Empirical Insights on the Effect of User-Generated Website Features on Micro-Conversions

Empirical Insights on the Effect of User-Generated Website Features on Micro-Conversions

Christian Holsing (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, University of Hagen, Hagen, Germany) and Carsten D. Schultz (Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, University of Hagen, Hagen, Germany)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/ijebr.2013100103
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Abstract

Based on 2.91 million user sessions, this study analyzes the effect of user-generated social-shopping features on micro-conversions. In the authors’ specific case of a social shopping community (SSC), the authors define a micro-conversion as a visit to a product-detail page. These visits are a requisite for visits to participating online-shops (click-out) for which the operator of a SSC receives a fee. In addition to general metrics and traditional Website shopping features, several user-generated social shopping features, such as recommendation lists, styles (e.g., user-generated assortments), tags, and user profiles are analyzed. Lists, styles, and tags positively affect the number of micro-conversions indicating their ability to facilitate browsing and product shopping. In contrast, the authors’ results show a negative effect of user profiles on the number of micro-conversions. However, profiles facilitate community building activities. Implications for researchers and management are provided.
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Introduction

The digital networked environment provides a variety of new possibilities to communicate, to interact, and to purchase. Especially the advent of Web 2.0 is moving the online landscape into a consumer-driven era (Bucklin & Sismeiro, 2009; Stephan & Toubia, 2010). Specifically, Web 2.0 provides consumers with many methods of creating and sharing user-generated content (UGC), leading to the rapid growth of social media such as blogs, message boards, and content-sharing platforms (Bucklin & Sismeiro, 2009). UGC can be referred to as consumer initiated contributions (Fader & Winer, 2012), such as the creation of lists, profiles, styles, and tags in this study.

Within the scope of this development, a new form of e-commerce is emerging: social shopping. Social shopping is the linkage of online shopping and social networking. More generally, social shopping is about connecting consumers and shopping together (Stephen & Toubia, 2010), which is also the focus of social shopping communities (SSC). A SSC is an online-shopping service that connects consumers and lets them discover, share, recommend, rate, and purchase products (Laudon & Traver, 2009). Thus, the existence of a community is a core element of social shopping (Olbrich & Holsing 2011). As previous research shows, consumers have several different motivations to participate in communities, e.g., belonging, entertainment, and prestige (Flavain & Guinaliu, 2005; Rothearmel & Sugiyama, 2001; Wang et al., 2009). In general, resources offered by virtual communities can foster shopping needs-satisfaction (Macaulay et al., 2007). For example, consumers can exchange opinions on company products and help each other with specific problems, which may lead to a more personal shopping experience (Ghose & Ipeirotis, 2009). The sharing of user-generated product reviews and giving advice can increase trust, thus reducing perceived risk when purchasing online (Ghose & Ipeirotis, 2009).

Besides these developments as well as an increasingly competitive e-commerce market, measuring and managing key performance metrics, such as the number of users, view time, and conversion rates, have become crucial to Website managers (Ayanso & Yoogalingam, 2009; Moe & Fader, 2004a). However, conversion rates are not limited only to purchases and may also entail generating leads or the download of a document, e.g., a white paper.

But until now, existing research has provided few insights into the effect of user-generated features on purchasing behavior and conversion rates (Olbrich & Holsing, 2011). Thus, an understanding of what influences these performance metrics is of considerable interest to researchers and Website managers. In our study, we analyze the micro-conversion of product-detail page views. This micro-conversion is crucial for the operator of a SSC, because such a visit is the requirement for a click-out. Against this background, we study the following research question: What is the effect, if any, of user-generated Website features on the micro-conversion product-detail page?

The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. The next section briefly discusses the related literature. Then, the hypotheses are derived. Afterwards, the dataset of an existing SSC is presented and analyzed. The empirical results and limitations of our study are discussed and directions for future research outlined.

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