The influence of online store beliefs on consumer online impulse buying

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Tibert Verhagen, together with Willemijn van Dolen (UvA), recently published an experimental study on the influence of online store beliefs on consumer online impulse buying in Information and Management.

[see press release, in Dutch]

The study showed that consumers often act impulsively when making online decisions. Triggered by easy access to products, easy purchasing (e.g., 1-Click ordering), lack of social pressures, and absence of delivery efforts, impulse purchasing constitutes an estimated 40% of all online expenditures. It is therefore important to understand the nature of such online buying behavior.

Surprisingly, however, there has been little research into the influence of the online store on impulse buying behavior. The vast majority of e-commerce research has viewed consumer decision-making as a rational process, based on cognitive problem solving and information processing. Such studies fail to provide insight into situations where decision-making is spontaneous, unreflective, dominated by emotions, and immediate; that is, in impulse buying.

The current study tested how beliefs about functional convenience of a website (online store merchandise attractiveness and ease of use) and about representational delight (enjoyment and website communication style) related to online impulse buying, using survey data from 532 customers of a Dutch online store. The results showed that high merchandise attractiveness, high enjoyment, and a calm, friendly and knowledgeable communication style increased impulse buying behavior. These effects were mediated by consumers’ emotions.

The study strengthens our understanding of online impulse buying by assessing the impact of beliefs about the online store in non-rational decision-making settings.

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The study outcomes were picked up by a broad range of media, including national, regional and trade outlets. For a full overview or for more information, please contact Tibert Verhagen.