Do User-Generated Social Shopping Website Features Contribute to Website Aims?

Do User-Generated Social Shopping Website Features Contribute to Website Aims?

Christian Holsing (University of Hagen, Germany) and Carsten D. Schultz (University of Hagen, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch040

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Web 2.0 embraces recent evolutions in the digital networked environment. The social movement is a prominent aspect of this evolution, leading to a consumer-driven online sphere (Labrecque et al. 2013; Stehan & Toubia, 2010). Consumers use various methods to create and share online information, so called user-generated content (UGC), leading to the rapid growth of social media (Bucklin & Sismeiro, 2009; Goh et al., 2013; Moe & Schweidel, 2012). Correspondingly, researchers have addressed various types of social media such as blogs (e.g., Gopinath et al., 2013), microblogs (e.g., Tirunillai & Tellis, 2012), user-generated product rating and review websites (e.g., Moe & Schweidel, 2012; Phang et al., 2013), social networking sites (e.g., de Vries et al., 2012; Katona et al., 2011), and social shopping communities (Olbrich & Holsing, 2011).

Social shopping is a new form of e-commerce stemming from the linkage of online shopping and social networking and thus connecting the consumer voice and the shopping process (Stephen & Toubia, 2010). This is also the focus of a social shopping community (SSC). An SSC is an online-shopping service that connects consumers and lets them discover, share, recommend, rate, and purchase products (Olbrich & Holsing, 2011). Consumers have various motivations to participate in communities, e.g. belonging, entertainment, and prestige (Flavian & Guinaliu, 2005; 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 products and help each other with specific problems (Ghose & Ipeirotis, 2009). The sharing of user-generated product reviews and giving and receiving advice can increase trust, thus reducing perceived risk when purchasing online, and this in turn increases consumption intention (Ng, 2013; Phang et al., 2013; Zhang et al. 2014) and companies’ revenue (Moe & Trusov, 2011).

Consequently, in an increasingly competitive online market, measuring and managing key metrics, such as the number of users, view time, micro-conversion and conversion rates, have become crucial for website managers (Ayanso & Yoogalingam, 2009). However, only limited research has so far provided insights into the effects of user-generated features on purchasing behavior and conversions (Olbrich & Holsing, 2011). In this study, we analyze the micro-conversion of product-detail page views. The micro-conversion is vital for the operator of an SSC, because such a visit is the requirement for a subsequent click-out, for which the operator of the SSC receives a fee. 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?

This research is based on our previous research (Holsing & Schultz 2013). The data set and results are equivalent, but we have re-examined the hypotheses with regard to current research and developments, and we have verified the implication section. The remainder of the paper is organized as follows: in the next section, we derive the hypotheses according to the relevant literature. Afterwards, the data set of an existing SSC is presented and analyzed. The empirical results and limitations of our study are discussed and directions for future research outlined.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Website Features: The characteristics and mechanisms available at a website. User-generated website features include for example lists, profiles, styles, and tags.

Conversion Rate: A rate that relates the number of individuals resulting in a predefined action to the corresponding population on a website, e.g., website visitors or ad contacts.

Social Commerce: Type of electronic commerce in which consumers are involved in company processes as for example a developer, consultant, or sales assistant. Social commerce extends e-commerce with a cooperation and communication dimension related to all phases of a transaction.

Usability: The perceived ease and quality of use of for example a website.

User-Generated Content: Refers to content created or distributed by users for example via social media.

Conversion: A measure to record a predefined action on a website, e.g., a website visitor becoming a paying customer.

Social Shopping: The linkage of social networking and online shopping.

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