Background of The Study
The Internet had become an important tool for our daily life use, it helps us research for information, receive and send emails but also for recreational use. With the development of the technology, nowadays more and more people are connected to the Internet, it has to lead to globalization with people sharing information, products, and services globally. Meanwhile, internet shopping has become an important way to purchase products and services but it is also gaining in popularity. Online shopping provides to people with convenience; the ease to find a product; the ability to compare the products and the prices.
Globally, the retail industry is an important factor in the economic development, and according to eMarketer in 2015, the total sales of global retail market were worth $22.5 Trillion with a year-on-year growth reaching 5.6 percent. Within the same year, the total sales of China and Japan cumulated approximately $ 8.57 Trillion and accounting for more than 38 percent in the global retail market. Furthermore, China total retail sales of consumers goods were worth RMB 30.1 Trillion (approximately $4.61 Trillions), which overcame the North American and Western Europe retail market.
Nevertheless, China has a well-developed an important retail industry driven by its large population and economic growth. The country also has an important number of international students. According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2016, 440,000 foreigners studied in China. International students as well as locals use the Internet for multiple reasons and more importantly for online shopping.
This study was conducted to examine the main factors that influence consumer online shopping behavior and especially international students in Wuhan (China). Despite the abundance of literature and studies on students’ online buying behavior, very little of it focus on a particular group of student in a particular place, and thus more reason to investigate the main factors that influence international students to purchase online.
Statement Of The Problem
This research study will seek to examine the main factors influencing the online buying behavior of international students in China. These main factors are believed to be: psychological, cultural, website design and quality. Furthermore, the study will enable us to know which kind of products the students purchase but also which kind of websites they prefer to buy on.
Purpose of The Study
The purpose of this study was to investigate main factors influencing online buying behavior of international students in Wuhan and also seeking for their online shopping websites and purchased products.
Objectives of The Study
Our research study had 4 objectives that are described as follow:
To understand how psychological factors affect the online buying behavior of international students in Wuhan.
To inspect the role of website design and quality on the online buying behavior of international students in Wuhan.
To evaluate how perceived benefits of online shopping influence the online buying behavior of international students in Wuhan.
To inspect how perceived risks of online shopping influence the online buying behavior of international students in Wuhan.
The study aim is to answer the following questions:
How do psychological factors affect the online buying behavior of international students in Wuhan?
What is the role of website design and quality in the online buying behavior for international students in Wuhan?
How perceived benefits of online shopping affect the online buying behavior for international students in Wuhan?
How perceived risks of online shopping influence the online buying behavior for international students in Wuhan?
Significance of The Study
This study goal is first to help to understand the online buying behavior of international students in China, and more specifically in Wuhan. Secondly, many studies related to our topic had been intensively conducted in the past, and especially in China. But very few of them focused on the International Students in China. Therefore, this research is about contributing our knowledge to marketing studies and academic studies but also by giving a different approach to marketers to better understand international students online buying behavior in China. Last but not least, as this research is related to international students living in China, we seek to give a different vision about this topic as is being also concerned about the research.
Limitations of the Study
The study is limited to international students living in Wuhan at the moment of the study. Thus, the study cannot be generalized for China in general, and also it does not cover the total of international students.
Delimitations of the Study
Our research is delimited in terms of scope it covered. The participation of this study is delimitated to international students living in Wuhan. The study is delimited to by four main factors affecting the online shopping behavior of international students. These factors include only: psychological factors, website design and quality, perceived benefits, and risks.
Definition of Significant Terms
Psychological factors: Refer to the factors that talk about the psychology of an individual that drive his/her actions to seek satisfaction.
Perceived risks: The uncertainty a consumer has when buying items.
Perceived benefits: Perception of the positive consequences, caused by the specific action.
Website design: The process of creating websites including webpage layout, content production, and graphic design.
Online buying behavior: The sum total of a consumer’s attitudes, preferences, intentions and decision regarding the consumer’s behavior in the online marketplace when buying a product or service.
Online retailing: Sales of goods and services through the Internet.
Internet: A global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities by interconnected networks using standardized communication tools.
International students: Individual enrolled for credit at a higher education institution within a different country.
Organization of The Study
Our Study is organized into five different chapters. Chapter one is the introduction to this study.
It starts with a background study, which gives a general idea about our topic. Followed next, by a statement of the problem, the purpose of the study and the objectives of the study. The chapter ends with the research questions, which is mainly about what kind of factors affects international students’ online purchasing behavior; also with the significance of the study; the limitations and delimitations of our study; and the definition of the significant terms.
Chapter two will review the available literature related to our topic. It will converge different ideas and research of scholars about online shopping and factors influencing this method. The end of this chapter will propose a conceptual framework.
Chapter three details the research methodology; this chapter will include the research design, target population, the sampling procedure, the research instruments, and the methods of data analysis. This chapter shall cover the role of our questionnaire.
Chapter four reveals the data analysis, presentations, and discussions about the research findings. It will cover all the data collected and analyzed from the field.
The last chapter is the conclusion, with further discussions and recommendations for further study.
Online Shopping behavior
Online shopping is defined as a system, which allows consumers to purchase a real-time goods and services from a seller over the Internet by using a web browser. Online shopping can facilitate consumer shopping experience, by in one-hand saving effort and time and on the other hand, meet consumer demand for convenient shopping. Most online consumers are attracted by the convenience, timesaving and affordable prices of online shopping, and for the most of them are concerned about security and not knowing exactly what they are getting. In addition, researchers mentioned that online shopping lowers the cost of distribution and consumer search, thus lowering entry barriers and encouraging price competition. Other researchers highlighted that the time-saving issue and product-matching features of the online market can also support consumer enthusiasm to look up for price information, causing consumers to become more price-sensitive.
Multiples researches about online shopping behavior had emerged since last century. Some of those researchers deal with the main factors shaping online shopping by studying the effects of demographics, website attributes, and online shopping quality. Scholars claim that demographics affect attitudes on online purchases, channels, and shopping orientations, which affect buying decisions for online purchase frequency. Other researchers highlighted the behavioral, cognitive and affective motives for online purchases. Factors such as web search behavior, web shopping adaptions and attitudes are other studied factors affecting online purchase.
The frequency of purchase for online shopping is outlined as specific purchasing amount per specific time. Different consumers may purchase goods and services online regarding different factors. Moreover, researchers are found that online purchase frequency varies among countries. As an example, Chinese shoppers purchase online more than once a month. And on the other hand in the U.S, most of the shoppers browse once a month or more.
Payment is another topic when it comes to online shopping, mainly due to trust issues. Trust, which is defined by the Oxford dictionary as a firm belief in the reliability, truth or ability of someone or something. Scholars had suggested that trust could lead to preference when shopping online. It is the case of Chen and Barnes that claim that online initial trust and familiarity with purchasing online have a positive effect on buying. Consumers have an important issue when it comes to online payment, the risk of exposing their private information and also a risk of fraud might occur to them. Online shopping consumers cannot control the security and safety of their personal information or credit card numbers. Payments online are made in one hand, by direct money transferring through national or international financial institutions mostly banks and in the other hand by cash on the delivery when the products or services are fully paid when the buyer received the items. Multiple surveys had also shown that online consumers are really anxious about sharing their personal information and credit cards online. Based on telephone interviews conducted by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International in 2007, 75% of Internet users are either concerned (39%) or strongly concerned (36%) about sharing online their credit card numbers or private information. Another survey, such as the one done by Australia’s NSW Fair Trading reveals that the vast majority (88%) of online shoppers with no history of shopping online, cite security as the main concern.
Previous studies have defined that behavior is a multi-dimensional construct and has been conceptualized in different ways. Many scholars measure the consumer’s behavior through different dimensions. According to Gozukara et al., the first dimension refers to consumer’s attitude towards a utilitarian motivation (convenience, variety seeking, and the quality of merchandise, cost benefit, and time effectiveness). The second dimension states about hedonic motivation (happiness, fantasy, escapism, awakening, sensuality & enjoyment), and Baber et al. mentions the third one as perceived ease of use, and usefulness. Another dimension covers perceived risk, which determine consumer’s behavior towards online shopping.
Furthermore, Li ; Zhangmentioned that there are two different types of perceived risk involved in determining consumer’s behavior during online shopping process. It is further described as the first category of perceived risk involved in online product and service i.e. financial risk, time risk, and product risk while the other category of perceived risk involved in e-transactions including privacy and security.
Many researchers argued that perceived risk like financial risk, product risk, non-delivery risk, time risk, privacy risk, information risk, social risk, and personal risk have a negative and significant effect on consumer’s online shopping behavior.
Another dimension of consumer’s behavior is trust and security on e-retailers, Monsuwe et al. suggested that positive shopping experience builds consumer’s trust on e-retailers and reduces the perceived risk.
Kumar ; Dange suggested that there are two components of perceived risk that are involved in online shopping which are uncertainty and the significance of the consequences of particular purchase. Uncertainty is related to the possible outcomes of positive or negative behavior and undesired results of these consequences. Uncertainty is also linked with the possible loss of money while making a financial transaction for a particular product on the internet.
Furthermore, Adnan mentioned that the customers perceive different risk factors before transferring money to online merchant. These factors could be financial loss, security and privacy. Naiyi claimed that different dimensions of perceived risk such as e-retailer source risk, purchasing process ; time loss risk, delivery risk, financial risk, product performance risk, asymmetric information risk, and privacy risk regarding online shopping intentions have negatively impacted consumer’s online shopping behavior.
Furthermore, the Internet business have created more competitive environment, understanding features of online shoppers’ behaviors have been more important. Moreover, it should be analyzed by online sellers that ‘why some still prefer not to buy online’.
Consequently analyzing behaviors of online consumers have carried a crucial part for marketing science. Moreover, businesses and academics are aware of these issues critically therefore over years, increasingly many studies are represented.
Chang, et al. studied on categorization of variables which drive online shopping activity. According to their study, features are divided into three main categories. First one is perceived characteristics of the web sale channel which include risk, advantage, online shopping experience, service quality, trust; second category is web site and product characteristics which are risk reduction measures, web site features and product characteristics; and the last category clarified by authors is consumer characteristics. Consumer characteristics are driven by various types of features., consumer shopping orientations, demographic variables, computer, internet knowledge and usage, consumer innovativeness and psychological variables.
Kotler and Armstrong also studies consumer’s characteristics and they explains the way of the perception of the buyers, how they interpret and receive the stimuli from advertisements. Also, according to their ideas the decisions of consumers are influenced by several characteristics and these characteristics are linked with the needs of the consumers.
Internet And Retail Industry In China
The economy of China has developed significantly over the last past years. Along with this development, various industries and businesses such as the Internet had seen their environment developed at a fast pace. China first got connected to the Internet in 1987.
Moreover, numerous articles and reports had highlighted the growing online industry in China. Since mentioning online shopping, we should think ahead about the retail industry. Retail is defined by the Oxford Dictionary, as the sale of goods to the public in relatively small quantities for use or consumption rather than for resale. The Go-globe mentioned in 2013 that China had 591 million Internet users and every 1.6 seconds a new user is connected to the Internet. Also, in megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the Internet penetration rate is up to 60 percent.
In 2015, China’s total retail sales of consumer’s goods amounted to RMB 30.1 trillion, which is about $4.61 trillion. Chinese retail industry is showing an enormous potential for both China and also globally. According to eMarketer, in 2015 Chinese retail market took up about 20 percent of the global retail market, and contributed 37 percent to the growth of the global retail market. Compared with the growth rate of less than 5 percent in two markets shows stronger vitality and greater growth potential, and is expected to replace the U.S as the world’s largest consumer market in 2019.
Furthermore, online retail sales in China amounted 5.16 trillion Yuan ($752 billion) in 2016, representing 26.2% growth from 2015, which is more than double the growth rate of overall retail sales, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the agency charged with tracking economic data. The growth in online and offline retails reflects the prosperous Chinese consumers economy. Reports had mentioned an increasing demand for foreign premium products. Frank Tong mentioned that the number of Chinese consumers who purchased overseas products on Tmall Global has doubled. Also, according to Tmall Global operator Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, that at the end of August 2016, Chinese consumers had ordered more than 10 million orders on the cross-border e-commerce shopping area of Amazon.cn, which launched in 2014.
The popularity of smartphones and connected devices has changed the way people were shopping online, mostly through computers. Deloitte Research estimated that online shopping from mobile terminals reached over 200 percent from 2012 to 2015. According to the data from iResearch, the transaction scale at mobile devices reached the amount of RMB2.1 trillion in 2015, accounting for 55.5 percent in the overall online retail market and surpassing PC terminal s in proportion for the first time to become the mainstream online consumption pattern. Mobile devices are incomparable to PC terminal due to its popularity, convenience, sociability and entertainment, with which smartphone has become an important part in consumers’ daily life, and also a major tool for online retailing enterprises to communicate with consumers.
Students Online Shopping Behavior
Online shopping is a practice that affects different individuals and groups. Different studies had been conducting since the past to understand the way and what motivates students to shop online. Researchers had discovered that trust, satisfaction and commitment were having a significant effect on students’ fidelity toward online shopping. Lester et Al, reveals the important reasons of online shopping through its convenience of shopping online at any time, getting competitive prices, the feeling of security through improved and secured websites, availability of multiple items, privacy, and the possibility to compare the price. The less important reasons were to avoid the salesmen, tax-free products and enjoyment. Students consider the lack of security through online payment, the inability to try the product before purchase, high price of shipping and comparatively slower time of delivery, as being the most important disadvantages when purchasing online.
Seock and Bailey in their study mentioned that U.S college students shopping orientations were mostly focused on a search for information concerning apparel products online. The researchers also identified seven shopping orientations such as: shopping enjoyment, brand/fashion consciousness, price consciousness, shopping confidence, convenience/time consciousness, shopping tendency and brand/store loyalty.
A different study mentioned, that there was an important relationship between students attitude and intentions towards shopping online for apparel items. Students’ attitudes for shopping for apparel products were influenced by the demographic variables usage of the Internet, employment status, and car level. The students’ response and attitudes towards online shopping for apparel were different among them. Students who browsed online more frequently had a positive attitude towards online shopping compared to those who browsed less frequently.
A study conducted in China about young customers’ shopping behaviors and service quality perceptions on the Internet had revealed that the Chinese young consumers could be divided into segments based on their personal internet skills and their view of the challenges involving shopping online. Also, differences were found in efficiency, fulfillment and system availability, but rarely on privacy.
The results of Chen and Barnes, the study had shown that the Taiwanese college students perceived different factors as being important keys to online initial trust. The factors included: perceived security and privacy, perceived good reputation and willingness to customize, but also perceived usefulness. They also mentioned familiarity and trust when purchasing online as being significantly affecting the purchasing intention.
In 2007, from a study collected on a total of 357 college students in the US had revealed the positive influence of online apparel shopping through quality consciousness, brand consciousness, fashion consciousness, hedonistic shopping, brand loyalty and impulsiveness.
Other scholars also revealed the frequency of online shopping between Men and Women. A study related made the US and Finland showed that Internet shopping is gaining increasing popularity among men and Women in both Countries. The study also revealed that Finnish Men privileges Internet for evaluation and research of information that the Finnish women. Men were also showing a higher online shopping orientation; meanwhile, there was not such a gap among men and women in the US.
On their research on the Generation Y college students in the US, Rajamma ; Neeley also concluded that male students tend to shop more online than female counterparts. Also, the social background of the shopper did not impact their online shopping preference.
From a study realized By Dillon ; Reif showed that young American adults with online shopping background are expected to have a positive view towards online shopping than other young American adults without a particular antecedent of online shopping.
When it comes to purchasing a good or product and whether it is online or not, psychology plays an important role during the purchasing process. P. Kotler and Gary Armstrong mentioned that a person’s buying choices are further influenced by four major psychological factors, such as motivation; perception; learning and beliefs and attitudes. Moreover, online transactions involve payment and delivery of the goods. Consumers are required to provide their personal information such as name, address and credit/debit cards in order in order to complete the transaction and receive products.
Other researchers argued that privacy concerns and security might influence online shoppers. Lee and Huddlestonbelieved that privacy risk happens when shoppers have to reveal their personal information online and they are concerned about the loss of privacy. Therefore, Chen et al. mentioned privacy controls are needed to eliminate privacy concerns of online shoppers.
A study conducted by, Nazir et al. on the factors impacting the online shopping behavior of consumers in Pakistan, had shown that psychological; social; emotional; and privacy factors have an important effect on the behavior of online shoppers. Trust, security, privacy, and payment are often mentioned as being major problems faced by consumers online. Moreover, the same study suggested that people are skeptic about shopping online mainly due to the credibility of transaction and payment transaction.
Smith and Rupp stated that different social classes create different behaviors. Consumers from lower social classes would no t have the same properties such as higher intention to buy or higher probability like higher social classes. Furthermore, Kotler and Armstrong discussed that culture set values and beliefs in the early ages therefore person’s wants and needs are driven by this settled features.
However, Zhou, Dai and Zhang assert that only two of these factors, individualism – collectivism and masculinity – femininity, are used for explaining online behavior of the consumer. Collectivism – individualism is the member of a culture’s interpretation of the self in terms of dependency to the culture. Hence, it is demonstrated in many studies that western and eastern cultures are different from each other in terms of dependence and this leads to different consumer online shopping behavior in western and eastern societies. In other words, in the individualistic societies, people are more likely to use the internet for personal use such as shopping and information seeking. Moreover, it is shown that in the collectivistic cultures, entertainment is important, while in the individualistic cultures convenience and variety seeking is the main aim
Another difference about online shopping behavior which stems from the cultural differences is about the risk perception differentiation in different cultures. It is argued that collectivist consumers has a higher perceived risk about online shopping than individualistic consumers.
Psychological factors are also referred as individual factors which include personality traits, emotional states, interest, and cognitive processes.
According to Youn and Faber, people who have lack of control, stress reaction which people tend to experience negative affective states and thus they would do something to relief their mood such as impulsive purchase and absorption which people are more sensitive to external stimuli and willing to try novel things are associated with impulsive buying as well.
In impulsive buying, impulsivity (lack of control) is also a personality trait that links to individual’s impulsive buying tendency. This tendency includes two characteristics: the immediate urge or desire to purchase and the limited deliberation or evaluation of the consequences. In other words, a person who has higher impulsivity tends to purchase impulsively. In order to identify the people who are prone to impulsive purchase, the Big Five Model is applied in some studies.
The study of Chen has indicated that the people who have the traits of need of arousal and material are prone to impulsive buying. Need of material is referred to people who have high tendency in materialistic are more likely to buy impulsively. On the other hand, the need of arousal is associated with the mood regulating function. This means that the influence of emotion can ultimately trigger impulsive buying. The people who score higher need of arousal is more likely to be triggered by external stimuli and impulsive purchase eventually.
In the latest study of Chen and Lee, agreeableness, one of the personality traits in Big Five Model is also related with impulsive buying behavior. This trait is described as complaint and accommodating in social condition which includes trusting on others. Their result indicated that the people who are high in agreeableness are more willing to trust online market and purchase unreflectively than cautious people, thus, agreeable people are more likely to purchase impulsively.
The emotional states can be divided into positive and negative affective states. Positive affective states can be referred to excitement or pleasure whereas negative affective states can be described as anxiety or guilt.
According to Verhagen and Dolen’s study, the positive affective states can increase impulsive buying behavior. On the other hand, the website designs such as attractive goods, ease of use, enjoyment of the website and website communication style could be the indirect factors that affect impulsive buying behavior as these factors only have directly influence on emotion. Furthermore, Jeffrey and Hodge (2007) also indicated that people who are in positive affective states tend to spend more time in browsing the online retrailers’ websites, therefore, increasing the opportunity of impulsive purchase.
In Mesiranta’s study (2009), individual’s interest can also influence people to engage in impulsive buying online. A respondent revealed that she bought a book on Tai Chi which she did not plan to buy it when she was browsing online bookstores due to her interest on Tai Chi.
In Verhagen and Dolen’s study, perception is also playing a role in online impulsive purchase. When people perceive enjoyment from the website, they tend to have positive affective states. Another study done by Parboteeah, Valacich and Wells also indicated that people perceive usefulness?and enjoyment to the website are related to impulsive purchase.
Product involvement refers to a person who perceives the importance of the good based on their interest and value as well as the degree of effort consumers would likely to be contributed on these goods. This factor also takes part in influencing people to involve in impulsive purchase. The good category refers to the types of goods. Certain goods are more favorable to consumer to purchase in online. In Chen’s study, the online product involvement of clothing and computer peripherals is examined. Chen also divided the consequences of heightened involvement into two categories: emotional consequences and functional consequences. The emotional consequence is considered as interest aspect which more tend to produce emotional needs to certain goods. In other words, people spend more time and effort to know the goods they are interested in. Other the other hand, the functional consequence is referred to the tendency of informational needed to the good. People need to gain more information about the good, therefore, they spend time and effort on it. The result indicated that the clothing has higher impulsive purchase tendency and involvement in in-store shopping because online shopping is hard to emerge the level of interest (e.g., consumer cannot touch and try the clothing). On the other hand, the computer peripherals has higher impulsive tendency and involvement in online shopping because online shopping is fit for the goods which needs intensive information search (e.g., consumer can compare the price, brand and specific of the goods).
Normative evaluation refers to people judge the appropriateness of impulsive purchase decision which may also take part in influencing impulsive purchase to some researchers. In early notion of impulsive purchase, researchers tended to believe that purchase was irrational and thoughtless. Nevertheless, appropriate of their purchase decision. However, different buying situations can influence normative evaluation to be either negative or positive to same goods.
In Jeffrey and Hodge’s study, cognitive factors are used to explain online compulsive purchase. Mental accounting assumes that people have various imaginary accounts in their mind. Each imaginary account has different budget to be spent and also differs in every individual. The expenditure in different imaginary accounts is different and thus can cause people to have diminishing sensitivity when they purchase expensive goods in certain situations. For instance, when an individual bought a car that costs $39,000, that individual would have less sensitivity towards buying a car accessory that costs $500 as the ‘car’ account has already contained $39,000, therefore the spending of car accessory just cost $500 is considered as a small amount. The impulsive purchase of car accessory is more likely to happen in this situation. If the people did not buy the car and the salesperson promoted him the $500 car accessory, the person would consider the purchase of a car accessory is a large amount and thus, reduce his likeliness to impulsive purchase the car accessory.
People always try to be a rational consumer and thus they will seek good reasons for their purchase decision even when they purchase impulsively. The study of Jeffrey and Hodge has proven the notion effective. They tied some specific goods with donation to charity in which online consumers purchase specific goods and also donate $1 to charity in online market. The result indicated that the frequency of impulsive purchase rose from 2 percent to 9 percent to the specific goods.
In in-store shopping, the presence of others is an effective way to promote impulsive purchase. However, in online shopping, there is no salesperson to pressure the sale. Due to this reason, the impulsive purchase due to social pressure is less likely to take place online. However, a study conducted by Zhang, Hu, and Zhao indicated that opinion-based social interactions which provide review quality and source credibility and behavior-based social interactions that provide observational learning are efficient in causing online impulsive purchase as well. Online auction is a different type of online shopping experience. Individuals who tend to have hedonic motive and impulsiveness are more like to purchase impulsively and pay higher price in this shopping experience.
Website design and quality
When shopping online, consumers are more likely to pay more attention to websites design (or aesthetic) as well as the quality. When it comes to buying online, consumers are influenced by images of the website before completing the transaction. Therefore, if a virtual store provides variety and plenty of information about the products, but also a reliable customer service and easy-to-access website, then it might be able to change a shopper into a buyer.
Chen, Hsu and Lin study on online consumer preferences for website features and designs, based on Taiwanese undergraduate students found that the students mostly preferred delivery; usability; trust; security and convenience but also friendly websites while shopping online. Also, the research suggested implementing the five previous factors into online websites in order to create a better consumer’s buying intention.
Online websites are also prioritizing the website quality in order to attract more consumers. Bai, Law and Wen highlighted the impact of quality website on Chinese online shoppers. The research revealed that Chinese online shoppers had a positive reaction to website quality with purchase intentions.
Furthermore, Lee and Lin conducted a research on consumer’s perceptions towards online service quality while shopping online. The research showed that website design, responsiveness, reliability, and trust were the main factors which impact the service quality.
Suwunniponth examined the factors that driven consumers’ intention in online shopping. The nature of the study was qualitative and quantitative. He determined the different online factors like website design, perceived ease of use, perceived usefulness, and trust influence consumers’ intentions to shop online. The data was collected through questionnaire and in depth interviews. It was collected in the form of a questionnaire through 350 experienced online consumers in Bangkok, Thailand and then descriptive analysis and path analysis were used to scrutinize the data. The study revealed that the website perceived ease of use and usefulness. The trust had significant influence on the consumers’ intention to shop online. The results found that the website had significant effect on the consumer’s online shopping attitude and online consumer prefers to have a user friendly website in online shopping environment. The study concluded technology acceptance factors and trust that had significant relationship with intentions towards different products and services and also towards intended behavior to shop.
Li & Zhang conducted a study based on 20 empirical articles. The purpose of the study was to scrutinize the impact of website quality on e-commerce. Based on content analysis of these studies their research findings indicated that website design had positively and significantly influenced consumer’s attitude towards online shopping. On the other hand, they also found that website design had two different segments which consumer perceived in website design that were hygiene and motivation. Furthermore, they mentioned privacy and security, easy navigation of website, and complete information related to hygiene segment. The absence of hygiene leads to dissatisfaction of consumer’s need as compared to enjoyment, quality, cognitive outcome, user empowerment, and e-retailer information that is linked to motivation segment in website design. These factors of motivation segment increase the value of website design and satisfied consumer’s need. In short, a good and appealing website design can be helpful for consumers to make their e-shopping easy and smooth. On the other hand, a low quality website design could be a barrier for consumers not to shop online.
Lepkowska-White conducted a study on ”Online Store perception: How to Turn Browsers into Buyers?”. The study distributed a questionnaire survey among New England consumers and selected 231 online adult browsers and 311 online adult buyers. The study claimed that the Internet browsers as compared to online buyers were less attractive towards Internet shopping. The reasons and concerns for Internet browsers were the quality of website design.
Osman, et al. investigated the online consumer behavior towards online shopping and used convenience sampling method. The study adopted self-constructed questionnaire and was distributed among 100 undergraduates of University Putra Malaysia. The study examined the four different parts and factors of online shopping attitude like students’ socio demographic background, website quality, purchase perception and attitude. The results of the study revealed that website quality purchase perception, gender and educational background had direct impact on consumer’s attitude towards online shopping. The findings of study indicated that a good website quality has different dimensions of accurate information, quick launch of webpage, and website connection fast to online shopping. Furthermore, they argued that 77% respondents were willing to buy through a good and high quality website design while 76% online consumers agreed to buy through safe and easy to use website design.
Adnan aimed to investigate the influence of different dimensions of perceived risk, perceived advantages, psychological factors, hedonic motivations, and website design on online shopping behavior. The study distributed 100 questionnaires to online buyers in Pakistan. The research found that perceived advantages and psychological factors had a positive influence on the consumers’ intentions to shop online while perceived risk had a negative impact on the consumers’ attitude toward online shopping. Other factors like website design and hedonic motivations had not any significant impact on the consumers’ intentions to shop online. Hassan & Abdullah tried to determine the influence of independent variables website design, trust, internet knowledge, and online advertising consumer’s online shopping behavior. He used a questionnaire survey and it was filled in by online customers and test the hypothesis. The result of the study indicated four independent (website design, trust, internet knowledge, and online advertising) variables where online shopping had a positive correlation. Furthermore, the research claimed that website quality had significant impact on online shopping. The research suggested that the design of websites should be easy to use, convenient, time saving, easy to load webpage, simple navigation. The comfort of using a web page will increase the probability of revisiting increase.
Online shopping has become an important procedure when consumers are seeking for products or services online. Shopping online has many advantages for consumers, for example, it is easier for people to compare prices among different items. Also, consumers can search and purchase products at any time of the day. Moreover, researchers and scholars are trying to understand the motives that lead people to adopt online shopping.
Perceived usefulness is defined as the extent to which consumers feel the online website could add value and efficacy to them when performing online shopping. Perceived usefulness could also be defined from an individual’s point of view that by using a system would improve task performance. The perceived usefulness of the website usually depends on the efficiency of technological characteristics such as advanced search engines and the personal service provided by the service provider to consumers. Various information and high quality goods’ descriptions must be provided to the customers to help customers in making a well-informed decision. Previous studies on perceived usefulness were mostly conducted in developing countries such as China, Malaysia Vietnam and Iran while a minor percentage conducted in developed countries such as Taiwan, South Korea and Spain. It is because developing countries are still at the infant stage of information technology compared to developed countries. Previous studies on the correlation between perceived usefulness and consumer behaviors were conducted. Hernandez et al. revealed that perceived usefulness has significant effect towards online shopping behavior in Spain but Aghdaie et al. suggested that perceived usefulness do not have significant effect on internet purchasing behavior in Iran. It could be due to different standpoints of respondent from developed and developing country regarding the perceived usefulness influence on their internet shopping behavior. Concerns of price, quality, durability and other product-related aspects are the main drivers of buying decision in developed countries but the considerations could be vary from the developing countries. Previous study in Malaysia found that perceived usefulness of a specific system will have a direct significant impact on its information system usage. According to Enrique et al., Kim ; Song and Xie et al., perceived usefulness was proven to have significant impact on the intention to purchase via internet. A supported study by Kim ; Song advocated that consumers expected to receive useful information and to browse through merchandise conveniently for purchase. Otherwise, the online shoppers will shift to their competitors since there are many similar products on sale in other online store. In short, perceived usefulness will influence consumers’ intention to purchase in high risk condition.
Bagdoniene and Zemblyte found the main reasons that Lithuanian consumers shop to online are the convenience, product variety, purchase surrounding, information, and brand. Forsythe et al. identified that the four dimensions of perceived benefits of online shopping were shopping convenience, product selection, ease or comfort of shopping, and hedonic or enjoyment. Shopping convenience was an important dimension of perceived benefits, particularly in the online shopping context.
While Internet shopping provides service which is not limited by time, space, and weather, convenience due to the time and effort saved by shopping from one’s own place rather than visiting physical stores has been suggested by various researchers as perceived benefits of online shopping. Online shopping is also associated with hassle-free shopping i.e. it helps consumers at their convenience without any shame for not buying anything and just browsing the products. Further online shopping has been related to low cost and savings, as consumers are able to get same quality products at a lower cost due to the cost saved on rent, store installation, decoration which are generally borne by the owners of the retail stores and are passed on to the consumers.
Online shopping enables consumers to acquire large amount of information about product specifications, stores, promotion etc. Online shopping empowers consumers to access review and use the information in an easy and effortless manner when compared with traditional “brick and mortar” retail stores. Consumers can receive abundant information from the website directly rather than from the salesperson with a few clicks of the mouse.
The hedonic motive to seek pleasure and enjoyment by experiencing new things while shopping online has also been associated with benefits of online shopping. As consumers browse through the wide variety of products on the Internet, they can also obtain competitive prices on merchandise and eye-catching promotional deals. Online shopping provides consumers with the flexibility to select and evaluate merchandise across stores.
The broad selection of products from different brands and retailers with detailed information available may be viewed as a significant benefit of online shopping helping the consumer’s decision-making, which is likely to provide an important motive for online shopping.
Prior studies have shown that the perceived benefits of online shopping in relation to traditional store shopping are one of the key factors affecting adoption decisions. Hence, perceived benefits of online shopping represent significant incentives for consumers and helps in shaping a positive and favorable attitude toward online shopping. The more perceived benefits with a certain web site, the more likely consumers are to have favorable attitude toward online shopping. In the context of e-commerce, prior research have highlighted the significant role perceived benefits can play in explaining consumer attitude.
Online shopping does not only have advantages when it comes to purchasing items online, consumers are facing-off with some risks. These risks could be financial, security and privacy risk. Moreover, perceived risk refers to the nature and amount of risk perceived by a consumer in contemplating a particular purchase decision. Egeln, Joseph and Johnson believed that the major inhibitor of online shopping is perceived risk associated with online shopping. Before buying a product online, a consumer is considering the multiple risks related to it, such as credit/debit card security, the share of private information, difficulty to try the product, and the shipping charges.
The online shopping experience is negatively related to perceptions of the product and financial risks associated with online shopping regardless of product category. The greater the chance of risk, the more consumers tend to choose traditional shops for buying a product. Also, the lower the risk, the more likely consumers prefer to buy online. Perceived risks associated with online shopping negatively influence the online buying intention and behavior.
Kumar & Dange conducted a study where the aim have been to analyze different dimensions of perceived risk that influence the consumer’s online shopping behavior. The results of study revealed that online shopping perceives risk in regards to financial risk, time risk, social risk, and security risk as they influenced more online consumer’s attitude towards online shopping. On the other hand, the same two online buying risk factors are financial risk, and security risk that have influenced on non-online shoppers. Furthermore, their study has found two additional barriers of psychological risk and physical risk among non- buyer.
Other study conducted by Baber et al. showed that they used a Technology Acceptance Model to examine the different factors influence customers’ intention to shop online. This study has investigated the influence of usefulness, ease of use, financial risk, and attitude towards online shopping. The findings indicate that financial risk have a negative impact on the attitude towards online shopping where the reason states that consumer have a fear of financial loss and security concern over the internet shopping. Gozukara et al. research claimed that the perception of risk played a vital role to build the relationship between purchase intentions and hedonic motivations. Furthermore, the study concluded that perceived risk had a negative impact on consumer’s intention toward utilitarian motivation. In contrast, the perceived risk had no negative impact on influencing consumer’s intention toward hedonic motivation.
In 2011 Almousa in his study ”Perceived risk in apparel online shopping” investigated the impact of perceived risk dimensions in apparel online shopping. Based on the information of an online survey and collected empirical data from 300 respondents, the study revealed perceived risk dimensions that did not have the same impact on apparel online shopping behavior. Significantly, performance risk, and time have broader impact than privacy and social risk in contrast financial risk and psychological risk have no significant influence on consumers’ online shopping behavior.
Samadi & Nejadi conducted a study and found the effect of perceived risk level among online shoppers and store buyers. In this study, the relationship was measured among past positive shopping experiences, perceived risk, and future intention to purchase within online shopping environment. The findings of study indicated that online shopper perceived higher risk in contrast to store buyers. They found that financial risk, physical risk, convenience risk, and functional risk had more significantly affected consumer’s behavior in online shopping environment. Among them, financial risk had a negative effect to influence consumer’s intention to shop online. Consumer had a fear to lose money over the Internet shopping. Further study indicated that high perceived risk led to minimize intention to shop online in future as compared to less perceived risk that lead to higher intentions to buy online.
Hong suggested that the product delivery risk had a positive effect if consumer ordered the product from a reliable online merchant, thus customers find ways to approach trustworthy online sellers to reduce the product delivery risk. During purchasing from reliable online merchant, the consumer feels safe and secure from undesired product delivery problems.
According to Koyuncu & Bhattacharya, many customers had less intention to shop online because of the involvement of delivery risk. The result of the study found that individuals who buy online once a week or make several online purchases in a month had negative impact of product delivery risk, in contrast to those who do online shopping less than once a month – they had a positive impact of product delivery.
Yörük et al. conducted a study among Turkey and Romanian consumers’ online shopping behavior and found that in online shopping environment, trust and security factors were the major obstacles for consumers not to shop online. They preferred to go around markets to shop products through physical inspections especially Turkey’s consumer are more socialized and enjoy to go to bazaars and spend hours in the shopping malls.
Roman argued that the security factor indicates consumer’s belief regarding online shopping as well as the security of consumer’s financial information which should not be compromised or shared with a third party in online shopping context. Ahuja et al. research claimed that the trust and security are main obstacles for consumers not to shop online. According to Elliott & Speck, trust is an important factor and broadly affects the online shopping attitude due to online advertisement and online site that takes time to download webpages related to consumer’s concern towards online security, which may steal personal information.
Monsuwe ? et al. research claimed that the breach of consumer’s trust leads to negative attitude toward online shopping. On the other hand, keeping consumer’s personal information safe and secure leads to more positive attitude toward online shopping. Thus, the trust was an important psychological factor, which affects the intentions of consumer to shop online. A study by Grabner-Kraeuter identified two dimensions of trust related issues: ”System dependent uncertainty and Transaction-specific uncertainty” in online shopping environment, the study used economic model of trust and concluded that the trust is more important and basic factor for the reduction of uncertainty and complexity of financial transactions and relationship.
8.1. Theory of Planned Behavior
The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) was initiated by Icek Ajzen, and explained behaviors over which individuals have incomplete voluntary control. TPB is also an extension of theory of reason action (TRA) proposed by Ajzen and Fishbein.
Intentions to perform behaviors of different kinds can be predicted with high accuracy from attitudes toward the behavior, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control; and these intentions, together with perceptions of behavioral control, account for considerable variance in actual behavior.
The Theory of Planned Behavior is built out of a number of constructs. The first construct is the attitude towards the act or behavior. That is, an individual’s belief of whether a certain behavior or act makes a positive or negative contribution to that person’s life. For instance, an automobile user might consider the purchase of a new car, whether the car will have a positive or negative influence on his/her life.
A second construct is called subjective norm. This construct focuses on everything around the individual. In other words an individual social network, cultural norms, and group beliefs. People tend to be influenced by others (social circle, family, peers, etc.).
A third construct is called perceived behavioral control. This construct refers to a person’s belief of how easy or hard it is to display a certain behavior or act in a certain way.
TPB can be use to predict that if a person has a positive attitude towards an act or behavior, and they are surrounded by favorable social norms and they have a high level of perceived behavioral control, these are the best predictors for forming a behavioral intention and in turn, they will lead to the person actually displaying the behavior or act. Additionally, TPB includes perceived behavior control over engaging in behaviors, suggesting that human behavioral decision-making is affected by the consumer’s ability to perform the behavior.
Behavioral belief : It’s about one’s belief about the final outcome of particular behavior.
Attitude toward behavior: It is about personal performance of individual’s positive or negative evaluation, it is consider as a personal or emotional factor that can affect in a positive or negative manner.
Normative belief: It is about individual’s particular behavior that can be influenced by other important actors.
Subjective norm: It concerns with social normative pressures or other belief that can affect one’s behavior whether a person should perform the behavior or not.
Perceived behavior control: An individual’s perceived ease or difficulty of performing the particular behavior. A person’s way of performing a particular behavior with some difficult or performing it easily.
Control beliefs: Person’s beliefs about the circumstances that may help or prevent performance of the behavior.
Technological Acceptance Model
Technology acceptance model (TAM) is an extension to Theory of reasoned action proposed by Ajzen and Fishbein in 1980; Technology Acceptance Model has been developed by Davis it is one of the most popular research models to predict use and acceptance of information systems and technology by individual users.TAM has been widely studied and verified by different studies that examine the individual technology acceptance behavior in different information systems constructs.
Figure 1: Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) by (Davis 1989, Bagozzi ; Warshaw 1992).
In TAM model, there are two factors perceived usefulness (PU) and perceived ease of use (PEOU) is relevant in computer use behaviors. Davis words Perceived Usefulness is the “the degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would enhance his or her job performance” and Perceived Ease of Use is the “degree to which a person believes that using a particular system would be free from effort”. The main purpose of the TAM is to explain how a user accepts a specific technology. PEOU can be defined as the degree to which the prospective user expects the target system to be free of effort. According to TAM, ease of use and perceived usefulness are the most important determinants of actual system use. These two factors are influenced by external variables. The main external factors that are usually manifested are social factors, cultural factors and political factors. Social factors include language, skills and facilitating conditions. Political factors are mainly the impact of using technology in politics and political crisis. The attitude to use is concerned with the user’s evaluation of the desirability of employing a particular information system application. Behavioral intention is the measure of the likelihood of a person employing the application.
As we can observe in the above figure 1 PU and PEOU are the external factors that influence the behavior intention to use and then finally it moves towards the actual system use, as you can see in the above figure author has explained that user will first consider t hat if he or she uses the particular system that would be free from effort and that is PEOU factor and then this factor leads to the one’s thinking that particular system will increase one’s job performance and that is PU factor, and then he or she will move forward to think about creating and intention to use that system and finally the will actually use the system.
Conceptual Framework and Hypotheses
Figure 2: Conceptual Framework Model
This part of the study aims to explain the figure above. The study’s conceptual framework explores two main variables (Independent and Dependent) but also another variable (intervening). The independent variables are based on perceived benefits and risks; psychological factors and website quality and design. In the other end, dependent variable is mostly constituted by the student’s online shopping intention. Attitude and culture are the intervening variables. We believed that their expected relationship is as follows:
Perceived benefits are believed to impact students on their adoption of online shopping. Mostly due to the perceived benefit factors such as price advantage, convenience, and multiple product information. It is believed that students would shop online if they meet mentioned factors.
Perceived risks are aim to slow online shopping activity, based on products quality, share of personal information and return policy. However, we believed that the less the risks involved, the greater the chance of adoption of the online shopping.
Psychology plays an important role in the beginning of online shopping. Students are more likely to adopt the online shopping if they face the psychological factors such as privacy, trust and security on the online platforms.
Website design, which is based on aesthetics and quality of the website, payment and transaction procedures are expected to positively lead students into online shopping.
Finally, we expected that the attitude and culture of the students will also lead to online shopping intention.
Within this framework, we believed that there is a linear relationship among the variables. This means that any change in independent or intervening variables would directly affect the dependent variable, in other world the online shopping intention.
Based on the previous researches and literature, a theoretical framework was initiated in order to seek the perceived benefits, perceived risks, psychological factors and website design and quality of online buying behavior of international students in Wuhan.
H1: Perceived benefits of online shopping have a positive impact on the international students’ online shopping behavior.
H2: Perceived risks of online shopping have a negative effect on the international students’ online shopping behavior.
H3: Psychological factors have a positive impact on the international student’s online shopping behavior.
H4: Website design (aesthetics) and quality have a positive impact on the international students’ online shopping behavior.
RESEARCH DESIGN & DATA COLLECTION METHOD
The research design is the blueprint for fulfilling objectives and answering questions. It summarizes the essentials of research design as an activity and time based plan. It provides a framework for specifying the relationship among the study variables.
Our research regarding international students online shopping behavior in Wuhan is a descriptive research because we want to draw a picture of our topic as what are the factors that influence international students in Wuhan to shop online. The purpose of descriptive research is to describe the state of affairs, as it exists. We chose descriptive research for our research as it would be accommodating to indicate trends in attitudes and behaviors and enable generalization of the findings of the research study to be done. Furthermore the design adopted was considered adequate for this research due to its time saving, expenses and the amount of quality information yielded is valid, while the interviewer bias is reduced because participants complete identically worded self-reported measures.
Generally, there are two types of research methods, quantitative and qualitative
Sampling is known as the process of selecting some elements from a population to represent that population. The purpose of sampling is to secure a representative group, which enabled the researcher to gain information about an entire population when faced with limitations of time, funds and energy.
In general there are two types of sample techniques: probability and non-probability sampling. For the first one, as stated by Bryman and Bell, there are four types of probability sampling: simple random sample, systematic sample, stratified random sampling and multi stage cluster sampling. Non-probability sampling is also stated by Bryman and Bell to have three types: convenience sampling, snowball sampling and quota sampling.
As time and resources were one of the obstacles faced by the researcher, we decided to apply a non-probability sampling by using a convenience sampling. And according to Bryman and Bell, convenience sampling is one that is conveniently available to the researcher with its goodness of accessibility, but the problem it is impossible to generalize results. Convenience sampling seems adequate for our research objectives, as we were unaware of the exact amount of international students shopping online and cannot reach all the international students in Wuhan. Therefore, we have decided to distribute our questionnaire online to different student groups we were aware of, by starting by The Central China Normal University.
3.1 Sample Design
Kent defined sample design as a procedure in a particular research that is being followed for selecting a sampling unit. The sampling method that is used for our research is called a mixed process. This process significance is that questionnaires had been administrated personally as well as through online platform. The purpose of using the mixed process is to collect empirical data conveniently and on time. For our work, as we have mentioned early in this research, the questionnaire have been only distributed online through Wechat APP by using the online platform www.wjx.cn .
The target population of this research is the International Students studying in Wuhan. As we mentioned before, we chose convenience sampling by approaching students through online platform especially the Wechat APP.
3.2 Sampling Size
According to Kothari, sampling size refers to the number of items to be selected from the universe to constitute a sample. Moreover, the population targeted for this research is the International students in Wuhan at the time of this research. However, with the limitation of time and resources to expand to every international student in Wuhan, we have decided to take a sample of 200 students. In fact questionnaires were send online for a maximum of students in a large number of universities within the city of Wuhan.
A closed ended survey questionnaire was design online on www.wjx.cn and administrated through a local APP named “WeChat”. The questionnaire was carefully designed to meet with the requirements of this research. Since the research is based on online consumer behavior study, we believed that it would be more effective and understandable to design and administrate our survey questionnaire online. One of the reasons of this choice is, an online survey can reach more participants and feedback can be collected easily and compared efficiently.
The questions constituting the questionnaire were taken from previous literature on consumer’s behaviors towards online shopping. Adding to that we added more personal questions related to the situation of our research which occurred in China. The questionnaire consists of two main parts and also one sub-part. The sub-part is an introduction of the questionnaire and the reasons of holding this type of research. The first part, covers questions in term of demography. The last part mainly focused on questions related to factors that influence consumers to purchase online.
Part A: Demographics
Our questionnaire starts by asking responders easy questions in order for them to gain interested by the questionnaire. A total number of 16 questions were ask for the first part of our questionnaire. The first part was made to collect primary information about the consumers, in the same logic personal and sensitive were ask such gender, age, income. Country, education, and buying preference.Part B: Factors that influence students to shop online
This part is the final section of our questionnaire, it will cover questions related to factors that influence international students online shopping behavior in Wuhan. These factors include perceived risks and benefits of online shopping; website design and quality and psychological factors.
Perceived benefits include a total of six questions, those questions are all related to advantages of shopping online. The perceived risks include a total of six questions related to the disadvantages of shopping online. The psychological factors include four questions in total related to the risks of jeopardy of personal information online such as debit/credit card information. We have a total of four questions for the website design and quality, those questions are related to the quality and design of websites experience by consumers when they are shopping online. Last but not least we have twenty-one questions related to the online shopping behavior. Three questions are related to consulting a friend/relative before purchasing for specific websites. Six questions are related to the convenience of shopping online. Three questions are related to the risks of shopping online. The rest of the questions are related to the experience of shopping online in China. Furthermore, this section is constructed with five point Likert scale ranging from 1 (Strongly Disagree); 2 (Disagree); 3 (Neutral); 4 (Agree) and 5 (Strongly Agree).
Validity and Reliability
Methods of Data Analysis
Ethical measures are principles which the researcher should bind him/herself with in conducting his/her research. The study ensured that respect, courtesy and privacy were adhered to ensure that the research process was conducted in an ethical manner. Confidentialities of the participants were adhered to, as they were not asked to provide their names during data collection.
Operation Definition of Variables