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Title: An experimental study on the effect of social presence, usability and user control on online shopping experiences
Author: Khosrowtaj, Zainab
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 4742
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2016
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The research presented in this thesis presents a unique experimental environment designed to identify social components that may strengthen the social context of online shopping. This experimental environment is designed to simulate the interaction of customers' social experiences in their offline shopping tasks, e.g. when they visit stores socially to shop with friends or relatives. In collaboration with the simulation environment a fractional factorial experimental study has also been designed to explore how social and co-presence, can be built, measured and improved within online retailers' e-commerce websites. This research investigates whether social and copresence have an impact on user perceived involvement, engagement and interactivity when socially rich elements embedded in a shopping environment are adjusted. A key element of this research investigates the social influence on customers' attitudes, including search and purchase decision behaviour, when online shopping is shared with friends or relatives. A unique research model combining an experimental simulation and fractional factorial design of an experimental study is proposed that examines the effect of socially rich elements on social and co-presence. The proposed model also provides additional insight into the effect and consequences of social and co-presence on perceived involvement, engagement and interactivity in the online shopping experience. Specifically, a fractional factorial design of the experimental study with three interventions was planned and implemented. The experiment involved small groups of two participants who performed a group experimental task with the simulation environment in computer laboratory conditions. The fractional factorial experimental study required the design of unique structured pre- and post-test questionnaires, a novel shopping environment simulation and associated experimental tasks. The population of this research includes staff and students of the University of Sussex. Experimental results support the hypotheses developed in this thesis. They illustrate positive correlations between three interventions and dependent variables. It was found that increased level of social presence results in higher level of experienced involvement, engagement and interactivity with the shopping channel. Also, it was found that social presence has statistically significant effect on perceived involvement and engagement. However, social presence has a main effect on perceived interactivity. In addition, it was found that increased level of social presence reduces consumers' search effort for product information, and also increased level of social presence increases the effectiveness and quality of purchase decision. This thesis demonstrates that retailers could develop innovative new online shopping channels that exploit primarily social presence, i.e. shopping with friends and relatives, to increase revenues because social presence accounts for 15% of the users' intention to buy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HF5428 Retail trade