Internet shopping : a taxonomy of consumer online actions
This thesis applied the theory of activity and goal-directed action to the study of online shopping actions. It first studied qualitatively the structures of online shopping actions using the self-confrontation interview method. The qualitative findings established the structural, cognitive and dispositional dimensions of online shopping actions including knowledge and value structures, attention processes and flow. The typical behavioural traits of online shoppers were also identified. Findings also emerged about the tensions between consumers' online and offline actions and the consequences of the technological mediation of shopping. From these qualitative findings, a survey instrument was developed to query online shoppers on various dimensions of their online shopping actions. Cluster analysis of the survey results produced a taxonomy of consumer online actions from which a typology of online shoppers was generated. The qualitative findings on the typical behavioural traits of online shoppers were then used as criteria for the qualitative usability analysis of retail websites. Retail websites of four product and service categories were analysed for their usability, i.e. ability to accommodate the typical behavioural traits of online shoppers such as propensity to experience information overload and to multi-task, potential for experiencing affect and flow etc. This thesis made several theoretical, methodological and practical contributions. It extended goal-directed action theory beyond its traditional scope of work actions and group activity to the realm of consumer behaviour. It also introduced a different theoretical framework to consumer psychology by applying the theory of activity and goal directed action to consumer behaviour. It made a methodological contribution by applying the self-confrontation interview method to the study of online behaviour. This thesis' findings also have practical implications for the understanding of online behaviour, the diffusion of e-commerce and the design of Internet interfaces.