Channels for search and purchase: Does mobile Internet matter?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 2017, 39 pp. 123 - 134
Issue Date:
2017-11-01
Metrics:
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© 2017 Elsevier Ltd Recent industry reports indicate that consumers own four digital devices on an average, and switching devices during shopping is the “new normal.” The addition of mobile Internet as a new channel of search and purchase has spurred the adoption of the digital medium, and easy accessibility of the Internet on multiple devices is influencing shopping patterns. A consumer may prefer some channels for search and others for purchase or use a combination of channels to search and purchase simultaneously. As a new channel, it is unclear 1) whether mobile Internet offers greater search or purchase benefits and 2) what type of products are more suitable for mobile Internet search and purchase. In this study, we develop a framework that describes the factors that drive the use of mobile Internet in a multi-channel environment. We test the framework using survey data from a sample of U.S consumers. The main findings from our study indicate that 1) the choice of channel combinations that include mobile relative to other channel combinations increases with an increase in perceived search convenience of mobile channel. 2) in the digital channel, mobile and desktop differ in their utility along search dimensions. The probability of choosing channel combinations that include mobile increases due to search convenience whereas desktop is attractive due to perceived gains of price comparison search; and 3) mobile Internet search increases for consumers searching for utilitarian products. The insights from this study deepen our understanding of how digital media is used in the search-purchase process and have important managerial implications.
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