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Online shopping has transformed into one of the most popular channels, both for consumers and suppliers. It provides a wide range of benefits, such as: 24/7 opportunity to purchase; online catalogues; comparative pricing; cost efficiency; and many more. This is the reason why, the author believes that this channel is likely to grow in greater popularity in the future. In this respect, the writer focuses on identifying the motivational factors of online shopping. Once these factors are identified, online sellers would be able to enhance the popularity of this distribution channel at greater heights. Finally the author believes that the future patterns of buying behaviour would play significant importance in the development of the future characteristics of e-commerce.
1.1 Research Aim
The aim of the present research is to explore the factors which motivate consumers to shop online. The aim of the dissertation is to reveal the features that drive buying behaviour and recognise the likely future patterns of online shopping.
1.2 Research Background and Rationale
Online shopping has transformed into one of the most popular channels, both for consumers and suppliers (Hensen, 2006; Hensen et al., 2004). It provides a wide range of benefits, such as: 24/7 opportunity to purchase; online catalogues; comparative pricing; cost efficiency; and many more (Keen et al., 2004). This is the reason why, the author believes that this channel is likely to grow in greater popularity in the future. In this respect, the writer focuses on identifying the motivational factors of online shopping.
Once these factors are identified, online sellers would be able to enhance the popularity of this distribution channel at greater heights. Finally the author believes that the future patterns of buying behaviour would play significant importance in the development of the future characteristics of e-commerce. The dissertation would reveal emerging trends which can be considered by online companies in the development of their promotions. Moreover, the research findings can be used by students and scholars in further research initiatives and explorations.
1.3 Research Question
The primary research question of the dissertation is: What motivates consumer to shop online and How consumer buying behaviour and needs are likely to affect future trends in online shopping: An Investigation.
1.4 Research Objectives
The aim of the author is to explore the topic of online shopping and to specifically address the set research question. In order for the author to be able to successfully address the primary question, a number of research objectives were developed to establish clear boundaries of the present project.
? Consumer motivation in online shopping
This question will focus on the key drivers acting as impetus for consumers to pursue online shopping. The author would not only focus on internal motivational factors but also focus on revealing external promoters of online purchases (e.g. economic conditions)
? Emerging trends in online shopping (critical evaluation of benefits and weaknesses)
As online shopping continues to increase, both organisations and consumers are expected to be better-placed with having a good understanding of where online shopping trends are heading (Gramley, 2008).
? Online buying behaviour and the development of e-commerce (cases of successful online channels)
The questions aims at evaluating how these drivers are impacting the online channel as an alternative channel for making purchases.
? Future Purchasing Trends
The author would develop proposition, based on the research findings, of how would online purchasing transform in the future and how would this affect online distribution channels. A number of new buying behaviour trends and needs would be also outlined to emphasise the impact of the new purchasing trends.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
The Literature Review of the dissertation would focus on a diverse number of secondary data sources. These sources can be also recognised in the academic literature as multiple-source data. They would include a number of well-established and credible academic and commercial sources, which can be divided into the categories of area based and time-series based data.
2.1 AREA BASED
2.1.1 Academic Topics
? Consumer Behaviour
? Types of Consumer Behaviour
? Planned vs. Unplanned Buying Behaviour
? Determinants of Buying Behaviour (AIDA model; TBA and TRA theories; impulsive buying behaviour; the model of buyer decision process, etc)
? Determinants of Online Buying Behaviour
? External Promoters of Online Purchasing
As it can be recognised the list of academic topics to be covered is extensive. The main academic domains to be explored are buying behaviour and online purchasing. The chosen domains are rich in literature and therefore the author is confident in developing a credible literature review foundation for addressing the research question successfully.
The author aims at diving deeply in the characteristics of consumer buying behaviour and then narrowing down the research scope to online buying behaviour, such as: advantages and disadvantages; motivation for buying online; online channels that consumers would prefer to use; external factors that predispose to online purchasing, etc (Arnould et al., 2002; Chaudhuri, 2006; Hensen, 2006).
The author aims at researching the characteristics of consumer buying behaviour and the various theories which exist with respect to planned and impulsive purchasing behaviour (Foxall and Goldsmith, 1994). This would establish the basis of consumer purchasing patterns and the determinant of buying offline and online.
Furthermore, the author will also explore the risk and advantages with which online buying can be associated. There is rick literature on the topic some authors identify online channels as important motivators of planned buying behaviour (i.e. consumers have the ability to browse, compare prices and make their choices) (Brassington and Pettit, 2007).
However, other authors underline the risks with which online buying can be associated (i.e. credible web sites, secure online payment, quality of products, etc.) (Hansen, 2006).
On the other hand, there are research findings which recognise offline channels as greater motivators for impulsive purchases as store environment can often predispose to irrational purchases (i.e. till promotions, store fragrances, music, staff behaviour, etc.) (Dawsno et al., 2006; Foxall and Goldsmith, 1994). These differences in the arguments of the academic literature makes the present dissertation very interesting as the author would try to recognise possible future patterns of buying behaviour and online purchasing.
2.1.2 Academic Sources
? Core academic textbooks
? Academic journals
? Scholarly electronic databases
2.2 TIME-SERIES BASED
2.2.1 Commercial Topics
? Case studies on online companies
? What makes an online company successful
? Developments in online purchasing and future strategies
These would be the main topics from the time-series based sources, which the author would analyse to explore the topic in greater depth. The academic literature would provide the dissertation with rigour and credibility, whereas the commercial topic would give the author with the opportunity to evaluate important contemporary issues in the field.
The commercial topics and resources will be used to provide contemporary information, such as: rate of online purchasing; trends in buying behaviour; online promotions; e-commerce channels, etc. All these topics would contribute to the author s ability to develop arguments and proposition of the future online purchasing patterns.
2.2.2 Commercial Sources
? Government reports
? Commercial reports
? Online articles, newspapers and magazines
3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 Research Methods and Strategy
The present dissertation will be developed through the use of multi-method strategy, which will be comprised of both primary and secondary research. In this respect, the author would rely on grounded theory as the basis of the secondary strategy (Saunders et al., 2003). Furthermore, the writer will also use case studies to underpin his/her arguments with contemporary findings of the commercial world (Bell, 2005).
In the context, of the primary research strategy, the author intends to use a combination of questionnaire and in-depth interviews. Questionnaires would provide the author with greater scope of findings, whereas in-depth interviews would contribute to the author s staying on track with valuable issues in the realm of the topic (Easterby-Smith et al., 2002).
Furthermore, the author will analyse the extracted findings from the primary research through by SPSS. This would provide the author with the ability to manipulate large amounts of data and develop credible findings (Saunders et al., 2003).
On the other hand, the author of the dissertation will approach the research question through an inductive research strategy. This research approach can be characterised with the gradual exploration of a topic and the provision of new contextual insight (Robson, 2002).
The main difference between inductive and inductive research approaches is that in explorations which are influenced by deduction, the writer develops a hypothesis which is challenge, proved or disproved. On the other hand, in the inductive research approach the author develops arguments and propositions with the gradual flow of the exploration, which would provide the dissertation with a more flexible research structure (Jankowicz, 2005).
Finally, the author could recognise a number of limitations with which the dissertation can be associated. One of the main limitations is that the author is aware that there is certain degree of subjectivity in the academic and commercial literature which can indirectly affect the dissertation (Saunders et al., 2003). The other limitation which the writer believes to places some constraints in the research process is that the project is conducted under university requirements. In this respect, the author has limited dissertation size and time which constraints the author s ability to apply other research strategies, such as action research, long observation or experiment.
The findings of the dissertation would be based on the conducted primary research of questionnaires and in-depth interviews. The author developed a number of strategies to successfully conduct the primary research. In this respect, questionnaires will be developed with a specific non-probability sampling method. Although online purchasing is a buying behaviour that can be recognised to be practised by many customers, the author would specifically focus on two groups of consumers, such as: regular buyers and consumers who avoid purchasing online. This would contribute to the author s ability to clearly identify the motivational factors for online purchasing. In the context of in-depth interviews, the author would interview regular online buyers to carefully identify the reasons for their purchasing drives. The author would not focus on large amounts of interviewees but rather on longer interviewing sessions.
5. DISCUSSION / CONCLUSION
Finally in the Discussion and Conclusion sections, the author will develop suggestions of how is the online purchasing channels going to develop in the future. The developed propositions would be underpinned by the extensive literature review explorations and findings of the conducted primary strategy.
6. DISSERTATION TIMESCALE
Processes Gantt Bars Time
1. Developing research aim and framework / Handing in the research proposal
2. Identifying the literature review
3. Exploring the topics of Buying Behaviour
4. Developing Introduction and Literature Review
5. Outlining the Research Methodology
6. Identifying the primary data samples
7. Agreeing convenient times for interviews
8. Conducting the interviews and questionnaires
9. Analysing the information
10. Applying the findings to the research project
11. Developing the Findings section
12. Writing the discussion based on the research exploration
13. Writing Conclusion and further research recommendations