Let’s shop online together: An Empirical investigation of collaborative online shopping support


Online shopping is a way to purchase products comfortably from home. Shopping online however does not deliver the same values as shopping offline. Online shopping lacks the main motive of offline shopping which is the communication with someone else while they shop. People go shopping because they want to share their opinion with someone who have similar interest. The focus of this study is collaborative online shopping, which is when you shop online along with someone who is remotely located.

The study done by Lei Zhu and Zhenhui Jiang discusses the collaborative online shopping. Two tools of the collaborative online shopping which are discussed in this article are the navigation support a communication support. In simple words the navigation support is how do you navigate your shopping partner, do you either share a same screen or do you use two separate screens? Coordination tool means that you can lead the coordination of your shopping partner either in a text form or voice form. The study concerns the effects of the two supports on the coordination performance and the social presence. The coordination performance composes of the number of uncoupling incidents per product discussed and the number of communication exchanges used to resolve each uncoupling incidents. Uncoupling is a situation when you lose coordination with you shopping partner, which is trying to shop with you from remote location. It means that both of you are for example looking at a different thing online because you have lost a track of each other somewhere.

A quite obvious result of the study is that shared navigation reduces uncoupling. What is more interesting is the fact that text and voice reduce the occurrence of uncoupling in a same way, however text increases efficiency to resolve uncoupling when it happens. This happens because text information has the opportunity to be reviewed before it is sent and also the receiver can access it multiple of times which helps to correctly orient.

However the research further shows that shared navigation and voice chat make the participants feel the social presence more significantly. Therefore the companies have to decide whether they want the users to smoothly communicate or whether the main aim of the page is to trigger the social presence. Managers can use this study in order to decide what collaborative technologies they would like to use in their online designs and what has bigger value for the customers for certain product.

However the research further shows that shared navigation and voice chat make the participants feel the social presence more significantly. Therefore the companies have to decide whether they want the users to smoothly communicate or whether the main aim of the page is to trigger the social presence. Managers can use this study in order to decide what collaborative technologies they would like to use in their online designs and what has bigger value for the customers for certain product.

 The question is what will the future of shopping be? It could be assumed that customers would along with the social presence welcome the experience for certain products, therefore would the future stand in the virtual reality experience which would support both these features or is it too far in the future? Also could the recommendations systems supplement the social presence in the future or would customers still stick to offline shopping?

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Zhu, L., Benbasat, I., and Jiang, Z. 2010. Let’s shop online together: An Empirical investigation of collaborative online shopping support. Information Systems Research 21(4) 872-891.

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