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Online Fashion Shopping in Qatar: Consumer Behaviour

Abstract

The purpose of the study

The increased applications of the internet in business processes have created new opportunities as well as the need to understand the manner in which consumers have acknowledged online purchases. The rationale behind this research is to discover the features that affect consumer behaviours, particularly when making decisions concerning online fashion purchases in Qatar. In other words, the main purpose of the study is to identify various factors influencing consumers to opt for online shopping instead of visiting the traditional stores, especially in Qatar. Besides, the study tends to discover what consumers consider when purchasing fashionable products online.

Methodology and design

Since the study is concerned with the behavioural aspects of the consumer, the qualitative approaches will be applied. The qualitative method will be critical in the understanding of consumer behaviours, experiences and beliefs, which can be difficult to achieve through the application of quantitative techniques. In fact, in-depth interviews will be conducted to gather information about personal behaviours, experiences or views of the consumers.

Findings

Trust, preference, convenience as well as behavioural aspects have been found to greatly influence the consumers’ decisions geared towards online fashion shopping in Qatar. In fact, preference, prices, convenience and trust have been found to significantly affect consumers’ behaviours. These factors originate from the behavioural characteristics that have been identified to be influencing consumers’ decision to opt for online shopping.

Social Implications

Trust, preference, convenience as well as other behavioural factors influences the consumers’ decision towards online fashion shopping in Qatar. In fact, virtual firms should utilise these characteristics to formulate their online marketing strategies that ensure the increased customer experience. Increased customer experience is critical for attraction and sustenance of online customers.

Originality

The study is specific and original since similar studies have not been conducted particularly on online fashion shopping in Qatar. In addition, the study tends to identify factors influencing consumer behaviour that are specific to online fashion shopping in Qatar.

Introduction and justification

The study background

Online shopping is constantly on the rise, particularly among the young generation and in developing countries, including Qatar. The reason for the growth in online shopping is the rise in popularity and use of the internet on everyday activities, including shopping for various products (Donthu & Garcia, 2009). With the growth of online shoppers, it is important to understand reasons determining consumers’ preference for the use of the internet in shopping. In fact, various factors have been hypothesised to be contributing to the decisions made by consumers to prefer online shopping. Factors such as prices, convenience and trust as well as consumer preferences have been identified to greatly influence the consumer online purchasing behaviours (Brown et al., 2003). Besides, the preferences for online fashion shopping among Qatari consumers have tremendously increased particularly in the last five years.

Therefore, comprehending factors that influence consumers toward online fashion shopping, particularly in Qatar, is critical for the success and attainment of the desired clients’ outcomes (Uusitalo & Dholakia, 2002). The current markets for fashionable products have become sophisticated with the adoption of new technology in marketing and shopping experience. In fact, the use of online technology has expanded marketing opportunities (Bakos & Brynjolfsson, 2000). Moreover, the use of the Internet has presented fashion shoppers with many exciting opportunities.

The aim of the research project is to identify the features that influence consumers toward online fashion shopping in Qatar. Currently, online provides a global market where boundaries facing people are eliminated, and consumer convergence is achieved (Brynjolfsson & Smith, 2000). Industries such as fashion, which have taken advantage of the opportunities provided by online facilities, have high chances of success. In fact, consumers used to visit fashion store to touch and try clothes, shoes and make-ups as well as other fashionable products. However, with the development of the internet and the adoption of its applications in daily activities, the buying trends have changed. Currently, consumers have changed their behaviour and adopted online fashion shopping.

In response to the new trends, retailers have developed online stores to meet the ever-increasing consumer demands (Rowley 2009). Besides, current studies indicate noticeable growth in online fashion shopping. In addition, the growths in online fashion shopping are anticipated to increase in the coming years. Furthermore, the studies show the increase in younger generations’ preference for online shopping (Donthu & Garcia, 2009). The reason for the increase in young generations’ experience in online fashion shopping is the augmented applications of advanced communication technology among the youth. The application of advanced technology in everyday activities, particularly shopping is not limited to the developed countries but also in developing economies such as Qatar.

Further, in the past decade, consumers were concerned about advanced technology applications, especially in commerce. Besides, the majority of the consumers were not aware of most of the applications due to the technological divide (Hoffman, 2000). As such, they are coping with ever-increasing advancements in technology, particularly the internet applications, became difficult among the past generation. However, technology has become essential in the current lifestyle. The current generation has developed an interest in technological applications. In the context of fashion shopping, the current generations are seeking for the best way to improve their fashion purchasing experience and online decisions-making process (Burke, 2001).

The main objective of this study is to discover main features such as preferences and trust, which have a large effect on Qatari consumers and their ability to use online shopping visa avis visiting traditional stores (Cox & Dittmar, 2005). In fact, many factors, including preferences, trust and convenience, influence the current consumers to favour online purchasing procedures (Dholokia, 2009). On the other hand, physical stores remain attractive to some of the consumers. Factors such as store appeal, presentation and convenience play a big part in attracting and influencing consumers towards physical stores. However, as indicated in the current studies, consumers’ preferences are shifting towards online purchasing procedures (Habul & Trifts, 2000). The most important factors that contribute to the shift towards an online preference for fashion shopping include emotional and physical values, as well as satisfaction consumers, expect to receive.

Problem statement

Even though studies on factors influencing consumers to shop online have been generally conducted, specific aspects influencing online fashion shoppers in Qatar have not been investigated. Understanding these factors is critical for the success of various organisations, particularly firms operating in fashionable products. Besides, millions of consumers are currently looking for products and services online due to increased convenience online facilities provide (Habul & Trifts, 2000). In addition, rapid adoption of the internet, as well as online services in everyday activities, increases the clients’ base, particularly to the firms dealing in fashionable products. Therefore, firms dealing with fashionable products have to look for these factors in order to increase their competitive advantage. Further, understanding factors influencing customers towards online fashion shopping is critical in the understanding of the new demand created by internet application (Brengman et al., 2005). Understanding the behaviours of consumers and their demands for fashionable products is important in increasing the customers’ experiences and for the success of organisations operating online facilities and selling fashionable products in Qatar.

The purpose of the study

The main purpose of the study is to identify various factors influencing consumers to opt for online shopping instead of visiting the traditional stores, especially in Qatar. In addition, the study tends to discover what consumers consider when purchasing fashionable products online. Fashion is one of the industries that have greatly adopted online services (Bakos & Brynjolfsson, 2000). In other words, fashionable products and services are mostly bought online. Moreover, the study tends to identify the segmentation of consumers, depending on the factors that have been identified.

The significance of the study

Various researches have been conducted to study the influencing factors on consumer behaviours. However, specific studies have not been conducted on online fashion consumers in Qatar. Though the literature points out various factors that influence consumer behaviours and decision-making processes, specific studies have not been conducted to ascertain whether the generalised factors also influence the consumers’ decision-making processes geared towards online fashion shopping particularly in Qatar. Further, the study is undertaken to add more knowledge on the vast literature that has been written in this subject area. The study will be looking into various factors that influence the consumers towards fashion online shopping, particularly in Qatar. Therefore, establishing the significance of the influencing factors is critical to the success of the organisations offering fashionable products through online facilities as well as increased customer-shopping experience.

The scope of the study

In this study, qualitative approaches will be applied. For the purposes of the study, the data collected will be both from primary and secondary sources. The secondary sources of data will be majorly based on the literature review, while the primary sources will be based on data collected through interviews (Bitner et al., 2010). The interviews will be conducted to the sampled population consisting of the consumers that utilise the internet to buy fashionable products online. As indicated, the qualitative information will be obtained through the literature review of scholarly articles as well as the materials pertaining to online consumer behaviours in general and specific factors influencing clients to opt for online fashion purchases in Qatar.

Regarding the primary data sources, interviews will be the most suitable method of data collection since it is the best method of reaching the respondents within the target group (Tarí, 2005). In addition, the populations of consumers shopping for fashionable products online in Qatar are deemed viable. However, a sample consisting of ten participants consisting of men and women between the ages twenty-two and fifty-five selected depending on various personal attributes and the frequency of the internet users will be interviewed. During the study, the data collection should be given the least time possible, given the projected time and other resources constraints.

Aims and objectives

Even though the study seeks to explore factors that influence the consumers to opt for online purchasing, the following are the specific aims and objectives of the study

  • To identify the main features that influence consumers’ online fashion shopping in Qatar
  • To identify values, consumers receive from online fashion shopping
  • To determine whether value and experience influence consumers’ behaviour toward online fashion shopping in Qatar

Research questions

The study seeks to answer the following questions

  • What are the main features that influence consumers’ online fashion shopping in Qatar?
  • What kind of values do consumers receive from online fashion shopping?
  • How do value and experience influence consumers’ behaviour toward online fashion shopping?

Theoretical Framework

For this research to meet its obligations, it is designed to be both exploratory and explanatory. The reason for the choice of the methodology is due to the innovation of novel ideas that are required in the understanding of the most important factors influencing consumer preferences towards online fashion shopping. As indicated, the exploratory study will majorly be based on the literature review of significant consumer behaviour concepts critical in the understanding of factors influencing the customers’ preference for online fashion shopping. On the other hand, the explanatory study will utilise the primary data to explicate some of the theoretical frameworks that have been hypothesised relating to online consumer behaviours. Through exploratory and explanatory methods, the research will come up with new and clear concepts explaining the dynamics and processes involved in the consumers’ behaviour particularly the factors influencing the choice for online fashion shopping and the way the aspects affects the clients’ purchasing outcomes. Moreover, the exploratory research will set up main concerns, build upon behavioural explanations and improve on the final research design.

Critical literature review

The major aim of the literature review is to help in the understanding of factors influencing the purchasing decisions of consumers towards online buying patterns. In order to find the implications of various factors that influence consumer decisions towards online purchases, it is important to acknowledge consumer behavioural attributes, particularly the online characteristics (Andrews & Currim, 2004). However, it is critical to first understand how the growth and development of the internet has enabled the application of online consumer purchases particularly in developing countries such as Qatar

The integrated online applications in business processes

Dennis, Morgan, Wright and Jayawardhena 2010 assert that the increased growth in online applications has enabled augmented business processes including information transfer, production, buying as well as selling. In fact, internet applications were rarely used in business. In the past decades, the internet was primarily used in academia and researches. However, with advancements in new technologies, internet applications have been integrated into various areas, including business processes. Currently, business organisations are using online applications in promotional campaigns as well as providing products and services online (Jiang & Rosenbloom, 2005). The application of the internet in business processes has revolutionised the manner in which goods and services are exchanged in the market. In addition, the internet has become a free global marketplace where virtual commercial activities are conducted (Soopramanien & Robertson, 2007).

The use of the internet to conduct business activities, including online shopping, has increased customer satisfaction. Products information, including the specifications, use, availability, and prices, are currently available to the consumer (Rohm & Swaminathan, 2004). On the other hand, firms can now sell their products conveniently through online facilities. Therefore, internet applications have contributed hugely to the development and growth of businesses. However, the adoption of the internet on businesses processes differs depending on various factors including the industry in which the firm is operating, the size and type of the business as well as the level of the countries development (Min & Wolfinbarger, 2005). Alba, Lynch, Weitz and Janiszewski 2007 argue that firms in developed countries are likely to adopt internet in all their business processes. The reasons for the increased adoption of online services are numerous, ranging from the availability of the internet to the increased knowledge among the consumers.

On the contrary, firms operating in developing countries are less likely to apply online facilities in their business processes (Dennis et al., 2010). In fact, the majority of consumers in these countries are not yet aware of the online facilities. Qatar is considered to be among the developing countries. However, studies indicate an increasing trend in internet applications, particularly among consumers in developing countries, including Qatar (Rice, 2004). As indicated, industries also differ in the mode of internet adoption and application. The fashion industry is one of the industries that have greatly adopted online facilities.

Currently, most of the potential clients are moving towards online purchases. In Qatar, online shopping is now common, particularly among the younger generations that find it easy to use internet applications (Reibstein, 2002). Besides, online fashion shopping is increasingly replacing the traditional modes of fashion purchases. Various scholars explain the new trends in consumer preferences and purchasing decisions through the application of consumer behaviour concepts.

Consumer behaviour

Consumer behaviour can be understood by acknowledging the relationships between human needs and motives. In fact, Joines, Schere, and Sceufele 2003 noted that the relationship between human needs and motives is so close that knowing the clear-cut characteristics that create the variation cannot easily be achieved. Besides, the desires and intention are indispensable human traits that determine the manner in which individuals react to environmental sensations. In other words, the manners in which individuals will behave towards a particular incentive or make decisions concerning a specific environmental sensation depend on personalised inherent traits. Essentially, consumers purchasing decisions are mostly influenced by certain characteristics that are associated with personal desires and objectives (Gonzalez & Bello, 2002).

Consumer characteristics

Consumer characteristics can be divided into various categories including cultural, social, personal and psychological (Gonzalez & Bello 2002). Clients’ distinctiveness has been widely applied by marketers, particularly in recognizing and realizing the market requirements. Identifying the specific needs of the market are also important in developing specific products and services that result in increased satisfaction.

Cultural characteristics

Individual behaviours are determined by values, belief systems and societal expectations. In fact, cultural traits are wide and encompass societal structural arrangements, intra-cultural aspects as well as the personal belief systems. Joines, Schere and Sceufele 2003 argue that personal needs are caused by cultural traits. The reason is that human behaviour is something that is learnt and constantly changing depending on the morals and way of life an individual is exposed. The values and belief influences the individual behaviour and decision-making process. Therefore, shared way of life and ideals such as faith, ethnic orientation as well geographical region determine an individual taste towards particular products or services (Everard & Galletta, 2005). In addition, the class structure in which an individual belongs also influences the decision made towards particular products or services. For instance, determinants of social status including income, education or wealth, influence the purchasing decisions made by an individual.

Social characteristics

Kau, Tang and Ghose 2003 assert that various factors determine the social characteristics that influence the purchasing decisions of an individual. One of the factors is the reference groups. In fact, the group an individual is identified with greatly influences the behaviours. For instance, the family has increased capability of influencing an individual behaviour and decision-making processes. Generally, reference groups normally influences an individual behaviour through exposure to new way of life, change of mind-set and the belief system as well as self-concepts. Besides, roles and statuses also determine an individual behaviour (Kau et al., 2003).

Personal characteristics

Personal characteristics are physical attributes an individual undergoes in the lifecycle. The personal attributes range from age to personality and self-concept. In fact, all these factors influence the consumer behaviours and buying patterns. For instance, economic situation and occupation influences the consumers’ product choices (Lee & Tan, 2003). In addition, age and lifestyle determine the manner in which consumers behave towards particular products.

Psychological Characteristics

Pope, Brown and Forrest 2009 argue that psychological characteristics are the major influencing factors when it comes to consumer preferences and buying patterns. The reason is that the psychological factors including impetus and acuity, knowledge as well as values and thoughts are integral in human emotional well-being. In fact, the psychosomatic characteristics always need to be satisfied first before any other physical need (Lee & Tan, 2003).

In terms of psychosomatic needs, impetus should be given greater attention. The satisfaction of impetus is a priority to individual consumers. In fact, most inspiring factors are psychosomatic though some are physical such as hunger. However, the manner in which psychosomatic encouraging aspects are satisfied depends on the level of greatness. On the other hand, discernment refers to the manner in which consumers recognise and construe information as well as how such information is structured to make rational decisions. In fact, discernment changes people behaviour using perceived information. The most important psychological factors that influence consumer behaviours and decision-making processes are the belief systems and attitudes (Kau et al., 2003).

Online consumer characteristics

Netemeyer, Bearden and Teel 2003 argue that cultural, social, personal and psychological online attributes also affect online consumer behaviours. Considering cultural online attributes, researches postulate that divergences in social status are critical in influencing the buying actions of consumers online. In other words, clients that are of higher social status have increased chances of engaging in online purchasing patterns compared to consumers from low social ranks (Bearden & Rose, 2009). Essentially, the likelihood of individuals from upper social class accessing internet and computers is higher regarding consumers from low social class.

Concerning social online attributes, reference groups are the major social influencers of online consumers (Netemeyer et al., 2003). In other words, virtual communities such as website discussion groups and links to products provide clients with experiences and ideas on product range and contact information.

On personal online attributes, income is considered a significant aspect in dictating online buying actions of purchasers. Essentially, clients with higher incomes tend to purchase more products online compared to low-income earners. Additionally, age is an essential attribute influencing consumer online purchase plans. For instance, young consumers have recurrent contacts with internet and often utilise online shopping judged against older adults who have irregular contacts with the internet (D’Rozario & Choudhury, 2000).

Psychological online attributes also play major roles in determining online purchasing intentions of consumers. To begin with, motivation enables purchasers to embrace online purchasing since it provides the conviction that internet shopping is convenient and saves time (Daneshvary & Schwer, 2000). Additionally, perception is an important characteristic that enables consumers to gain information about online shopping. Besides, perception is critical in obtaining information concerning security of online shopping sites and the quality of products. Besides, personality and attitude also influence consumer online purchasing decisions (Everage, 2003). In principle, personality manipulates consumers’ cognitions on exceptional online sites for purchase intentions. On the other hand, attitude enables consumers to review the overheads involved in online purchase decisions.

Important influencing factors

Preferences and convenience

Online shopping has continued to register massive growth over the years. However, larger proportions of clients still favour shopping from the traditional stores. Studies postulate that convenience is a significant aspect in the success of online shopping (Soopramanien & Robertson, 2007). In fact, internet has opened new opportunities for online shoppers as they can reach variety of products available in different stores at the same time. In other words, online services have increased convenience in terms of availability and usage of time (Reibstein, 2002).

Actually, shoppers argue that through online purchasing, they are provided with the prospects of calling at the virtual stores at any given time while executing other actions such as childcare, exercise as well as cooking. Additionally, clients are capable of shopping in the presence of crammed and full parking lots as well as bad weather. In other words, online shopping eradicates drive in and checkout times as well as provides purchasers enough time to access far-off stores. Besides, the weight and mass of buyers’ parcels are not limited to the sizes of the orders of customers (Shankar et al., 2002).

However, traditional stores are currently responding to the emergence of online shopping by making shopping experience convenient to consumers (Rohm & Swaminathan, 2004). In other words, several stores extend operations to twenty-four hours a day to meet the needs of time-pressed clients. In addition, some conventional retailers nowadays offer free of charge and abundant parking for consumers as well as allowing one-stop shopping for clients.

Consumers have embraced online shopping to avoid taking too much time waiting in sign out queues (Rice, 2004). In reality, in retail stores consumers have to be at the checkout counters to total up goods purchased, make payments as well as bag the products. Such long queues in checkout counters cause nuisance to the purchasers. However, retail chains are embracing super-tag and UPC laser scanners that eliminate long lanes. In addition, many consumers prefer home shopping (Min & Wolfinbarger, 2005).

Shim, Eastlick, Lotz and Warrington 2001 argue that the ease of online shopping is attained through the utilisation of the media and internet. For instance, toll-free telephone numbers, touchpad and voice-based ordering systems, television shopping channels, electronic kiosks, catalogs, fax machines and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are significant aspects that enhance the handiness in online shopping. The approaches have numerous benefits to consumers concerning shopping experience. Considering electronic kiosks, catalogues and ATMs, consumers are capable of giving out cash and obtain printed receipts in public locations. Novak, Hoffman and Yung 2000 noted that the technologies match the shopping and media practices of purchasers thereby enhancing consumers’ expediency in making purchases.

Actually, to contain the preferences of buyers, online stores often offer clients with the opportunities to access the databases concerning the products via video-conferencing kiosks by utilizing ATMs, the internet and touch-tone telephones (Sproles & Kendall, 2006). Further, through the accessibility of electronic searching agents, consumers are capable of getting information about merchandise types and prices easily in the websites (Liu & Hung, 2010). The consumers are then able to make rational purchase decisions after comparison of prices of goods with the shortest time. Considering conventional shopping, consumers take a lot of time and effort in comparing price lists and accessing the information concerning products.

Over the past years, mass merchandisers have continued constructed larger store in different locations in order to offer purchasers with far-reaching assortment of products at economical rates (Lee & Tan, 2003). Nonetheless, internet-oriented retailers have numerous advantages over the conventional retail counterparts. In other words, the online stores are capable of offering customers with unconstrained range of goods.

Generally, consumers normally go for online shopping since it saves buyers’ time and prevents dissatisfaction in shopping experience (Winsted, 2000). In other words, consumers usually embrace shopping experiences that provide personal comfort a well as satisfaction (Min & Wolfinbarger, 2005). Essentially, classification of consumer preferences and the improvement of apposite shopping environment that controls consumer purchase decisions are critical obligations of retailers in the fashion industry.

Trust

Pentina, Amialchuk and Taylor 2011 assert that online shopping is an innovative way through which consumers purchase merchandise. As such, the new way of shopping has its shortcomings since the clients perceive the method of shopping as being precarious. Mathwick, Malhotra and Ridgon 2001 noted that trust existing between customers and salespersons is significant for the success of online fashion shopping. Additionally, the salespersons have to convince consumers that the goods provided are of the right quality in order to develop trust. Besides, the security of internet is often an issue of concern to clients regarding customers’ devotion (Lee & Tan, 2003). In several occasions, purchasers often fail to make payments after visiting online stores to buy products.

Researchers contend that the connection between sellers and consumers is the source of trust in online shopping since clients depend on the salespersons’ proficiencies and pieces of advice when making online transactions (Keaveney & Parthasarathy, 2001). Considering sociological context of trust theory, familiarity, confidence and trust are important aspects that sustain upcoming anticipations. Laroche, Yang, McDougall and Bergeron 2005 assert that whereas purchase transactions are perceived to be highly risky by consumers, the development of trust is critical.

Further, studies contend that occurrences and convictions in automated means gained by consumers in the past are essential in either augmenting or diminishing the extent of clients’ trust in online shopping (Rohm & Swaminathan, 2004). In fact, the technical capabilities of the systems to execute consigned tasks, the reliability and speed of the systems to complete the tasks and the consumers’ comprehension of the fundamental attributes and processes of the systems are essential components that enhance the trust of clients in online shopping. Kobsa, Koenemann and Pohl 2001 postulates that when making online purchases, consumers must have trust in the internet merchant. In addition, trust is developed when clients comprehend the reliability and security as well as transaction models of internet as a shopping channel (Liu & Hung, 2010). In other words, online retailers are obligated to exhibit competencies to clients through efficient information management and support systems. As such, clients are likely to participate in online purchases, collaboration and information sharing.

Scholars postulate that the absence of capabilities that protect transactions made by consumers and apprehension of communicating personal information are the major obstacles facing clients in online shopping (Jiang & Rosenbloom, 2005). Additionally, in online shopping, uncertainty normally arises due to the physical distant between the consumers and sellers. Improbability can reduce the level of trust between clients and online retailers. Moreover, scholars postulate that trust has evolved from original concerns revolving around privacy to a stage where consumers are capable of giving out personal information comfortably (Lee & Tan, 2003).

Overview of online fashion stores

Online store appeal and presentation

Christiansen, Evans and Gill 2006 argue that given the extent of competition among online retailers, presentation of such stores is critical in attracting customers. Actually, studies note that attractive, eye-catching and safety are critical in the success of online stores (Lynch & Ariely, 2000). With the advent of internet shopping, consumers are offered with speedy and convenient shopping experiences. However, in order to take advantage of the prospects available in the online fashion retail industry, reinvention is significant for thriving contest. In other words, online retailers need to create image appeals that attract the attention of clients (Hu & Jasper, 2006). For instance, flashy graphics and grand photos, use of dazzling colours and fashionable blueprints and craft continuing, unique brand as well as distinctiveness are critical in creating good image of online fashion shops.

Over the years, online retailers have embraced effective product presentation that makes such online shops to be conspicuous. Presentation is a critical factor that enables online stores to create visually exhilarating shopping experiences among customers (Jayawardhena et al., 2007). To begin with, trademark is an important aspect of presentation. In other words, an online store must design the layout, lighting and signs that operate as a unit. When the aspects of online retailers work together, an environment that communicates a reflection and value structure for the products and services of the online retail is created. As such, the retailers are capable of capturing clients since such an environment mirrors on the value system and lifestyles of consumers (Lynch & Ariely, 2000).

Researches assert that clients often react to visual appeal of products. As such, the bedrock of success in any online store lies with product presentation (Jayawardhena et al., 2007). In principle, online retailers must define themselves to capture the focus of clients. Studies show that customers have low reaction to presentations that are mirror image as well as unimaginative. Therefore, creation of a distinction in the market is critical for the triumph of online fashion retail shops.

Moreover, presentations that make online fashion stores be noticed are important in appealing to clients. In fact, online retailers must consider using track lighting systems to create attractive illustrations that are used in emphasizing products thereby drawing customers’ attention (Andrews & Currim, 2004). Besides, displays that coordinate ideas and product categories as well as the creation of attractive visual organisation are significant for the attraction of clients.

According to researches, when an online merchandise store presents its products in magnificently planned and colour-synchronised presentations that describe the market niche, customers are likely to flock such a store. Essentially, excellent displays captivate clients into online stores (Bolton & Drew, 2001). As such, online fashion stores ought to learn effective colour adroitness and utilisation of pyramid formations as well as exploitation of props that match with the ideas of such retail stores to attract numerous customers. In other words, in order to create effective and appealing presentations, inducements that enhance the establishment of excitement, provocation of innovation as well as the message of brand name is critical.

Method

The study will apply the qualitative method. Even though primary sources of data will be used in the study, the data collection method will primarily be qualitative. The qualitative research method qualifies to be the best in studying the behaviours, beliefs and attitudes of consumers. Besides, the deductive approach will be applied since the study tends to be specific on the findings. Further, realism and positivism will underpin the research philosophy. Both secondary and primary data will be used in order to draw reliable conclusions. The primary data will be collected through conducting in-depth interviews while the secondary data will majorly accrue from the relevant reviewed literature.

Research Methodology

Research methods

In order to investigate main factors influencing the consumer decisions towards online shopping in Qatar, this particular research study will primarily be qualitative. Qualitative method will be critical in the understanding of consumer behaviours, experiences and beliefs, which can be difficult to achieve through the application of quantitative techniques (Povee & Roberts, 2013). Moreover, qualitative approach will be the most appropriate to apply particularly in this study which focuses on consumers’ behaviour in Qatar. Besides, the qualitative techniques will contribute to in-depth understanding of the main features that influence consumers to opt for online fashion shopping in Qatar.

Features such as trust, convenience as well as other behavioural characteristics can easily be understood through the application of qualitative studies (Marshall, 1996). Further, the qualitative method will determine how trust, preferences and convenience affect consumers. In addition, qualitative approach will discover whether consumers’ thoughts on online fashion, store appeal and presentations make a difference in the decisions making. Most importantly, the qualitative method is geared towards compiling detailed data on values perceived by online fashion consumers to be important in purchasing decisions as well as how these values affect their behaviours and shopping experiences (Garland, 2011).

Research source data

Appropriate techniques in collecting qualitative data will be applied in this study. However, interviews will primarily be applied in collecting primary data critical in the understanding of consumer behaviours. Face-to face or semi-structured interviews approach will be preferable. The reason is that semi-structured interview provides in-depth information about personal behaviours, experiences or views (Cadotte & Turgeon, 2008). In addition, the research will use combination of open and closed-questions to widen the knowledge on participant behaviour toward online fashion shopping in Qatar.

Essentially, the requisite research data will be gathered across the study population through appropriate sampling strategy. A research technique dubbed as interview method will essentially be drawn on while the step levels attributes cluster will be applied to help analyse the obtained data. By employing the interview research methods, any ensuing unanticipated research hypothesis will possibly be suggested as well as formulated and the study will be much quicker and somewhat cheap (Aguinis & Henle, 2002). The interview methods are considered to be amongst the best given that they rarely stand a chance of disqualifying any notable alternative explanations because they construe from direct observations.

Furthermore, to illustrate how behavioural attributes influences the consumers decisions, the suggested step levels attributes clusters will accrue from the observations made (Spector, 2006). The study proposes to utilise the stipulated face-to-face interviews by taking into consideration the crave to acquire first hand research data in addition to other related investigated information from the respondents. Thus, the interviews are perceived to assist in devising sound and rational study conclusions amid offering feasible recommendations for the research being conducted.

Moreover, in order to present significant research findings, appropriate conclusions, and credible recommendations, the investigative study on the factors that influences consumers decisions towards online fashion shopping in Qatar will use the two well-known research information sources namely the primary and secondary data sources (Reeve & Smith, 2011). However, the primary research information and desired data for this novel study will be obtained through conducting in-depth interviews to the study targeted population. Interview schedules that have already been approved to help gather information on various consumers attributes and behaviours will equally be used to obtain information on various factors important in influencing consumers to opt for online fashion purchases (Cadotte & Turgeon, 2008).

Nevertheless, the secondary research data and information will accrue from the vast literatures on consumer behaviour as well as any other documentation on online fashion retailing (Spector, 2006). A review of the perceived influencing factors as well as the general information concerning the attributes influencing the consumer decision towards online purchasing will be reviewed to obtain secondary information. Such research information will facilitate the ascertainment of whether behavioural factors and preferences influence the consumer decisions to make purchases online.

Sampling strategy

In this particular study, all consumers of online fashion products are deemed viable when carrying out the research (Evans & Lindsay, 2009). However, the target group of customers will be selected depending on their ability to make purchases online as well as the frequency with which they have been buying fashionable products online. From the total number of customers that may be sampled, just ten clients consisting women and men of between the ages twenty-two and fifty-five years will be selected via a technique dubbed as convenience simple random sampling strategy and the interviews will be conducted to help in addressing the formulated research questions (Reeve & Smith, 2011).

The convenience simple random sampling method is flexible. Due to the flexibility, the sampling method will assist the researcher to acquire information about participants with different purchasing experiences such as online shopping as well as visiting traditional stores. In addition, the method will help in identifying participants with diverse values and preferences. Marshall (1996) mentioned that the convenience random sampling method consumes less time and effort to conduct. On the other hand, the biggest limitation facing the convenience random sampling method is lack of knowledgeable credibility. As indicated, the proposed sample size will comprise of six men and four women. According to age, four respondents will be between 22 and 32 years and another four respondents from 33 to 43 years while two between the ages of 43 and 55. All the respondents’ types will be interviewed to help obtain the study qualitative data.

Informative and well-structured in-depth interviews will be conducted to ascertain information about personal behaviours, experiences or views of the consumers (Tarí, 2005). From the sampled clients, the interviews will be conducted equally at the same time within a particular period. Regardless of the fact that the chosen sample size of ten customers materialise to be exceptionally small given the type of research study to be carried out, the constraints such as the available financial resources and the planned timeframe makes it completely necessary to confine the study selected sample to the precisely specified size (Bradley, 2002).

Instrumentation

Data perceived to be containing the relevant research information for this study will be acquired from the primary as well as the secondary sources. In fact, as a field survey and a study that involves interviews, the pertinent primary data that include the perceived personal behaviours, experiences or views of the consumers will be gathered via conducting structured in-depth interviews to the chosen clients and through observation (Evans & Lindsay, 2009). In essence, a comprehensive exploration instrument will be developed besides being satisfactorily tested prior to embarking on the actual research study. In other words, after consultation with the concerned authorities, an interview questions will be developed and only the selected and amended items that address the study questions and objectives will be included in the questionnaire.

Data collection

As part of the study procedure, the information concerning personal behaviours, experiences or views of the consumers will be collected by conducting well-structured in-depth interviews to the unbiased selected clients (Reeve & Smith, 2011). The soundly designed interview questions will be conducted to ten customers. Each part of the interview questions will constitute key items that suitably attend to the research questions. The interview questions will be both open and closed ended research questions. The open and closed research questions are expected to widen the scope of information being collected as well as simplify the data analysis process. Minor interview research tools namely direct observations, in-depth interviews and occasional conversation will be used to get more information on the study area (Aguinis & Henle, 2002).

Conversely, secondary research data will be acquired from various existing literatures. For this particular case, the study intends to trace the factors that influence consumer decisions towards online purchases over the past years from the research secondary sources. Different scales will be applied in the interview questions during data collection to ensure reliability and validity of some research questions. For example, ordinary scale will be applicable in various research questions given that most questions will measure knowledge, feelings and experience. In contrast, the scale reliability will be made certain via applying the repeatability and internal consistency concepts (Reeve & Smith, 2011). Finally, split-half technique will be applied to attain internal consistency.

Data analysis technique

In order to ensure logical completeness as well as response consistency, the researcher will edit the acquired data to be able to identify the ensuing gaps or any mistakes that needs instant rectification. When data editing is completed, the collected research information will definitely be analysed qualitatively. For example, data that will be collected through interviews and secondary sources will be analysed by means of content along with logical analysis techniques (Spector, 2006). The methods will be applied for each group of items available in the questions that ideally corresponds to the formulated research question and objectives. Step level analysis techniques will be used to make sure that qualitative data analysis is simply comprehensible to all the stakeholders (Siciliano, 2007).

Conclusion and limitations

Summary and conclusion

Online fashion shopping has increased in the previous years and it is predicted to continue growing in the coming years. In fact, majority of retailers are taking advantage of the continuous growth in the online demand and respond by opening up suitable websites. The new websites increase accessibility and marketability of the products to the online shoppers. The reason for the rise in online shopping is increased applicability of internet in everyday activities. In other words, majority of people continue to use internet applications in most of the daily activities including shopping.

The study focuses on consumers’ behaviour and underlines the importance of trust and convenience to shop online. Trust has huge effect on consumers’ behaviour. The reason is that online shopping involves transactions that require some of the confidential information. Therefore, trust is critical in these transactions. For instance, if there is lack of trust in providing financial details online then consumers will seek secure alternative shops.

The other important factor is consumers’ perception of value. Most customers would see value quality of products. However, some consumers will perceive online shopping as an experience and a chance to socialise as well as feel, touch and enjoy. As indicated in appendix 1, in the circumstances that online fashion consumers have developed trust based on perceived convenience, they will seek appealing websites. When trust and perceived convenience is combined with positive experience and value, the result is increased consumers’ retention.

As indicated, numerous factors are affecting the decisions made by online consumers. Features such as preference, convenience and trust have been found to greatly affect consumers shopping for fashion products in Qatar. In fact, consumers’ preferences are major influencing factors. Like many consumers, online fashion shoppers are very sensitive to various factors such as prices, treatments as well as interactions. Consumers will make preferences depending on the importance of the achieved factors. As such, the decisions are made according to the value the clients obtain from the online shopping. In Qatar, firms tend to provide customers with increased value on their online shopping experiences. Firms are offering increased value to customers in order to achieve competitive edge.

Considering convenience as a major influencing factor, studies postulate positive correlation between convenience and online shopping. In other words, convenience is a significant aspect in the success of online shopping. As indicated, internet has opened new opportunities for online shoppers as they can reach variety of products available in different stores at the same time. In other words, online services have increased convenience in terms of products availability and usage of time. Actually, convenience in online shopping has enabled customers to perform multiple tasks. Furthermore, additional costs traditionally incurred on physical stores have been reduced. Essentially, convenience increases the success of online shopping.

Given the extent of competition among online retailers, increasing convenience in services is critical in attracting customers. Actually, as indicated in the study, combining convenience and other aspects is significant for the success of online stores. In fact, with the advent of internet shopping, consumers are offered with speedy and convenient shopping experiences. However, in order to take advantage of the prospects available in the online fashion retail industry, reinvention is significant for thriving contest. In other words, online retailers need to create image appeals that attract the attention of clients.

Another important influencing factor is trust. In fact, online shoppers need trustworthy online stores in order to make purchases. The reason trust is highly needed is because of personal and financial details the clients share with the online firms selling fashionable products. Personal information including full names, delivery address and credit card number are always confidential and need trustworthy third party to access.

Besides, online shopping is perceived to be innovative way through which consumers purchase merchandise. In addition, majority of consumers still conceive the new method of shopping to be highly precarious. Therefore, trusts develop and sustained is significant for the success of online fashion shopping. Additionally, the quality of products sold online need to meet the customers’ expectations. Besides, the security of internet is often an issue of concern to clients regarding customers’ devotion.

The important influencing factors are intertwined with other behavioural factors contributing to the decisions made by the consumer towards online shopping. In fact, consumer theories explain the behaviour as well as the decision making process of online consumer. In addition, examining consumer traits is critical in the understanding of the online purchasing processes. Moreover, before identifying the important factors, knowing the online shopping patterns through understanding the consumer traits are significant. The relationship between the consumer traits and the main factors influencing the purchasing decisions are closely linked. Besides, online firms can use the step level analysis to understand the online consumer segments. The online consumer segmentation is achieved through the application of the identified traits and influencing factors. The step level analysis also indicates the relationship between the consumer traits and the specific influencing factors.

Limitations of the study

The main limitations of this study include small sample size as well as time in conducting the interviews in Qatar. In addition, the resources in terms of personnel and finance to conduct extensive study are limited. Further, the research scope is limited to particular demographic group of online consumers. The anticipation is that the outcome of the study will inform further research on the particular topic. Moreover, the outcome of the study should inform organisations offering online fashion facilities in Qatar as well as firms within the fashion industry on the manner in which the consumers behave and factors that influence the decisions of the clients. In addition, firms can come up with appropriate marketing strategies taking into consideration the factors that have been found to be the major influencers. Besides, the study provides a historical and modeling framework that can be applied in the planning of appropriate marketing strategies. Further, with the limitations, further studies need to be conducted to validate the conclusions made in this study. Such studies need to take into consideration large sample size to ensure reliability of the results.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

Conceptual Framework

Appendix 2

Interview questions

To investigate the demographics of the respondents
  1. Your name and surname: __________________________________________________________
  2. Tick your gender as appropriate:
    • Male
    • Female
  3. Please state your age ______________________________________________________________
  4. Please state your average income______________________________________________________
To investigate the frequency of Web/Internet usage
  1. How often do you use internet?
    • Daily
    • Weekly
    • Monthly
    • Yearly
    • Not at all
  2. For what reason are you using internet
    • Make purchases
    • News
    • product information
    • product prices
    • Stores location
    • other
Online fashion shopping patterns
  1. Is there a physical fashion tore that provides you with fashionable products that you require?
    • Yes
    • No
    • do not know
  2. Average monthly expenses in dollars you are spending on fashionable products
    • 80-90
    • 70-80
    • 60-70
    • 50-60
    • <50
Attitude towards online shopping

(Circle the number that represents your choice)

  1. My experiences with shopping online have been on average
  2. My future expectation with online shopping are
Factors influencing purchasing decisions
  1. The opinions and experiences of my family affect my online prchase decision
  2. The opinions and experiences of my friends affect my purchase decisions
  3. The opinions and experiences discussed in online forums affect my purchase decision