Ontology-Based Shopping Agent for E-Marketing

Ontology-Based Shopping Agent for E-Marketing

Sam Kin Meng (University of Macau, China) and C. R. Chatwin (University of Sussex, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0158-1.ch006
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Before Internet consumers make buying decisions, several psychological factors come into effect and reflect individual preferences on products. In this paper, the authors investigate four integrated streams: 1) recognizing the psychological factors that affect Internet consumers, 2) understanding the relationship between businesses’ e-marketing mix and Internet consumers’ psychological factors, 3) designing an ontology mapping businesses’ e-marketing mix with Internet consumers’ decision-making styles, and 4) developing a shopping agent based on the ontology. The relationship between businesses’ e-marketing mix and Internet consumers’ psychological factors is important because it can identify situations where both businesses and Internet consumers benefit. The authors’ ontology can be used to share Internet consumers’ psychological factors, the e-marketing mix of online business and their relationships with different computer applications.
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Psychological Factors

Consumers’ decision-making style is defined as a mental orientation characterizing a consumer’s approach to making choices (Sproles & Kendall, 1986). In this research field, the consumer-characteristics approach, focusing on cognitive and affective orientations related to consumer decision-making (Sproles, 1985; Westbrook & Black, 1985), is one of the most promising approaches as it deals with the mental orientation of consumers in making decisions. In a consumer market, consumers may approach the market by using some basic decision-making styles, e.g. high-quality consciousness. The consumer personality, similar to the concept of personality in psychology, is what must be characterized. Identifying the basic characteristics of decision-making styles can be used to:

  • 1.

    educate consumers about their specific decision-making characteristics,

  • 2.

    profile an individual’s consumer style,

  • 3.

    counsel families on financial management.


Electronic - Consumer Style Inventory (E-Csi)

The origin of the consumer characteristics driven approach is the exploratory study by Sproles (1985) that identified 50 items related to his or her mental orientation. Sproles and Kendall (1986) reworked this inventory (50 items) to reduce them to 40 items under the title, Consumer Style Inventory (CSI).

Bruskin/Goldberg Research reports that 75% of Internet shoppers consider credit-card security a primary concern (Hou & Cesar, 2002). In addition, Hoffman, Novak and Peralta (1999) state that consumers’ online information privacy is the primary barrier to online shopping.

Self-service technologies on the web can lead to factors that can cause positive or negative reactions to the Internet shopping service. Meuter et al. (2000) find that subjects are most satisfied with technologies that can save time (30%), work reliably (21%), be easy to use (16%), meet a salient need (11%), and offer greater control and access (8%). The facilities offered by e-businesses are so important that they can affect consumers when shopping on-line.

To sum up, in order to deal with the emergence of e-commerce activities, it is necessary to consider the psychological factors that can affect the willingness of consumers to purchase products on the web. Therefore, additional item(s) should be added to the psychological factors reported by Sproles and Kendall (1986) in order to fit the E-commerce environment. Based on survey data and using the factor analysis technique, the eight factor items of the E-CSI model (Sam & Chatwin, 2005a) for four different types of products; namely Apparel, IT item, Jewelry and Car, are created as shown in Table 1.

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