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International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 5, No.

5, 2015 (October), Special issue on Trends


in Sustainable Business and Consumption
www.ijept.org

Identifying Key Factors Affecting Purchase of IT&C Products by Young


Consumers in the Multichannel Retailing Context

by
Cristinel Vasiliu, Mihai Felea, Irina Albăstroiu, Mihaela Dobrea
Bucharest University of Economic Studies
cristi_vasiliu@yahoo.com, mihai_felea@yahoo.com, irina_albastroiu@yahoo.com, mihaeladobrea1@yahoo.com

Abstract. In today’s retail environment, consumers may use printed catalogs in order to discover product’s features, search
for information online, make purchases in bricks-and-mortar stores, and get their post-purchase services through call centers.
In fact, most consumers are cross-shoppers, using online and offline channels in the same shopping process.
This article appears in the context of such an issue and aims both to present the increasingly multichannel nature of the
shopping behaviour and to identify and understand the motivations and attitudes of the young people in the process of
purchasing specific products, namely IT&C products. Through reviewing the literature, the article firstly clarifies the
characteristics of the shopping experience in the case of a multi- and omni-channel strategy in retail, and then presents the
results of an exploratory research carried out on a sample of 340 students of the Faculty of Business and Tourism, third year
of study at undergraduate or master program. The research undertaken allowed the identification of some useful issues in the
activity of companies that sell IT&C products, in terms of an important segment of their market, respectively youth with
higher education. Therefore, the research indicates the main online & offline sources of information used in the decision
making process of purchasing IT&C products, the features of the classic (bricks-and-mortar) and online stores that become
determinants factors in the choice of the store, and the criteria used for choosing IT & C products. Results of the research
are presented in a comparative approach between buying behavior of the undergraduate students and master students.

Key words: Buying Behavior, Internet, IT&C Products, Shopping Experience.


JEL classification: L81, M30.

1 Introduction multiple channels of retail for IT&C products


acquisition. The IT&C industry products are
The increasingly multichannel nature of ubiquitous in modern society and the Internet is
consumer shopping and purchase behavior calls more used for information, purchase and review
for a better understanding of the decision than in the case of other types of products.
processes and new approaches to monitoring Besides, IT&C market is relatively new
and measuring the experience and satisfaction compared to the market of food or clothing but
of the consumer (Rangaswamy and van there is already a strong competition between
Bruggen, 2005). specialized traders, supermarkets and retailers
The changing face of the Internet provides that sell exclusively online. To compete
challenges for customers that have to process a effectively, retailers need to focus both on their
massive amount of information available online costs and on customer shopping experience
in their product search process. The widespread (Renko & Druzijanic, 2014).
use of e-commerce and the evidence that there
are significant differences between online and 2 Literature review
offline consumer behavior have created a great
need for more understanding and research in A shopping process can include, but is not
this area (Yoon et al, 2013). limited to, product awareness, information
In this context, the present paper examines how search, product trial, transaction, distribution,
young people use the channels made available and return (Mokhtarian, 2004) and each of these
by multi-channel retailers during the buying shopping process stages can take place in
process. Therefore, the aim of this study is to multiple media such as traditional stores
discover the behavior of young people using (bricks-and-mortar), catalogs, TV, social

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International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2015 (October), Special issue on Trends
in Sustainable Business and Consumption
www.ijept.org

networks, online communities, online shops, experience that derives from the integrated
mobile applications etc. Especially the Internet combination of them.
facilitates a hybrid shopping processes by Currently shopping experience involves more
enabling consumers to acquire information and than buying products. This includes elements of
conduct transaction using these different tools the purchasing process (product evaluation,
(Cao, 2012). The Internet has become a attitude formation) and responses of the
marketplace suitable for all ages and incomes consumer (satisfaction or purchasing decisions)
and both genders, and thus the prejudices linked under the influence of the shopping
to the advisability of selling certain products environment, situation, and consumer
should be revised (Hernández, Jiménez, and characteristics (Fiore & Kim, 2007).
Martín, 2011). Verhoef et al (2009) believe that shopping
The progress registered in the field of experience is holistic in nature and involves
information and communication technologies cognitive, affective, emotional, social and
has induced significant changes in the physical responses of the customer to retailer's
purchasing behavior of the consumers that actions. This experience is created not only by
today have access to multiple distribution those factors controlled by retailer (such as
channels of the retailers. services, store atmosphere, assortment, price)
Moreover, today customers want simultaneous but also by factors outside its control (such as
use of online and offline channels within the influence from other people, the purpose of the
same shopping experience. This process is purchase). The shopping experience becomes a
associated with the “cross-channel” term that key element in understanding consumer
describes the experience of a customer who has behavior and a fundamental factor in today's
used a combination of several different channels economy and in marketing of products and
for the same purchase. What is new, however, is services (Carù & Cova, 2003).
the growing number of channels used today, In the case of the bricks-and-mortar stores, the
and the multiplying devices used to access shopping experience is defined by an elaborate
them, such as desktop computers, smartphones, store design, educational and entertainment
tablets, interactive terminals, and smart TV. events in the store, and the interaction with the
Retailers must find ways of taking advantage of sales force, as indicated by Fiore and Kim
all these touchpoints with the consumer (2007). Also, Puccinelli et al (2009) and Baker
(Blázquez, 2014). Thus, the retailer's et al (2009) referred to three primary sets of
preoccupation today is not only about managing factors influencing buying experience, namely:
different channels made available by a design (in reference to both external variables
company, but is also about considering the (as front window displays) and internal
consistency between these channels that variables (like flooring)), ambient (includes
facilitates and streamlines customer aspects such as lighting, store layout, music,
interactions. Therefore, the capability of the and use of technology in the store) and social
simultaneous use of several consumer-store cues (such as employees and presence of other
interaction channels (for example, the use of customers in the store).
mobile Internet access within the physical retail The importance of retail atmosphere extends to
store to search for information about products) the online environment and websites use
constitutes the dominant characteristic of the atmospherics similarly to traditional retail stores
“omni-channel” retailing phenomenon (Puccinelli et al, 2009; Menon & Kahn, 2002).
described by Rigby (2011, p.4) as “an integrated Variables such as layout, color, music, and
sales experience that melds the advantages of lights influence shopper responses during the
physical stores with the information-rich website visit, increasing the level of pleasure
experience of online shopping”. The term felt by the shopper and directly influencing
“omni-channel” involves not just the purchase intention (Eroglu et al, 2003; Yang &
simultaneous use of channels, but the Young, 2009). It is demonstrated that website

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International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2015 (October), Special issue on Trends
in Sustainable Business and Consumption
www.ijept.org

design influences consumer's emotional and Table 1. Scores of information sources


cognitive responses and contributes to Sources of Score Score
information for IT&C
satisfaction in an online shopping context (Ha & product acquisition Bache ra Maste ra
Im, 2012). lor nk r nk
In-store shopping and e-commerce have more in The experience of 1.7983 1 1.6667 1
common than retailers instinctively assume. buying similar products
What retailers used to consider separate Peers recommendation 2.3193 2 2.4216 3
business models are beginning to amalgamate Salesman 2.8277 5 2.9412 5
recommendation
into an omni-channel approach where the key Professional sites 2.3782 3 2.1569 2
ingredient is consistency and continuity across recommendation
the multiple touch points that consumers Other buyers opinions 2.7059 4 2.8137 4
encounter on their purchase journeys. As on social networks
consumers have become accustomed to the Online publicity 3.3445 7 3.4118 7
convenience and empowerment of online Radio & TV publicity 3.5210 8 3.5980 8
Publicity on site (in 3.1807 6 3.2647 6
shopping, they expect their in-store experiences store)
to be consistent with their e-commerce routines.
Both undergraduates and master students are using
3 Analysis and results the Internet for information when they want to
purchase IT&C products or when they want to
The comparative analysis of the experience of express their opinions about purchases made.
buying IT&C is based on an exploratory Almost half of them (45.8% of undergraduates and
research carried out on a sample of 340 students 49% of students at master) access the Internet
of the Faculty of Business and Tourism, in the frequently (Table 2). The cumulative percentage
third year of Bachelor and Master’s. Of these, (very often, often and rather often) reaches 90.8%
238 representing 70% of the total sample were for undergraduates and 97.1% for master’s students.
undergraduates and 102 representing 30% were Table 2. Frequency of Internet utilisation
studying for their Master’s. Levels of Frequency Percenta Cumulati
The first aspect analysed was the significance of study ge ve
information sources used by respondents to percenta
purchase IT&C products. Top scores at both ge
undergraduate and master’s students, have been very often 109 45.8 45.8
often 62 26.1 71.8
obtained from the experience of buying similar
rather 45 18.9 90.8
products, corresponding to the consumer often
behaviour theory. The only difference in the rather 15 6.3 97.1
hierarchy of importance given to information seldom
Bachelor’s

sources used to acquire IT&C appears among seldom 5 2.1 99.2


the recommendations on specialized sites and hardly ever 2 .8 100.0
recommendation of peers. Undergraduate Total 238 100.0
students consider of greater importance the very often 50 49.0 49.0
often 31 30.4 79.4
information from reference groups, and master
rather 18 17.6 97.1
students consider of more importance the often
information on professional sites. On the last rather 1 1.0 98.0
places in terms of the use of information seldom
sources are the three forms of advertising
Master’s

seldom 1 1.0 99.0


(Table. 1). hardly ever 1 1.0 100.0
Total 102 100.0

Regarding the criteria for choosing IT&C


products, both groups of respondents gave the

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International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2015 (October), Special issue on Trends
in Sustainable Business and Consumption
www.ijept.org

highest importance to product quality and The scores obtained for the features of the sites
proximity stores the slightest importance. For which sell IT&C have high values, expressing
the other selection criteria there are similarities the agreement of the subjects investigated on
(notoriety of brands) or differences of one rank the importance of the variables listed. There is a
between Bachelor’s students' opinions and those difference of 3 ranks between the views
of the Master’s students (Table 3). expressed by undergraduate students and those
expressed by master’s students on the ease of
Table 3. Scores of the criteria for IT&C products use of stores’ websites. Otherwise, the
acquisition difference is of only one place or the
Criteria for IT&C Score Score
products acquisition
respondents placed the sites features on the
Bachelor rank Master rank same rank (Table 5).
stores proximity 3.1261 7 3.4412 7
brands notoriety 1.8866 4 2.0784 4 Table 5. Scores of features of sites
product price 1.7437 2 1.8137 3 Features of sites Score Score
product availability in 2.3109 5 2.4314 6
stock Bache ra Maste ra
product quality 1.2227 1 1.3235 1 lor nk r nk
easy installation 2.3487 6 2.4706 5 user friendly 1.6008 4 1.4412 1
post-acquisition 1.7941 3 1.6961 2 information content 1.4622 2 1.4706 3
services access speed 1.4454 1 1.4608 2
site design 2.5336 8 2.4608 8
possibility to compare 1.7521 5 1.7255 5
Respondents’ opinions did not differ products and prices
significantly in terms of the features of the online support and 2.0252 6 2.0980 6
stores which sell IT&C (Table 4). Both assistance
undergraduate students and master’s students functionality of the mobile 2.2647 7 2.2255 7
consider that the most important features are version of the site
product quality and availability in promotional easy to order process 1.5378 3 1.5392 4
campaigns that include price reductions,
promotional gifts, contests and raffles etc. The Most of the investigated students, 66% of the
lowest score obtained by the atmosphere and the undergraduate students and 73% of the master’s
interior decoration of stores can be explained by students, believe that the IT&C products are
the fact that the respondents pay less attention both a need and a desire for them.
to them, focusing on products. Approximately 31% of all undergraduate
students expressed the view that IT&C products
Table 4. Score of features of stores are a necessity and only 3% of them assessed
Features of stores Score Score the products as a simple desire (Figure 1).

Bachelor rank Master rank


easy accessible location 2.1176 3 2.1765 3
extended hours 2.3193 5 2.3529 4
ambiance and interior 3.0966 7 3.0588 7
decoration
31%
commercial assortment 2.4538 6 2.5000 6
selection
66% 3%
product quality 1.2017 1 1.1765 1
attractive display of 2.2395 4 2.4118 5
products
availability of products 1.8445 2 1.7941 2 must desire both
in promotional Figure 1. IT&C frequency perceptions products by
campaigns students

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International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2015 (October), Special issue on Trends
in Sustainable Business and Consumption
www.ijept.org

Among Master’s students was a lower share by


8 percentage points of those who consider
IT&C products a necessity, which shows their
maturity compared to undergraduate students
(Figure 2). As undergraduate students, a very 31%
small percentage of 4% of the students consider 54%
IT&C products as a desire.
15%

23% physical stores online stores both places

4% Figure 4. Places to buy IT&C products - master students

73% Although the people investigated gathers


information about IT&C products from the
Internet, are interested in online commerce and
favorable appreciate web pages characteristics,
they are not used to express opinions about the
must desire both products purchased in the online environment
Figure 2. IT&C frequency perceptions products by (Figure 5 and Figure 6). This could be related to
master students the lack of time for this activity, while the
recommendations on the specialized sites
Most respondents (53% of the undergraduate recorded a good score in terms of information
students and 54% of the Master’s students) sources (table no. 2).
acquire IT&C both in physical stores and online
stores (Figure 3 and Figure 4).

1%5%
9%

37% 39%
53%
28%
10%

18%
very often frequently quite often
pretty rare rare rarely
physical stores online stores both places

Figure 5. Frequency of expressing opinions –


Figure 3. Places to buy IT&C products - undergraduate
undergraduate students
students

Moreover, Master’s students express their


6% more undergraduate students than Master’s
opinions about products purchased on store
students acquire IT&C products only from
sites, forums, blog, in social media in a higher
physical stores and 5% less acquire only from
rate (26% often and quite often) than
online stores.

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International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2015 (October), Special issue on Trends
in Sustainable Business and Consumption
www.ijept.org

undergraduate students (15% often, quite often (r = 0.595 for undergraduate students and r =
and very often). 0.645 to master’s students for a materiality
threshold of 1%), which indicates that there is a
logical connection between these skills from the
buyer’s perspective.

10% Table 7. Correlation of the variables regarding sales


advisor’s skills
Variables Values of the correlation
16% coefficient
45% knowing the 1
products
courtesy .336** 1
willingness to .205** .595** 1

Bachelor’s
18%
help
efficiency .105 .373** .416** 1
11%
ability to trade .107 .346** .385** .512** 1
very often quite often pretty rare knowing the 1
rare rarely products
courtesy .080 1
Figure 6. Frequency of expressing opinions - master
willingness to .155 .645** 1
students
Master’s

help
efficiency .146 .312** .287** 1
The scores calculated for the advisers selling ability to trade -.046 .229* .268** .228* 1
skills had the highest values showing that **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
respondents in both groups consider these *. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
variables of great importance (Table 6).
Regarding the ranking of these skills by the Undergraduate students consider that sales
students, knowledge of products is on the first advisers’ responsibility is their most important
place and the ability to trade is on the latter. quality, while master’s students believe that the
This hierarchy can be explained by the fact that most important is the ability to listen carefully
respondents appreciated the skills of sales (Table 8). The lowest scores are recorded for
advisers in their capacity as buyers and not skills, which shows that students consider skills
through the knowledge obtained at their more important than abilities for the sales
undergraduate and masters’ programs. advisor job.
Table 6. Scores of sales advisor’s skills Table 8. Scores of sales advisers’ abilities
Sales advisor’s skills Score Score Sales advisers’ Score Score
Bachel ra Master ran abilities Bachelor rank Master rank
or nk k patience 1.4454 2 1.4118 2-3
knowing the products 1.1387 1 1.1078 1 enthusiasm 2.1050 5 1.9608 5
courtesy 1.4454 3 1.4902 3 the ability to 1.4496 3 1.3725 1
willingness to help 1.4202 2 1.5196 4 listen carefully
efficiency/speed 1.4496 4 1.4804 2 friendly 1.8739 4 1.8529 4
ability to trade 1.6807 5 1.9412 5 responsibility 1.3992 1 1.4118 2-3

As it can be seen from the table of correlations For undergraduate students all variables
between sales advisor’s skills (Table 7), most corresponding to sales advisors abilities are
variables are correlated directly with average linked to the materiality threshold of 1% (Table
intensity of the bonds at a materiality threshold 9). These values of the correlation coefficients
of 1%. The strongest correlation occurs between indicate the consistency of the interviewees’
sales advisor’s kindness and willingness to help responses, but also the appreciation of the sales
customers in stores which sells IT&C products advisors abilities. For both categories of

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International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2015 (October), Special issue on Trends
in Sustainable Business and Consumption
www.ijept.org

respondents, the highest correlation coefficient worries about electronic payment and the desire
(r = 0.500 for undergraduate students and r = to avoid the cost and the delivery time are the
0.489 for master’s students for a materiality motivations for the preferred way to purchase
threshold of 1%) is between the enthusiasm and offline, namely from classic store (bricks-and-
the sales advisors’ friendly behavior (Table 9). mortar).
Regarding the masters’ students, the two Romanian buyers increasingly perform online
variables that have received the highest activities such as visiting price comparison
appreciation (the ability to listen carefully and websites, online consultation of detailed product
ability to be responsible) are directly correlated descriptions and reviews of other buyers,
with medium intensity (r = 0.439 at a exchange of information within social networks
materiality threshold of 1%). in order to make the best purchase decision,
which brings the highest value.
Table 9. Correlation of the variables regarding sales In this context, access to multiple information
advisers’ abilities sources turn all Internet users into buyers more
Variable Values of the correlation
involved, more demanding and more difficult to
coefficient
patience 1 please than before. In this environment where
enthusiasm .307** 1 the buyer is more aware of the disposable tools
listening .237** .361** 1 he has and more involved in the buying process,
Bachelor’s

friendly .269** .500** .374** 1 using more and more leverages to maximize the
responsibil .351** .250** .367** .361** 1 value that he obtains, it becomes increasingly
ity difficult for manufacturers and retailers to
patience 1 maintain a high level of loyalty. Retail operators
enthusiasm .322** 1
applying a multichannel strategy need to
listening .166 .442** 1
understand the distinct characteristics of the
Master’s

**
friendly .435 .489** .312** 1
responsibil .061 .188 .439** .307** 1 Internet shoppers and non-Internet shoppers.
ity Therefore, knowing the tools used by
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). purchasers for information and the way of using
new technologies, the diversity of stimuli with
Data analysis regarding sales advisers’ skills which they come into contact in the online or
and abilities reveals the need to concern in offline buying process is becoming increasingly
relation to their skills and training. Sales important for success in the market, not only to
advisers must be carefully selected and trained meet current needs of the buyers, but also to
to become professionals, especially in the case anticipate future needs in an increasingly
of more sophisticated products and high-tech digitized landscape.
products, such as IT&C. Even if the presence of IT&C products selling
companies in the online environment is
5 Conclusions compulsory for success in the market, especially
when targeting consumers are dynamic people,
The research showed that, in the case of IT&C with high levels of education, technical skills
products purchased online by young and appetite for such product, the boundaries
Romanians, searches for information not between online and offline offerings will be
necessarily translate into successful sales in this much more blurred in the future. This also
environment. Typical behavior in this case is means a chance for traditional retail to gain an
buying offline and searching information online advantage by establishing a smart connection
since purchasers consider IT&C products, like between the shopping experience in stationary
smartphone and tablet, very personal objects. retail and their online shops. Retailers today
Therefore, they feel the need to touch the have to pursue an omni-channel strategy, that
product and test its functioning. In addition, the meaning to ensure sales through several
desire to verify the information collected online, channels and the smooth transition between

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International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2015 (October), Special issue on Trends
in Sustainable Business and Consumption
www.ijept.org

shopping on the Internet and in the bricks-and- Menon, S. and Kahn, B., (2002), Cross-category effects
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experience, Journal of Retailing, 78(1): 31–40.
more flexibility as well as time and spatial
independence during shopping. Mokhtarian, P.L. (2004), A conceptual analysis of the
transportation impacts of B2C e-commerce,
Transportation, 31(3): 257–284.
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Authors description

Cristinel Vasiliu is University Associate Professor in the Department of Business, Consumer Sciences
and Quality Management at the Faculty of Business and Tourism, Bucharest University of Economic
Studies. His main areas of research and teaching concern logistics, retail management, commercial
transactions.

Mihai Felea is University Lecturer in the Department of Business, Consumer Sciences and Quality
Management at the Faculty of Business and Tourism, Bucharest University of Economic Studies. His
main areas of research and teaching concern logistics, e-business.

Irina Albăstroiu is University Lecturer in the Department of Business, Consumer Sciences and Quality
Management at the Faculty of Business and Tourism, Bucharest University of Economic Studies. She

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International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, Vol. 5, No. 5, 2015 (October), Special issue on Trends
in Sustainable Business and Consumption
www.ijept.org

holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration, a Master's degree in Management and dual Bachelor's
degrees in Public Administration and Marketing. Her main areas of research and teaching concern e-
commerce, e-business and logistics.

Mihaela Dobrea is University Lecturer in the Department of Business, Consumer Sciences and Quality
Management at the Faculty of Business and Tourism, Bucharest University of Economic Studies. Her
main research areas refer to business, logistics, coaching, knowledge management.

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