Date of Award

12-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Human Ecology

Major Professor

Ann E. Fairhurst

Committee Members

Laura D. Jolly, Youn-Kyung Kim, Ernest Cadotte

Abstract

Three research objectives were determined for this study. The first objective was to explore online store image using both qualitative and quantitative methods to compare traditional store image dimensions and online store image dimensions. The second objective was to explore the relationships among self-congruity, functional congruity, online retail patronage behavior, and the possible moderators between to two types of congruity and online retail patronage behavior. The last objective was to compare the observed relationships based on the second objective between two types of online retailers: General merchandise online retailers vs. Specialty online retailers.

To collect the data, in-depth interviews as well as an extensive online survey was performed. The data were analyzed through a confirmatory factor analysis and a path analysis.

Findings revealed that online store image was defined as six underlying dimensions: Purchase Process and Reliability, Depth and Width of Site Attraction, Cost and Time of Delivery, Price Competitiveness and Communication, Product and Information Availability, and Post-purchase Services. The significant relationships between two types of congruity and online retail patronage behavior were found. First, Self-congruity positively influenced online retail patronage behavior to a slight degree. Conversely, Functional congruity positively influenced online retail patronage behavior to a stronger degree. Consumers’ prior online shopping experience was identified as a moderator, such that consumers with higher prior experience used both functional and self related attributes to decide their online retail patronage behavior. Consumers with lower prior experience used mainly functional attributes to decide the online retail patronage behavior. Managerial and academic implications and future research directions based on the findings were offered.

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