 19. 19CommunicationsQualityVerbalContentVisualContentNavigationEaseBehavioralIntentionsContextBrowseCapabilityKnowledgeSourcesTask/GoalCulturalSearchQualityResponseType0.160***H1a0.146***H1b0.05***H2a-0.123***H3a0.032**H2b-0.174***H3b0.579***H4a0.471***H60.084***H4b0.149***H5a0.697***H5b0.338***H7Findings: Model EvaluationR2=0.054R2=0.064R2=0.400R2=0.522R2=0.454n = 4864 cases; t-stat estimates based on bootstrapping 4000 cases 1000 times[*** p≤0.000; **p≤0.05.]
  20. 20. 20CommunicationsQualityVerbalContentVisualContentContextKnowledgeSourcesTask/GoalCulturalFindings: Model Evaluation0.160***H1a0.146***H1b0.05***H2a-0.123***H3a0.032**H2b-0.174***H3bR2=0.054R2=0.064Interpretation: Thehigher the proportion ofvisitors from APACregion the lower theperformance rating for“visual” content.All “context” constructsare specified as formativelatent variables.
  21. 21. 21Key Conclusions: The results of the analysis support the hypothesized relationships specified in theresearch model.o Three dimensions of visit “context” (knowledge, task and culture) were foundto have significant impact on the perceptions of website “communicationsquality”, however the overall amount of variance explained is low;o Within each “context” dimension the relative sizes of the categories withindifferentially impact the perceptions of “communication quality” i.e., as theproportion of visitors in each category changes, there is a predictable effect oncommunications quality performance;o The visual and verbal dimensions of “communication quality” are stronglyrelated to the “search quality” dimensions of navigation ease and productbrowse capability;o There is indication that visual communication is more important for navigationease, while verbal communications is more important for finding relevantproduct content;o Finally, navigation ease and product browse capability both have strongeffects on a composite index of future behavioral intentions.Discussion
  22. 22. 22Implications, Limitations, Future ResearchImplications:  This study demonstrates that visitor composition effects can be quantified, andthat changes in visitor composition have predictable effects on the perceivedperformance of website communication quality.  In addition, changes in perceived communications quality likewise affect theperceptions of search quality and ultimately the way visitors may behave towardthe website and brand in the future.  These finding suggest that with knowledge about “who” uses the website, “why”they use it and “how” they acquire information about it, managers are better ableto craft communication strategies for increasing website use. This is especiallycritical for businesses dependent on e-commerce for revenues.Limitations:  The study used a single website for a company selling utilitarian productsFuture Research Opportunities:  The growing interest about “content marketing” among practitioners is spawninga proliferation of guidelines about “best practices”, unfortunately there is littleresearch supporting them.  This study may be a useful template for follow-up research across a broaderrange of websites and communications platforms such as social media sites, andmobile devices.
  23. 23. 23BibliographyAyanso, A. and R. Yoogalingam (2009), “Profiling Retail Web Site Functionalities and Conversion Rates: A Cluster Analysis,” InternationalJournal of Electronic Commerce, 14(1), 79-113.Blanco, C.F., R. G. Sarasa, and C.O. Sanclemente (2010), “Effects of Visual and Texttual Information in Online Product Presentations:Looking for the Best Combination in Website Design,” European Journal of Information Systems, 19, 668-686.Chang, H.H. and S.W. Chen (2008), “The Impact of customer Interface Quality, Satisfaction and Switching Costs on e-Loyalty: InternetExperience as a Moderator, Computers in Human Behavior, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2008.04.014.Cyr, D. (2008), “Modeling Web Site Design Across Cultures: Relationships to Trust, Satisfaction, and E-Loyalty,” Journal of ManagementInformation Systems, 24 (4), 47-72.Huizingh, E.K.R.E. (2000), “The Content and Design of Web Sites: An Empirical Study,” Information & Management, 37, 123-134.Kamoun, F. and M. Halaweh (2012), “User Interface Design and E-Commerce Security Perception: An Empirical Study,” InternationalJournal of E-Business Research, 8(2), 15-32.Karimov, F.P., M. Brengman, and L. Van Hove (2011), “The Effects of Website Design Dimensions on Initial Trust: A Synthesis of theEmpirical Literature,” Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, 12(4), 272-301.Korgoankar, P., B. Oleary and R Silverblatt (2009), “Critical Factors to Successful Website Development: Opinions of Website Designersand developers,” International Journal of E-Business Research, 5(4), 39-54.Krishen, A. and K. Kamra (2008), “Perceived versus Actual Complexity for Websites: Their Relationship to Consumer Satisfaction,”Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, 21, 104-123.Kuan, H.H, G.W. Bock and V. Vanthanophas (2008), “Comparing the Effects of Website Quality on Customer Initial Purchase andContinued Purchase at E-Commerce Websites,” Behaviour & Information Technology, 27(1), 3-16.O’Connor (2004), “Conflicting Viewpoints on Web Design,” Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 17 (2-3), 225-230.Richard, M.O., J.C. Chebat, Z. Yang and S. Putrevu (2010), “A Proposed Model of On-line Consumer Behavior: Assessing the Role ofGender,” Journal of Business Research, 63, 926-934.Stanaland, A.J.S., and J. Tan (2010), “The Impact of Surfer/Seeker Mode on the Effectiveness of Website Characteristics,” InternationalJournal of Advertising, 29(4).
  24. 24. 24Thank You…Any Questions?
  25. 25. 25Appendix: Model Evaluation—Hypothesis TestsThe estimated parameters for each hypothesized path in the model, andbootstrapping results, are summarized in the table. All hypotheses are supported.
  26. 26. 26Appendix: Model QualityThe model results meet the criteria for acceptable model quality recommended byFornell and Larcker (1981), Barclay, D. W., Thompson, R., and Higgins C. (1995),and Hair, J., Sarstedt, M., Ringle, C., and Mena, J. (2011).

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