In order to predict how much Internet shopping will take off in the years to come, we must understand the shopper first. Researchers who devote their time and energy to this topic have come up with eight hypotheses that are constantly being studied all over the world via surveys and experiments. These hypotheses compare the Internet shopper to the non-shopper and are as follows:
To study these hypotheses, an empirical WWW survey was run during September and October 1996 by the GVU (Graphic, Visualization & Usability Center) at Georgia Tech University (GVU, 1994) and is still being administered today. The latest questionnaire was given during a 3-week period and 387 people from all over the world responded. Past surveys have indicated that most of the respondents are experienced Internet users.
In this latest survey, 96 percent of the respondents were male and the average age was 35 years old. Seventy-nine percent worked in the computer branch and 46 percent used the Internet in their work (1994). The following graphical visualizations of the results for these hypotheses will help us to better understand the Internet shopper as compared to the In-home shopper.
The fact that 87 percent of those who had ever shopped on the Internet had shopped there in the past 3 months can thus reflect two things which warrant further study: 1) the Internet is so new that users are just beginning to shop there and 2) the users are happy with Internet shopping and continue to use it. Hypotheses H1
H8 were statistically tested and those hypotheses that did not pass the 95% significance test were rejected.
The second hypothesis was also confirmed (p>99.9 percent) because it seems quite natural that experienced
Internet users would be more likely to have already shopped.
Hypothesis three was confirmed as well(p>95 percent). It seems that frequency of Internet use is positively related to Internet shopping and everyday users
were significantly more likely to have shopped on the Internet. There was no correlation between frequency of use and time pressure when using the Internet.
The fourth hypothesis was confirmed (p>99 percent) due to the fact that there is a significant difference
between shoppers and non-shoppers in how long their average Internet session is. One hour seems to be the dividing session length. There was a slightly negative correlation between session length and time pressure when using the Internet (significance level
94 percent). Users who had shorter sessions felt slightly more time pressure.
Hypotheses five and seven are confirmed also. Internet shoppers are indeed more likely to work in the computer branch and Internet shoppers have found unique products on the Internet. The seventh hypothesis is believed to be rejected since Internet professionals were no more likely to shop for home use. Non-shoppers had found interesting products too but they had not bought them for some reason. One of the reasons could be a high risk perceived in shopping from the Internet.
This brings us to a whole new can of worms, that being the fact that Internet shoppers perceive less risk in Internet shopping than non-shoppers. Thus, three questions are used to measure the risk perceived in Internet shopping:
It seems that all of the risk factors in this survey contributed negatively to Internet shopping and hypothesis number eight is also confirmed.