Management Consulting/consumer behaviour


Matrimonial classified has moved from newspaper to online service, how has the consumer behavior
changed, what are the factors which had influenced it?


WHAT  FACTORS  INFLUENCE THE  move from  newspaper to online service

Functionality factors

Factors enhancing the online experience by
presenting the virtual client with an good
functioning, easy to explore, fast, interactive Website. Functionality includes “Usability” and
“Interactivity” elements.

Psychological factors

Web sites must communicate integrity and
credibility in order to persuade customers to stop, explore them and interact online. Psychological factors are those playing a crucial role in helping
online customers unfamiliar with the vendor or unfamiliar with online transactions to overcome fears of fraud and doubts as to the trustworthiness of the Web site and vendor.

Content factors

Factors referring to creative and marketing mix related elements of the Web site. These factors exercise a direct and crucial influence on the Web experience. They are divided in two sub-categories: “Aesthetics” and “Marketing mix”.

The above terms reflect the nature and/or the
effect of the Web experience elements on the
buying process. As an example the policies
regarding the use of customer data by online
vendors and product return policies, factors likely to affect the customer trust, were classified as psychological issues while design and atmosphere, typical aesthetic elements were considered as
elements of the Web site content.

Functionality factors- Psychological factors- Content factors
1. Functionality factors
- Convenience
-Site navigation
-Information architecture
-Ordering/payment process
-Search facilities and process
-Site speed  
Customer service/after sales
Interaction with company personnel
-Network effects
2.Psychological factors
- Transaction security
- Customer data misuse
- Customer data safety
-Uncertainty reducing elements
- Guarantees/return policies
3.Content factors
A. Aesthetics
- Design
- Presentation quality
- Design elements
- Style/atmosphere
B. Marketing mix
- Communication
- Product
- Fulfillment
- Characteristics   
Yet deciding the right combination of Web experience elements is not an easy task, the specific buying conditions, the customer’s
experience and needs can shift the importance among the different elements as influencers of the
buying process. Two examples underlining this point:
(1) The significance of the Web experience elements can differ depending on the buying
situation, the type of online customers targeted by the Web site as well as the client’s
intentions visiting the site. It can be argued for example that potential online buyers consider
the transaction security and the fulfillment process much more essential issues than Web
site visitors who are merely interested in product prices or general company information.
(2) The effects and importance of the different Web experience elements can vary, depending on whether customers are new to
theWeb site or frequent visitors.

One could assume that retaining online customers requires a positive Web experience plus many other things. Online
customer relationship management and online customer retention are currently also subjects of vigorous academic research .

The Web experience components per category
(functionality factors, psychological factors and
content factors) and sub-category (usability,
interactivity, trust, aesthetics, marketing mix)
Usability and trust are the issues more frequently found to influence the Web consumers’ behavior but as mentioned earlier the number of references
should not been seen as indicative of the relative importance of the Web experience elements. These elements should be not considered in isolation but
rather as a collection of parts of the dynamic online interface, addressing simultaneously diverse needs of the online consumer, in different stages of the
buying process and in different ways.

Functionality factors
Usability and interactivity are the two components of Web site functionality. These factors are frequently referred to in the literature as closely associated with success or failure of Web sites, by
directly and profoundly influencing the online
consumer’s experience. Slow, dysfunctional Web pages and poor interactivity prompt most online customers to look for alternatives, since time saving and shopping convenience are important
motives to do business online for the majority of Internet users.

- defineWeb usability as “ the
ability to find one’s way around the Web, to locate desired information, to know what to do next, and, very importantly, to do so with minimal effort.
Central to this idea of usability are the important concepts of ease of navigation and search” .
Usability is considered as
an important quality criterion of information
systems  and Web sites.

Elements enhancing the Web site usability are the convenience of using the
site, the loading speed of the pages, the
information structure etc. Creating a user-friendly Web site not only requires high quality, state-ofthe- art technology but also thorough knowledge of
the needs and characteristics of the potential Website user.

Usability of Web sites has been constantly
improving over the years  not
only because online firms and Web designers gain more experience but also as a result of
technological developments.
– and new programming tools have contributed to faster loading times saving valuable customer time.

The different components of usability in short:
. Convenience: research indicates that
convenience is a prime motivator for Web
customers to stop and interact with online
vendors. Customers associate convenience
with easy and fast information browsing,
shopping and settling of the online
transaction; Web designers must try to
understand how their customers are likely to
perform these activities online and adjust their procedures accordingly.

Site navigation, information architecture and
search facilities/search process: online customers expect easy site navigation and easily accessible information. Search engines
providing fast and reliable results helping
customers to quickly locate information in the
site, must be part of every well-designed
commercial Web site.

Site findability and accessibility: most Web
consumers are searching for products and
services by means of search engines and online
directories. It is very important that site
designers apply a consistent search engine
strategy so that online consumers can easily
find the site. Web sites must be furthermore
accessible by users making use of different
types of Web browsers.

Site speed: online customers expect fast loading
Web pages. Web designers must keep in mind
that the average time customers per page
viewed is low and steadily diminishing over
time .
Ordering/payment processes: cumbersome and
lengthy processes required for ordering and
settling online transactions are still one of the
most important sources of customer irritation,
loss of goodwill and interrupted online
transactions. A balanced approach is
necessary so that Web sites remain simple to
use and secure at the same time.
The interactivity of Internet allows online vendors
to enhance the Web experience by presenting the
customer with more personalized services and
facilitating interaction with other online users
willing to share experiences and suggestions.
Interactivity therefore can be seen as underpinning
two of the basic elements of the Internet
revolution, namely personalization[3] and
networking[4]. Interactive elements are
contributing to a positive customer experience by
reducing uncertainty during the online transaction
and the cognitive dissonance afterwards. Elements
enhancing interactivity are facilities allowing
interaction with vendors in case customers have
questions or difficulty to use the site, online helpdesks
for technical assistance or support.
Networking and the possibility of establishing
contacts with other users by means of active or
passive interfaces (user’s forums, chat-rooms or
bulletin boards) are also factors enhancing the
Web site interactivity (see Figure 4).
The Interactivity components are divided in two
(1) Interactivity with the online vendor.
(2) Interactivity with other Web users.
Customer service/after sales service online,
interaction with company personnel and
customization are components of interactivity
between customer and online vendor. Web
customers expect next to convenient shopping and
support in case of problems with products or
services purchased. Good organized online or
offline helpdesks, efficient reverse logistics, quick
response to e-mail complaints and inquiries are
some of the issues where marketers and Web
designers must focus their attention. As in the case
of usability, good knowledge of customer profiles
and needs are of vital importance for the designers
of these online services.
Network effectswere considered in the 1990s as a
major Internet innovation in communication, likely
to bring about customer empowerment and
dissemination of market knowledge through
interaction between online clients. Yet the number
of recent literature references to Users’ Forums,
Bulletin Boards, Chatrooms, Guest books – typical
vehicles of online C2C interaction – as essential
Web experience elements is rather limited. More
research is necessary in order to assess the exact role
and effects of such elements as well as the trends in
this area. This is because of changing Web
technographics   and
technological innovation seem to support new
forms of C2C interaction, often allowing consumer
interaction and transactions outside the traditional
or even the “classic” online trade environment.
Online consumer auctions, online bartering, virtual
classifieds  or entirely new forms of
peer-to-peer (P2P) interaction without clear
commercial objectives (music files exchange,
Web-logging) are forms of virtual interaction
gaining fast popularity and fields of intensifying
online commercial and non-commercial activity.
Psychological elements: online trust
Online trust is one of the issues researchers, as well
as practitioners, frequently associate with the
success or failure of online ventures. According to
Harris Interactive (2001) around 70 per cent of the
US Web users are seriously concerned about the
safety of their personal information, transaction
security and misuse of private consumer data.
Subjects like hacking, fraud, spam and online
scams frequently make headlines, raising security
concerns as well as skepticism and mistrust. The
physical distance, lack of personal contact and the
anonymity of the Internet are also factors further
increasing the consumers’ anxiety and risk
perceptions. Online firms, especially those lacking
strong brand recognition and physical presence,
should not underestimate the importance of trust
as a Web experience element.

The multi-dimensional character of online trust
makes it a complicated issue and despite
considerable research attention several online trust
issues are still very little explored.
-low  awareness
--not  much  experience
-usability  low
-interaction  is low.
-sites  lac k  credibility
-does not  communicate
-unfamiliar  parties
-fear of fraud
-fear  of  doubt
-lack of  trusrworthiness.
-lack  of  effective  communication.


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Leo Lingham


management consulting process, management consulting career, management development, human resource planning and development, strategic planning in human resources, marketing, careers in management, product management etc


18 years working managerial experience covering business planning, strategic planning, corporate planning, management service, organization development, marketing, sales management etc


24 years in management consulting which includes business planning, strategic planning, marketing , product management,
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