Turning Visitors into Customers: A Usability-Centric Perspective on Purchase Behavior in Electronic Channels

Venkatesh, V. and Agarwal, R. “Turning Visitors into Customers: A Usability-Centric Perspective on Purchase Behavior in Electronic Channels,” Management Science (52:3), 2006, 367-382.

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We develop a theoretical model for predicting purchase behavior in electronic channels. The model suggests that website use (i.e., technology use), a key indicator of the degree to which a site is “sticky,” is a significant antecedent of purchase behavior. Furthermore, we relate the usability of a website to use behavior and purchase behavior. Specifically, individual characteristics and product type are argued to differentially influence the weights that customers place on five different categories of usability. The weighted ratings of the five categories together determine use behavior and purchase behavior, after controlling for purchase need, experience with similar sites, and previous purchase on the specific sites. The model was tested in a longitudinal field study among 757 customers who provided usability assessments for multiple websites from four different industries-i.e., airlines, online bookstores, automobile manufacturers, and car rental agencies. Six months later, 370 of these individuals provided responses to help understand the transition from visitor to customer, i.e., whether they actually transacted with a specific website. Results provided strong support for the model and yield important theoretical and practical implications.
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